A Lesson in Back-to-School Must-Haves at #MomtrendsSchool

Okay, guys. Imma get real and raw here for a minute (wouldn’t the first time… probably won’t the be the last). Truth is: I’m having a really hard time swallowing the fact that my first baby, my big boy, the little dude that made me a mama is going to be in Kindergarten come September.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that I dropped him off in his two-and-a-half hour Pre-K program for that much-anticipated first day? Now, in just a little over a month, I’m going to send him to elementary school until almost 3 PM every day, Monday through Friday. I could cry just thinking about it. But I know he’s going to be great and do great and enjoy every educational moment… And I might get more consecutive hours of work done than I have in years – ha!

Still, I have a lot to learn about sending a big kid off to Kindergarten, and that’s why I was so excited to go back to #MomtrendsSchool earlier this week.

Momtrends invited a few of our favorite brands and some VIP NYC bloggers and influencers to be schooled in the latest and greatest must-haves for the back-to-school season.

Better yet, we’re going to send YOU to virtual Momtrends School and give you a freebie lesson, via this blog post, in everything you and your kiddos will want and need to go to the head of the class. So without further adieu…

Ozery Bakery: My early-morning weekday breakfast woes have been solved, thanks to Ozery Bakery’s “Morning Rounds.” These delicious, wholesome breakfast breads are baked with hearty whole grains, fruits, and seeds for a satisfying, flavorful start to the day. Their “One Buns” are pre-sliced for your lunch-packing convenience, and, better yet, chock-full of fiber and protein. The “Snack Rounds” and “Brioche Bites” are the perfect after school snacks for hungry kiddos and moms alike.


Luv 2 Nosh: So you know those cracker-cookies you give your baby? This is that, but better–because they’re organic and available in so many unique and delicious flavors. Nosh has munchables, melties, and individual serving puff packets. My babe loves all of their “goodies” and even my soon-to-be Kindergartener asks for a “Nosh” cookie. Since there’s practically nothing in them, it’s a “treat” we can both feel good about.


Kite Hill: I have to admit, as a regular milk and cheese eater, I was skeptical of trying a dairy-alternative product. But Kite Hill’s artisanal delicacies are made with the simplest ingredients, and their best selling nut milk yogurts, and awarding winning cream cheese style spreads are actually insanely good. I’m sold, and I’ll definitely be packing these delights in my big boy’s lunchbox.


Name Bubbles: I would lose my head if it wasn’t attached to my body… and I’m starting to recognize that my son may have inherited my knack for, well, misplacing personal items. We have already had to buy multiple thermoses and backpacks and sneaker sets. Ugh. Well, Name Bubbles to the rescue. Their goal is to keep your kids’ items OUT of the lost & found with customizable, colorful, and cute name labels that withstand the test of time.

We had our own version of a Lost & Found box at our own Momtrends School event, where bloggers had to find and fish their own “name bubbled” item. It took me back to my childhood. Except this time, there was no question which item was mine!


Raisels: My guy loves sour candy. But I don’t particularly like how it’s loaded with all sorts of mystery ingredients and food dyes. But Raisels are a great alternative I can feel good about. Their golden raisins are sprinkled with sour fruity flavoring so they taste like candy, but they’re really just fruit! I can’t wait to break these out for our next movie night.

Hasbro: We love to play board games in our home. Pizza, some games, and quality time together is how I plan to spend our first Friday night of the school year! These Hasbro games (which we all went home with!) are going to be such a bit, and I’m looking forward to surprising my little guy and rewarding him for a successful first week of school.

Staples: Staples is our one-stop-shop for all the functional and fashionable school supplies a budding scholar could ever ask for. With emoji-inspired essentials, fun flamingo backpacks, and even donut and macaron mini erasers, Staples once again brings the cool back to school… as always!

Twelve Little: I’ve been a fan of Twelve Little’s incredibly chic and practical diaper bags for some time now; and I couldn’t be more excited about their totally awesome backpacks and lunch bags. The comfortable and clean designs look good and the functionality can’t be beat. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Momtrends event without a fun activation; so we customized lunch bags with iron-on patches and then challenged our bloggers to pack them with all the good foods they collected throughout the night.

Orchestra: We had a few of our bloggers’ kids on hand to model some of the super-charming styles from Orchestra, a European brand making its way to the United States. With wardrobe staples for kids from ages newborn to 14, it’s got a classic vibe with a bit of edge.

