Katie Kirby’s countdown to the return to school

Katie Kirby, parent and author of the hit Lottie Brooks series, counts down to the start of school and shares the different ways those on the parenting frontline can prep for the big day.

Katie Kirby

After what seems like 11 billion years the school holidays and nearly (finally) over. Much as we like to pretend to ourselves that the summer will be a wonderful mix of downtime and quality family bonding, I think most parents will admit that six weeks of trying to work and construct a complicated Jenga tower of playdates, kids’ clubs, and expensive day trips is just a bit… much.

So, as we edge towards the holy grail of BACK TO SCHOOL, here are a few tips for surviving the last couple of weeks…

1. First up let’s put day trips in the bin. They are OVER. We have no money left! Whoever knew entry to a ‘Fun Family Farm’ would cost nearly £100?! And whoever invented Frappuccinos and Bubble Tea needs to have a serious word with themselves because spending nearly a fiver on a drink is just ludicrous. Let’s all go back to cheese sandwiches and summer fruits squash in front of the telly, please.

Illustration: Katie Kirby

2. OH NO! You’ve been so busy #makingmemories at the aforementioned ‘Fun Family Farm’ that you’ve forgotten to order any new school uniform, and everything is now sold out. Curse yourself for not being more organised this year (even though you forget every year). Sigh. The kids will have to go back in their pen-stained shirts and chewed jumpers but at least it’s saved you a bit of dosh.

3. Which reminds me - you’ve also forgotten to book an appointment at Clarks for new school shoes so you now face the choice of spending 2 hours waiting for your number to be called like it's an uber-expensive delicatessen for the feet. OR, and here’s an idea… just buy them off the peg somewhere a lot cheaper – I’ve been doing that for years and their feet haven’t turned into troll claws (yet).

4. Kill an afternoon shopping for school accessories. Kids can spend hours debating their choice of school bag, water bottle, rubbers, pencils, and the BIG ONE… pencil case.

Illustration: Katie Kirby

5. Gradually start bringing back bedtime to a more acceptable time. Resist the moans of ‘BUT ALL MY FRIENDS GO TO BED AT 10.30 PM ON A SCHOOL NIGHT.' It’s just fake news and I for one am looking forward to taking back control of the TV in the evenings.

6. Book haircuts. If they refuse to go, try to at least get a brush through their barnet so they don’t return to school looking like Bilbo Baggins.

7. One sleep to go! Get ahead of yourself – prep their school bag and iron their uniforms the night before. Sorry scratch that, I must be going mad - who has the time?! I don’t even know if I own an iron…  

8. The day is finally here! Wake up late and spend 45 minutes running around the house like a headless chicken looking for their P. E. shorts. Whey! Oh, why can’t you be more organised?!

9. Insist on taking a hideous photo of your darling offspring to post on Facebook. Embarrassing your kids is the best part of parenthood so make the most of it – the grumpier the face the better.

Illustration: Katie Kirby

10. OMG They’ve gone…  listen, what’s that noise? It’s pure NOTHING and it sounds so good!

11. Reward yourself for being such an excellent parent this summer by treating yourself to a spa break. If you can’t afford a spa break due to all of the aforementioned Frappuccinos and Bubble Tea (likely) then just barricade yourself in a dark room.

12. Hang on what’s that strange uneasy feeling? It can’t be melancholy, can it?! Summer wasn’t so bad when you think about it… remember when the goat did a massive fart at the Fun Family Farm and none of you could stop laughing for 10 minutes – that was a good day! Oh no, are you actually starting to miss the kids a bit? Why do they grow up so fast? Dammit, why is parenting so confusing?!?!

Illustration: Katie Kirby

The Lottie Brooks series

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