I love stationary, I love art shops, I love Muji and I really really love Paperchase.
It's a family thing.
The children and I could happily spend a whole day perusing the pens, paper and filing options in just about any well stocked store. So why wouldn't I attempt to get over the whole school uniform trauma with a bit of the stuff that really matters?
If you are new to school, changing school or just back to school this is my ultimate non uniform shopping guide.
1. Dodo Acad Pad from Dodo Pad
I'm a Dodo addict anyway and I wouldn't give up my regular yearly Dodo Pad diary or wall planner for anyone or anything but I do appreciate that that there are lots of people out there who are about to embark on their very first year as the parent of a school age child. You can't see it now but organisation and preparation are the only things that are going to see you through till Christmas.
If you have more than one child it goes without saying that you need a Dodo Acad Pad mid year organiser. I've tried it without and it wasn't pretty.
If you have older children with timetable's to get to grips with, the Mini Acad Pad is the perfect back to school companion. Small enough to pop into a school bag - or a handbag for that matter and at £8.75 it's a bargain to boot. www.dodopad.com
The lovely Lord Dodo is offering my readers a 10% discount on all orders placed on their website by 30/9/11, just use the promo code 11PR at the checkout.
2. Sharpies Laundry Pen
If you're one of the smug early uniform purchasers you can simply move on. This is for us hardcore, live by the seat of our pants, forgot to shop types because actually considering that name labels were needed never even entered our heads.
This is the simple, easy fix solution. One pen fits all - no need for fiddly threading or hours of sewing. Don't sweat it - the kids will loose everything anyway named or not.
£2.48 from Amazon
3. A Pencil Case Set
No matter how many pencil cases or pen sets you have in the house, everyone knows that the new school year = new start. This is your one opportunity to ditch last years tepid property in favour of this term's hot new thing and The Disney Store has some Back To School Offers that are too good to be missed.
This Tangled setis packed full of multi coloured goodies and is on offer at £7 or for the boys take a look at the cool Cars 2 set, also £7. Both items can be personalised to keep your little chimps happy!
4. A New Lunchbox
I like boxes, especially plastic food containers and when I saw these fab Toy Story Lunch boxes from Asda I did get a little over excited. They're so cute and only £9, not sure I'd be able to choose between them!
The girls love, love, love this Retro Doll Lunchbox £4.95 from dotcomgiftshop. It's a good size if you're only packing a mini lunch but not roomy enough for my lunch monsters!
5. Pens, pens and more pens!
Who doesn't need a rainbow flash of colour in the form of Sharpies Limited Edition 80's Glam pen set?
Twenty four fine point, quick drying permanent markers to brighten up any project.
£16.66 from I Love Pens!
We're doing our final school shopping trip tomorrow and i'm sure we'll come back with some more ideas.
I'm usually one of those uber organised, super annoying people that complains (loudly) at the premature arrival in store of next years school uniform. I can't think past June and I certainly don't have the ability to guess how much they'll have grown by the time September arrives. Still I dutifully purchase everything I need to kit out all three for the next school term, moaning as I go.
This year I messed up. My mind was wrapped up with work and then we went away and when we got home I had stuff to do and well - I never got round to the big uniform shop and now the shelves are bare!
I'm sorted for trousers, skirts and shirts but my search for jumpers is making me weep.
Seriously.... what is with the lack of bottle green?
I know its a tragic colour, I had to endure it through primary school myself but even in a town where it's uniform for two out of six schools there isn't a single jumper to be found.
I went online. It went like this.
They have one style of green cardigan at £5.50 but not in the right size. FAIL
Offering free delivery on school uniform orders over £20. They have one unisex green jumper at £4 but 9 to 10 years is the biggest size available. FAIL
They also have a green scallop neck cardigan at £3 but not in either of the sizes I need. FAIL
Desperate to buy something I head over to the culottes and shorts page. The girls lived in them last year, with tights (green of course) in the winter and socks in the summer. What was I thinking? Of course they don't have any in either of the sizes I need. FAIL
Big Fat FAIL
I can print off a handy checklist of everything I need to buy before going back to school but you can't buy online. FAIL
So, thanks to Sainsburys detailed shopping list above, I'm really staring to realise how crap I actually am.
I head over to Tesco, surely they will save the day?
They have a green cardigan, £4 and in a 9-10 years... oh the relief.
In the basket it goes, but I need more. One woolen item between three is never going to work but when I go back to the page there aren't any left in that size - or the size above - or the size below..... So now I'm really feeling the pressure as I engage in a virtual shopping fight for the final green jumper.
