Tag Archives: Back to school

Back to Hogwarts – back to school in style with Hogwarts

AD – PR Sample, we were sent some Harry Potter Hogwarts back to school accessories for the purposes of this review. All images and opinions are our own.

I am happy to hold my hands up to say that I hate all the back to school shopping. All the queuing around shopping centres to get the equipment he needs and all of the uniform faff. These days I’m very happy to order it all online and have done with it. I tend to leave buying things until the last minute, lest he has a sudden and unexpected growth spurt. Whilst his uniform is fairly generic, it’s in his accessories where he likes to express himself. This year, Hogwarts is the favoured theme.

Back to Hogwarts - back to school in style with Hogwarts

We’ve long been fans of Harry Potter, and the perennial question of which Hogwarts House would the sorting hat choose for us is one which we continue to argue about. I’ve taken all the online quizzes and I get a different answer each time, you might a well shove me in Slytherin and throw away the key. The boy however is Hufflepuff, or at least he is this week.

Hogwarts House Backpack

Every Harry Potter fan needs a backpack for school and the new Hogwarts Houses backpacks are brilliant. Each one comes in the House colour with the coat of arms too. They look very smart, they’re vegan and big enough to carry everything he needs for the school day. In fact, they’re the perfect size for my work day too, so once I settle on a House (the Ravenclaw one is a beautiful colour), I will be getting a new one for work. They cost £14 and are padded in all the right places. I’m a big fan.

Back to Hogwarts - back to school in style with Hogwarts

Harry Potter Lunch Bag & Water Bottle

The Harry Potter lunch bag is also a big hit. The very cute cartoon figures of Harry, Hermione and Ron are really eye catching, so I know he’ll be able to find his lunch in a pile of other bags and boxes. The bag comes with a carry handle, yellow piping around the zip closure and a handy name tag section on the back. There’s plenty of room inside for a hearty lunch for a budding wizard. The lunch bag costs £7, but is currently £6 at ASDA.

Alongside the lunch bag, there’s a distinctive water bottle. In school, everyone has their own water bottle in class which they fill up every day. This has a 473ml capacity, and all over print design with a yellow screw-on lid featuring a flip up spout and carry handle. The water bottle is £4 but currently £3 at ASDA.

Harry Potter Stationery

Everyone loves stationery and ASDA have an awful love of the Harry Potter range available. We have the pencil case which comes with a pen, a pencil, a ruler, a rubber and a pencil sharpener. It costs just £2 and apart from the need for spares, that’s everything my son needs for his school year. At that price I’d be tempted to buy a couple and keep one for spares when he loses bits and pieces. ASDA also have notebooks, pens, pencils, pretty much everything you could think of for the return to school.

Back to Hogwarts - back to school in style with Hogwarts

Thankfully, apart from school shoes, he is all set for going back to school this week. I’m not sure how much he is looking forward to it, these are strange times we are living in and school will be quite a bit different for him. We’ve been filling the last few days before he goes back with fun things. We’ve spent a couple of days building the new LEGO Hedwig figure, which is suitable for ages 10+. It’s quite a complicated build, but very satisfying. Once it’s finished, his wings will flap when you turn the handle. It’s only £34.97, but it’s kept us both quiet for a couple of days. Brilliant fun.

Back to Hogwarts - back to school in style with Hogwarts

What do you think of the new Hogwarts back to school range? Which Hogwarts House would you be in?

Putting Trutex School Uniform to the test

We were sent these items from Trutex for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

My son grows like a weed. Every couple of months he seems to shoot up another inch and he needs a whole new school uniform. With him also enjoying the rough and tumble of school life, he also needs a school uniform which will stand up to the rigours of crawling about in the playground, or a boil wash after an especially beany school dinner. Over the last few weeks we’ve been putting his new Trutex school uniform through its paces.

Putting Trutex School Uniform to the test

We have had Trutex school uniforms before and they’ve always been warm and comfortable, they’ve washed well and tolerated the beating my son manages to give his clothes during the average school day.

