In the spirit of Beverley from my novel ‘The Busy Mum’s Guide to Murder’, I felt I should offer some helpful guidance for parents entering the unique circle of hell that lies just the other side of the primary school gates. If you’re going to survive with any kind of sanity intact, you’re going to need to get organised. Firstly, can I offer a shopping list of some essentials.

Nit treatment

Sorry, but it’s going to happen, and keep happening.


Stock up. Schools are like Petri dishes and germs run rampant. Especially if your child has not been to nursery, it will take a while for them to build up resistance.

Name labels

Label everything that you can’t afford to keep replacing. Even at secondary, I swear my son’s PE socks have wings.

Spare lunchbox

I know, you can’t see how a lunchbox can go missing. Let me tell you that they do. They may reappear, smelly and slightly mouldy, but for a few days they will be totally awol and you will need an alternative. (Spare are generally pretty useful – hats, gloves, PE shorts, best friends…)

A box/basket

You need a central place for all the school crap. In the door – in the basket. Find reading log under the sofa – in the basket. Homework left in the bathroom – in the basket. ‘Muuuum, where’s my book?’ ‘In the basket.’ (A single drawer or space for all school uniform works similarly.)

Hot glue gun

I bought one in the recommendation of a friend and, oh, the revelation. No collapsing cardboard volcanoes soggy with paste. No limbs falling off bog roll robots on the way across the playground. No arms aching as you hold on to castle ramparts while they dry. You stick it with hot glue and that bugger stays stuck. The third degree burns are worth it. (Add Savlon to the list.)


Whether you favour alcohol or green tea, you will need something to steady your nerves through first drop off, first friendship collapse, first fight about having to go to school every day, 96th conversation with the alpha mum about her child’s reading age/fascination with the silent ‘e’/knowledge of the eight times table (who the hell could do eights?)/ running prowess/ability to speak clearly, tie shoe laces, play the violin…


You are going to those school gates every morning, looking and feeling like shit. You might be wearing yesterday’s clothes and not had a shower yet, but a bit of lippy can be like armour. (If you’re smugly noting that you work and will be dropping off suited and booted for the office, remember that even when you’re off with the flu, the kid has to go to school.)

And remember, smile and walk comrades, smile and walk.

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