10 Back To School Rules For Parents of Teenagers

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It's almost time to go back to school and this year, my children will be going into years 8, 10 and 12. I have been thinking about how crazy back to school shopping was when my children were little. It certainly seemed a lot more stressful than it is now. Or maybe I'm just an old hand? 

I thought I would share a little post about how back to school shopping has changed for us now that my kids are older. 

10 Back To School Rules For Parents of Teenagers 

1 - Stationery Shopping is Back

Call me sad but back to school stationery shopping was my absolute favourite thing to do at the end of the school summer holidays when I was little. Now I'm not sure what it's like at your school but for us, all stationery is provided in Primary. Then in Secondary, you need to provide everything yourself so yes, back to school stationery shopping is back! 

This Animal Instincts Sheep range was my all time fave. Sadly my kids don't seem to have the same enthusiasm for stationery shopping as I do and they are happy with the basics. Maybe getting excited over such things is just a millenial thing? 

2 - School Shoes Will Still Cause the Most Arguments 

I clearly remember SO many arguments with my mam about the best girls school shoes to buy. I was always about the highest heel possible where as my mam wanted me to have something less cool but more durable and sensible. 

Fast forward 30 years and I find myself having the exact same arguments with my own teenage daughter. She is clearly starting a one person campaign for Converse to be allowed at school. I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon and we have both (eventually) agreed on some patent leather boots this year.

For boys, make the most of the Clarks shoe era while you can as once they get to secondary it's all about the Firetrap, Timberland & Ted Baker Boots  

3 - School Bags are now Tote Bags 

As much as you try and convince your daughter that a sensible rucksack (like the ones pictured below) is absolutely the right choice, they'll resist as much as they can and opt for either a handbag style or a cotton tote bag. 

I would say pick your battles as even if you do pick a sensible bag for them, they will just refuse to wear it. This year, Dee has picked a Radley Tote Bag. Thankfully, the boys don't really mind what their bag is like so they have a much more sensible choice. 

4 - There's No Point in Buying PE Trainers 

When it comes to girls/boys trainers, at Primary School I always bought a cheap pair that would just live in the kids' PE bag for school. It was so easy! Times change though and now they simply must wear their very best trainers on a muddy field. The school gym is now apparantly a fashion show. 

5 - Cute Packed Lunch Boxes Are No More 

One back to school ritual I actually used to quite enjoy was picking out a themed lunchbox for the kids. I felt like the best mam ever when I'd pack their lunch up in a lunchbag featuring their favourite characters. 

Now my children are in secondary school, they either buy lunch from the school canteen, buy something from Greggs/Subway on the way to school or if they do take lunch from home, just pop it in their bag. Lunch boxes are a thing of the past for us now which is kind of sad but I definitely don't miss having to wash them out every night. Grim! 

6 - Forget About Carrier Bags 

When I was at school, your PE Kit Bag had to be a fancy carrier bag.  Jane Norman / Kookai / French Connection were THE bags to be seen with (but make sure it wasn't a 'sale' carrier bag - the ultimate faux pas). 

This just isn't a thing now though and instead, most teens have a proper kit bag. This is something I can fully get on board with as it's much more sensible. 

7 - Lashes are a Back to School Essential 

I only wore false eyelashes for the first time this year! But for my teenage daughter, they are one of life's essentials and although they are officially not permitted at school, I hear the key is to buy ones that look natural and you can get away with it. 

8 - Prepare to Double / Triple Your Budget 

Back to school with teens is WAY more expensive than with younger kids. Not only do they seem to need more stuff but wearing the 'in' brand is a priority for them now. 

Another thing with most secondary schools is that most will give kids access to the school canteen with no spending cap. In the first week back, it's not unusual for kids to treat all of their friends bacon sandwiches at the start of the day, for them to buy three bottles of Radnor Fresh Orange Juice in one sitting and for them to buy a mid morning snacks every day which apparantly they can't live without. 

At a lot of schools, even if they have no credit on their school lunch account, kids will still be able to buy things and go into debt. Some schools do allow you to pre-order and buy in advance through an app so I do this for my youngest. Otherwise he'd go wild! For everyone else, make sure you set spending rules in advance and monitor these regularly. 

9 - Emails Will Takeover Your Life 

I don't know if I feel it more as I have three kids but wow, the amount of emails you receive when your kids are in Secondary School is CRAZY and it's hard to keep track of them all. My advice is to action an email as soon as you read it - ie put a date in your diary, reply or send payment. Otherwise they'll be long forgotten. 

10 - Get Your Bank Card Ready  

When my kids were in Primary School it was all about cash - send £1 in for non-uniform day, send 50p in for the raffle, a school trip is booked - please send £5 in a named envelope to pay for it. I know some Primary Schools are all online now but ours certainly wasn't. 

It's all online now, usually through something like ParentPay. Don't expect the asking for money to stop though. Lots of things will magically appear on there that you have to pay for and it's especially bad for GCSE students - random calculators, revision guides, flash cards....... 


1 comment

  1. I think back to school shopping is easier as the kids get older. We did a bit of stationery shopping for my youngest yesterday and it is such fun. Yep, the biggest argument here was always over the shoes. hehehe


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