School trousers

For us, we are regular buyers of school trousers, his legs seem to grow quicker than anything and before long they’re half-mast and in need of replacing. We chose a pair of the charcoal sturdy fit trouser with internal adjuster. I’m a big fan of the internal adjuster; the tape inside the waistband which you can adjust to tighten or loosen the waistband. I think all trousers should have this, even adult trousers. The trousers come with “TrutexStay Smart technology” which makes washing and ironing easier, the trouser creases are permanent and they have a stain resistant finish. There’s also a hidden side pocket to zip up small valuables; valuables to my boy are mostly marbles and conkers, but it’s handy to have. These trousers cost £16.99 per pair, my son has been wearing them since Christmas and they look as good as new.

Putting Trutex School Uniform to the test

School jumpers

We are lucky that my son’s school lets children wear uniform which doesn’t have the school badge on. This makes shopping for jumpers a lot easier and cheaper too. The crew neck sweatshirt from Trutex costs £9.99 but will likely last a whole year before he grows out of it (legs are the fast growing danger-zone in our house). At £9.99 a jumper we usually get 2 or 3 to last the year and hope he doesn’t have any major wardrobe malfunctions while he’s wearing it.

The crew neck sweatshirt is available in a rainbow of colours. Our school is resolutely navy, so we plumped for that. It’s a soft, regular fit sweatshirt which has reinforced seams, to help withstand the school day. It’s a very solid uniform choice and I would happily buy and buy these until he leaves school.

Cosy Fleece Jacket

For my son, the star of the show is this Polar Fleece jacket from Trutex. Not only is it available in his school colours, it’s warm, cosy and comfortable. He often ditches his school jumper in favour of this, as he’s not a fan of too many layers. The jacket costs £13.99 and is so popular with my lad, I’m going to buy him another couple in different colours to wear out of school too. It’s stood the test of time and still looks as good as new. I’m a big fan of the school uniform fleece; especially for boys like mine who have some sensory needs and don’t always love to be bundled up in a jumper. Fleeces are such easy care too and dry almost instantly after a wash.  

Back to School: Putting Trutex School Uniform to the test

When it comes to school uniforms, we need well-made pieces which can stand up to rough play and frequent washing. My boy has been wearing his new uniform since Christmas, and after a few months of rough and tumble, it’s all still looking as good as new, we can’t fault it.

For more information about Trutex and to check out their range, visit their website.

Note: I originally wrote this post back in March 2020. Due to lockdown it has been sat in my drafts ever since. Good luck if you’re returning to school next month.

Six Children’s Books About Starting School

In England, the start of the school year is just a few short days away. It’s a time of year I have very mixed feelings about. I’ll be glad for my son to be back with his friends and in more of a routine, but I’ll also miss spending time with him and having him to myself. I remember when he started school and how nervous he was and how much more nervous I was. It’s a huge landmark in a child’s life and it does need preparing for. With that in mind, I’ve picked out six children’s books about starting school, which might help smooth the transition!

Six Children’s Books About Starting School

Charlie and Lola: I Am Too Absolutely Small For School by Lauren Child. I adore Charlie and Lola, the Charlie and Lola books are relatable and fun to read. This classic picture book is all about starting school and all the worries children might have about that.

Lola says, “I am absolutely not BIG. I am still really quite small. I probably do not have time to go to school. I am too extremely busy doing important things at home.”

Which is the kind of thing my son says about going to school too!

Six Children's Books About Starting School

My First Day by Leilani Sparrow is a lovely rhyming book for children getting ready for their first day at school. Each page covers what might happen on their first day, such as a making new friends, having a snack and maybe falling over. The illustrations are lovely and the rhymes are simple too. It’s a lovely book for little ones nearing their big day!

Topsy and Tim Start School by Jean Adamson. Topsy and Tim Start School is a lovely, reassuring picture book for children who are just about to start school. Topsy and Tim learn what to expect in lessons and in the playground. They find out all about school dinners and that school can be lots of fun too! I remember reading Topsy and Tim books when I was little and it’s so lovely to be able to sit and read them with my son too.

