YOU have never truly felt tension and desperation of such palpable levels until you have entered a school uniform shop the week before the end of the summer holidays.
These last balmy days of the school break should be full of lie-ins and movie nights, and for the summer-holiday frazzled parents and carers, the final days off from the school run.
However, if you happen to have children in your life you will know the reality is no picnic. Getting them fitted for new school shoes, last-minute projects and name tags – flipping name tags.
I have learnt after a decade of the mum game that shopping early and buying online is essential. I refuse to bring out the Jekyll and Hyde in myself by being nose to tail with 100 other parents jostling for the last pair of size 12 plimsolls.
I have made the mistake before and, nope, never again. I remember as a child thinking it was almost cruel that the supermarkets put up “back to school” posters the minute the children broke up for the summer.
We had only just bid farewell to reading, writing and arithmetic and here they were trying to sell us a new pinafore and get us back in. Now I realise they were actually trying to save the relationships of children and parents nationwide.
Supermarkets are doing us all a favour by encouraging us to shop early – anything to avoid that awkward moment when Mum forces you to walk up and down the aisle, trying on ugly school shoes, while your mates from class smirk from the sidelines.
The “back to school” marketing should also serve as a warning to parents, so that they never have to say “everybody’s blazer is going to be a bit big” to their poor Year 7 starter, swamped in an ill-fitting jacket when their actual size has sold out.
So if you aren’t blessed with young children, and happen to be strolling down the high street on what appears to be a normal Friday when you see frazzled families and grumpy kids, remember it could be the last days before back to school. The mad dash is real.
I’ve picked up some useful tips to save my sanity over the years. Here they are:
ORDER ONLINE: Most online stores allow you to return either in-store or at a drop-off if you order two sizes and one doesn’t fit.
MEASURE AT HOME: You don’t even need to step foot in a shoe shop these days. Start-Rite has an app to help you measure your child’s feet at home.
QUICK STAMPS: Stamptastic.co.uk is a dream for labelling uniforms, gym kit, shoes and bags. Order a personalised stamp. Trust me, the ink will not budge.