PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT TO ALL PARENTS: it’s freaking Book Week next week. And the theme is “Find your Treasure.”
If I don’t tell you that now, there’s a good chance you won’t learn about it until Sunday night, when your child presents you with a screwed up note from 75 weeks ago.
A.K.A.: UNTIL IT IS TOO LATE.
Most likely, at some stage next week, your child will be expected to wear a themed costume to school.
Sure, there are some of you who have had the date written down since January. This is not a post for you. This is an article for every parent to whom this PSA is sudden, shocking, and deeply upsetting breaking news.
Yes, it’s for those of you who – very much like this writer – quite simply do not have their crap together. (So actually, I’m writing this for me, as much as I am for you.)
But never fear, we will get through this together. Not graciously; but our kids will be costumed, and not traumatised, and still speaking to us.
So don’t do this:
Relax, and know that you have some solid options.
1. Forget about the theme.
Christ, it’s a freaking miracle to get your kids to school on time most days, so it will be a next-level achievement to have them delivered in a costume.
So what that costume is does not matter.
This year’s theme is “Find your treasure.” So you can go and find some piratey-getup, or a Captain Jack Sparrow costume.
Or not. It’s a theme. It’s not the law. As Christian Hull says in his video, “I thought the theme was books!”
2. Use your village.
Mamamia‘s ultra-sage Head of Content, Holly Wainwright, had the best advice. Last year, she borrowed a private school uniform from a friend, and sent her daughter along as ‘Matilda’.
No cost involved, just a little lateral thinking.
Or, you can borrow a real costume outright, from one of the mums who create their own and dress their children as though they’re about to perform in a Broadway musical – like one of my sisters. Over the years, she’s made Cat in the Hat, Dumbledore, and numerous other characters, from scratch. No, she’s not a stay-at-home mum. She’s just very talented (and a glutton for punishment.)
I very much hope you are related to someone like her for this reason alone.
3. Be a rebel.
At my son’s school, the Year 6 students all dress up as Tinkerbell. Both genders. It’s tradition, and the kids love it.
Also, the costume can be just that – a costume. Not a replica.
This is the year my son went as Willy Wonka:
Yes, he's wearing my puffer jacket, with a hat from a showbag, and he's carrying a wrapping-paper-roll 'walking cane' that I painted black with the same shoe polish I use to polish his school shoes.
4. Abdicate responsibility.
This is my fancy way of saying: make your kids do it. Their life, their school, their costume, right?
Good luck with getting away with this one, but I definitely think it's worth a try. Tell them to see what they already have at home - in everyone's closet, not just their own. Encourage them to 'think outside the box'.
And if, by some stroke of incredible luck, they find something themselves, pour yourself a large congratulatory drink for this amazing 'learning experience' you've gifted your child. You've earned it.
5. Op-shop it.
Op-shops are always full of colourful fashion inspo, so head to one, prepared to find some weird attire your kids will love and 'have to have' - and will be able to make fit into something book-related; which is so much easier than the other way around.
6. When all else fails/if it's close: Kmart.
It's a parent's go-to for everything, so this one needs no explanation. Chances are, you're reading this article whilst your child is choosing between the pug head and the elephant head.
7. It's not a competition. Pinky-swear.
Most schools don't give out prizes for 'best dressed' or 'most original costume', because not only would that make some kids cry, it would make some parents who spent hours on costumes cry, too. The Book Week Parade is one of the few occasions where the kids aren't pitted against each other.
So calm your farm.
If you take nothing else away from my advice, just know this: every other parent is in the same private hell as you.
What are your tips for surviving Book Week? Tell us in the comments section below.