A primary school mum gave us 4 genius tips for back-to-school shopping.

Thanks to our brand partner, Clarks

As a mum of two primary-aged kids, and one just about to start high school (please don’t mention it, I’m still not okay), I’ve run the gauntlet that is back-to-school for 8 years now. 

Where I was once a fresh mother of but one school-aged child who knew nothing about the time, money and effort that back-to-school requires, I am now something of a battle-hardened veteran who can get three kids sorted without anyone crying. 

Here are my best tips for not just surviving, but completely nailing the back-to-school prep, from a mum who is treading that pass right alongside you.

Timing is everything for school supplies

Depending on your summer holiday plans, it can be very tempting to leave the preparations in this department (and... all departments) to the very last minute. And I totally get it. If I’m being honest, I can’t even look at a lunchbox until mid-January without feeling nauseous. 

But ignoring the school supply-shaped elephant in the room is a recipe for stress, and nobody needs more of that in their lives. I usually aim for mid-January. I choose a morning where we don’t have anything on, make myself a strong coffee and sit down with the school lists and my laptop. For school supplies, I shop online because I'm not about elbowing others out the way for the last packet of highlighters, and instead do a big Officeworks order of everything with a price match guarantee. 

They have a service where I can even upload my lists and they will (not even kidding) match the list to the products I need, using retail wizardry. It is that easy I could weep with gratitude. With an easy Click and collect, all stationery supplies will arrive home to be sorted by your offspring in time for their first day back with minimal effort required. 


Do invest in a (really) good pair of shoes

I will never forget the day I picked up one of my children and they were only wearing one shoe. The other had completely fallen apart leaving them with no other option other than shoving it in their bag to show me and hopping around awkwardly for the rest of the day. 

Being that it was only Term 2, I was less than impressed. From then on, one thing we’ve made sure we invest in is high-quality, hard-wearing shoes for each of our kids. Which makes sense, when you consider how they wear them 5 days a week for approximately 200 days a year! 

It's one area where I don’t shop online and take the kids to be fitted at Clarks by their fitting experts (though they do offer an online self-measuring service, I just don’t trust myself enough with a tape measure based on my track record). My kids’ feet seem to be constantly growing so a fitting means I end up getting a size that fits but gives some space for the rest of the year, so shoes remain just as comfy in Term 4 as in Term 1 when they head back to the classroom. 

With a huge range of colours, styles, and sizes, I can always find something to suit each of the kids, like the trusty best-seller Daytona for my son (sturdy black leather which comes in 234 sizes and 5 widths!). There's also perfectly fitting and hard-wearing (for maximum playability, of course) rubber-soled Intrigue for my older daughter and the Blake from the fairytale-inspired Cloud Castle range, which comes in half sizes and different widths, ideal for my slender-footed youngest child.


Image: Clarks.

Don’t forget the little, important things

Imagine being the mum writing on a piece of masking tape with a sharpie the night before school starts because you forgot to order labels? I don’t have to imagine because that is me! More than once. 

Labels, like new socks and small ice packs that fit inside lunchboxes, are those small things you tend to overlook. My hot tip? While you’re sorting school supplies, order your name labels. And order more than you think you need. I keep it economical by choosing a neutral colour scheme and just ordering our surname so that all three kids can use for their gear. Works a charm. 


I also order school socks in bulk but always ones that have some kind of labelling on them. This year’s batch had the size on the bottom in different colours. All three of my kids wear white school socks and let me tell you, without labelling, my son would end up in his little sister’s socks daily.

Image: Supplied.


Do get ahead of the lunchbox game.

I do tend to veto all lunchbox-related discussion until at least mid-January. 

End-of-year lunchbox fatigue is real, and I feel I am probably not the only one who wonders if a candy cane and a handful of grapes is suitable lunchbox food by the end of Term 4. By somewhere in the middle of January, I can just about manage the conversation, and this is when I start to a) look for lunchbox snacks on special to stash away and b) batch bake a few favourites to freeze. 

We seem to go through A LOT of snacks of the crunchy variety; I'm talking popcorn, chips, veggie straws, pretzels. And so, each shop I do in January around this time, I grab an extra packet or two of whatever is on special. Sometimes if I’m feeling really *crazy*, I might grab 4 packets in the 2 for $7 deal on at Woolies. I have a special cupboard where I stash these away so that they can’t be attacked before school starts. 

Having a stash means I don’t end up spending an exorbitant amount on the back-to-school shop. The same rule applies to baking: by whipping up a batch of cookies one week, and super easy scrolls the next, I can fill the freezer very quickly and have stuff to hand for at least the first 3 or 4 weeks of the term. Nailed it. 

Shop Clarks to find the perfect pair of school shoes for happy, healthy feet heading back to the classroom.

Feature Image: Instagram/@naomifoxall

Our story began almost 200 years ago, when Cyrus and James Clark crafted a slipper from sheepskin offcuts – minimising waste, and maximising ingenuity. This ground-breaking idea combined innovation, conscientiousness and craftsmanship – core values that set us apart then, and now. We've deliberated on what it takes to keep feet healthy and happy. And what we've learned is what helps us make the perfect shoes, just for you.