Life Update: What The Hell Is Mufti Day?

I made my first school-related Mum Error the other day when I sent Angelica wearing her uniform on something called a “mufti day”. What the hell is mufti day?

Granted, I should have probably Googled it instead of dismissing the mufti-themed email – thinking I have no clue what this means and then deleting it from my inbox – but I’ve never been very good at dealing with things that I don’t understand. I’d rather just ignore them and move on to the things that are easier to process. Ha!

Anyway, I can say that – categorically and one hundred percent truthfully – I had never even seen the word “mufti” before last week. It sounded to me like something to do with hand muffs or maybe a special type of bread roll or a kind of dense, difficult-to-digest cake and none of those things seemed relevant at the time of reading and so I basically just ignored the fact that it was “mufti day” the next day and got on with my John Lewis sales browsing.

Terrible, terrible parent.

Although obviously I couldn’t admit to myself that I was a terrible parent, so instead I became incensed with the school emailing system and the email wording in particular and questioned, at length, why they wouldn’t just use a phrase that everyone would know. Like, I don’t know, “non uniform day”. Because who the hell knows what “mufti day” is?

“You don’t know what mufti is?” said my nextdoor neighbour. “What’s the matter with you?”

“Erm, mufti, yeah,” said my (usually quite conspiratorial) school gate pal, “everyone knows what mufti is.”

I rang my mum. There was no way she would know what mufti was. I’d never heard her utter the word ever, and so really it was mostly her fault that I was so ignorant. She was a teacher for decades, too – if mufti was a commonly used phrased for non-uniform day then I’d have known about it.

Musty?” she said. “Hold on, I can’t be long, Karl and Linda are here. You want to know about Musty Day? What’s that? I’m sorry, I have no idea.”

“Mufti!” I shouted.


“No, you know, it’s when you wear your own clothes to school.”

“Are you talking about mufti? Mufti day? Ha! It’s MUFTI with an F, for God’s sake. How have you not heard of mufti? I hope you didn’t send Angelica into school in her uniform, that would be so, so cruel.”

Christmas is creeping up on is, isn’t it? I’m planning on taking three weeks off – one to run around buying all of the things I’ve forgotten to plan for, another week to cook meals continuously for people visiting my house and load the dishwasher on repeat and a third week to try and get everything back to normal so that I can start work again.

As I wrote (almost) a year ago, Christmas is not a holiday. So I have set the bar low in terms of expectations this year. Although, I do now have two fully-functioning walking, talking children who can effectively communicate their wishes and also use a toilet, so it should be easier than Christmas 2018. Shouldn’t it?

I’m hoping that Angelica will provide the bulk of the festive entertainment, seeing as though she has transformed, seemingly overnight, into a kind of expressive dance amdram noise machine. She never tires, her ability to improvise nonsensical lyrics and put them to tuneless tunes knows no bounds, she must hold the world record for number of pirouettes achieved before fainting with dizziness. I’m looking forward to the Christmas Gala, which is to be held in our living room and has just one performer who must be applauded loudly as she emerges from behind the sofa to take her bow.

I suddenly have quite a clear vision of my future; I foresee many Saturday afternoons spent sitting on uncomfortable benches in leisure centres waiting for dance competitions to finish. I’ll be the woman in the fleece holding a tin of slightly stale cheese sandwiches wishing that she’d never started the bloody clubs in the first place…


With December comes Elf on a Shelf. Do any of you hide the elf every night? (Not a euphemism.) I honestly don’t know what possessed me to add another complication into our daily routine, but for almost the entire month of December we now have to get up early, ie earlier than Ted, ie 5.50am, to put the bloody elves somewhere imaginative. (LOL.)

Except that we never remember. So one of us has to creep about in our dressing gown as the little sproglings eat their breakfast, find the elves from the day before (we have two, they came in a cheapo two-pack on Amazon) and move them. It’s not a massive inconvenience, but when it’s a job just to remember your own name in the morning adding elf shenanigans into the mix is a recipe for disaster. This morning the children almost saw me move them because I’d shoved them down my pyjama top and one of the legs was sticking out at a jaunty angle.

Anyway, it’s all worth it for the look on their little faces. (Ted and Angelica’s faces, not the elves’. The elves’ faces always have the same look. Slightly evil, worryingly glee. Like they’ve just emerged from a pet shop carrying an axe.) They (Ted and Angelica) are still at the age (two and four) where they believe absolutely, wholeheartedly in whatever you tell them. Elves that watch you and record your behaviour, a man with a red suit and a white beard who watches you and records your behaviour… Actually that all sounds really creepy when you write it down, doesn’t it?

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  1. Katie
    December 7, 2019 / 5:49 am

    mufti, never heard of it.
    Is there a reason the elf has to be moved in the morning, instead of after the kiddos have gone to bed? Seems like that easier to remember and get done.

  2. Jo.C.
    December 6, 2019 / 9:26 pm

    Coming from a military family I know what ‘Mufti’ meant. Although, our schools calls it ‘non-uniform day’ lol

  3. Anna
    December 5, 2019 / 9:37 pm

    Mufti day must be a southern thing! Worked in many schools over ten years and never heard of it, up north it’s just good old non-uniform day.

  4. December 5, 2019 / 12:59 pm

    I am SO thankful that Elf on a shelf is not a thing here in Germany, I would loose my mind. We also don’t have school uniforms, so I don’t have to worry about Mufti days – but about choosing something clean and warm to dress every night.
    I wonder what is worse…

    Anne from Doctor Anne

  5. Louise
    December 4, 2019 / 9:49 pm

    You have brightened my day! Thank you Ruth..

