It’s that time of year again mamas, the kids are heading back to school and our credit cards are feeling the strain. Uniforms, stationery, hair-cuts – you name it, they need it. Whether you’re a proud new-timer at the school gates (in which case you’ll be in tears at the mere thought of your precious pupil by now) or a seasoned school mama, one thing’s for sure, shopping for all the gear is something we’ve all got to do. From stylish school bags to lunchboxes, labels to homework inspiring study areas, our Ultimate Back To School Guide brings you our top finds for a sparkly new school year.
First Thing’s First…..
Mamas you know the drill, back to school means that your rugrats are likely to come home with a sniffle or two within a few days – and before you know it the whole family will be battling a bug. Keep the germs at bay and little immune systems topped up with Yaya’s fruit flavoured/animal shaped Omega 3 vitamins full of essential fish oils that boost brain power – hoorah!
(From AED 59)
Oh the dreaded shopping for the most unexciting shoes on the planet together with a young and heavily opinionated family member. So how can you attempt making those black, shapeless building blocks look like, well, shoes? Here are a few suggestions for you….
These black sneakers from VANS (AED 149) tick all the boxes (laces, black soles and sturdy) but still manage to look simple and kind of cool. We don’t see too many fights about getting the boys wearing them.
Old faithful Clarks is also great for school shoes for boys and girls, with a decent selection of plain black loafers made from leather and other materials. It also helps that they’ve got quite a few locations — making it a convenient choice for many. We love these slightly retro-looking and oh-so stylish, laced shoes for the sophisticated tween girl stepping out to the school bus in style.
Allow your little man to keep the cool look while doing the time (in school…) with black hi-top trainers (if your school isn’t too strict about sneaking in the sneakers) yeah! One pair from Next (AED 111-141) and one from H&M (AED 79)
Our friends at Mini Exchange – the fabulous buy-and-sell market place for children’s clothing, have a few good suggestions for mamas looking to bag a bargain (from Mary-Janes to loafers, these guys have it all). We think these sturdy ballerinas (AED 200) from D&E are perfect for dancing through the school gates:
These are just a few ideas we found that we thought were a bit out-of-the box. Geox, Ecco, Pablosky and Shoemart have very good selections of more traditional school shoes if you’re looking to play it safe.
Hair ties/accessories for girls
Somebody stop us! This really is the one thing where you can help your little one stand out (although not too much of course) in the school crowd and get to the head of her class.
Pick up this elegant headband (AED 20) for your stylish little princess from Chateau de Sable at a crazy low price… yep these guys again….Miniexchange
The cutest print in soft pastels makes for an ideal accessory for young girls heading out on big adventures. Hair clip Liberty by Les Bobos Chic (AED 25). Get it from Little Majlis.
Getting hair accessories at H&M won’t only get your really funky stuff at great prices but when your little lady loses her clip, pin or band you don’t have to freak out. There are plenty more where it came from and you can stock up on hair elastics and basic hairpins while you’re at it.
Less is more. A baby pink bow makes any little rascal look like an angel – great when facing the teachers…(AED 19)
We know this one (AED 115) is a little OTT but we just couldn’t resist. Something for the first day of school perhaps..? Please..?
What is it with us and hair bands? A-dor-able this one. Please tell us you will get one for your little girl at home! (AED 19)
If you’ve got some spare time on your hands and are willing to do a little outing, we can highly recommend picking up your little ones hair accessories in Satwa – there’s so much to choose from and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. And hey, if you’re feeling creative why not buy arts and crafts at the sewing supply shops and make your own creations with mini-me?
Kit the kids out with a school bag that’ll look good and withstand a year of being hauled around – seriously mamas some of these will make you want to go back to school!
