Back to School

This year is the last year of having a preschooler. This time next year I will have 5 school going children. The photo there is last years first day photo & I cant believe it was a full year ago! I’m sure if I blink all of them will be off to uni!!


This week its all about the back to school shop. As per usual I left it pretty last minute & took all the kids with me. Its not uncommon for me to be asked ‘how do you manage with back to school’, so here ya go…..

I hit the first shop. Uniforms. Luckily thanks to the powers of peoples generosity we have lots of uniform already. Luis and Amelie luck out as the oldest boy and oldest girl so they always get brand new everything. Luis has a new jumper this year and strict instructions to keep it pristine as it will need to do Maxi a good 2-3 years too. Sadly I know this warning is wasted and that in 4 weeks I’ll drive past the school and see said new jumper rolled up and used as a goal post, or worse, a makeshift football!. The woman in the school shop see’s me coming with my brood & I cant work out if the look on her face is ‘oh god look at all these kids’ or ‘oh good look at all these kids €€’.
“I need 2 jumpers in this size, one in this size, 2 in this size and a pair of joggers”. “No shirts?” she asks, “not for 7 euro a pop” I want to reply but I manage to cover with “oh Im all set thanks” instead. I have an abundance of yellow shirts at home & dye them all back to bright yellow at the start of the term (thrifty). In the time it takes to locate the jumpers the boys have spotted the football socks – apparently the exact shade of green and yellow they need. While the ones I got in Sports Direct for €2 are great, they are a few shades off, also everyone in the world has this particular pair of €4.99 socks from this exact shop. I glare. No one gets the message.
Jumpers are in. I dont even try on anymore – if it doesn’t fit the person its intended for it will either fit someone else or get tumble dried until it shrinks. Cora has seen a baby gift set & is waving it at me “lets get this for baby Kyle”, “oh he is too big for that now Cora..put it back…nooowwwww” (last bit hissed under my breath). She gets the message.
Uniforms are done – packed into a bag & we exit the shop leaving only minimal destruction and two frazzled shop owners in our wake.
Bank balance = -€70
Sanity levels = 90%

We head into Athlone, we need school books, school bags & school shoes.
First shop. Books. Again thanks to the power of older siblings I only need to buy a few books. I have Vivienne’s ready to go, Maxi has his handed down from Luis, Amelie has a few handed down from Maxi & Luis gets all brand spanking new ones. Unlike in the UK there is a fair cost to school here in that parents pay an insurance fee, have to buy the workbooks & textbooks and also have an ‘art and craft/materials’ cover too. At various points during our trip to the book store I curse my decision to move here as if I was in the UK still not only would I not need to worry about back to school for another entire week, I’d just have to rock up on the first day with my M&S clad kids! We get the books we need, I manage to sidestep the lovely Easons copies & bribe everyone with the bulk sets you can get in Mr Price for half the price. “With the money we’ll save we can get drive thru on the way home….only if everyone is good though”, they buy it and are angelic for the next 5.8 seconds. I really want to get a tasteful version of the gaudy times table posters from back in the 90s so make everyone traipse around looking for those. Turns out no such thing exists – bright yellow & red it is then.
Books done – upsell’s declined (I can cover the books myself, because Im a tightwad & find it quite satisfying).
Bank Balance = -€95
Sanity Levels = 70%
Items Cora stole while in the queue = 2
Likelihood I’ll return stolen items = 0 (Im confiscating the purple sharpie but she can keep the ‘I love Ireland’ keyring)

At this point I go against my earlier idea of getting all the stationary stuff in Mr Price & chance a visit to Tiger, I send Luis along to starbucks to get me a gigantic double shot ice latte & ask him to find out when Pumpkin Spice is coming back. He returns 2 minutes later with an americano, no news of PSL season & a cookie. I cant get cross so I shrug and tell him he has to share with everyone. One bite of the cookie each.
In Tiger we manage to pick up lots of really unpractical stationary which will last no longer than the first 3 days in school & a really nice glass jug and some candles. I still need to go to Mr Price.
Bank Balance = -€35
Sanity = 50% (everyone is getting restless)
Items stolen = 0 (thankful for this).

Its on to shoes. We take one look in JD Sports and I decide against spending the best part of €200 on 3 pairs of shoes & tell everyone we are going to Tullamore sports direct tomorrow where they can have whatever is on sale in their size. The boys, sensing my mental exhaustion at this point, decide now is a good time to begin the campaign for new football boots. Maxi tells me “The stud in mine is gone the other way so it pokes my foot” – You have to give the boy credit for that blatant lie & the big blue peepers boring into my soul nearly make me cave & get him new ones but Im strong!.The two of them continue to chat about spending my hard earned cash on all manner of Neymar boots & Messi skinnies because the school tracksuit bottoms aren’t cool and they must have Nike or Adidas.
Shoes purchased = 0
Headaches gained = 1
Wasted time getting in & out of the shop = 20 minutes.

