Sally Obermeder's got a few very smart tips for starting the 2019 school year.

The Athlete's Foot
Thanks to our brand partner, The Athlete's Foot

It might only be December, but back-to-school season will sneak upon us before we’ve even noticed our Christmas lights are still up.

To help us get through the struggles of getting your child ready for school – and all the organisational things and miscellaneous supplies that come with it – we’ve asked The Daily Edition presenter and SWIISH lifestyle site founder Sally Obermeder for urgent help.

And she delivered.

As a mum of two girls, Annabelle, seven, and Elyssa, almost two – she knows how stressful December and January can be. And even though she admits she doesn’t get everything right (who does?), she’s got a handful of hacks that make it easier.

“During Annabelle’s first year I tried to juggle so much, not wanting to let anyone down, I found myself caught in this ‘must hurry lifestyle’,” Sally tells Mamamia.

“I was always trying to finish a task quickly without being present or would multitask to the point of finding myself stressed and overwhelmed.

“Now I try to slow things down and involve the girls in tasks when I can and also share the load.”

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Without further ado, here are Sally’s handiest tips, which we all can benefit from:

1. Start early. Like now.

Get in before the crowds and start ticking off that ‘school supplies list’ as soon as you can. It might be daunting doing the back to school and Christmas shopping in one go, but hey… if you’re at the shops already, you might as well.

“I try to get all the supplies in December or early January so we’re not rushing. Especially the school shoes,” says Sally.

2. Consult the experts.

If you can outsource some of the guesswork, do it. This works especially well for school shoes, where trained specialists can pick the right size for your little one’s feet.

“If you shop somewhere like The Athlete’s Foot where there are fit experts, you can get wiggle room but not too much,” says the mum of two.


“Then the kids can run around in the shoes a bit in January so they’re used to them when school goes back.”

Smart, huh? And if the fit’s not 100 percent, The Athlete’s Foot has a 30-day fit guarantee so you can jump back in and get it sorted.


This simple step could potentially change your life and Sally says it’s another thing she tries to get done ASAP.

“It hangs over your head otherwise, trust me,” she says.

This is how she gets the most out of her humble label maker:

The back-to-school shoe hack.

“I will label the inside of Annabelle’s shoes with half her name on the left and half on the right. Then she looks down and easily knows which shoe goes on which foot,” says Sally. “This is such a time-saver getting out the door!”

Back to school 2019 Sally Obermeder
It's a small hack that will save you so much time. Image: Supplied.

The one tip to never forget a thing.

"I’ve labelled some shelves in Annabelle’s wardrobe with the days of the week," Sally shares. "It helps you remember what the kids need for each day of the week and when school time comes it’s so much quicker and easier to just grab what you need from that day’s shelf (like sports gear for example) rather than searching through the house for it."

4. Make a tiny switch, save drama.

This doesn't have to be an entire Pinterest-worthy operation, but a few little changes can help save a lot of time - like these.

Set up a bag hook and basket station for each child.

"This is where your kid's school bag and shoes go every day after school. It's easy to make it cheap and not too space-invading and Annabelle quickly adapted this into her routine."

The board of missing socks.

"Get a cork board for your laundry and pin those ever-present lone socks on it. That way when the other lonely sock shows up you can easily find its pair. You can thank me later."

Back to school 2019 Sally Obermeder
Genius. Image: Supplied.

The one food prep hack you need.

"Get some clear tubs for all the school lunch stuff. Keep them stocked with fruit, cheese, sandwiches, etc. and the kids can pluck one thing from each tub to put in their lunch box each morning."

"The trick is, teach the kids to do things themselves so you don’t have to!"

Get a fish tackle box... seriously.

"As Annabelle has an incredible head of hair, I’ve begun to keep her hair-ties, bobby pins and bows in a fishing tackle box."

"It sounds odd, but tackle boxes have some of the best compartments that are spill proof and it’s better they are kept secure then lost in the bottom of a draw, school bag or scattered around the house."

5. Get the entire family involved.

Juggling back-to-school season with a younger sibling who isn't old enough for school means you need to compartmentalise your time even more, but Sally makes sure her youngest daughter Elyssa can get in on it too.


And if anything, it'll be great prep for when she starts school too.

"It’s unavoidable in our house! We do most things together and she loves to go shopping – stationery shops are her favourite. All the little bits and pieces," says Sally. "We even made her a bag hook next to Annabelle’s where her daycare bag and belongings live."


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   6. Establish the routine before you need it.

This is one of Sally's favourite hacks. While she gets all the supplies ready before they go on holidays, starting from mid-January onwards, it's all about getting into the school rhythm.


"Start practising the early wake-up in mid January rather than springing it on everyone the first day school goes back. We gradually bring forward bed and wake time so it’s easier for everyone to cope when school goes back," says Sally.

Her family do all the things they would on a school day, like "have breakfast, get dressed and get going early", and Annabelle even has a big mirror in her room that they use like a whiteboard with a morning checklist.

"I’ll list what she needs to have done before leaving for school, like wash teeth, brush hair, shoes on. Then we try to role play these before the school term begins," says Sally.

"This can be tough," Sally notes, but when in doubt... "coffee helps". Same, Sally, same.

7. Manage their emotions.

While the first day of school can be an emotional time for the parents, beginning kindergarten can leave even the most confident and cheeky kids with butterflies in their stomach.

Sally says it was definitely the case with Annabelle, but there were a couple of things her and her husband Marcus did to ease the nerves.

"To help plan for and manage her emotions, Marcus and I both ensured we were available for drop-off and pick-up that first week," says Sally.


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never letting go ❤️❤️

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"It was important to us that she knew we were both there to see her start and end her days, and all school talk had a positive association.

"Heading into grade 2, now that friendships are formed and expectations are set, she is really looking forward to returning."

Did you find Sally's tips helpful? What are some of your go-to back to school hacks? Share your favourites in a comment below.

This content was brought to you with thanks by our brand partner, The Athlete's Foot.

The Athlete's Foot

The Athlete's Foot are Australia’s largest school shoe retailer and the only true experts in FIT. Our highly trained Fit Technicians have been helping families get back-to-school ready for over 40 years. We stock a HUGE range of the best school and sports shoes, including Clarks, Ascent, Asics, Nike, New Balance and adidas, in multiple sizes and width options and offer a 30 DAY FIT GUARANTEE to ensure the RIGHT FIT for your child's feet to keep them healthy and happy.