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Preparing for a new school year is one of the most exciting times of the year… and one of the most stressful. The dozens of health forms I need to fill out make my head spin, the summer schoolwork is the bane of my August existence and all the gear/supplies I need to purchase is overwhelming.
It also doesn’t help that I'm a last-minute type of gal by nature (I used to lock myself in my bedroom the last three days of summer to finish my work), so I blink and the first day of school is upon us.
If your mind is racing a mile a minute during the back-to-school season, you’re not alone. This back-to-school roundup, kindergarten through twelfth grade edition, is here to help.
New School Year = New School Bags
Growing up, I loved picking out my new backpack; 25 years later I still remember that hunter green LL Bean bag with my initials embroidered on the front. Now, my girls and I sit online browsing for bags they’ll adorn for the next 12 months.
This year, my second grader chose State’s Kane Kids Fuzzy backpack ($90). With a variety of different pockets that fit laptops (a staple in many schools these days), standard sized folders, water bottle pockets, organizational zip pockets and pen holders, it's the perfect pack for a successful school day.
This mission-driven brand gives back with every pack; each year STATE donates 5% of its annual revenue to giving-efforts such as donating fully packed backpacks at signature bag drop rallies.
My kindergartener picked a feel-good brand, too. Wanderwild gives a portion of each sale to organizations that address childhood hunger, education needs and are determined to spread kindness.
The bright and whimsical patterns are attractive to kids while the padded shoulder straps and chest clips for ergonomic back support and comfort are loved by parents. Other stand out features include personalization, fidget tabs for wiggly fingers (fidgets are all the rage among the kids these days), the deep pockets made to fit electronics and school supplies, plus water-resistant material. At $50, they are fairly priced, too.
The Lunch Rush
Packing lunches is one of my least favorite back-to-school activities. After a year of at-home dining (and using way less plastic), I’ve decided to go the reusable lunch gear route this school year.
For reusable lunch boxes, my kids went with be.You.be.Fun., a $35 customizable lunch box giving them the creative freedom to express their interests of the moment through patches (sold separately from the lunchbox at $5 a patch). My girls loved picking out their lunchboxes and their patches. Obsessed is an understatement; they are already going over which patches to sport on the first day.
As for reusable food storage and containers, Stojo collapsible food storage is a great choice. The Stojo Jr. Collection, which comes with a collapsible bottle ($16), cup ($12), and sandwich box ($16), is a perfect fit for the lunchbox. Green Sprouts Baby sandwich bags, which insulate the food to keep it fresh and come in a pack of two for $14.99, is another winning option. And if you're an avid foil-user, Bee’s Wrap’s lunch pack ($20.99) offers reusable, compostable, washable wraps.
Nothing is more frustrating for a mom than opening the lunchbox at the end of the day to find fruit juice spilled all over everything; it’s why we went with the leak proof Snactripster for $13.99, which also comes with a utensil that snaps into the lid!
Don’t forget those lunches aren’t refrigerated, so make sure to grab yourself a Corkcicle ice pack ($9.95) to keep food fresh and cool.
Water bottles are another leaky culprit. Hydro Flask kid’s collection ($29.95) comes in a variety of colors -- and the best part is the bottles, which have a lifetime warranty, keep contents cold (or hot) for hours and are a cinch to clean.
Mybevi, which starts at $13, is another water bottle brand for the kid who likes to carry their bottle anywhere they go. The water bottles are equipped with a carry ring on the lid which allows you to not only carry the tumbler but also binders, books, or papers.
Easy Snacks for the Lunch Packs
Pre-packaged snacks make lunch easy as one, two, three. But most times, those aren’t the healthiest options. Until now. R.E.D.D Bar is a healthy option for a protein-based lunch item. For $35.88 you get a box of 12 plant-based protein bars that are low in sugar, high in fiber and will leave your kid nice and full during the school day. Another favorite of ours? Bobo’s oat bars ($29.88 for box of 12), protein bars ($26.99 for box of 12), bites ($26.94 for box of 30) and pastries ($19.99 for box of 12) which are full of flavor and made with love by a mother-daughter duo.
With just one gram of sugar in the entire bag, Behave gummies ($30 for six packs) are the perfect post lunch sweet treat. Your kid isn’t into gummies? Try packing Blake’s Seed Based Rice Crispy Treats, which are allergen-free so you don’t have to worry about any of the ingredients being banned from the classroom. For $17.99 you get 18 bars, or you can save 10% with a subscribe and save program so you never run out!
Finding that perfect back-to-school outfit is easier than ever thanks to an abundance of direct-to-consumer clothing lines. Like Smash and Tess, who's The Saturday Romper ($53-$58) makes for the cutest, comfiest back to school outfit. Or PixieLane’s $30 buttery soft dresses with playful patterns. These outfits are my girls’ new go-to looks meaning this mama is doing a lot of laundry!
Masks are now the newest school accessory, and Rafi Nova offers masks starting at $8 to go hand in hand with other accessories like scrunchies (my daughters swoon over these) and pouches to hold dirty masks. Pair the mask with Levenger’s hand sanitizer charms ($25) that kids can attach to their backpacks and everyone is ready to tackle the germs.
Enro (masks start at $16.50) is another mask kids will love because of its vibrant colors and whimsical designs. What kid doesn’t love a good mermaid or cameo print? And for those who like a more muted look, Jaanuu masks for adults and kids are just what you need. The solid prints, which cost $25 for a pack of five, are the perfect addition to any outfit and are so comfortable; even President Barack Obama is a fan!
Back to School: Mom Edition
First and foremost, the start of the school year calls for a lot of caffeine. For the parent that needs that extra jolt in their step when making the school lunch, grab yourself a cup of Jot ($24 per bottle)... it’s the delicious morning companion.
Plus, carpool runs are a part of all parent’s schedules during the school year. And we all deserve to feel put together, even if it’s just to sit in the car in a carpool line. You can bet though, you’ll find me in that line twinning with my minis in my Smash and Tess ($119, on sale for $59.50) tie dye romper or PixieLane ($52-$58) matching sweatsuit (I’m a sucker for a good lounge outfit).
And I’ll have a Best of Seven Carryall Tote ($295) filled with all the things my kids need post-pick up (snacks, drinks, more snacks). The customizable, spacious leather bag even has inside pockets specifically made to hold my beverage bottles. No longer will I need to deal with spilled fluids.
Functional and Fabulous Back-To-School Gear
My daughters are so excited to head back-to-school with their new clothes, backpacks, lunchboxes and so much more. And now that you have this handy roundup of gear all kids will need, it’s time for you (and me) to shop ‘til we drop.