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Unisex pure merino wool jumper from €17.50, pleat front classic trousers €12, pencil skirt from €11, two pack blouse from €12, fashion blazer from €30, slim leg trousers from €12, pin tuck blouse(two pack) from €12 and lined pleated skirt from €12.

Unisex pure merino wool jumper from €17.50, pleat front classic trousers €12, pencil skirt from €11, two pack blouse from €12, fashion blazer from €30, slim leg trousers from €12, pin tuck blouse(two pack) from €12 and lined pleated skirt from €12

Schools have not yet finished but preparations for back to school have already begun. My little man is starting big school this year and I have to order his uniform next week! Up until now big school has been met with a mixture of anxieties and excitement but today when I got the letter he burst into tears telling me “its ok mum you don’t have to send me to big school. I’m just fine where I am and my friends will miss me”

 

I explained how exciting it is to be a big boy and meet new friends. We talked about visiting the school and James even suggested that we practice walking there, which I thought was a great idea. Throughout the summer I plan on making the transition as gradual and seamless as possible although I’m well aware that on the day nothing is guaranteed except for my tears.

 

The key to all change is preparation and if I take short cuts as a parent I do but my only rule is make sure they are worthwhile. James is a typical boy, even when he’s standing still he attracts dirt like a magnet, buttoning his shirt is like trying to button up a wriggly worm and every pair of shoes he has look old when they are new. I’m also a typical mum and I hate washing and ironing but it seems Marks and Spencers have been secretly living with me, as they have thought all of this through.

 

The new M&S Back to School Collection boasts three new innovations this year to make uniforms even easier to wear and easier to care for.  Their trousers, skirts, shorts, blazers and coats feature Triple Action Stormwear, which is water repellent, stain repellent and makes washing a breeze. I think we can all remember rough and scratchy jumpers at school but thanks to Staysoft, a durable softener that keeps clothes soft no matter how many times you wash them, itchy scratchy jumpers are now a thing of the past.

The adjust-a-cuff sleeves!! Ultimate non-iron blouse from €12​

The adjust-a-cuff sleeves!!
Ultimate non-iron blouse from €12​

I keep telling James to stop growing and he giggles telling me I’m a silly mum as that’s what kids do and as kids are always growing it can be frustrating if they have a growth spurt when you have just bought a new uniform but now you will be able to keep kids in their clothes for longer with Adjust-A-Cuff which gives an extra 3cm to blazer sleeves and Adjust-A-Hem trousers. Both hems and cuffs can be very simply altered without the use of a needle and thread. You simply unpick, alter and press. The magic of the Adjustable Waist also means that they won’t need a new uniform every time they grow.

Slim-Leg-Trousers-from-€17.50

Slim-Leg-Trousers-from-€17.50

 

In each age group there are also selected items in a wider or slimmer fit, and longer or shorter length, taking the guesswork out of buying schoolwear. We all know our kids best and how they grow so this is a great idea. Their Plus Fit is a generous extra 6cm through the chest, waist and hips and the Slim Fit ranges are cut 4cm smaller through the chest, waist and hips. You can also choose from Longer and shorter length skirts and trousers. There are 4cm longer or shorter Length options to match your child’s proportions perfectly.

 

Girls' Crease Resistant Bib Pinafore with Stormwear+™ from €13.50

Girls’ Crease Resistant Bib Pinafore with Stormwear+™ from €13.50

Everything can be thrown in the washer and dryer and ironing is now a thing of the past. Their Ultimate Non-Iron shirts are crinkle free, fresh from the tumble drier and to make life even easier, their trousers have Supercrease technology which offers a permanent central crease even after washing while Permanent Pleats on skirts and pinafores ensure the pleats stay crisp and defined wash after wash.  Even when they are wearing the clothes the Crease Resistant technology will stop the clothes from creasing and ensure creases fall out more easily.

 

From the first day of term to the end-of-year photo, Staynew ensures their uniforms remain bright and bobble free, while Colour Stay prevents clothes from fading in the wash.  Scuff Resistant technology also makes sure their shoes stand up to playground rough and tumble so they look good for longer.

 

I have to admit my favourite feature is the Easy Close Neck, which has riptape instead of buttons and the Expandicuff (elasticated cuffs) on selected shirts and blouses up to age eight.

