back to school

Happy to have one less errand or two…#onelesserrand

Happy to have one less errand or two…or twenty. Thanks to Google Express. #onelesserrand

I recently attended a blogger dinner to learn about Google Express and I am so glad I did! First of all it was all kinds of gorgeous, and great to connect with old friends and make new ones – I learned some photo tips, too. The dinner was held at Serafina in Boston which I have been longing to try – it’s wonderful – food, ambiance, service.

View More: http://brianamoore.pass.us/google-express-boston

 

So, what’s so great about #GoogleExpress? Well, do you like going to the store for paper towels, detergent or office supplies? Me neither. Google Express features same day delivery from local area stores with no delivery fee (if your order is over $15) and there is a free three month trial that I am using like mad. In my area, the stores include Stop & Shop, CostCo, Staples, PetSmart, Ulta Beauty, Barnes & Noble and Kohl’s. We have had cleaning supplies, paper goods, office and school supplies and beauty products, and even an airbed (perfect timing, we had guests coming to stay and no air bed). Try it for three months free, you’ll be glad you did.

 

 

Love the convenience, the cost (same price for items as in store), you can link your loyalty cards from stores like Staples and Stop & Shop to Google Express. I’ve used it three times and was happy with every delivery. School supplies? Delivered? (Staples, you know I love you but I cannot handle the back to school craziness). Yes, please.

I did receive a gift card to Google Express for the purpose of review. All opinions remain my own.

 

Mabel’s Labels and More

Mabel’s Labels and More

Or How I got my ducks in a row.

Yes, I do find September challenging, thank you for asking. It’s not as crazy as June for the sheer number of events and activities, but it makes up for it in the way it ramps up, making me pull it together and getting the family on board with a whole new schedule. Yeah, I don’t love September.

What I do love is the preparation, which interestingly enough, one of the ways I mentally prepare for the change and challenges the new school year brings. Remember back to school shopping? It used to be all corduroys and sweaters, not sure why (global warming?) but it’s still summer weather here so those clothes can wait. What can’t wait is the back to school supplies. Sometimes you get an assist from the school in a list but sometimes it’s just you and your children in an office supply store. Overwhelming.

It’s helpful for me to make lists, get organized and label things! It gives us me a sense of order and the planning makes us me, at least, relax a little. I’ve found that things get lost less often when they are labeled – sometimes kindly people return the items (soccer balls, jackets), and somehow, sometimes, kids remember the stuff when it has their name on it. Not always, but more often than not and I like the odds.

Since I would label everything if I could, it’s great to have so many choices that are durable and colorful. The site is easy to navigate and to see all the lovely choices (the tough part is deciding) and to preview your choice.

We went with the Stylish Scholars and loved the choices like quatrefoil, chevron, faux bois and peony, and check out all of the color choices, too.

 

screenshot from mabel's labels
screenshot from Mabel’s Labels

 

We labeled everything, well, almost everything – like the ipad mini, the phone, the clear plastic shoe boxes that I got on sale for storing all sorts of stuff (in school and at home), the backpacks (with the sweet metal tags that clip right on), folders, binders, notebooks, water bottles and my favorite back to school item, the pencil case. I stopped just shy of labeling the pencils because my kids are older but I would definitely label them for little ones. Let them put the stickers on- it;s a great school readiness activity.

We do tend to misplace things around here so this is one of my strategies for holding on to the stuff we I care about. These Back to School labels are available until September 30th – so go check out Mabel’s Labels on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram or here on their website.

Started in 2003 by four super smart moms who were frustrated with their children losing items (aren’t we all) that they sent to school or camp. Read the about page here.

Disclaimer: I received a package of labels from Mabel’s Labels for this review. All opinions are, as always, my own.

 

 

 

Back-To-School Survival Guide

Yes,a survival guide does sound like a good idea! While I don’t have all the answers (ssh – don’t tell my children), I do have some experienced friends who have helped me through many a Back-To-School season, and a few years under my own belt, as well. IMG_6672 IMG_6644 IMG_6647 IMG_6649 IMG_6650 IMG_6655 IMG_6659 IMG_6661 IMG_6662 IMG_6663 IMG_6674IMG_1236 While being a mom means it’s all about the kids (as it should be), don’t forget to fill your own tank, too. Need permission? Permission granted.  Luckily, the moms I know are a sharing bunch and we share ideas, challenges, resources, tutors, tips, mini-triumphs, crisis moments, personal and professional growth, where to get cute shorts, you know, the important stuff.

So in a rare and beautiful morning, I went to Newbury Street, had snacks from flour (I split a puff pastry with a friend – she runs more miles in a day than I do in a week, so. yeah, I gave her some of my flaky pastry dream) and shared back to school tips with a great bunch of moms who happen to be bloggers. Or is it bloggers who happen to be moms? Either way, a great group of interesting, lovely and generous women who are all about sharing – online and or IRL  (In Real Life).

How did we get here? Well, Audrey McClelland, the founder of Mom Generations and Getting Gorgeous, invited a two groups of lucky local bloggers to share back to school tips and have a relaxing morning at MiniLuxe (a truly lovely place to recharge). Pedicures (pedis) were had by all and yummy treats from flour (yes, I would have gone just for the sweets from flour but don’t tell) and the conversation was lively and fun and so helpful! We all have children of different ages, so it was nice to compare notes and swap stories (ask Audrey about boy versus girl energy).

I enjoyed a lovely morning sponsored by P&G. And P&G is offering a giveaway of  a $50 gift card to help with your back to school needs on the P & G e-store. I know, so nice to get your house in order and in such an easy way!  There are some great tips in the P&G checklist for getting ready for back to school.