The boys department has one boys jumper in green but 9-10 is the biggest size. FAIL
I check out the delivery information and it's £3.95 for a 2 to 5 day delivery which would bump the price of my one cardigan to £7.95 so I ditch my basket.
I've moaned so much about the summer holidays that I've even started to bore myself. For some reason I had this crazy idea in my head that it was supposed to get easier as my children got older but I can tell you right now - that this has been the worst summer of my parenting years... EVER and that's quite a statement as I've been a mum for nearly 21 years.
I'm not totally sure what went so wrong...but it's been bad.
No1 son has worked his way through the holidays back in his uni town and as I moaned about him not having a job last summer I can't say a word about his lack of visits this year (who said being a mum is easy?). Anyway he isn't the problem, it's the other three.
I say three but what I really mean is the girls.
They've always fought but then been friends in equal measures, until this summer that is.
I don't know what has happened to them but during this holiday they've ground me down with their constant fighting and messiness and no matter how I react it continues all day - every day.
Sonny has taken refuge in his bedroom, working on one Lego project or another or playing Xbox live with his friends. He's had enough too.
I know that sisters fight, I certainly fought with mine, she's seven years older and was always charged with my care. She resented me - I get that. She wanted to be the baby of the family and I took that away from her too. We never resolved things and don't see or speak to each other from one year to the next. We've nothing in common and have no interest in each other at all. I really don't want that for my girls.
There's just eighteen months between them, they go to the same school and they share all of the same hobbies. They've both tried other things but it always comes back to their shared love of dancing. On paper they should be the best of friends but the way they speak to each other can be so vile that it makes me want to curl up into a ball and cry.
We've tried splitting them up, giving each of them one to one time, explaining how their behaviour is impacting on all of us - but nothing changes and I really don't know how to make things better.
Firstly, thank you for all of your interest in CybHer. Any reservations about moving forward on my own have been totally blown away thanks to your messages of support.
I've spent hours reading through all 300+ post CyberMummy blog posts so that I can make CybHer12 the best blogger conference yet. I say I, but I really mean we, because I will be calling on all of those offers of help over the next few months.
I know that everyone is eager for me to release full event information and I'll be in a position to do so in another couple of weeks.
In the meantime, can you spare 5 minutes to fill in this pre-conference questionnaire? It doesn't matter if you've never attended a blogger conference, I want to hear your views too.
When I was asked a couple of weeks ago if I'd like to spend a day 'behind the scenes' at Heathrow Airport before taking part in a roundtable discussion with the powers that be I jumped at the chance.
I use the airport a few times each year and like most parents travelling with children I have an ongoing list of things that I think could make my experience less stressful. Because travelling through an airport with children is stressful.
Not today though - today was about seeing a different side to the world's busiest airport.
Security checked and VIP badged we drove out along the runway to take a tour of the colssal Airbus A380 the worlds biggest passenger plane.
The best bit?
We got to sit in the cockpit and pretend to fly the plane!
I'm not really sure who was most excited, the adults - or the kids? I suspect it was the adults but having such a great bunch of children with us we managed to escape the camera ourselves.
Next stop was the end of the runway, where (with ear plugs firmly in place) we stood and watched the planes come in over our heads.
That was pretty cool!
After a relaxing lunch the children went off to have an exclusive ride on Heathrow's new futuristic transportation pods whist we got down to the discussion that the day was really about.
We passed around some great ideas and I can't wait to see which of them will be implemented the next time I attempt to travel stress free through the airport.
If you have any bad airport experiences, or ideas to make moving through an airport easier, I'd love to hear them.
I haven't indulged in a spot of Xplory® love for a while - but I had to share these lush new Winter Kits with you all.
When I said lush - I really meant lush. They are warm and cosy and they make me yearn for a baby just so that I can have one...
Extreme consumerism I know but how I wish they'd been around when I still needed a pushchair?!
I have been the Stokke® pr for 7 years but my position in the company in no way influences what I write about here on my personal blog. I was a Stokke customer long before I worked for them and the reason that I'm still working for them is that I truly LOVE their products. That said, I may as well give our UK Facebook community a plug! If you like Stokke® and want to be the first to know about new products and news, pop over and 'Like' us!
Hyundai really embraced their involvement in CyberMummy this year and it's great to see their innovative approach to reaching out to parents isn't slowing down. I LOVE this new campaign it's a brilliant idea, that I'll be trying out for myself (I have a Mini Cabriolet, so safari parks are a no go zone).
The review session began with a reading of the classic Ladybird version of The Three Little Pigs (the proper one from the 70's with the good illustrations), the Play-Doh set didn't fail to deliver, but then why would it? It's Play-Doh at the end of the day!!
Please do check out her blog... please... please....