school

"Taking three kids back-to-school shopping requires a smart approach. This is mine."

Officeworks
Thanks to our brand partner, Officeworks

There are a lot of things you don’t look forward to when it’s back-to-school time.

Making daily school lunches for three kids, for example. Or finding matching socks (see below, wish me luck). And yes, there’s also those dreaded awkward schoolyard conversations with that one parent whose name you just can’t ever remember.

Someone please match these socks for me?! Image: supplied.

But back-to-school shopping is one thing I don't have a problem with. I have to confess, it's taken me a couple of years to get a handle on it. I thought I had it made because of my not-so-secret love of stationery. Boy, was I wrong!

Parenting is hard work, made harder by the new experiences that we are constantly faced with as the kids grow and their needs change. Back-to-school shopping is just one of those new experiences and, as with everything else in parenting, we all learn as we go.

In my first year of back-to-school shopping, off I went to what would later feel like a million stores, to fulfil a seemingly endless list of back-to-school essentials, with my excited soon-to-be six year old, my toddler who had mastered the art of tantrums and my newborn who was demanding feeding.

It was an absolute nightmare and it was soon very obvious that my smart idea was not so smart after all. The worst part was that I ended up going to the shops at least four or five times to collect things I'd forgotten. Never. Again.

The following year the school sent me another long list, however this time it came with the option of ordering from the school’s preferred supplier for a hefty price tag. Again, the smart parent in me knew I could probably get it all for a lot less if I purchased the items elsewhere, but the horrors of the previous year were still fresh in my mind, so I clicked on the link and in minutes my back-to-school shopping was done, albeit for a large sum of money, the price of remaining sane.

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The next year, I discovered that I could get it all done through Officeworks. I was sceptical, but the fact that I could get everything from iron-on labels to drink bottles in the one place was too good to pass up. Officeworks was quite literally the one-stop shop, and just quietly, I could feed my stationery addiction.

Now, I have two children in primary school which means double the back-to-school shopping, and yes you guessed it, double the potential headache for which there just isn’t a big enough aspirin.

Luckily, my three kids actually enjoy going to Officeworks. That’s not just because apples don’t fall far from the tree, but because they can actually pick their own individual items from the coveted technical art supplies to three water bottles each!

The kids were besotted on our latest visit to Officeworks. Image: supplied.
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My eldest daughter preps for her next masterpiece. Image: Supplied.

I have learnt on my parenthood journey that water bottles are notorious for going missing in the first week of school, along with hats and lunchboxes. I’m certain they’ve been influenced by the missing socks and band together to cause unnecessary upheaval, but I’m one step ahead.

As my children have become older and the number of tantrums have definitely decreased, it is easier to go shopping with them. But what is now difficult is actually having all three of them with me at the same time on the same day.

Generally, Sundays are our family days and Sunday afternoons are the best time for us to hit the shops. I find this is when they are strangely calm and most cooperative. I guess this applies to other people’s children too because it’s also a popular birthday party time.

So, it really helps that Officeworks has an online store because while extended hours are excellent, parents with multiple children find it quite difficult to juggle everything from birthday parties to bedtimes.

The online store is easy to navigate and comes with its very own, handy Decoder tool to help you decipher the tricky items on the school list like a ‘dotted thirds book’, which had me stumped!

It can be done and dusted in a few minutes, and you wait for your order to arrive on your choice of date. Simply send them your lists and let them pick and pack everything, ready to go.

For me, this saves time, money and a bit of sanity because it means I have more time to catch up with the latest craze in their world, whether it’s flossing or that Drake song about Kiki.

If like mine, your children’s school makes it easier by giving you the option of purchasing all your back-to-school supplies from a preferred supplier through the school, Officeworks will beat the supplier’s price by 20 per cent. No, that’s not a typo!

Let’s face it, with family budgets today, the bottom line is the bottom line and with this you can be sure to save a bunch of cash, which will make those super-expensive and super-essential school shoes that give you immense parental guilt, more affordable.

It was third time lucky for me in my third year of back-to-school shopping. Parenting really is a 'learn as you go' kind of thing, and that applies to new experiences like back to school. Over time, you get better and smarter at it.

The only thing better than that is your children’s school shoes lasting beyond term two. Can anyone help me with that?

This content was brought to you with thanks from our brand partner, Officeworks.

Officeworks

There’s smart… and then there’s Back to School smart. Instead of running around from place to place this January, get all your back to school shopping done at Officeworks. Save time by shopping our wide range of back to school essentials any way you want – at one of our 165 stores or online. Plus, with our Parent's Price Promise, you're guaranteed the lowest price. If you find an identical stocked item on an official school list at a lower price, we’ll beat it by 20%. Head in store or go to officeworks.com.au to be back to school smart this year.

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