Tuesday 17 September 2019

'Label everything' - Ireland's mammy bloggers share their back to school secrets

From fussy eaters to coping with the first day at school, Denise Smith asks Ireland’s leading blogger mamas for tips on getting little ones ready

Denise Smith

It's the back-to-school count down.

 In the next few days parents around the country will be frantically labelling PE clothes, buying school books and bags, and trying to prep for those early morning starts. Here we talk to some of Ireland's mammy bloggers about how they get their little ones ready and out the door. 


AS A parent and a primary school teacher I see starting school from both perspectives. My concerns are the same as every other parent: I want my child to settle in, make friends and get on well with their teacher. I can rest easy, however, because I know first-hand the huge work and effort teachers put in. Be aware of the language you use and the attitude you have towards your child starting or going back to school.


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Focus on the positives – how exciting starting a new school will be, about seeing their friends again, what fun activities they will get to do. If you are worried that your child is shy or anxious, try not to pass your worries on to your child. Do not compare your child’s behaviour to any other child: each child is unique, and some will take longer to adjust and settle in. For younger children, make sure they can put on and zip up their coats.

Practise opening and closing their lunchboxes and drink bottles – it can help your child’s confidence and independence. Label everything! School books, copies, folder, jumpers, individual twistables (trust me, teachers love this!), lunchboxes – anything that can be lost! And lastly, remember to take a picture even if it is hectic on that first morning. It’s amazing to look back over the years and watch them grow.



FOR us, a big part of getting ready for school is getting into a bedtime routine again. During the summer holidays they are allowed stay up a bit later in the evenings. So, slowly in the two weeks before school starts they (also me) go to bed earlier and get up earlier than we normally do. No more lazy summer morning lie-ins. Black-out blinds are a must to help them sleep and get into that routine again. A new story book can help too. Other than that we wing it and hope for the best once school starts. We also keep to schedule with a wipe board and a weekly calendar.

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I THINK there is something so profound  about your child starting school.  All of the firsts seem important but this one feels monumental. It feels like you are entering a whole new phase of trust for your little one. Trusting a school and a teacher to take care of them, to advocate for them and to essentially complement the way you are raising them. It’s exciting and terrifying all at once. Billy is so excited about starting school, but I know it will be an emotional day.

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I BUY the school uniform and the entire booklist the minute school is out to save the thoughts of having to do it at the end of the summer. EllaMay loves going back to school, she love stationery and has a pencil case full of weird and wonderful things . It definitely keeps her motivated through for school, so I encourage it where I can.




MORNINGS here are hectic, but the key for me is prepping everything the night before. I lay out uniforms/clothes, underwear and socks every night while my partner Joe makes the lunches. It really helps take the pressure

off in the morning trying to get five kids ready for school. I have everything from brushes,  bobbins, coats and shoes ready too. If I didn’t, you can be guaranteed there will be raised voices as we try get out the door on time.

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BLENDING vegetables into sauces and smoothies always helps when it comes to fussy eaters. Don’t give in every time or they’ll never eat what you make. Carter never lets himself go hungry, so he always ends up eating what I give him. Having him help me prepare the food with me also helps too because he’s proud of his creation so he is more likely to eat it then. For his lunch, my go-tos are dry crackers with chicken, a banana and yoghurt. Mini wholemeal wraps are so handy too, and he loves them. He loves bread sticks and rice cakes too.

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