I apologise for this post as I know that for some parents the thoughts of getting uniforms and organising back-to-school stuff waits until August. Having just bought some of the new uniform for the Autumn term I thought it might be worthwhile to explain what I learned last year and how it has affected my choices this year.
Just before the 5-year-old started school last year I blogged about the expenses of sending him to school and how much it was costing. At least I have a real account I can compare to!
The cost of school charges (including book rental) and books I have to buy pretty much remain the same which is a great credit to the school. However, when it comes to choosing school uniforms I’ve changed my outlook and that’s why I’m blogging about it again.
Last year I managed to pick up 2 uniform tracksuits before the Summer started. They were on sale for half price. I know now that it’s because the tracksuit uniform changed due to the fact that the previous uniform didn’t wash well; the colours faded and they shrank in the wash. We managed to get through the year with the tracksuit uniforms I bought. Mind you by the time it got to May, he had lost one of his original jumpers and had another one he had picked up by accident in the yard. Smaller than his size, as he grew in the Spring it became really clear that he was sprouting up!
This year I intend to buy just 1 uniform tracksuit. I’ll hold onto the old ones for emergencies though and hopefully the newer model of the tracksuit will hold up better to washing at least once a week.
I bought the regular uniform items in a large Supermarket nearby last year. This included trousers, shirts (short and long sleeved), jumpers and underwear.
The underwear lasted grand, apart from my eternal battle with pairs of socks. The trousers were light and grand in the warm Autumn but far too cold in the Winter, they were also difficult for small fingers to close and ended up bunching at his waist. The hem of the trousers wasn’t on securely and they became loose and frayed.
The jumpers were far too light in the winter and I ended up bulking up his uniform with t-shirts and long sleeved vests to keep the warmth in. They faded in the wash after about a month and didn’t hold up well to regular school-child stains like yoghurt, washable paint, washable glue, and stickers. As the jumpers shrank and the child grew I kicked myself more and more over my uniform choices.
The shirts were a disaster. I bought 2 short sleeved shirts in size 5-6 which had ridiculously tight collars. They lasted for 6 weeks before I couldn’t close them anymore. Bearing in mind he was 4 when he started school and they fitted him grand in the body, across the back of his shoulders and his chest this was very disappointing. I also bought 2 long sleeved shirts in size 6-7 which lasted longer because the collar was larger but again they didn’t hold up well to the stain test. Washable markers didn’t wash out, even pencil didn’t wash out despite my best efforts.
Overall I feel that while my budget dictated that I needed to save money, budget uniforms are not always the best choice and they certainly weren’t for me.
This year I decided to invest in better quality school-wear. Having assessed everything available in my area, and taking a look at both the prices and quality, I ordered the main uniform items from Marks & Spencer just before their 20% deal finished. Surprisingly it didn’t cost me too much more than the uniform did last year from the Supermarket. I was expecting the price difference to be quite large but it was about €20 more expensive which was far less than I was prepared for.
Will it be worth it? l certainly hope so! I suppose I’ll be back here updating you this time next year.