Back-to-school. The time of year that moms start scrambling back to reality and trying to figure out just what they need – where IS that list from the school anyways?! Even though Max will just be starting kindergarten, I’ve learned over the last couple of years in “preschool” what necessities are, or as mom’s call in – survival. Don’t go crazy and Amazon Prime so much you spend more than August’s rent (I’ve seen it happen!). There are a few basics every kid needs – to don’t shop till you drop, shop smart.
These are the five essential things I’ve realized I need to go into the school with – every year. And a little something for me on the side, too. Because moms – #treatyoself.
1. Something to carry everything – so you don’t. So Young.
The struggle for a perfect backpack is real. It’s like Goldilocks – this one is too big, this one is too little, this one is too easy to rip apart one month into school. I need something that can carry folders and a hoodie without my son looking like he’s going backpacking on the PCT for 90 days, so why is that so hard to find? We’ve been seriously eyeing up So Young since they debuted at a children’s trade show here in NYC a few years ago, and I’ve been patiently waiting to scoop them up for Max once he started “school.” Note: they DO have toddlers ones now, too! They come in the coolest, simple, modern designs and are big enough not to smoosh homework folders. The outside bottoms are plastic-lined (so they won’t get wet or rip or dirty on those NYC sidewalks), they have two mesh pockets on the sides, and even clip in the front (my fave!) to help with distributing weight. Listen, I myself carry a book bag with a computer around the city all day, and nothing is more important.
Price: Book bag $45-47; lunch boxes $30; ice packs $11.
2. Lice protection. Fairy LiceMothers.
It’s gonna happen. You think it won’t but when you get that email from school, don’t say I didn’t tell you so. Prep yourself! The Fairy LiceMothers have a handy online store to stock up on things like a MagicWand (comb) remover, shampoo and MagicMint spray to PREVENT (because, you still have to send your kids back into the infected school the next day!). Literally we leave it right by the door and I give Max a quick spritz every morning before we leave. And worst comes to worse, you can have one of these handy lice kits on hand to basically terminate anything that crawls. Or – you can head to their locations in Oceanside, Deer Park or Glen Head and have them remove it for you (lice checks are even free if you have to use the treatment!). I have have a nice $10 off code for you t00 if you ask 🙂
Bonus – the Fairy LiceMothers are moms just like you and me, so you know they mean business about having a quality product. Moms for moms is always my go-to.
Price: $29 for the removal kit, $25 for an in-store check ($15 with my code!).
3. Label Everything! Mabel’s Labels.
If you haven’t learned your lesson yet – you will. It’s inevitable that someone has the same cute Hello Kitty book bag or Ninja Turtle water bottle, so save the full class the misery of WWIII over whose is whose, just slap a handy label on it. These Mabel’s Labels are my favorite and I use them for EVERYTHING. They are dishwasher and laundry proof – these suckers stay on. So whether it’s a hoodie or your favorite Steelers sandwich container, you know that stuff is coming home to mama.
You can customize them in tons of designs, and they come in a bunch of different sets, but the easiest one you already have waiting for you? This ultimate back-to-school set. Plus, why not even get a set for yourself? Between the gym classes, lunches and happy hours, you don’t want anyone claiming your TUMI book bag either.
4. Avoid Germs at all costs. Babyganics.
I swear they should call it back-t0-sickness instead of back-to-school. It’s going to be about a week in before someone has the sniffles and fever set it. And aside from putting Max in a bubble, I try and avoid it at all costs. We know kids are being gross when we aren’t looking (did he really just put his hand in his mouth after touching that rail on the bus!?), so keep sanitizer on-hand for the sake of humanity. I mean, just the other day I was riding the train to New Jersey when my sunglasses fell off into the side crack of the seat. I reluctantly pulled them out, and they had a piece of DENTAL FLOSS wrapped around them. While holding back the gags, I luckily had some of these Babyganic wipes on hand. Good god I still have nightmares – this is NYC. Having wipes and sanitzer on-hand is like NYC 101.
5. The dreaded lunches – snacks and more snacks.
Let’s be honest. Kids really eat like five things total. If you’re that mom claiming how much and how healthy your kid eats – go tell your clean little pretty kitchen no one eats in either. No one cares. So since Max honestly lives on five things, I try to make them healthy as possible.
- Kidfresh. There are hidden veggies everywhere. Stock up. We always have a supply of Super Duper chicken nuggets and Mamma Mia pizza in the freezer. They also fit perfectly in lunch boxes!
- Thrive. You can buy all those pretty little organic snacks for less here, so you can feel better about sending you kid to school with chocolate bunnies, because it’s fair-trade chocolate. Since we already get everything delivered, it’s pretty brilliant for NYC parents (and it’s free shipping over $50). Plus, you can save 25% off your first order with my link, here.
6. While we’re at it – why are you slaving away at dinner? Pangea Nutrition.
Now that we’re back in a steady schedule for school, you know you’ll be cooking more at home instead of traveling and eating all those fancy non-organic road stops. But listen, just give in already and trust me, a delivery meal order is the best present you can give yourself. You’ll get to eat something besides your kids’ leftover chicken nuggets, it won’t take you a lot of time to make, and you won’t feel guilty eating these healthy meals. Which one? Let’s just say I’ve tried a lot of them (that article coming soon) but my favorite is Pangea Nutrition. It’s a Mediterranean Diet plan (okay maybe we’re biased living in Astoria, Greek capital of NYC), and the flavors are incredible. So not only are you getting easy, simple fresh and actual FLAVOR (so many are bland!), it’s actually good for you – Mediterranean style eating is proven to be better for you – full of healthy fats, oils and protein like olive oil, nuts and fish.
The best part? Pangea Nutrition is smart – they know you’ll have extra ingredients (comes from Amazon fresh so you get a FULL salt and pepper not pre-measured sizes – but that’s more bang for your buck!), so they send you the full week, including lunch the next day, to prep with leftover food and ingredients. That means your fish dinner turned into a delicious salad you get to take to work the next day. Brilliant if you ask me.
Price: $100 for four dinners/four lunches; $120 for six dinners/four lunches. They also have a current 60% off – YES SIXTY PERCENT – code running that give you either $40 or $50 for the first week! USE CODE: ModMed17
Want to just save yourself the stress and grab your own back-to-school set? Enter to win here and get your own So Young lunch box, set of Mabel’s Labels and a Fairy LiceMother’s lice prevention kit!
Disclosure: I received most of these products complimentary to test and review, however all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting FootballFoodandMotherhood.com.
Author: Stephanie Barnhart
Stephanie Barnhart is Author/Founder of Footballfoodandmotherhood.com, New York Editor for Mommy Nearest Magazine, and Founder/Social Media Strategist of SocialmindedMediaGroup.com. Stephanie is also a speaker of best online practices for small business and soloprenurs, as well as an educator to parents on social media monitoring. She has also been seen in the New York Times, PARENTGUIDE News, NY Metro Parent, ABC News, and been a contributing author on various websites.