Three things parents stress about at back to school time, and why only one is worth it.

No sooner are the Christmas decorations packed away, it’s time to get ready to go back to school.




The second you’ve packed away the Christmas tree and polished off the last of the ham it starts: the back to school drama. You can see parental heads spinning as the ads ramp up. Pencil cases! Lunch boxes! Grey shirts! Laptops! USB sticks 5 for $24.95 (is that good value? Is it? Who knows?).

Then there are the school lunch guide lift outs. Use them if you must, but take it from a veteran – if you want an empty lunchbox and a happy kid, skip the salmon, kale and  hummus pinwheels and whack in a vegemite sandwich and an apple. The apple may well come home, but give it a rinse and send it back the next day. Honestly? Some of the fruit at our place could qualify for frequent flyer points.


Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Shoes & Sox. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

I have lived through eight back-to-school periods so I feel qualified to offer some advice on issues that trouble many parents. Two are a waste of energy, oxygen and cash and one deserves some thought.

1) School book covering.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: EXERCISE BOOKS HAVE COVERS. They are also largely disposable. Every year my kids bring home the dozen or so exercise books they filled (and some they didn’t) and every year I am glad I bucked the parental trend to spend the last precious evenings of January wrestling with Con-Tact.

Text books are a bit different – especially if the plan (or hope) is to pass them onto younger siblings. In my experience, that doesn’t happen so much any more. If the issue is one of identification, a couple of stickers will do the job, or you could be really radical and you know, write their name on the front. On that, sticky (expensive, custom) labels are largely a waste of money.


Many a year 2 child has whiled away a maths lesson peeling the natty name labels from every felt pen in his pencil case. In most cases, a permanent marker will do the job. And here’s a tip: a Liquid Paper pen is great for marking dark clothing. And it NEVER comes off.

2) Your kid’s teacher.

The dramas! The tears! The angst! People, it’s one year. One of life’s lessons is how to get on with people who you don’t like and who might not like you. Be positive and upbeat about your child’s teacher even if you’ve heard they’re not very good. If you’re worried, your kid will be worried and the downward spiral will begin. Let the teacher get on with the job and start the year with more smiles and less hand-wringing and who knows? You could be surprised.

School shoes: the one thing Kate takes seriously when getting ‘back to school’.

3) Shoes.

This one (and not because it’s a sponsored post) I do take seriously. Feet are funny things and deserve some love. Sore feet, as we all know, can ruin your day.

If your feet are still growing, the wrong shoes can be more than uncomfortable, they can cause lifelong damage. I saw ads to this effect when I was a kid. I believed them then and I believe them now.

I will happily shop around for the cheapest lunch-boxes and USB sticks but I won’t fit the kids’ shoes myself from a rack at a discount shop.

It takes a bit of time and it may cost more money to have shoes fitted, but there’s value in healthy feet. Much more than in, say, a prettily covered exercise book.

Readers can get 20% off ALL school shoes until 9th Feb in store or online using the code BACKTOSCHOOL and exclusively to Mamamia readers can get 25% off everything online only using the code mamamia from 10th to 29th February- this excludes school, sports and sale items.


It is widely recognised that children’s foot care is an integral part of their overall healthcare, and properly fitted shoes are one of the keys to healthy feet.  Children’s feet are not fully formed until they’re in their late teens. Until then they need properly fitted shoes that give their feet room to grow healthily and happily. 

At Shoes & Sox, “we fit feet right” – our Clarks Trained Fitting Specialists have extensive training, and over 25 years of experience in the development of children’s feet and fitting. We carry the widest range of black and brown school and kids’ sports shoes in Australia, in full and half sizes, and up to five width fittings, from a narrow D through to the widest H. Shoes & Sox is a specialist children’s footwear retailer with 24 stores across Queensland, NSW, Victoria, WA and the ACT.