Your guide to back to school essentials 2022. Save money by buying only what you need and choosing quality over quantity.
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2022 is a tricky year for many. We are suffering through a cost of living crisis when many families are going to struggle to heat their homes this winter. With this in mind I have been very careful about what I buy for the children going back to school in September. I have been mindful to only buy what we need and where I am making a new purchase I am making sure that it is something that will last. Here are some of the things that I have bought this summer in preparation for September.
My boys (8 and 3) are in primary school and they don't need to take stationery to school which is great. My girls (11 and 15) do need to take stationery so here is a list of things that I have had to buy. Generally I buy these in the supermarket as they always have offers on but you can also buy a great stationery set on Amazon which has everything they will need for only £10.
Pens - having two children needing to have pens has been great because I have bought a multipack of pens and split it between the two of them. I make sure that they have blue or black writing pens, a green and red pen for marking and some highlighters. We found these great highlighters this year which have a clear nib so it makes it easier to highlight.
Pencils - I always find that pencils tend to get broken or you need a sharpener so this year I bought the girls mechanical pencils and a pot of lead refills. No need for a sharpener and the refills will last a long time. I also really love these sustainable pencils from Sprout Pencils - you can plant them afterwards and grow herbs - very cool!
Maths geometry set - in high school they need a compass and protractor set - these are found really easily in a set for about £3.
Scientific calculator - again this is a must for secondary school.
Tip-ex - not really an essential but my eldest likes to have a tip-ex on hand to cover any mistakes - she prefers the tape version as she doesn't have to wait for it to dry.
Scissors - these are important for if they have to do any cut out work. Go for a small pair with rounded points so that there are no unwanted injuries!
Glue - a pritt stick type glue is useful to have in their pencil case. You can get mini sized ones which are perfect. I bought a pack with a few in and divided them between the girls.
My littlest has a small school bag that we bought from M&S. It is small enough that he can carry it but fits a spare change of clothes, a small lunch box (he has a YumBox) and a bottle of water. I also pop suncream and a sunhat in the front pocket or gloves and a hat in there in the winter. They have lots of different designs so you can choose one your little one likes the best!
My high school children have bigger rucksacks as they need lots of space for books, pencil cases, lunch etc. They have these great rucksacks I got on Amazon which have lots of different compartments. There is even a charging cable so that they can use their charging packs to charge their phones and a place to hook their keys so that they don't lose them.
Lunch box and water bottles
We love the YumBox and have used them for all our children. We also have the snack version too as well as the larger adult ones. They are great for picky eaters like mine! We also have the Montii food flasks which are great for taking warm food into school in winter.
In terms of water bottles I find that spending some money on decent quality ones is the best move as they will withstand being dropped and thrown around. I really like One Green Bottle ones and I have also recently bought Montii bottles too. I use a re-usable coffee cup and I have bought two extra for the girls to take coffee or hot chocolate with them in the mornings, especially in the colder months.
This is a big expense so be mindful with your purchases. I have only needed to buy one new coat for this school term - for my daughter who is going to high school we bought this M&S black puffer jacket. We chose this because she needs a black coat for school and this one is lightweight and packs up easily into her bag if she doesn't want to wear it.
The others have coats that still fit or have coats that I have saved to be passed down from their older siblings.
This is another area of spending where I believe that spending the money on good quality shoes will pay off in the long run. For boys I would recommend getting very sturdy shoes with a rubber edging to prevent scuffs and holes developing. We have these ones from Start-Rite. For girls I always buy patent shoes as I find that they don't get scuffed so easily and it is easy to paint a patent repair over any marks. They are also really easy to shine up quickly with a patent polish sponge.
Now this is where the back to school shop can get expensive. Branded uniform is costly. Some uniform shops offer payment plans, or you can save up the amount that you need over a few months beforehand. Either way I would recommend getting this part of the shop over and done with as soon as you can. Also take a look on local facebook groups or contact the school as there are often people getting rid of perfectly good uniform and there is usually a lost property stash at school that they will be happy to pass out jumpers from.
For the generic uniform bits such as trousers, skirts etc. keep an eye out for sale days - M&S always have a 20% offer at the start of the holidays. Also take a look on selling sites such as Vinted and eBay where you can find some bargains.
Lastly, but probably most importantly is name labels. I would label anything and everything as it will save items getting lost. I buy label stickers from Etsy which are easily stuck to clothing, lunchboxes and water bottles. A top tip is to include the child's name but also your mobile number so if something gets lost, the person who finds it knows who to contact. I have had several items returned to me because of this! It's also a great way of ensuring that younger children always have your phone number on them.
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