Dunnes next and Im overcome with a sense of peace when I walk in the doors. I just know Dunnes is gonna have my back with well priced, reasonable & great quality polo shirts & Joggers. I need age 3-4 joggers for my tiny legged tot who starts school this year. I tell the big kids (Luis, Maxi & Amelie) that we need to make a fuss of Vivi picking her bag & a few bits to get her excited for going back to school. We walk in and she heads straight for the Paul Costello home section & stars raving over throw cushions & smelling all the candles. I don’t know where I got her from. “Come on Sass we need to pick out a backpack for you for school”, “No. Thats boring.”. We walk down a little further where she picks up a pale pink satin clutch bag “oooooh I like this one, lets get it”. Again, I dont know where I got her from.
We finally make it to the school section – “Luis get yourself a packet of socks, size 2+, Maxi you need a pack in size 1, Amelie you can pick some nice white socks with the bows on you look for size 11 and up”. This buys me about 3 minutes with Vivi and Cora to get Vivi to pick her new backpack. Cora goes on the thieve and I try and lock down Vivi into picking a “big girl school bag”. Thankfully we’ve left it so late there is only a choice of two. One is literally twice the size of her and the other is pink. “These are bad, I want the robot backpack”. She is talking about the Prada Robot bag which is a cool €2900, she ‘reads’ my magazines whilst pooping and saw it in there. “You can order it out of that book in the toilet”,. “Ok Viv this is the only bag in here that wont down you, its this or take your stuff to school in a lidl bag”, at this point Im getting exasperated & other parents are looking at me. She caves and gets the bag but makes sure she sulks the whole way to the till, I put back the 20 items Cora has picked up & re-pick plain coloured socks for the kids. We get the age 3-4 joggers too which Vivi tells me she will under no circumstances be wearing!. Get to the till and all the assistants scarper because no one wants to serve the woman with 5 kids and frizzy hair who at this point is looking fit to kill. “No I dont have a dunnes reward card but I should get one, NO NOT NOW SUSAN CANT YOU SEE IM A WOMAN ON THE EDGE!!!”.
Bank Balance = -€140
Sanity levels = 20%
Flasks for hot drinks purchased = 5
Number of children who actually like hot drinks = 2
Dunnes reward club points missed out on = 225

On the way home I contemplate popping to the other Dunnes to do a food shop or even stopping in Tesco. Every year I vow to move away from cheese sandwiches, fruit & other random cupboard crap in the lunchbox. Every year after one week of being like the Martha Stewart of lunch boxes & making homemade granola bars I get over myself and go back to old reliable buying everything in Lidl and bunging it in sandwich bags. Driving home  I ask everyone what they want in their lunches. Maxi only wants lunchables & a hot chocolate in his flask. Luis is apparently too cool to eat now and also too cool for his lunchbox with his name embroidered on. He’ll just take a tuppaware with a protein bar in & a sports bottle of water, preferably Evian. The girls want sandwiches cut into the shape of a pony & mini fruit pots, smoothies & tea in a flask. Im impressed with some of the healthier choices that have come out (smoothies & fruit pots) but at the standard ‘yell what food you want at me while I try and order’ debacle at the Drive Thru everyone wants cheeseburgers, nuggets & coke, not so healthy after all!.
Bank Balance = -€42
Sanity Levels = 0
Number of items on our order that McDonalds got wrong = 4
Number of chicken nuggets I ate from the kids left overs = 4.

This summer has flown by & for all the drama of back to school shopping I’m actually really going to miss them all 🙁 While Im looking forward to having 5 mornings to myself so that I can work, I am so excited for walks home from school (my challenge was to make sure I can walk down to the school in September & Im not too far off) and getting cosy with after school snacks & the joys of homework!.

Bank Balance = I think we are in more debt than most African nations now.
Number of kids kitted out for school & preschool = 5
Number of exhausted mums = 1
Number of Dads seriously considering the financial benefits of vasectomy = 1
Items forgotten about = 2 school coats, 3 tin whistles, 1 gum shield, 1 maths set.
Number of fucks I give about being the perfect back to school parent = 0

Happy back to school week everyone – as always find me on Instagram or Facebook.