Do I Have to Go to School? A First Look at Starting School by Pat Thomas. Do I have to go to school is a beautifully illustrated picture book for children who are starting school for the first time. Going to school can be a huge change for young children, this book encourages children to discover the joy of learning new things, meeting new people and having new experiences. Written by a psychologist, this is a really helpful book for those who might be nervous about their first day.

I’m Going to School by Chris Dickason is a great little activity book to help children prepare for starting school. There are lots of colouring in pages, places to stick pictures and lots of scope to discuss what happens at school. It’s a good book to work on over the first few weeks of school too.

Starting School by Allan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg. From first day nerves to finding your peg, this reassuring read is full of good humour and fun for children and parents alike. This classic picture book offers advice and enjoyment for the whole family before school starts, all in a lovely Ahlberg style which children and adults both love. It’s such a good book, you wont just be reading it at the start of term!

Good luck for the new school year!

Six Children's Books About Starting School

Review: Petit Ferdinand Customised Labels

Since my son started school four years ago, I’ve lost count of the number of hours I’ve lost rummaging through the school lost property box. One week he managed to lose three jumpers! The school are generally pretty good; as long as things are clearly labelled, they usually end up finding their way back home.

Four years ago I invested in some sew on labels. This was a big mistake, having to sit and sew on labels on all his polo shirts, jumpers, trousers, PE kit and coats took far longer than I anticipated; but I soon discovered iron on labels and better still, stick on labels. These are complete game changers and save hours and hours of my time every year.

Review: Petit Ferdinand Customised Labels

My latest batch of name labels have come from Petit Ferdinand and I opted for the £30 value pack which includes; 20 stick-on clothing name labels, 20 iron-on clothing name labels, 40 stick-on item name labels, 10 stick-on shoe labels, 30 stick-on item name labels and 20 stick-on item name labels. That’s 140 name labels in total.

You can customise your labels with different colours, fonts and images; which all help them to stand out in a pile of lost property. The value pack comes in a booklet which keeps them all together. There are simple instructions on how to apply them and make them stick to clothes, shoes or bits of kit like water bottles.

Review: Petit Ferdinand Customised Labels

They’re easy to use and really help my son spot his jumper in a pile of identical school jumpers. This pack from Petit Ferdinand will last us at least two years and I think they’re excellent value.

I’ve moved on from the dark days of those dreadful sew on labels. I absolutely refuse to go back to laboriously sewing them into clothes; stick-on name labels are the future and for £30 for 140 name labels you can’t really go wrong.

Review: Petit Ferdinand Customised Labels

For more information about Petit Ferdinand, or to order some name labels, visit their website.

Disclaimer: I was sent a value pack of Petit Ferdinand name labels for review purposes. All images and opinions are my own.

Treads School Shoes – Are they indestructible?

I’m not sure what my 7 year old son does with his school shoes. Within a day or two of wearing them, they are usually scuffed and fraying. I constantly despair that I spend around £50 a time on something which within 48 hours of first wear look like they’ve been run over by a truck. Treads are a new kind of shoe. They come with a one year guarantee and are said to be indestructible. But can they cope with the treatment my son routinely dishes out to his footwear?

We chose the Madrid style, which is the style of show he usually wears for school. They have velcro straps to fasten them and are comfortable, trainer style shoes, but smart enough to pass a uniform inspection. They are £45 (but are currently just £35 – a bargain!).

Treads School Shoes - Are they indestructible?

These Madrid school shoes are designed for active children. They’re made with soft permair leather and the tough, durable sole is moulded to the upper, so no glue. They have reinforced heels, reinforced seams, they’re scuff proof and have a shock absorbing insole. They appear to be very well-made. My son tends to wear the toes of his shoes quicker than anything else, so it was good to see that the toe area has been reinforced.

Treads School Shoes - Are they indestructible?

These school shoes are fitted with ‘dual fit’ technology which means there is a padded and shaped insole inside which you can remove if you need a wider fit for the shoe. I think this is a great idea, I know the width of my son’s feet seems to change each time we get him measured.

Treads School Shoes - Are they indestructible?