Please see page 14 of the Schoolwear 2014-15 collection (1)

Cargo shorts from €9.50

 

M&S has Sealed Hems on all boys’ and selected girls’ trousers to ensure the hems will stay up for longer, Engineered Seams on ultimate non-iron shirts to give a smoother appearance and Heat Sealed Buttons on blazers to save time spent on sewing.

 

A lot of kids can have skin issues like eczema or psoriasis and Skinkindclothing has flat seams, soft trims and no latex, which makes it perfect for sensitive skin. Their sportswear also allows the skin to breathe drawing moisture away from the skin keeping your child cool and fresh while Fresh Feet ensures socks and sports trainers stay odour free by combating the bacteria that causes odour!!

All of these features save time and money for parents. Investing in a good uniform at the beginning of the year leaves you with the comfort and confidence that you won’t have to do it all again till next year. Well let me tell you if anymore can road test an innovation it’s my five year old. So now that I can look forward to a wrinkle free future, all I need to do is think about how to fill all my free time.

Take the stress out of going back to school and purchase uniforms from the comfort of your own home at www.marksandspencer.ie the new M&S Back to School Collection was launched on June 3rd.

Whitewater’s Back-to-School Family Fun Festival is running from Wednesday 20th until Sunday 31st of August at Whitewater Shopping Centre, Newbridge.​

summer activities-2

The  Family Fun Festival schedule includes stilt walkers, story telling, bubble displays, magic shows and face painting for  children as well as up-beat string quartets and a live Minillan band for all the family to enjoy.

Whitewater’s Summer Kid’s Club will also draw to a close with the last two weeks featuring special guest Merlin The Magician and his magic show on the 21st of August, followed by the season finale, a week later on the 28th of August with a Teddy Bears picnic rounding off the most successful Kids’ Club series to date.

I’m absolutely gutted that I can’t make this years highlight, a visit from much-loved cartoon hero Fire Man Sam, who will visit the Newbridge centre on Sunday 31st of August from 1-4 pm. James is obsessed with fireman Sam and we are constantly putting out fires in Pontypandy.

These shows are to run hourly from 1pm and will feature a free Pontypandy welcome mini-show, music from the hit show as well as opportunities for children to meet and greet Fireman Sam.

There will also be face painting taking place on the day. Face painting is free, however, donations are encouraged to the Newbridge branch of Downs Syndrome Ireland, collecting in the centre on the day.

fireman same a4

 

AS PRINTED IN THE MAIL ON SUNDAY AUG 10TH 2014:

photo (57)

 

New beginnings can be daunting especially for kids. Going to big school or indeed preschool like James is exciting  but it does bring about change, which can make them feel a little nervous or scared.

The Toddler Inn which is James crèche/preschool have recently moved James upstairs to the preschool room as  he has been in school all summer and they thought it might be nice to ease him in.

This was met with great excitement. I could barely utter a word at home without constantly being reminded that    he is now a big boy. He even woke one morning and told me he was the boss. It was at this point I knew we had to  have a chat.

 

However I came to understand quite quickly that his expectations were not playing out like he had thought in  preschool. He had joined some of the older boys and girls who had already been in that class and had formed  their friends already. Some of the new kids didn’t share his passion for all things dinosaurs and then the worst  possible life event happened- James broke up with Holly!

 

Holly had also moved upstairs and James said that she had started to play with the older boys and wouldn’t play with him anymore. Now you need to understand that this was a stable long-term relationship that had been going on for well over a year. We were all shocked including nana, so you can imagine my horror when James announced that he was now going out with Lauren and they were getting married. ‘But I thought you were marrying Sophia the first from the Disney cartoon’ I said. This option was far safer for me as I knew that they would never meet. However having to deal with the situation in hand, I explained that I felt he was moving on too quickly after Holly and that they should take their time. I explained that he had the rest of his life ahead of him and that there was plenty of time for thinking about marriage in the future.

He was sitting in the back of the car eating a cornetto but it looked like the cornetto had eaten him when through a white ice cream covered face, two little eyes looked at me and simply said ‘ok mum’!

The main lesson I learnt here is that these worries only stick around for a while but I also learnt that to James they are huge.

