Back to school essentials including a backpack to relieve back pain

Dear London Mums,

Brace yourself for a bumpy return to the school routine filled with lots of screams and tantrums.  At least it will be a bit of relief for us parents … After an intense first year at secondary school I am not sure I am ready for a new academic year, even as a parent. I also feel that children grow super fast. Changes in schooling are always challenging and this year more than even I have felt the heavy weight of the demands and the hard work a mother is called while bringing up children. 


Returning to school after the long summer break is a time for mixed feelings. While UK parents will be relieved that their children will finally be occupied, new research from Mintel shows that this comes at a cost, as Britain’s parents splashed out just under £1 billion (£915 million) on the great school return last year. This makes back to school the third biggest spending seasonal event in the UK, beaten only by Black Friday and Christmas. These figures take me totally by surprise! 

According to Mintel research, keeping kids kitted out is top of the class for back-to-school spending as school uniforms and shoes made up almost half (48%) of market spend in 2017, adding up to £436 million. The next top two spending areas were sportswear, which made up 18% of sales and accounted for £164 million, and the ‘other’ category (with items such as computing equipment and lunch boxes), representing 16% of the overall total and worth £143 million in 2017.

Any shopping puts me in a good mood though and so I went on a spree at M&S which is my supermarket of choice when it comes to school uniform stuff. This year M&S have great innovations in-store and online such as the Ultimate School Backpack to relieve back pain and scuff resistant shoes with Freshfeet technology to combat odour. These are typical problems my active 12 year old boy faces every year. We managed to get hold of this new back pack and Diego is over the moon and said that ‘it’s the most comfortable rucksack ever tried so far’. It looks good as well and plain enough to allow Diego to add his personalised name tags. 

From pencil cases and full water bottles to chunky textbooks, school bags have to stand up to a lot, and so do young backs, which is why M&S have designed this bag to ensure kids are supported when carrying their essentials.

Boasting added padding in the straps and across the back, as well as an adjustable chest strap all help spread the load. Lightweight when empty, this kids’ bag is water resistant and easily fits A4 folders and also has reflective tabs to keep them safe and seen. This bag comes with advice from health charity BackCare on the healthy weights that should be carried by children.

Obviously this was Diego’s favourite item from the shopping! But he also liked the new trousers and shirt so much so that he wore it all day despite not going to school on that day. 

These are the school essentials we purchased not including the school branded blazer and PE kit:

2 Pack Senior Boys’ Slim Fit Non-Iron Shirts RRP £12.00 – £16.00 – I love the non iron shirts, for obvious reasons to reduce the workload. 

Senior Boys’ Skinny Leg Trousers RRP £11 – £15 – the skinny trousers fit Diego perfectly and look much smarter than the regular ones. 

Faux Fur Parka Coat (3-16 Years) RRP £32.00 – £38.00 – The school required a full black coat to match the colour of the uniform so we got this coat which is really comfortable and robust. 

The shoes are not from M&S but Kickers. We reviewed them over the Summer in the feature Fashion for action kids. 

Diego is becoming a much easier to manage model so it was fun shopping for him and doing this photo shoot with him this time. 


Inspirational colouring pencils 

Who says that colouring pencils cannot inspire kids?


Pencils are always with children at school, clubs and during homework time so why not add some positive messages on them to make them think. I have found Stib Inspirational Colouring Pencils who, as the name suggests, produce colouring pencils each embossed with a positive word from ‘world changer’ to ‘earth lover’, ‘big thinker’ to ‘joy finder’. 

Stib was set up by Bucks based mum to one and Mumpreneur, Emily Sayer, who believes in the potential of children to do amazing things and wanted to set up a brand which inspired imaginations to zing and good ideas to take flight.  10% of profits also goes to charity, which supports educational projects for vulnerable children.

I personally love them and cannot decide which colour/word is my favourite as they all are. Check out all messages and colours and find out more about the brand here:


OPRO Mouthguard

When Diego came home from school one day saying that he needed a mouthguard for the rugby classes during PE lessons, I honestly did not know what a mouthguard is. Then I looked into it and found OPRO, the world’s largest manufacturer of the most technically advanced mouthguards in the world.

We ordered the self-fit mouthguard and then had to fit it. It is quite simple to do it and helps having a tailored made protection for the teeth during physical sports like rugby. Boys especially need to be very active to release a lot of the energy they have in the pre-teens and teenage years. I was a bit worried about rugby but now that I know he has his teeth protected I feel relieved. Once broken, they would be expensive to fix. 

Danielle Waterman

From £4.99

Available at 


Epson EcoTank Printer

This printer removes the stress and hassle of printing homework, permission forms, and the myriad of other school-related admin from kids’ and parents’ life.

Whereas most printers these days use cartridges, which require replacing as soon as they run out (which could well be only a couple of art projects away), the EcoTank runs on ink bottles instead. In fact, each printer comes with up to three years’ worth of ink included. With the amount of stress involved in bringing a child through three years of school (at whatever age), this is one thing no parent should have to worry about.

Homework’s a stressful enough business without having to worry about being able to print it out – the EcoTank completely removes all these worries.

This is it for this new school year! 

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