An understated, grown-up looking back to basics rucksack for a picky tween girl? We think so. (AED 73)
We love the funky stuff from homegrown designer Justine at Heidi and Luca and these colourful mini-totes are no exception. Perfect for the younger students who don’t have as much stuff to carry back and forth yet. ($49) (although prices are in USD they are based in Dubai so no worries re shipping fees)
For the little man who loves his cars we give you the Ferrari backpack. This one will have him racing off to school in no time.(AED 169 available at Lifestyle)
Do your little girls want to be just like their mamas? Help them get an A+ for style with this stunning dotty print Kingston satchel from Accessorize (AED 277) and try not to ‘borrow’ it from time to time. Will keep precious artwork and letters from school crumple free. If you want to invest in a modern classic that will last and last all way through school right up to uni, cast your eye over the very covetable range from the Cambridge Satchel Company, handmade in Britain and currently offering free worldwide delivery when you shop online via their UK site! Not only are these rainbow-hued beauties gorgeous to look at, but there are imminently practical too. We feel a matching mother-and-daughter moment coming on…
For little Geishas – although we kind of love the Kimmidol Tote Bag a little ourselves, it probably works better for small(er) girls. (AED 52 available at Lifestyle)
An old time favourite (this year in pink) is the Sprayground ‘Hello my Name’ backpack. Great way to introduce oneself to the world.
The Sensible Choice (not boring, sensible), the JanSport backpacks have been around for eons and are hugely popular amongst mamas and kids alike. And rightfully so, with their classic look and design plus excellent quality. (AED 90-200)
Keeping your little (and bigger ones) hydrated and H2O happy in the sweltering Dubai heat is mega important. And since we all know that their water bottle is the one accessory that follows them around all day long, it needs to be sturdy, leakproof, easy to use, free from BPA and other icky nasties plus needless to say; fun to drink from!
Each cool kid on the block seems to have a CamelBak cup these days, good thing they come in different sizes, colurs and patterns. With a foldable straw-top (some are insulated if you prefer that) these excellent water bottles get the thumbs up from us (and everyone else it seems). (AED 78-116)
These Stuck on You bottles are made from food grade stainless steel and can be personalized with any of their gorgeous patterns plus have your child’s name printed on it. (AED 125)
Psst.. Isn’t the robot print the cutest thing ever?
Design your own bottle! Yep, go crazy with your little ones and create a statement ‘Forget Me Not’ piece for showing off at school or at the playground. That should pretty much make them impossible to lose, right mamas? These are best suited for the younger crowd, since capacity is only 0.25 l. Refills at the ready mamas! (AED90)
The Paul Frank design is not just super cool but we honestly can’t think of a better water bottle for mama’s little monkey. BPA free (of course) and available in 3 colours, although we kind of have a soft spot for the green one!
Our small students need constant refueling to keep their brain cells in gear and their bodies active. From stylish lunchboxes to insulated bags, these are our top picks for carting sandwiches and snacks around:
A hit with the offspring of A-List Celebs (Harper Beckham and Suri Cruise are big fans), BeatrixNY insulated lunch boxes are pure cafeteria cool and a fun way to keep tuna sandwiches and carrot sticks fresh until lunch time. Made with heavy-duty nylon and machine washable for kid-proof durability and easy cleaning. Choose from robots to ladybugs, monkeys to lions (the hard part is deciding which to go for mamas!)
Available at Hamleys, db babies and BabySouk.com (from AED 135)
Send your kiddo off to school with a fab BPA free compartmental lunchbox with ‘Cool Skin’ insulated cover. Perfect for packing neat little snacks and for keeping food totally fresh – and a sandwich ‘seatbelt’ keeps everything in place while 2 removable leak proof containers make sure that our mini monsters aren’t going to have to deal with spillages. A handle makes this one easy to carry. (AED 150 from Sandy Pants)
If the hot weather has your little one’s lunch going bad before noon, Pottery Barn’s Mackenzie Lunch Bags (AED 90) will become your new go-to mama (they also do a range of matching backpacks – too cute!). Each lunch bag is lined with thick insulation keeping food warm or cool until it’s time to eat, letting your minis enjoy their lunch at just the right temperature. Get your kiddos name embroidered on the front for a few extra dirhams and eliminate any possible confusion about whose lunch is whose!