The next day James hugged me and said thanks for everything mum now can I go back downstairs I miss the babies and Rosie, who was his teacher. It made me realize that no matter what stage of life you’re at its difficult sometimes to cope with change.

I certainly know that as an adult I have to push myself through fear barriers every day. The trick is not to pass any anxiety onto them. Be open and really try and listen.

Ask open questions like ‘how are you feeling about going back to school?’ ‘are you excited?’ or ‘Are you nervous?’ to draw them out a bit. Kids are so unique so their worry might not be anything you’d consider.

If it’s a new school and it’s unfamiliar I would definitely recommend a visit to  the school. Have a walk around so it becomes familiar. Create a buzz and chat about your first day at school (if you remember)!

If you’re child is leaving a preschool where none of the other kids will be joining him or her in big school try and make some kind of connection with other parents locally. Sometimes the school can help with this or there could be an online forum for the school. Carpooling is also a great idea.

As parents, try and support each other as much as possible. Your child’s first day at school is emotional or if you’re me every time something new happens its emotional. I cried when I dropped him upstairs from downstairs for heavens sake. What on earth will I be like when he actually moves building?

 

MY TOP TIPS:

1. Most kids are quite resilient so don’t project your anxieties onto them.

2. Organize to be present and available especially in the early days. If working parents could organize that for the first day they are there to drop off and pick up if possible. If you’re not able to be there, perhaps a trusted close friend or family member could step in to ease the transition.

3. Children thrive on reassurances so make sure you let them know that everything will be ok.

4. You can never be sure how your child will react when you get there. They might feel overwhelmed and get very upset so plan for this and if necessary stay with them until they’re settled maybe leaving an item of comfort for them to mind until you return. We have an imaginary fairy called freckles that stays to mind James when he’s a bit teary which can happen from time to time.

5. Try and save some money and sanity by keeping an eye out for deals and being prepared the night before. I know when I lay clothes and shoes out ready to go life runs much smoother the next day as I’m simply just not a morning person.

6. Finally take a picture. Your baby is starting school now and a whole new world of adventures await.

BACK TO SCHOOL COSTS -(As  printed in the Daily Mail)

Barnardos back to school

What do you think about the high cost of going back to school?

My view is very simple education should be equal across the board giving every single child a chance to become the best that they can be. Now I know we don’t live in a perfect world but we could live in a better country that values our youth and invests in future generations.

Surely investing in our youth is an investment in our future economy – or do politicians just not care. It does surprise me sometimes how common sense isn’t very common here. From the minute you have children in Ireland most people will be broke. God forbid you, like me, want to go to work and need childcare, as that’s the equivalent to a second mortgage.

There is enormous pressure put on parents and while some schools have stepped up to the plate and introduced things like book rental schemes, it shouldn’t be left to the schools and parents alone. It really is time the government took education seriously and created a fair system, where we are not having the same conversation year in, year out.

The Barnardos report released on Tuesday 29th July very clearly shows that children are the ones suffering here. I was shocked to read that the seemingly voluntary contributions schools ask for are not that “voluntary” after all, with some schools going as far as relentlessly persuing parents via letters, emails and texts.

Other methods included reminders in newsletters or children even being denied a school journal or lockers if the payment was not paid. This kind of practice is incredibly humiliating for a child and surely we’ve moved on in modern Ireland from this type of behaviour??

Parents should be able to shop around for uniforms and emblems or crests should be sold separately (if really necessary) so they can be attached after. I am a big fan of uniforms though because I do believe it reduces the competition especially at secondary level with designer labels. I lived in the states for years and witnessed first hand just how important your clothing became which is just another distraction from learning.

A good education is the greatest gift we can give our children. We’re learning till the day we die. Education opens doors and creates opportunities for a better future for everyone. I’m returning to college myself in September again for another few years to follow my dreams. Our government is shattering our young peoples dreams before they’ve even begun.

CASH SAVING TIPS:

1. Second hand all the way. Ask around for second hand books. We always covered ours and the rule was no writing on them so they could be passed on.

2. Look for deals on uniforms and let down the hems if you can to get more time out of them

3. Some stores have great sales on uniforms in early October. Squeeze into your old one for a month until you get a great deal and always buy it slightly bigger.

4. Always bring a healthy packed lunch instead of giving money it will be cheaper in the long run.