American Girl: Growing up isn’t easy. Kids and tweens these days have a lot to deal with on a daily basis. And they don’t always want to listen to mom and dad’s words of wisdom. That’s why we adore the advice series from American Girl. These books offer practical, useful, and digestible nugget for girls about everything from bullying to digital overload. (I think I might even need that one.)

Bath and Body Works: These luxurious lotions, potions, creams, and soaps from Bath  and Body Works are amazing for the home, for dorm rooms, guest bathrooms, and everything in between. And that hooray candle is necessary – along with a bubble bath and a glass of vino – after  a long hard work and school week. (Fri-Yay!)

 

JC’s Pie Bites: We love treating the kids (and ourselves) after a long hard day hitting the books–and JC’s Pie Bites are creamy and lush on the inside with a punch of crunch on the outside. Perfect for an end of day goodie.

As always, our #MomtrendsSchool students left with some hefty homework… in the form of three amazing gift bags, including an adorable backpack courtesy of Staples and lots of swag! School isn’t easy, but it sure is rewarding.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are our own.

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No One Eats Alone

I remember the feeling all too well… It was the first day of sixth grade—a new school, new teachers, new peers. Worst of all: a new lunch table.

The unfamiliarity of this large cafeteria threw me off guard. Where was I supposed to sit at 10:40 AM (as if that could actually be considered a lunch period!). Who was I supposed to sit with? How was I supposed to play it cool amidst a motley crew of middle-school strangers.

Feeling left out in youth is likely something we can all relate to in life—at least, in retrospect. I was fortunate to eventually find my own unique niche in middle school, and at that breakfast-y lunch table, but the shakiness of those first few days has stuck with me all these years. Suffice to say, the loneliness and alienation of adolescence can really make a lasting impression. (To this day, I feel awkward when I walk into social events solo.)

That’s why I was so excited to learn that Feb. 10, is No One Eats Alone Day. Schools around the country are educating children to make “inclusion the new cool,” and hundreds of thousands of students are signing up to participate in the movement to make everyone feel like they belong.

The No One Eats Alone initiative encourages students to step outside their comfort zone. Instead of sitting with the friends they already know and are comfortable with, students commit to sit with classmates they don’t know, introduce themselves, hopefully make new friends, and, most importantly, identify and include students who appear to be left out and might otherwise feel ostracized.

No One Eats Alone Day was created by Beyond Differences, a nonprofit committed to ending social isolation and make schools more friendly, welcoming, and inclusive environments.

With bullying being a hot topic in the United States today, this initiative aspires to bring attention and mediation to the classroom, cafeteria, and beyond. In fact, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, your social circles are as important to your health as diet and exercise. As an adult, I can see how this is true for me to this day. I feel so much better about myself after I’ve spent some quality time with people who get me, understand me, and lift me up.

“Social isolation is a preventable public health problem affecting millions of children every day who suffer in silence,” says Laura Talmus, co-founder and executive director of Beyond Differences. “We’ve learned through teachers and families that No One Eats Alone is a powerful step and positive initiative that can change the culture in schools to be a more welcoming place for all.”

Last year over 500,00 students participated in National No One Eats Alone Day. This year, encourage your children to take part and open their minds and hearts to including others on Feb. 10 and every day.

Here are five creative ways to get your kids comfortable and on board:

  1. Give them an extra snack to share with a new friend… Sharing is caring. Literally.
  2. Bake treats for everyone… Spread good will and sweet treats! Chocolate chips cookies are the way to the heart and a sure-fire way to make new friends!
  3. Pack an icebreaker game to play… Starting a conversation with a new not-yet friend can feel awkward. Prepare your kids with fun questions and maybe even a game or two!
  4. Encourage compassion and lead by example… Show them how it’s done, Mama. If you seem someone who needs help or looks lost and lonely, get involved, ask questions, and express concern.
  5. Keep the lines of communication open… Talk to your kids every day. About bullying. About isolation. About who they sat with and what they did at lunch time and at school. Keeping conversation alive and well will enlighten you and your children.

Find out more about how to get involved HERE.

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Carpool Safety Tips For Parents

Do you rely on carpool to get your kids to school safely? Sharing driving responsibilities with other parents or even paying an older kid to drive your kids to school can be a huge help, but it can also cause some parental anxiety. If you use a carpool for your kids, make sure you’ve taken these safety steps.

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Justin Lavelle, Communications Director of the PeopleLooker online background check platform, shared some of the top must-know carpool safety tips for parents.

