Why uniform swaps are the way to go
For Laura Allen, mother of four school-going children, uniforms are a godsend.
"I just couldn't imagine getting all four of them out the door in the morning if we had to pick out clothes each day," she says.
All four children -- Ronan (11), Reuben (9), Theo (8) and Carmen (-6) -- go to St Oliver Plunkett School in Malahide, Co Dublin. The great advantage of that, according to Mrs Allen, is that uniform items can be handed down from child to child.
"For the younger two this year, I'm going to make do with hand-me-downs," she says. "The older two need new tracksuits and grey pants."
Many of the uniform items are available from the school and there are also regular swap events for second-hand items.
"People are great these days in the area. They'll pass on stuff that doesn't fit their kids any more and I do the same," she says.
"I know some people want everything pristine but I don't mind too much if the colours have faded a bit. So long as the clothes aren't full of holes," she adds.
The school allows parents to pick and choose between polo-shirts and regular shirts, jumper or tracksuit tops. "I always go for the polo shirts because unless you wash it really badly it doesn't need ironing. There's no way I'd be able to iron shirts for them fresh every morning."
The biggest expense is shoes and trainers. "I tend to buy more expensive shoes and trainers. I've tried the cheaper types but you just end up having to replace them. I pay about €50 or €60 for each of them. The shoes will last a year but the trainers don't."
Probably because there is a large selection of uniform items from older children already in the house, Mrs Allen doesn't necessarily replace things at the start of every school year.
"They won't necessarily get new shoes for September. I only buy when things need replacing and that can be at any time," she says.
Irish Independent Supplement