  6. Emma Lawn
    December 4, 2019 / 9:42 pm

    Our elf doesn’t arrive until a week before Christmas as he is very busy helping Santa and can’t come until then! We have also forgotten the elf and ended up drawing on our faces with an eyeliner prior to the children coming in the room – took less than a minute and I now sleep with a variety of odd things next to the bed the week before Xmas just in case!! X

  7. Linda
    December 4, 2019 / 4:38 pm

    I have 3 kids, one of them in secondary and one in primary (the 3rd one is only 1) and I have NEVER ever heard of mufti day, so you’re not on your own there! What’s it even short for?! x

    • December 5, 2019 / 5:22 pm

      Oh thank God!! It’s not just me then!

  8. Nicola Wright
    December 4, 2019 / 2:29 pm

    Ha ha ha!
    You’ve obviously not got any connections to the services!
    I once took my daughter back to school, after the summer break, two days early I felt such a fool, but she was delighted that she still had holiday left.

    • December 5, 2019 / 5:22 pm

      Brilliant. And also, what a bonus!!

  9. Jessica
    December 4, 2019 / 2:22 pm

    Sorry I’m with your friend/neighbour/mum – how the hell didn’t you know what mufti day was! I’m in my mid-thirties and that’s what it was called when I was at school so it’s not a new thing!

  10. Claire N
    December 4, 2019 / 12:44 pm

    Mufti is such an old fashioned word, I’m surprised it’s come back, I remember reading the word from books mentioning World War II and soldiers in civvies aka mufti! We call it dress down Friday here in Scotland or if it’s for charity, the name of the charity day. And I refuse to do the Elf in the Shelf thing, I can’t be arsed to do an extra thing on my list each day, an advent calendar is enough! And not a fill your own one either, haha! Btw if the MIL sees fit to give our daughter an Elf I will just sit it on the shelf and say it’s just a decoration. MIL likes to give awkward or annoying presents *rolls eyes*. Ah well it could be worse!

    • December 5, 2019 / 5:23 pm

      I mean, it’s still an elf on a shelf, so…. : )

  11. Nicki
    December 4, 2019 / 10:29 am

    I had never heard of Mufti until I moved to London in my twenties. I think it’s a southern, possibly private school thing? Up north we just called it ” non-uniform day”, like you said uncomplicated and self explanatory!

    • December 5, 2019 / 5:24 pm

      Same!! I have no clue. Although it’s not private school, just state primary!

  12. Deborah Mercer
    December 4, 2019 / 10:20 am

    My eldest is 9 & I’ve never heard of mufti. Does it stand for something?? I must know! Also, Lief, our elf has been visiting for about 5yrs now. On Monday my Mum and I were crafting an elaborate space rocket and space suit for him out of tinfoil and cardboard tubes. What has my life become… Husband and me argue every night because he says he has to do it every night the past few years. I’m in bed with the 2yr old FFS & a few yrs ago I was heavily pregnant (she arrived Xmas eve) – give me a break. This morning Lief had done a ‘poo’ in the 2yr old’s potty. She took 1 look at it & said, that’s not elf poo, that’s play doh.

  13. Katy
    December 4, 2019 / 9:01 am

    I bought a wooden calendar and dilligently did it the first year, taking up hours of my time putting different little things in. Every year since I’ve been disorganised and ended up buying a carboard one. (While the wooden one sits forlornly in the christmas stuff box glaring at me!!). Oh dear.

    I’m trying to decide if it’s worse to send your child to school in school uniform on a mufti day or to send them dressed up as Alice in Wonderland on World Book Day on the first year of school when no one else was dressed up. (Because I incorrectly assumed all schools participated in World Book Day!).

    • December 5, 2019 / 5:25 pm

      At least it wasn’t something extreme, I suppose, like alien or astronaut or giant spider?

      • Katy
        December 5, 2019 / 6:52 pm

        That dawning realisation as you get to the playground that something is not quite right..!!

        ps meant cardboard obviously not carboard! Wrote that without my glasses on and after a rubbish sleep! xx

  14. Elaine
    December 4, 2019 / 8:44 am

    If it makes you feel any better, I’ve never heard of mufti day either. Although it could be because I’m Irish and it’s just a British saying perhaps?!

  15. Elizabeth
    December 4, 2019 / 6:29 am

    1. Every parent messes up a mufti day and sends their kid in uniform at least once. It’s a rite of passage. (We always called it out-of-uniform-day but apparently mufti is now the term)
    2. Set a reminder on your phone to move the elf just before your bedtime!

    • Gill
      December 5, 2019 / 1:53 pm

      I’ll see your mufti day mishap and raise you sending my child to school on a non-pupil day. I’ve also left the dog tied up in the playground and only realised when we got home. Try beating that! :)

  16. grace
    December 3, 2019 / 11:23 pm

    but Ruth you never sajd what Mufti is!

  17. Colleen Weinschenker
    December 3, 2019 / 9:40 pm

    When our elf forgets to move we tell the kids perhaps he saw something he didn’t want to report back to Santa. They seem to buy that explanation

  18. Marie
    December 3, 2019 / 8:00 pm

    Several years ago I thought it would be a good idea to buy a wooden advent calendar and fill it with sweets from Santa each night. Most nights I forget so I have to wake at the crack of dawn to fill the bloody thing. I wish I could just buy one of those ready filled chocolate calendars but it has become a tradition now and my son (who is 12 and no longer believes ) pulls his face when I suggest the alternative. I also have a 3 year old but now I know the dangers of starting such traditions so there is no chance I am starting with that Elf on the shelf business. Bah humbug!
    Ps. I know what a mufti day is. X

    • December 4, 2019 / 8:39 am

      I do the wooden calendar too!!! FFS!!!! Hahaha

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