Know where to shop for the best school suppplies
THE excitement of Christmas is a distant memory now as the rush for the return to school is in full flurry.
Organisation is the key. And no doubt most of you have either completed the school shoe roundabout or are well in your stride.
If you have left it until this weekend, hopefully these hints will help ease the stress.
These always bring the dilemma, especially with teenage kids, of fashion or function.
Children have their feet in school shoes for the most part of a day and they need to provide cushioning and support, be breathable and light.
Children can take up to 16,000 steps (5km) in the shoes each day so they must fit well.
You also need them to try to last the year.
Most schools are quite strict in this area both in terms of colour and style.
Prep classes are usually allowed to wear shoes with Velcro straps (Clarks, from $60 at various stockists) with the intricacies of laces left for the more dextrous.
Lynx, Roc, Bata, Colorado and Clarks are some of the big names when it comes to leather shoes usually with an orthotics nod, antibacterial lining and non-scuffing sole.
Prices range from $50-$110 depending on size and style. Major shoe stores like The Athlete's Foot, Mathers and Williams, even David Jones and Myer, are offering a "50% off the second pair" deal, which helps if you also have to buy sports shoes.
These stores also provide a foot measuring service, which means your child will leave with a shoe that fits well.
But $60 can be a lot to pay for shoes especially when you have to also consider uniforms, books and bags.
If your budget doesn't stretch or if you have kids that outgrow shoes every three months, perhaps try stores like Target, which has an impressive range starting from $14, Kmart (from $6) and Big W (from $20).
Here, too, comfort and support should be a priority with kids often required to carry heavy loads.
Harlequin does a good backpack with wide straps and an ergonomic back panel (schoolbags.com.au for stockists) as do Physiopak (1800 815 557 for stockists).
Most large department stores and surf shops carry a range of colourful, trendy and cheerful bags to suit the needs of your child starting from $10.
If you are after personalised bags, which are usually a hit among younger school-goers, try online sites like identitydirect, stuckonyou and yayme.
Alternatively buy a plain bag and get your child's name embroidered at those stores in major shopping centres.
Lunch boxes and bottles
With such variety on offer kids of all ages can have fun choosing a lunch box and bottle.
The only things to consider are whether they are BPA free and how you are going to keep them cold.
Officeworks has the Smash Ultimate Pack ($16.90) which includes a lunch box, freeze pack, drink bottle and insulated cover while Big W has sets from $9.98, Kmart's cartoon character range starts at $6 and Target's Bento Collapsible Lunch Box is $16.
If you haven't got your stationery together as yet, Officeworks and some newsagencies will put your pack together as per your school's list.
If you prefer to do it yourself, Kmart, Target, Officeworks and Big W are your best bets for books, and files, USB sticks and pens.
Girls especially can have fun at stores like Smiggle, which have all the groovy back-to-school supplies.