This is the time of year when most mums are flapping big style over uniform. The only thing marring the frisson of anticipation of having the kids back at school and out from under your feet is the sheer panic about getting all required uniform items for the start of term. Every Clarke’s store is full of bored kids and broken mums clutching numbered tickets. Supermarkets have more crowds in the polo shirts aisle than anywhere near the food and finding girls ankle socks in grey is like discovering the holy grail; it’s a jungle out there.
So why do we do it? While 6 weeks does, at this moment in time, feel like a horrendously long period of time it actually isn’t. Not really. It’s around a half term so do we rush out during every school holidays buying new uniform for the next half term? No. So why do we assume that all the things they were wearing, and that fit just fine, 6 weeks ago must all be completely unsuitable and their entire school wardrobe must be replaced? Unless of course you only buy your children school uniform in August and by Spring Bank they’re walking around with trousers flapping around their mid calf and jumper sleeves at elbow length!
The shops don’t help with their back to school promotions and photos of smiley kids in dazzling new clobber ready to start the academic year; subliminally telling you that unless you buy a load of new kit your darling children will fail in their studies, be outcast by all their peers who definitely will have shiny shoes, crystal white shirts and cardies that hang off the ends off their fingers and all uniform items will disappear from shops after 1st September meaning that your kids will eventually have to go to school naked by Christmas.
Beating The Uniform Trap?
I would like to tell you how I have beat the system and not fallen into the uniform trap. I’d love to inform you that I conducted a full uniform audit and simply replaced the items that had been outgrown or were no longer suitable for being seen in public. Alas I cannot. I have been sucked in as usual PLUS subjected to a series of additional factors which have resulted in an overload of school items. I hang my head in shame.
Dreading the uniform shopping experience, which I had to bribe my girls to go along with by promising a visit to the £1 shop (they love the concept of ‘go buy anything you want’ clutching their meagre £1 coin!), I got a bit over zealous and did the whole lot in one trip with visits to several shops to kit them out for the start of term with skirts, trousers, pinafores, cardigans, shirts, socks, track suits and trainers. I actually felt smugly satisfied with myself yet several factors conspired against me as follows:
- I failed to conduct a proper uniform audit to examine what existing items would suffice
- I failed to dig out uniform items that my elder has outgrown but would now be suitable for the younger one
- I forgot that school dished out new cardigans at the end of last term albeit in the same size that they gave them out originally in December
- I forgot that my friend gave me a brand new cardigan from afore mentioned dish out that wouldn’t fit her own daughter
- I was offered 2 new cardigans by someone who had bought them and then changed schools. I bought these and she also threw in 2 old ones
This has resulted in my younger daughter now having 7 school cardigans, 3 pinafore dresses, 4 skirts and 5 pairs of trousers; admittedly of various sizes and conditions but all of which do fit for now and could be worn. Whoops.
It’s not so bad really, for a start it means I can go even longer between washing clothes and I can dispense with the school pick up mantra of ‘Where’s your cardy? Go find your cardy? What do you mean you’ve lost your cardy?’ and replace it with gay abandon; ‘You’ve lost your cardy? Who cares, we have hundreds…’. However I also suspect that either the school, who is on its 3rd uniform configuration in 4 years, will decide they’re going to change it yet again or my daughter, who is not known for her meticulous ways, will manage to ruin, lose and grow out of all items bar 1 of each type by Halloween. Maybe I’ll set up a stall at the school gates instead?