Treads currently have eight different styles of shoe to choose from and the Madrid style we have chosen are perfect for my son. They’re easy to get on and have the easy velcro strap fastener, so he can have them on and be off running within a moment.

The Treads school shoes arrived during the Easter holidays; so although he’s not worn them to school yet, he has worn them for several days to break them in. He’s worn them to an adventure playground and to a local farm; so I feel he’s given them a good work out.

He’s told me that they’re very comfortable, or in his words “like my slippers”. The soles have really good grips and he’s walked over slippy surfaces at the farm in them with no problems. The adventure playground was full of things he could and should have scuffed them on; but apart from some mud splatters they look as good as new.

I am absolutely delighted with them. We’ve tried rough, tough “indestructible” shoes before from leading brands; but they’ve all come home after a few days looking battered and bruised. I have incredibly high hopes for these Treads school shoes. I think, I really really do think these might actually be genuinely indestructible. Even if they’re not, they do have a one year guarantee.

There are several different styles of school shoes on the Treads website, with a girls range planned for next year. If your children have a habit of destroying their school shoes; then I’d say it was well worth having a look at TREADS to see if they are the answer.

Treads School Shoes - Are they indestructible?

Disclosure: We were sent a pair of Treads school shoes for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Back to School with Debenhams School Uniform

The small boy, who these days is not so small, starts Year 2 in just under a fortnight (where has the time gone etc etc). He needs new school uniform, but the thought of spending hours of our precious summer together trawling through various shops buying various bits of uniform and kit fills me with horror. Better to buy it all, or almost all in the same place at the same time. Last week we popped to Debenhams and did just that.

If I was fancy I’d talk about our Debenhams School Uniform “haul”, but I’m old-fashioned for that. Instead we just went shopping and bought a big bag of school uniform. Hopefully enough to see him through until his next growth spurt. Debenhams School Uniforms are currently 20% off in store and online, something we took full advantage of.

Back to School with Debenhams School Uniform

This will be his fourth “school year” (School Nursery, Reception, Year 1 etc) so this is not our first time at the school uniform rodeo. We know what he likes and what he doesn’t like.

We bought a new warm padded school coat (£18), 6 pristine white polo shirts (£5.60 for a pack of two), 2 pairs of slim fit trousers (£8.80), 2 pairs of flat fronted trousers (£9) and 10 new pairs of grey socks (£4 per pack of 5 pairs). All we need are a couple of jumpers with the school logo on and we are ready for the start of the year. Our shopping trip cost us just under £63, that’s including the 20% off!

I was really pleased to find some nice slim fit trousers. I always think the flat fronted ones make him look like a junior accountant, so we bought some slim fit to try out. Like most children, he is very hard on the knees of his trousers. If he’s not falling over and grazing his knees, he’s crawling along being a ninja superhero or something.

Back to School with Debenhams School Uniform

He’s six and whilst he’s grasped the rudimentaries of getting himself dressed. If he’s rushing he can still get frustrated with fiddly buttons on trousers, especially if he’s getting himself changed for PE or nipping to the loo. We like to adjust the waistband on his trousers so they’re loose enough to just pull them up in a rush if he needs to, but not loose enough to fall down, obviously. Both the flat front and slim fit styles we chose have adjustable waistbands. Phew.

He is also very hard on the white polo shirts he has to wear for school. I’m enjoying them now in their pristine white state before term starts. His polo shirts get washed to death. We like to buy enough so he has a clean one each day and a couple of spares waiting to be brought into circulation once he starts destroying them.

We have tended to buy cheap supermarket polo shirts which often shrink in the wash a bit. I’m hopeful these will stand up to regular washing a bit better than their supermarket counterparts. They do feel like they’re a cut above in terms of quality and doesn’t he look smart (and clean)!

Back to School with Debenhams School Uniform

As for his new coat, it’s light to carry and nicely padded for the winter months. With an easy zip up the front and zipped pockets so his treasures won’t fall out. He’s thrilled with it and at £18 we have no complaints either.