Say goodbye to boring Tupperware, this bento style lunchbox SugarBooger Good Lunchbox (AED 45 from Just Kidding) comes in 3 cute designs (the icky bugs are a big hit with our boys) and is seriously good value. 3 compartments keep foods separated and looking gorgeously appealing.
A is for awesome and your little school-bound girls and boys will adore the Yubo lunchbox (AED 150 from mumzworld.com) with 9 changeable exterior designs (sold separately). Includes 1 large sandwich size container, 2 small round containers and a custom made icepack that will keep food cold for up to 4 hours. Stylish, practical and easy to clean – what’s not to love mamas!?
Labels, calendars and planners
There’s nothing quite like sending your precious ones off to school only to have them come home with half their gear missing! Avoid the frustration of lost school stationery with labels from Stuck on You. Their personalised name stickers can be custom designed by colour, font and style, so your kids won’t have any excuse for losing anything ever again.
Lady Bug Labels is another mama fave for stylish name labels – they can be water resistant, microwave safe and can some can even survive the washing machine! Choose your type of label (iron on or stick on), size, colour, text and picture, and in around a weeks’ time your brand new labels will be delivered to your door. Easy peasy!
From the UK Organised Mum stocks everything for the efficient mama! For example, the family home planner is a great way for mama to keep track of the gazillion activities and appointments each munchkin might have on a daily basis. Load up your basket and the shipping will be around AED 40.
pssst….The entire range of Organised Mum products are available in the Middle East and they also stock the Busy B range of calendars, diaries and stationery – we love the couples calendar – no excuse for hubbie not remembering that dinner date!
Good old Ikea never fails to disappoint with their never ending collection. They have multiple things to help get the kiddos on track. Check out their glass notice board – perfect for scribbling on with white board markers and for helping mama remember everything.
Deck your child’s new pencil case out with goodies from British brand Paperchase and your kids may just end up the trendiest ones in class. This popular stationery shop stocks tons of colourful stuff like polka dot gel pens, funky highlighters (in all colors and shapes) and eye-catching notebooks, as well as folders, files and even backpacks!
Looking for reliable and practical stationery that’ll survive the classroom? With a wide variety of paper products as well as a covetable range of craft tools, WHSmith has your little lovelies covered for back-to-school writing supplies. And it doesn’t stop there either. You will find anything from notebooks to calculators, diaries, pencil cases and more!
If your kids tend to rock a “minimalist cool” style, then a set of lecture pads and some other bits and pieces from Muji should make them happy. With stores in Dubai Mall and Mirdif City Centre – Muji’s main draw card is the massive selection of pens available; from coloured gel pens to basic blue biros, you can easily stock up for the entire year in one go here.
Quick kids need quality running shoes for gym class, so we leave the job to the experts at places like Adidas or Nike to supply the comfiest and most practical sports shoes for our children. These two brands have everything from best clothing equipment, swimwear and even sporty watches.
If it’s the trendy or surfer look you are going for, Rip Curl or Quicksilver are the places to hit. Both have a fab selection of clothes and accessories that would be perfect for a sporty dress-casual day at school or even a field-trip to the beach perhaps?
Long term breaks often mean your child’s hair can get a bit wild and woolly. Not sure where to head to get their tresses trimmed? Peruse our kids hairdressers directory and book your kiddo in for that final hair cut before the first bell rings.
And finally…. creating a homework friendly study space
Inspire your minis to get their homework done by creating a cool study area that they can call their own. Tight on space? Desks can fit into nooks on a large landing or under stairs, in the corner of a quiet room or in the hallway – try using a wall mounted drop leaf table like this one from Ikea and keep their supplies in their retro style wheel-away-trolley.
Younger children need parents nearby for help so a desk or counter in the kitchen or just outside works well – plus easy access to snacks is always a bonus! As kids get older, study areas tend to gravitate to their bedrooms. In shared bedrooms, each child should have their own desk and at opposite ends to avoid distraction (and fights). Get them to help choose gadgets and accessories and you might find that your little learners are a little more keen to tackle their homework (here’s hoping mamas!)
Congrats, mama! You’ve filled those school bags to the brim and the kids are ready for class! Now relax… until next term!