The early years of fatherhood absolutely fly by. One minute you’re carrying a car seat out of the hospital with your tiny newborn strapped in, and what seems like the next you’re dropping them off on their first day at school. This is a huge milestone for both them and you, and so being prepared for what it entails is always worth doing. From a purely financial perspective you can always be ready for the costs involved- here are some things to consider.
School Uniform/ Back to School Stuff
School uniforms are designed to be a statement of belonging and unity within the school community. There are lots of great benefits to kids wearing uniforms over their own clothes, however there are costs involved that you need to be prepared for. Some schools will require children attending to wear specific items with their logo on which can only be purchased from special school uniform shops- these will usually be more expensive. Other schools are less strict and are happy with generic school uniform items like smart trousers, plain polo shirts and jumpers in the school colour that you can buy from supermarkets or regular kids clothes shops. Check the list the school provides and be sure to get everything they’ll need- they need enough items to get dressed from head to toe every day and for the next year ahead if you don’t plan on having to shop for uniform again until next September. On top of this there are things like bags, shoes, gym kit and trainers, lunchboxes, water bottle and more. Label all of your child’s things so that they’re more likely to get them back if they get lost, you can get name stickers to go on their water bottle and lunch boxes and name stamps to put on clothing labels. Depending on the school and where you live, you might have to provide paper and books on top of the usual pencil case and stationery essentials. If you’re on a budget, school uniform and essentials can be found on preloved sites like Vinted, and there are usually sales and offers during the summer holidays too so pick things up over the weeks if you need to spread the cost. Some councils provide help towards these costs for those on a low income so see if you’re entitled to any assistance.
We all know the importance of feeding our kids a healthy diet, especially while they’re in school- the last thing you want is for your child’s tummy to be rumbling and affecting their learning. Finding meals that are healthy and balanced as well as being enjoyable and something they will eat can be a challenge, and you then have to consider the costs too. Some parents find it easier to sign their child up for hot school dinners (you may get help with the cost of these if your income is low) and for others, packed lunch is the easier option. So work out what’s best for you. Things like cold pasta salads and homemade pastries can be another option to wraps and sandwiches and if you plan carefully can be done cheaply.
School trips can offer children invaluable educational experiences that go beyond the confines of the classroom, and they tend to happen fairly often throughout the school year. Things like museum visits, nature expedition and even fun days out to places like theme parks can all broaden your child’s horizons. However, they come with costs for tickets, transport and sometimes meals. It’s worth having some money put away for when these costs come up so you can cover them and not have to worry about the financial pressure.
Extra-curricular activities allow your child to explore their interests and talents outside of academics. They can experiment with different sports, playing musical instruments, different types of arts, technology and so much more. These can all build so many different kinds of skills and could even pave the way to a successful future- but they can be expensive. Sometimes classes will offered directly through the school, other times you will have to source different activities yourself. These things are so worth doing, from learning to swim to learning how to cooperate with others to building their physical skills they provide children with so much.
Book Fayres/ World Book Day
Investing in your child’s reading habit is a priceless gift, so when book fayres roll around with the school it’s nice to be able to give your child some funds to be able to pick out some books they like the look of. This day in age we live in such a digital time, it’s important that we dont lose the value of physical books so try to encourage your child’s love for them. World Book Day is usually held in March and is a fun event that most schools take part in. Kids can dress as a character from a book which is a lot of fun for them but again another cost to think about. While you can DIY lots of different kinds of costumes, if you want to buy something that’s a cost to cover. If you give yourself enough time you can source preloved costumes from places like Facebook Marketplace or order from sites like Shein. Otherwise, supermarkets sell them around the time of World Book Day although they’ll be a lot more expensive.
Schools often organise things like charity events like fundraising and cake sales to instill values of empathy and community engagement. Set aside a small fund for these occasions to make sure you can actively support your child’s involvement while reinforcing essential life lessons. Most schools will give notice for these kinds of things, so mark them on your calendar so you can budget, while you wont need to spend much, if you’re already living on a shoestring then even a little bit of money needs to be accounted for.
In the world of school life, unexpected costs are as certain as the alphabet. Thing about costumes for plays and supplies for science projects. Growth spurts might mean new shoes and a whole new uniform is needed mid way through the year. Whatever it might be, unforeseen expenses can arise so establishing a contingency fund specifically for these surprises can helps you stay financially composed and prevent any stress.