We have high hopes that our “haul” of Debenhams school uniform will last the year; or until he grows out of it. I am impressed with the price and quality. Everything seems well designed with sturdy stitching and made from good quality material. Even the socks are thicker, stretchier and more comfortable than the cheap supermarket ones I’ve made him wear.

If I have one regret, it’s not buying more polo shirts, another couple of packets couldn’t hurt, could it?

Debenhams currently have 20% off school uniform online and in-store now. Visit their website to have a look at their range.

Back to School with Debenhams School Uniform

Note: This post is in collaboration with Debenhams as part of their Back to School Campaign. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: Trutex School Uniform

If I utter the words “school uniform” and “boys” in the company of the parents of boys a collective sign of despair goes around. The small boy (aged 5) came home on his last day before February half term with a hole in the knee of his trousers, the sole hanging comically off his new (bought at Christmas) school shoes, a white polo shirt that was now grey and covered in felt tip and a too-small school jumper. All of his uniform was beyond saving, so it all went in the bin. 

We were sent a few new items from Trutex for him to put to the test. His school uniform is a smart and quite forgiving navy with black or grey trousers. Trutex sent us…

  • a navy crew neck sweatshirt
  • a pair of junior sturdy fit trousers
  • a navy polar fleece

Trutex School Uniform

As you can see he looks pretty happy with his new uniform. He certainly looked very smart and he loved his new school fleece. 

The trousers we chose were sturdy fit with an elasticated back, he’s still at the age where he’s pulling trousers on like jogging bottoms, so these seemed the best option. He’s a tall boy for his age and has just had a growth spurt, so these should hopefully see him through to the summer and hopefully beyond. The fabric is thick and good quality, and the seams have been well stitched, they seem like they’d be able to withstand the rough and tumble of the playground.

The crew neck jumper is cosy with good stitching, and at size 5/6 long enough for my long boy to still have room to grow into. It fits well and is easy for him to pull on and off by himself.

Trutex School Uniform

The polar fleece jacket is his favourite new thing, ultra cosy and it fits him really well. He likes the zippy pockets where he can keep his treasures safe and sound. And it fits snugly under his waterproof jacket, so when it’s wet he can still be warm. As we move into spring and towards summer he will wear this jacket more and more, it’s very roomy without looking ginormous, so I’m confident that it’ll last him a good long while, and fleece washed beautifully too, so if he gets it mucky it’s no problem.

Our new Trutex School Uniform items appear to be very good quality, and importantly they operate an ethical trading policy, ensuring that their school uniform items are made ethically, so no child labour, no long working hours, no sweatshops are involved. I try not to think too hard sometimes about the realities of how some of our clothes are produced, but knowing that these are ethically traded does make me feel very positively about them.

Keeping a five year old boy looking reasonably smart and respectable in his school uniform can feel like an uphill battle, buying better quality, hard-wearing, easy care uniform makes a big difference. We’re very happy with this Trutex school uniform, it’s nice to see him looking both smart and adorable!

Visit the Trutex website to find your nearest stockist of Trutex school uniform.

Note: We were sent these items of Trutex school uniform for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Milestones: His first day of school

Today was one of those milestone days in my son’s life. Today he trotted off to join his Reception class and start his school days properly. Last year he was lucky enough to get a place in the school nursery, but there was no guarantee of an actual school place, so he’s already been going to the school part time for a year now. He knows some of the ropes, most of the staff and has been settled and happy there, which is all a parent could ask for.

Despite the fact he was already fairly established within the school, there were a few “first day of school” anxieties, mainly from me and his dad. He was just looking forward to seeing all of his friends again and being with his new teacher who he’d met a few times last term.

We’d had a busy summer and we’d spent lots of quality time together and cemented a new kind of friendship between us. I’ve seen him through other people’s eyes and realised what a kind, funny and well-mannered little lad he is. It’s so easy to get bogged down in petty squabbles about where he’d thrown his underpants and forget about all the really good things about him.

This morning arrived too soon. Collectively the three of us tumbled down the stairs towards the front door, perpetually running slightly late, frantically pulling on shoes and coats. Checking and double checking the contents of our bags. Cartwheeling out of the door and galloping off to the school gates. Late, always late.

