I am by no means an expert…this is my 4th “back-to-school” since Jackson is going into 3rd grade this year. But there are a few things I’ve learned and I wish someone had told me. (Plus a few items that I really love and want to promote. For the record, any company I mention, I just love…they havent given me anything or paid me to speak highly of their products or company).
(1) Backpacks – everyone needs one! They have important things to shuffle to and from school. I totally think it’s a ton of fun to buy those character backpacks, HOWEVER, I didn’t do it for either of the boys. Instead we invested in an L.L. Bean Original Bookpack and had it monogrammed. Why? Well….they hold up…they are guaranteed for life. And have you met my boys? Other than the occasional wash because they were dirty…they havent needed anything extra and still look great. This time of year is about the time when you can find awesome coupon codes and or sales on them…sign up for their newsletter, spend a little time with google. My only suggestion…if you have multiple kids…make them get different colors…otherwise, you will spend one morning shuffling the right backpacks to and fro if your kids arent in the same school! (Ask me how I know!) Other suggestions for backpacks: Lands End, Thirty-One has 2 new big kid backpacks coming out, and the tried and true Jansport backpacks which have always been known for their good quality (available tons of places). But I would HIGHLY suggest getting it monogrammed somewhere if possible!
(2) Lunch boxes – Again you can get a character lunchbox but I have personally found that they DO NOT hold up against my kids (your mileage may vary if you have kids who are careful with their things). You can buy lunch boxes at any of the places I linked above and I would say that any of those (LL Bean, Lands End, and Thirty-One) all have high quality lunch bags. The boys lunch bags this year will be the thermal totes from Thirty-One with their initials on it.
(3) Label EVERYTHING – (see my above mention about monogramming important things like backpacks and lunch boxes–I would suggest monogrammed instead of their actual names because of “stranger danger”…initials can be anything, however names on backpacks and lunch boxes increase the odds that a stranger could make your child feel like they are OK to talk to…of course continue to talk to your kids about stranger danger) You can buy awesome waterproof labels from many different companies such as Inch Bug, Bright Star Kids, and Mabel’s Labels to name a few. Put a label on your kids water bottle, lunch containers, and anything else reusable they take to and from school on a daily basis. For winter coats and jackets…iron on labels with their names are a great thing to have! Have more than one kid that you intend to pass those items down to? Just do the last name! As soon as I get my kids teacher name and room #, I will be getting 2 bag tags for each of them (one for their lunch box and one for their backpacks) from Swanky Press with their name on the front and teacher name and room number on the bag to affix inside their bags. This way if their lunchbox gets lost in the lunch room, it will be easily identifiable where it should go! (The kids already have bag tags from Swanky Press with their names and an “if found” w/ my cell phone # on it as well….I think I could write an entire post on how much I love the Swanky Press bag tags and the CS from Elizabeth is fab-tastic).
(4) School Supplies – When the back to school sales are going, if you can swing it…buy extra. That way you can easily and cheaply replenish all of the consumables (crayons, erasers, glue sticks, and pencils) your kids go through. My kids’ school asks that we label EVERYTHING (with the exception of individual crayons). You can buy labels from a lot of the above mentioned places or if you have a label maker you can take care of that easily. If you don’t have one….it has been totally worth the investment!
(5) Lunch Box Stuff/Guts – I thought I’d touch on this just briefly since I mentioned above the reusable items. When packing your kids lunch. You don’t have to choose to go with prepackaged lunch items. They ARE convenient but they can get pricey if you are constantly purchase prepackaged items to go in lunch boxes. Our go-gurt and capri sun habit is expensive enough–and something I intend to curb this year! I am by no means a lunch packing expert (like this lady from Another Lunch). But I feel like when I pack their lunch, I include things I KNOW they will eat because I have sat at the lunch tables…and I see what these kids are eating off their trays. I once watched a child in J’s 2nd grade class eat only pudding, a cookie, and chocolate milk until I urged him to eat his pb&j. You really can’t blame the teachers, there are often 2 or 3 adults policing what 90-100 kids are eating…thats hard work! It’s up to our kids to eat so that they have enough fuel for the day. My boys have been taught to leave whatever they don’t eat (with the exception of things that wont leak) in their lunch boxes so I know what they ate or didn’t eat for lunch. 9 times out of 10, Jackson will come home with an empty lunch box (Quinten is more like 3 out of every 5). The blog I linked to above has a TON of great information on lunchbox systems, but a few of MY personal favorites are:
- Easy Lunchboxes – I could SING their praises! See previous statement about kids being hard on them. I have had a set of 4 for 2 years that are still in EXCELLENT condition…with the exception of the one lid that I stepped on. (oops) But they make making lunch a breeze (especially when I have to go out-of-town and other people are packing lunches!) because the spots that are there make it pretty obvious that it needs filled. Getting another set of these is on my to-do list before school starts!
- Lunchbots – I love these for the baby in particular because they are petite and I can put just the right amount of food in there for her. A duo is big enough for a whole lunch for the baby. However for the boys, I would use an uno for their sandwich and a duo for their sides.
- Wrap n Mat & reusable bags – I dont even know where to begin on these actually so I only linked you to wrap n mat because it was a jumping off point. If you can sew….you can make your own. If you can’t, I highly suggest you go and support an artist over on etsy!
It’s only a start, but I wanted to get it all out there since I keep meaning to or someone says “that’s a great idea” and I forget to write it down or to share. Do you have more back-to-school tips? Please share!