We are back to school next week, so this week is dedicated to all the preparation for a smooth start. I nest for back to school like a third trimester pregnant woman, stocking the homework cart, the refrigerator, the pantry; organizing the drawers, the backpack closet, the desk space. We choose first day of school outfits (round-ups coming later this week), backpacks and new tennis shoes with passion, and I fuss over silly little details like finding the cutest backpack charms as if it matters because when you’re starting something new and dealing with little fears as a kid, everything matters. On Lainey’s first day of kindergarten, I scoured our entire city–all day long–for the most perfect pair of kindergarten sneakers as an emotional escape to big life transitions. We all have our way of figuring things out–mine tends to involve new shoes.
I’ve been doing the back-to-school thing now for seven years, and it never fails to excite me–the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, the thrill of Meet the Teacher night, the sight of little backpacks lined against the wall on the night before the first day. Seven years in, I’ve also acquired several hacks–tips and tricks to make the school year easier and mornings smoother as well as some products we love that we use every day for school.
1 – Continuous Spray Water Bottle and Wet Brush
This spray bottle is a lifesaver for all the kids’ hair in the morning. It wets it with a continuous spray to smooth out the flyaways and makes doing hair so much easier. I drop a few drops of lice prevention essential oils in ours (I use rosemary and lavender) which also makes it smell good. The wet brush is the best brush for removing tangles. If you do morning hair in the kitchen, store a basket of hair essentials in a kitchen drawer for easy access.
2 – Minted Labels
We buy these every year (unless we have leftover from the year before), and they are wonderful for labeling lunch boxes, water bottles, etc. They stay on in the dishwasher too and peel off easily when you want to switch them out.
3 – Fit & Fresh Soft Ice Packs
These ice packs won’t leak or break and, because they’re soft and flexible, fit into lunch boxes better than the hard bulky ones. Also–sweatproof nylon!
4 – Retro Backpack Charms
Such a cute way to personalize backpacks and add a little fun. This set comes with a bunch to choose from, so you can switch out charms as often as you like.
6 – Squirrel Pocket Hand Sanitizer Holder Clip or Barking Hot Dog Holder Clip
A cute way to have hand sanitizer close by at school as kids enter the germfest again–backpack clips that hold pocket size hand sanitizers (or “hanitizer” as Dash calls it) from Bath & Body Works. They clip right in. Back to school calls for this Fall Traditions Hand Sanitizer Set.
Nella loves wearing skirts to school but doesn’t think twice about making sure her undies don’t show. She’s going into third grade and to protect her dignity and make sure we don’t give her an unneeded reason for kids to poke fun, I make sure she has a stash of privacy shorts for skirt days.
Great environment-friendly alternative to sandwich bags. They’re durable, cute and can be washed and reused over and over.
Giddy Up and Grow Felt Barrettes – My favorite girls hair accessory splurge shop. Everything’s handmade with adorable details. We bought these strawberry clips for the school year and to add to our Giddy Up and Grow collection.
10-pack Corduroy Bow Alligator Clips – The cost of bow clips can ADD UP. This set is inexpensive and yet pretty and classic.
Nella and Dash take these water bottles to school every day. They last forever, are dishwasher safe, and are easy to keep at their desk.
First days of school involve a lot of nerves and the unknown. Each member of our family wears a bracelet the first day to remind our family that we are thinking of each other and that we are supporting each other’s capabilities and confidence. These also work great for test days, interview days, etc. and are just as meaningful to adults as they are for kids. We’ve done cord bracelets and rubber bracelets but this year couldn’t give up our summer camp vibes, so friendship bracelets it is.
1 – College Vintage Backpack
I got these for Nella and Dash this year, and I’m obsessed. They’re so cute, perfectly sized and completely functional for what they bring to and from school.
2 – Zara Monster Backpack
How cute is this? The little zipper eye pockets! This is a little bit smaller than big kid backpacks and perfect for preschool and kindergarten.
3 – J Crew Sequin Shake-up Bag
Every little girl’s dream bag! See through, sparkles and tons of shake-up sequins. J Crew quality, so you know it’s good!
4 – Rockets of Awesome State Bag
State bags have become iconic in the backpack world–classic style and great quality. Love this rainbow stripe version in collaboration with Rockets of Awesome.
5 – Vans Color Block Bag
Great for any age, especially the Vans-loving preteen.
6 – Classic Herschel Retreat Backpack
This is Lainey’s pick for this year. We’ve been Herschel fans for years. Their backpacks last forever and feature red pinstripe waterproof lining.
7 – Adidas National 3-stripe Backpack
Sporty vibes, comfy fit, classic Adidas style.
8 – Dinosaur Backpack
Cat & Jack has so many cute backpacks this year! I love the fun print on this year and the complementing dinosaur zipper charm.
9 – Fjallraven Kanken
Classic European Style. I bought my first Fjallraven backpack this year, and I’m sold for life. I’ve been carrying mine every day instead of a purse for months now. And SO MANY COLORS.
10 – Jansport White Backpack (to D.I.Y. your own design!)
For the artist. No one will have the same backpack as you if you design your own. Grab some permanent markers and go wild.
11 – Americana Backpack
Another Cat & Jack homerun. Simple unisex design, great for any age.
12 – Emily & Merrit Bunny Backpack
This makes me wish my girls were still in preschool. They would have LOVED this sweet bunny bag.
13 – Deer Mum Penguin Backpack
I’m a sucker for cute penguins. Love the simplicity of this bag and yet still whimsical and fun.
14 – State Kane Backpack
A bit pricey, but amazing quality and classic State style. Also available in so many patterns and color combinations.
15 – Lands End Planet Backpack
Super functional–roomy, comfy, pockets, affordable and yet stylish. I love fun patterns like this that aren’t too “little kiddish.”