Some parents can’t wait for it and some parents dread it; either way, it’s going to happen. Yep, it’s back-to-school time. Next week, my eldest moves into Year 1 and my youngest (my baby!) is starting in Nursery, which means her first uniform, full days, and lunch at school.
Personally, I’m a big supporter of school uniforms. No matter what type of school your child attends, having a uniform brings everyone to the same level, which makes things a little less competitive.
Uniforms are also time-savers. Nobody has to think about what to wear when you’re still rubbing the sleep from your eyes. It’s stressful enough trying to get the kids washed, fed, teeth brushed, and out the door without having to debate over which skirt matches which top.
My youngest likes to dress herself in the mornings now, so this often means knickers on back-to-front, and the combination of a dress, with jeans, or shorts with a thick jumper. I was unsure of how she’d take the transition to wearing a uniform.
We headed off to the uniform shop and got everything she’ll need for summer weather. She tried on the cotton sundress, and the shorts and shirt for PE days. She got excited, said it was all so beautiful, and that she couldn’t wait for school. I’m hoping she still feels that way come Monday.
Another plus for kids with uniforms is that they only need a wardrobe for the weekend. Wearing the same thing during the week means you can splurge a bit on better quality, more beautiful, or funkier clothes for your spare time. It also means more fun putting together outfits that really express who they are.
My mother-in-law is a fabulous quilter, and she’s already talked about making memory quilts for the grandchildren by incorporating items of their school uniform like ties, kilts, and the crests. I think this is a great idea, especially if your kids end up attending schools all over the world. Even I kept parts of my uniform from my school days, even though I hated wearing knee-length skirts and knee-high socks at the time.
The only drawback of a school uniform is them having to wear proper shoes. We did the whole measuring length and width back in the UK this summer, got a couple of pairs from Clarks for each of my kids, plus some sneakers for school.
But the fall term can still be pretty hot, and the kids just want to carry on wearing their flip-flops or pumps. Instead, they’ll have to put up with socks and sweaty feet for a while.
With the clothing all sorted, we turned to that other all-important item: the school bag. It’s amazing how much thought your kids put into this particular item. I guess it’s where they can really express their own personality, or it’s their way of following the latest trend.
Frozen bags were everywhere in the UK, but for my youngest it’ll be a big old Hello Kitty rucksack with a matching water bottle holder and pencil case to boot. It’s huge; there’s no way she needs that capacity, but it’s what she wanted.
My eldest is still into dinosaurs, and he’s a terrible hoarder who refuses to get rid of anything, so for now he’s sticking with last year’s T-Rex rucksack – the only thing from last school year still in good condition.
So with this weekend being the final weekend of the holidays, the last thing to organize is the obligatory back-to-school haircut. That means fidgety kids moaning that “it’s taking too long,” which results in lollipop bribery from the hairdresser.
It doesn’t matter if they go a bit shorter than usual; there’s a few months left until the official school photos. By that time, their hair will look great but the uniforms will probably be a mess.
beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent Sally Wilson moved to Beijing in 2010 from the UK with her husband and son. Her daughter was born here in 2011 and both her kids keep her happily busy. In her spare time, Sally loves to stroll through Beijing’s hutongs and parks. She is a (most of the time) keen runner and loves reading: books, magazines, news, and celeb websites – anything really. Sally is also a bit of a foodie and loves trying out new restaurants.
Photos: Caitlin Regan (Flickr), Sally Wilson, Steven Depolo (Flickr)