Carpool Safety Tips For Parents

Know the driver. Whether the other driver is another parent or a teen, make sure you know these key pieces of information.

  • Do all drivers have a current license and registration?
  • Does the driver have a commitment to safety or a history of speeding tickets?
  • Will it consistently be the same person? Or will the mother and father be switching off? Or will another parent have their teenage daughter drive your kids to school one day?
  • Consider a background check for drivers that you are unfamiliar with.

Keep a shared roster / emergency contact list.  Make sure that each driver and parent has a list of contact information and emergency information for each child in the car. Share it via email or consider setting up a Google Doc that can updated easily as needed and always current.

Make safety number one. Ensure that safety is the top priority. This means seat belts for everyone, appropriate car seats when needed, and no distractions for the driver.

  • Make seat belts the rule – Every. Single. Time. According to Lavelle one study recently showed that only 74% of kids wore seat belts in the car. Make sure that it’s 100% for your carpool.
  • Determine if any riders need car seats or booster. If you’re the parent of a child who needs a booster seat, make an arrangement with the carpool to supply, or make sure there will be, a booster seat for your child in every vehicle. Consider an easily portable booster like the inflatable BubbleBum.
  • Make sure all the children get out of the car on the curb side of the street, and that you confirm they’re supervised before driving away.
  • Do NOT talk or text on your cellphone. According to the CDC, eight people every day are killed because of a distracted driver.

Discuss other safety issues with carpool members.

  • Ensure that all carpoolers know where to be picked up at after school.
  • Set up a safety code word to use if another parent will be picking up the carpool instead of a regular driver and talk with the riders about what to do if an unknown driver attempts to pick them up.
  • Point out the safest seat for kids. Kids 12 and under should be buckled up in the backseat and sit in the middle seat if possible.

Do you use a carpool for your kids?

and finally we just had to include this car pool rant from our friend Jennyonthespot:

Momtrends was not paid for this post.

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Getting Schooled in the Latest and Greatest at the #MomtrendsBTS Event

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A few weeks ago, I attended a Pre-K orientation meeting… It felt very official. My four-year-old son is going off to “real” school. (Okay, fine, it’s the prelude to “real” school, but it’s five days a week and they follow an actual curriculum—so it certainly feels more official than the nurturing baby and nursery programs I’ve sent him to in the past.

He’ll go on field trips, have “homework” in his backpack, and parent-teacher conferences will happen once a semester. He even has a mandatory school-supply list. Yeah, it’s official: my baby is going to big-boy school. Of course, this won’t happen until early September. Phew…

Still, summer is flying by, and I know we’ll have the obligatory “first day” photo shoot (complete with Pinterest-worthy chalkboard signage) in the blink of an eye.

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Just earlier this week, Momtrends hosted our annual Back to School event for local NYC bloggers. We brought together some amazing tried-and-true and new brands with a group of awesome local bloggers. We schmoozed and boozed (Popsicles dipped in champagne—it is July, after all), and learned about all the latest, greatest, and most innovative must-haves for kids. We were treated to foot massages (courtesy of footwear brand, Keen), got our hair braided, thanks to Vamousse, and enjoyed an adorable kiddie fashion show! Meanwhile, our blogger-friends’ children got to stay, snack, and play in the Nanny League Lounge.

It was a fun and fittingly educational evening and I now feel adequately prepared to send my little guy off to his big school (well, maybe not mentally).

Going back to school shopping has never been easier. We’ve rounded up everything you and your little scholars will need heading into the academic year—and a few brands to keep them looking cool in that first-day photo-shoot. (We’ll be checking Instagram.)

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Joules: A British brand, Joules crafts colorful, upbeat, and totally unique styles for children of all ages. The brand’s autumn and winter collection combines playful animal character prints, appliques, and swoon-worthy graphics you and your wee ones will flip over. (And their rain boots are darling too!)

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Keen, Inc.: Inspired by a love of the outdoors, this line of durable, fashion-forward footwear is great for a stylish return to the classroom. Your kids will strut their stuff with confidence and flair in these comfortable, cute, and totally on-tend shoes!

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Yoobi: School supplies should have personality—and Yoobi goodies have some to spare! Plus, for every Yoobi item you purchase, a Yoobi item will also be donated to a U.S. classroom in need.

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Mabel’s Labels: Never label with a permanent marker again! These super-durable and totally adorable labels are dishwasher, microwave, and laundry safe. They’ve also launched a super-fun “My School Year’s” portfolio for keepsake art, projects, and work.