Some Tips from the P&G Backeveryday-To-School Checklist (this link is to the P&G everyday site – register for more info, coupons and more)

(these are just a few of my faves – there are so many more!)

The long days of summer and early fall are ideal for evening walks and family recreation. Make the habit now and see if your family can maintain it into the fall.
Ease back into structured sleep routines in the days leading up to the first day of school  – 47 percent of moms say getting back into regimented sleep patterns and getting the family back to a set schedule are challenges for their families facing the back-to-school season.

Create New Student Care Packages

To help ease kids back into the school year, create small care packages
to hide in your child’s backpack, coat pocket, or desk/locker. Notes, drawings and photos are always a hit, but
you can also consider including:
For younger kids – lip balm, tissues, stickers, favorite character key chain, or an extra special snack
For older kids – antibacterial hand gel, scented/unique colored pens, locker decorations, or a stylish refillable
water bottle to start off the school year right.

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I was not compensated for this post but did receive some pretty fall polish from P&G and a goodie bag full of some of my favorite P&G products (like Bounty, Ivory, Olay, Swiffer).

Back To School…Ready Or Not (and a gift card to help out)

Back To School…Ready Or Not (and a $50 gift card from Wayfair to help you get ready).

The answer in our house is always decidedly not! I love summer (crazy carpool schedules notwithstanding), the slower paced days, the fun activities and the family time and since everyone’s schedule is more relaxed, we get to see more of our cousins and grandparents and that is always good.

But I also love the crisp air of autumn, the spring in your step it gives you and knowing that another year of school (I know my children agree) is around the corner. Plus, it is really, really fun to go Back to School shopping (I know my husband does not agree)!

How do you get it together – exchange sandals for shoes, beach reads for textbooks and beach bags for backpacks? How do you cope with first day excitement/nerves?

Transition can be tough and here are some ways to make it easier.

Visit the school

For the young ones, make the school a familiar place. If possible, visit it several times before school starts – go to the orientation, use the playground, visit an older friend who already goes to the school, even just walking by it and talking about it makes it a more familiar place.

Read all about it

There is no shortage of great books about Back to School for all ages. Pragmatic Mom is my go to for this and she kindly added some books to my Pinterest Board. Personal Fave –

The Kissing Hand

by Audrey Penn

Set expectations

Talk about what a typical day will be like. I still remember being told I could read all day in Kindergarten – I was on board with that! My mom did not tell me that she would be leaving (Lasting visual – looking up to see my pretty pregnant mom sprinting by the window and my sister almost flying out behind her. Seriously Mom, I remember that. You were wearing that lavender maternity dress), and that there would be other activities and, this was another surprise, children I did not know. I’m over it, though. Really.

Go to school with a friend or two, meet them and walk in together. The bustle of the first day can be overwhelming.

Use Props

This is where your back to school shopping pays off. The shiny new lunch box, the pretty pens, the new backpack and you don’t have to spend a lot – and crayons are the best and least expensive back to school item.

Dwell lunch box from wayfair capability mom wants this for herself
Dwell lunch box from Wayfair.com

Most backpacks and lunch boxes are washable (I do it all the time), but check the label first.

Spruce up and personalize a backpack with add on decorations (key chains and buttons are a cute inexpensive way to change up the look).

Let your child help with lunch choices and add when they aren’t looking add a little note and for older kids I add a word of the day – it is a win-win. You get to write a note, they learn a word.

Word of The Day resources

Grades 4-6

Grades 6-9

High School

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Make time and traditions

Make it special! Have a family dinner the night before with a reasonably early bedtime – this is admittedly tough to do – everyone is so excited!

A good breakfast is key but it doesn’t have to be fancy or huge or made to order if that is not your thing. Unhurried is best. Cut up fruit, whole wheat toast (peanut butter or avocado for protein) or granola bars and yogurt.

I’m all about the food (yes, healthy food, too). Check out 10 Get Healthy Tips from Massachusetts General Hospital for Children for some great ideas.

Take pictures – You’ll love looking back on all the first days of school memories.

Relax and Have Fun

We had a great Wayfair Back to School Twitter Chat #HomemakerHappyHr – with Wayfair giving away a $25 gift card every ten minutes! Here are some great tips from our super mom friends:

Transition by moving bedtime earlier a few weeks ahead of school start date. Get into a routine to help settle back to school nerves.

Take a picture at the beginning of the first day of school and the end of the day! Expand that to the first and last day of school – really have a record of how they have grown!

Have a special snack together and get the details of the day – Keep communication lines open. (Pizza, anyone?)

Keep their artwork and papers in bins and display them on a pin board or in inexpensive frames. Send “older” works of art to family and friends to make room for the new.

Healthy favorite foods: Peanut butter and jelly, the classic (soy nut butter is a great alternative if you have a nut-free classroom) and hand’s down fave, followed closely by turkey or ham and cheese. For snacks – granola bars, fruit, veggies, yogurt, cheese and crackers.

Set a routine and keep it up – it helps everyone! Set up a quiet place to do homework (I like mine close to the kitchen for those homework questions that inevitably come up while I’m making dinner).

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Twitter Chat – Great suggestions and ideas! Many thanks to Wayfair for making this happen and giving away great gift cards – Time to shop for Back to School!
Wayfair is kindly giving away a $50 gift card as part of this post. Enter by liking Wayfair’s Facebook Page. What is Wayfair? Check out them out (their tagline is a zillion things home), and they do have almost everything you need for back to school (just maybe not the PB & J, but I think you’ve got that).

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