The 'Back to School' essentials every tween wants.

The ink is barely dry on the Christmas cards, and you still keep finding bits of tinsel in unexpected places around the house.

The days are long and generally very hot, and the novelty of 2014’s Christmas presents is starting to wane.

When all of a sudden, there is light at the end of the summer school holiday tunnel.

Yes, it’s every Aussie mum’s favourite time of the year – back to school time!

The shoes have to be trendy Mum.

We all know how much we love our kids. Really, we do. Truly, madly, deeply.

But it’s been a bit too much of the ‘madly’ over the weeks of the summer holidays. Did I mention the long, hot days?

Yet along with the excitement about returning to school, there comes the dreaded realisation that while Christmas might be done and dusted for another year, your finances and shopping capabilities are about to take another hit.

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

Yes, back to school might mean joy for parents, but the irony is, it’s going to cost us in time and money. Particularly if you are blessed with offspring who inhabit that joyful space before adolescence known as being a “tween”.

Here are a few things that I have learned as the kids have moved through the school journey from bright-eyed preppies to electronic- fixated tweens.

1. Today’s children are the entitled generation. They are online and on trend when they are barely out of nappies – and they know what they ‘need’. Or is that ‘want’?

Online and on trend.

2. You won’t be able to afford to buy everything they say they ‘need’, not when they insist on the top brands. You will have to compromise in some areas.

3. If you think back to school preparation only requires a frantic night-before-the-first-day marathon contacting of text books, you are kidding yourself. That just won’t cut it anymore.

4. If, like someone we could name and shame, you tend to leave your back to school shopping until say, the day before the start of school, then chances are you will miss out on crucial items on the checklist. Items like the 1D binder folders (One Direction to those of you not quite so hip and groovy. Or those of you without daughters), or Taylor Swift lunch boxes.

OMG – One Direction!

5. You need to write a checklist. Yes, I know you thought you were over writing lists and checking them twice. But, with a nod to Molly Meldrum I say, “Do yourself a favour” – and write that damn checklist. It will make you feel a little more in control, and help save you from yourself. No frantic grabbing at everything on the shelves in the hope that something will meet the tween tick of approval.

The checklist.

So, you have to agree – I have been extremely helpful with my suggestion you prepare a checklist.

But now you are holding your breath as you eagerly await the next instalment- the details of said checklist.

Well, clearly it depends on your own particular brand of tween. But for my guys, the essentials for back to school are always:


• A truck load of stationery, particularly exercise books that don’t fall apart after the first time they are tossed in and out of the school bag.

Available at Big W

• A pencil case large enough to house the entire contents of their desk in it. Failing that, said pencil case needs to be big enough to house all the brand new Faber Castell textas and pencils, the sharpies, the grown up pens once they had scored their pen licenses, and of course a stapler, glue stick, scissors and a few of those weird instruments they apparently use for maths.

Available at Big W

• Of course it goes without saying that the pencil case cannot be any ordinary case. Preferably it should be in an assortment of cool colours and designs, even better if it has pictures on it of someone like, say, Harry Styles. (Sorry, another 1D reference there. Am I overplaying the cool card?).

Available at Big W

• As well as your stationery items, don’t forget the kidlets are going to need all the boring but necessary items – things like socks and jocks for the boys, hair ties and possibly even your girl tween’s first ever set of matching bra and knickers.

Available at Big W

• Sure, you can buy items like track pants and shorts from the school uniform shop. But if you are smart, you can save the hassle and some of your hard earned by buying good old brands like Stubbies, with the added bonus they will last longer than the first month of term.

Available at Big W

• It’s a new school year, so yes, it’s time to throw out last year’s lunch box and drink bottle. Apart from the fact last year’s versions are probably covered with some kind of unnamed fungus, your tween’s passions will have changed and last year’s Barbie is this year’s Frozen.

Available at Big W

• Lastly, and only if you can afford it, or you have reached the end of your nagging threshold – there are the electronic items tentatively placed on the checklist. Your iPads, iPhones and any and all other items deemed necessary by your tween to keep them connected enough to survive their day.
My last tip for you, oh exhausted one?

Available at Big W

Think about getting all this from a one-stop shop, like Big W. Either by actually going into the shop, or taking a leaf out of your tween’s book by ordering online.

Think Big W. Think about conveniently located, all the big brands, and think about still having money left over after you’ve ticked off the checklist to buy that medicinal wine.

Happy 2015 to you all.

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BIG W has Australia’s favourite national brands and the lowest prices on everything for the kids going back to school. View our catalogues online or shop in store for all your back to school needs. Visit for more information or sign up to our newsletter here.

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