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Vamousse: We regret to inform you that lice will happen. Be prepared for the inevitable classroom outbreak with this effective, safe, and pesticide-free product line.

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Earth’s Best: The original line of organic infant nutrition and care products, Earth’s Best expansive collection is formulated for growing babies, toddlers, and children. Their kid meals and snacks are nutritious, delicious, and easy. We’re pretty excited about their new freezer-to-table snack options—including nutty bars and organic fruit cups.

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Chewbeads: Juniorbeads by Chewbeads features playground-safe jewelry designed for kids ages three and up. These cute designs are not only fashionable, they’re functional too! The tactile sensation can help kids with sensory issues, and also discourage nail-biting, pencil-chewing, and other nervous habits.

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Nalgene: Keep your kids hydrated from the morning bell through lunch all the way to dismissal with this durable, easy-to-clean, reusable water bottle from Naglene. Their lunch boxes and food storage solutions are simple, easy, and great for the cafeteria. (This is a serious upgrade to the brown bag!)

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Hasbro Play-Doh: Nothing keeps kids engaged and entertained for hours like Play-Doh sets. It’s crafty, colorful, and creative play at it’s best.

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WallPops: These totally removable decals can transform any space in minutes. With a line of dry-erase calendars, message boards, maps, and more, these will keep the family organized during the busy school year.

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Paula’s Choice Skincare: Clear skin boosts confidence. No tween wants to go back to school with a breakout (been there). Fortunately, the CLEAR Acne Kit is a three-step collection that’s expertly formulated to banish acne.

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The Nanny League: This elite agency boasts college-educated nannies, personal assistants, tutors, and more. Finding a smart, engaging, and trustworthy sitter has never been easier.

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USANA Health Sciences: The school year is nonstop and it’s hard not get caught up in the stress of it. Keep yourself healthy, happy, and balanced with the MySmartFoods shaker bottle. You can make all sorts of good-for-you protein shakes to keep you energized from the moment your alarm goes off until it’s finally time to tuck the kiddies into bed.

Thank you to our event sponsors:
The Nanny League
Mabel’s Labels
Nalgene
USANA Health Sciences
Vamousse
Hasbro Play-Doh
Chewbeads
Keen, Inc.
WallPops
Paula’s Choice Skincare
Joules
Yoobi
Earth’s Best and Ella’s Kitchen

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are our own.

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How to Make Your Mornings Smoother

How would you rank your family’s morning routine? Are there tears and yelling (from either you or the kids) or is it smooth sailing getting everyone ready and out the door? If you fall more into the first category, we’ve crowd-source tips from moms around the U.S. on how to get the kids dressed, fed, and out the door without the chaos.

Make Your Mornings Smoother

Whether you’re getting one kid out the door or a whole herd, mornings can be tough. We asked fellow moms the tips and tricks they use to get everyone ready on time. Have you own tips? Share them below!

Waking up sleepy heads

Make Your Mornings Smoother

Getting up for school isn’t easy – especially when it’s often still dark out! Instead of constantly pestering your kids again and again to get up (which will get you both sour), put the responsibility into your kids’ hands.

  • “All my kids have their own alarm clock. From kindergarten on.” – Telaina E.
  • “Early bedtimes! My kids always wake up easier when they are well-rested.” – Danielle A.
  • “We have one of those alarm clocks that gets lighter and lighter to help my kids wake up naturally.” – Susan H. [Try this one from Philips.]
  • “I send the dog in. A few licks to the face usually gets the kids right up!” – Chandra K.

Getting dressed drama-free

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While my biggest battle with my boys is actually getting them to change their clothes, other parents I know suffer from kids who like to try on 25 different outfits before breakfast. Streamline this daily process with one of these genius parent tips.

  • “We have them lay their next days clothes out before bed so no outfit drama in the AM.” – Mario C.
  • “If I know we are going somewhere, I pull out their clothes the night before and get them dressed in the morning downstairs because it’s a hassle once they go back up to get dressed because they just want to play.” – Diana R.
  • “We pre-plan outfits for the week (and then some) for our two children in these hanging closet organizers.” – Scott K. Genius!

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Breakfast without a battle

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Keep morning meals simple by limiting breakfast options, teaching kids to make their own, and not turning into a short-order chef.