But today we paused, because it was our son’s first day at school. First proper day at school. We took the obligatory photo of him in his new, clean uniform stood in front of the house, we didn’t expect him to smile, we didn’t really expect him to pose. But what we got tells us everything we needed to know about his feelings about his first day at school. I think he’s happy, don’t you?

first day of school

first day of school

And if you’re wondering how he got on, he emerged at home time with a huge smile on his face and can’t wait to go back tomorrow. Long may that continue!

Buckle up! The small boy tries out velcro Easybelts

The small boy is four and a half (he’s very keen on that half all of a sudden) and he’s very much like his dad. He’s starting to dress like him and when we go shopping points out things his dad would wear so he can wear them too. It’s all very sweet and part of growing up. This summer he’s fully embraced the belt – his dad is never without his belt, so the boy wanted something similar. His little fingers aren’t ready for a proper grown up belt, so we got him an easy to use velcro Easybelt.

velcro easybelts

We chose this lovely blue belt, it’s in the school colours so he can wear it for school if he wants, but it also looks brilliant with his normal casual trousers.

The velcro Easybelts are so easy to use. You just put them through the belt loops on your trousers and pull the velcro end back and press against the other velcro bit. There are no fiddly buckles or anything to mess about with. He understood how it worked instantly, had no problems undoing it by himself and could take himself off to the loo quite happily and without our help.

velcro easybelts

As you can see (Manchester’s next top model) he was pretty proud of his belt, which I think looks great with those shorts. He’s also worn it with jeans and other trousers and he cuts quite a dash. The belt somehow makes him look smarter and more grown up at the same time.

Easybelts have a huge range of belts for children, with different designs and motifs for boys and girls as well as unisex options. They also make belts for adults who may struggle with the tricky fastenings of normal belts (seriously, those canvas belts with the funny buckle – I have no chance!).

The velcro Easybelts cost around £6 and are easily washed and easy to use. The small boy is a big fan!

Note: We were sent the Easybelt free of charge for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Small boy goes to big school

Today we dressed the boy up in all of his uniform finery and walked him to big school. We recognised and chatted to a few parents in the playground, took him in, showed him where everything was, watched him settle in and we said goodbye.

He’s a good lad. An independent soul. I asked him if he wanted me to stay and he did, but only for a few minutes while he familiarised himself with his surroundings. He played with the train set, he tried on a few things from the dressing up box, then finally settled down at the computer with two boys he already knew. He ignored me for a bit, so I decided it was time to go. It wasn’t difficult. No one cried, he didn’t cling to my leg, he just got on with it.

“Bye Benj!” I called, he gave me a cursory wave goodbye and went back to banging the keyboard with his fist. So I left and went to the coffee shop round the corner, my phone in my hand just in case. I met my friend there, a woman in the same boat as me. I drank coffee, my phone didn’t ring, I still had hours before I picked him up again, so I went home. I didn’t really know what to do with myself, so I just hung around the house looking at the clock.

The hour came for me to pick him up. I queued up outside his classroom, my face pressed against the glass as I watched him picking his nose and sitting quietly with the rest of the class. He caught me looking and flashed me one of his 1000 watt smiles, then went back to exploring his facial orifices with his fingers and listening to his teacher.

He was first to escape, seemed pleased to see me, gave my legs a quick hug and we went outside. I asked about his morning, apparently he’d played with the trains. I think experienced CIA operatives would struggle to get any additional details out of him. We went to our local toy shop and added to his train collection (you’re sensing a train theme here aren’t you?), then off to meet his Nan for lunch and tell her about his morning. Nope she didn’t get any more out of him than I did, but she said about a million times how grown up he looked, then got all misty eyed.

And tomorrow we’ll do it all again. The small boy goes to big school now. And so it begins.

First day of school

PS – this picture was taken on his first morning, it’s the best we could do, he had a roll around on the floor tantrum just after this was taken, he’s rarely a reluctant model, but it made me smile, a lot. I put the picture on Facebook alongside the smiling pictures of the children of my friends, someone commented that it was their favourite first day of school picture ever. It made me chuckle.