Savor those last few days of August because Back To School is coming up. For parents of preschoolers, this is a mixed bag. They're too young to take the bus, the school day is short, and they come home TIRED and HUNGRY. But hey, they're out there learning something, right?
So let's embrace this back-to-school thing. Besides, it's an excuse to shop for fun toddler stuff! Below is our list of what to buy your little ones whether they are going to school, daycare, or just spending the day with grandma.
Got older kids? Check out this article from our friends at Macaroni Kid: Back to School Pointers.
The Best of Back-to-School for Preschoolers
FIRST/LAST DAY OF SCHOOL WRITE-ON BOARDS
This is a must for any Instagram Mom. They started popping up a few years ago and they are such a cute tradition! It’s so fun to see how much they change between the first and last day of school. It’s super easy: Just fill in the blanks with their info, put your little one on your front stoop, and hand them the board on the first or last day of … whatever. There are a lot of products out there with varying degrees of personalization and extra info, such as favorite color, teacher’s name, height, weight, etc. They also come in dry-erase or chalkboard. We picked out a custom dry erase board from Personalization Mall. I fill in whatever momentous day I’m commemorating along with some other fun info.
If you want a more traditional chalk board, Pearhead makes a great version that’s simple and classic. It might be worth skipping one with all those extra details so you don't have to worry about measuring your child's height and weight at 7am on the first day of school when you’re trying to get out the door. If you go the classic chalkboard route, I’d use one just like this and supplement it with a video of your child telling you some of their favorite things.
There are three stages to a toddler’s life: Pre-Cheerios, Cheerios, and Post-Cheerios. I’m luckily in Pre- and Post- with my two, but for all of you in the middle of Cheerios time, you’ll want to pack them in containers that don’t spill and are easy for little hands to reach into. My favorite are Ubbi Tweat Snack Containers. They come in fun bright colors, are easy to assemble, and they have what many other containers are missing: a lid on top that helps keep food fresh, so the animal crackers you poured on Monday have a fighting chance of still being fresh when you dig the container out from behind the couch on Wednesday.
Let’s talk labelling. Most schools require it, but even if they didn’t, your kids are going to leave their things around. In fact, just assume that everything you send them to school with will end up scattered within in a five-mile radius of their classroom. But there's more than one reason to need labels. Let’s be honest, that cute Carter’s cardigan you thought was such a good find? So did every other mother in her class. You at least want the marker stains on it to be HER marker stains, so you’re going to need labels.
Mabel’s Labels is a web-based company that makes cute, durable, personalized labels that you can buy a la carte or in awesome combo packs with themes like School, Daycare, Sleepaway Camp, and much more. Their product packs will keep you covered from the first day of school through summer. Mabel's Labels are full color with lots of fun themes, icons, and fonts to match your kid’s personality. We had the pleasure to check out a Little Kid School Combo, which contains washable clothing stickers, washable name stickers for everything else, special shoe labels that also help your kids determine the right and left shoe, and luggage tags for their backpacks and lunch totes. We’ve been using them all summer at daycare and they stay on her clothes and water bottle without fading or ripping.
Nothing says Back to School like a new backpack. The trouble with backpacks for toddlers is that they need to be small, they need to be discernible on the rack, and they need to be labelled. (But just for in the classroom! Don't let your kids walk around in public with name backpacks. See our post on Tricky People to find out why.) Most parents go to L.L.Bean, Lands End or Pottery Barn Kids for traditional bags, or Target for almost every licensed character out there. But I wanted something just a bit more unique than the first three stores, and since a toddler’s allegiances change faster than their shoe size, I was hesitant to send her off with a licensed bag. Sure, she loves Paw Patrol today, but I know she’ll be into something totally different come October.
But her love of all things girly is here to stay, so I opted for a classic pink backpack with her name boldly printed across it from Stuck On You, an Australian company that specializes in personalized kids items. They offer unique graphics to accompany your kid’s name and a variety of items to personalize, including newborn muslin wraps, bibs, name jigsaw puzzles, and coloring books. I'm excited for this backpack to stand out on the cubby wall and to reinforce name recognition with my toddler.
Unless you’re signed up for the hot lunch program, your child is going to be toting food to school. Your goal is to make that food easy to access and the storage container hard to lose. You can opt for a soft pouch food bag, which can handle those inevitable drops on the floor, but now you also have to supply more containers to hold the food inside it. Too much for a 3-year-old to keep track of? What if their lunch box could hold their food directly and also be used as a serving tray?
Enter Stuck On You’s Bento Box. It’s a durable, hardshell box with an airtight seal that holds everything they need for lunchtime, divided into toddler-belly-sized compartments, complete with suggestions on packing a well rounded lunch. With the Bento Box, there are no small pieces to lose, it goes right in the dishwasher, and you can personalize it with names and designs. Putting the food directly into the container’s compartments also means less waste. The ability to forgo a year of baggies, tin foil, and/or throwaway containers will have a big impact on your purse strings and carbon footprint.
That’s all for now! I hope everyone has a great back-to-school season. And teachers, thank you for giving all of us tired parents a break for several hours a week and returning our kids smarter than we left them.
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