  • “I choose breakfast for them — if they eat all of it, they can have a choice after the ‘important stuff.'” – Beth W.
  • “I keep the cereal and bowls in cabinets that the kids can reach themselves, and starting when they were 7, I taught them how to make easy breakfasts like eggs and toasts for themselves.” – Kate T.
  • “We eat the exact same thing every morning during the week. I know that sounds boring, but it helps with the routine and once breakfast is done – out the door!” – Laura V.

Finding & packing the important stuff

Make Your Mornings Smoother

From permission slips and homework to lunches and sweatshirts, the big secret to making sure you can find all those important things in the morning? Do them the night before.

  • “We lay out clothes the night before, as well as make sure backpacks, lunch bags, and shoes (OMG, why do they always go missing??) are ready to go.” – Christine Y.
  • “A place for everything and everything (hopefully) in its place. There is a cubby for homework folders, a bin for shoes, and hooks for sweatshirts and backpacks. This usually makes it easy for everyone to find what they need.” – Kate T.
  • “Prep EVERYTHING the night before, no exception. Nighttime Me hates this so much, but it’s essential for Morning Me to survive. I have breakfast ready to grab-and-serve, lunches and water bottles packed, outfits laid out, backpacks packed. This way we can get the debate about which shirt we are or aren’t okay with wearing or which snacks we suddenly hate this week out of the way well before the morning, when time always feels particularly tight.” – Kirsten C.

Jobs, chores and keeping kids motivated to keep moving

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Keeping kids motivated to get their to-dos done without constant reminders can be tough. While many parents use tech time as a motivator, others keep it simple with a sticker chart.

Make Your Mornings Smoother

  • “For my younger boys we use a star sticker system – get dressed, brush teeth, put shoes on. If I don’t have to ask or only asked once, they get a shiny star sticker for each. It’s the simple things!” – Gina M.
  • “If everything done without reminders in the morning it means my daughter gets iPad time after school. I put a 20-min cartoon on after the kids are dressed/fed/ready to go so I can get myself and the baby ready.” – Danielle A.
  • “I have a Pinterest board called “Morning Motivation” full of fun short YouTube videos and the like. If they finish getting ready in time we all watch it together. I don’t need it much any more, but when I can tell they’re feeling poky I’ll say ‘Oh, I found a good video last night, hope we have time to watch it.'” – MaryAnn D.
  • “If my 7-year-old gets ready smoothly in the morning, she gets 20 minutes on the computer after school. She’s very punctual and responsible, but anxious about being late (how I was as a child!) and can lose it emotionally. This reward has helped immensely! My 3-year-old is another story…” – Carol H.

And let’s not forget the most important tip of all….

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“Oh, and make sure my coffee is ready to go the night before so its ready to go in the morning. That way mama can make it through the morning without crying too.” – Danielle A.

Amen to that.

What are your tips for getting your family smoothly out the door? Leave them below!

Momtrends was not paid for this post.

 Photo credits 1, 2, 3

 

 

 

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Does Your Child Have a Back-Safe Backpack?

It’s back-to-school season which means it’s time to start stocking up on notebooks, #2 pencils, and a backpack to carry it all in. If your kids’ schools are anything like mine, the popularity of rolling or wheeled backpacks has continued to rise. But does your child need a rolling backpack? And how can you choose a back-safe backpack if you opt for a traditional backpack? Here’s are six tips to select the best backpack for your child.

How to Choose a Safe Backpack

According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), your child’s backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10% of their body weight. So a 50-pound child shouldn’t carry more than 5 pounds, a 100-pound child, no more than 10 pounds. If the backpack is heavier, it will cause your child to lean forward in an attempt to balance the weight on her back instead of on her shoulders, putting undue strain on the shoulder, neck and back.

Despite what you might think, the ACA doesn’t suggest every student use a rolling backpack. In fact, they recommend that rolling backpacks “be used cautiously and on a limited basis by only those students who are not physically able to carry a backpack.” Instead they recommend choosing a supportive backpack and taking steps to try to limit what students carry.

So how can you choose a back-safe backpack for your child? The American Chiropractic Association shares these six tips:

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1. Is the backpack the correct size for your child?  The backpack should never be wider or longer than your child’s torso, and the pack should not hang more than 4 inches below the waistline. A backpack that hangs too low increases the weight on the shoulders, causing your child to lean forward when walking.
2. Does the backpack have two wide, padded shoulder straps?  Non-padded straps are not only uncomfortable, but also they can place unnecessary pressure on the neck and shoulder muscles.
3. Does your child use both straps? Lugging a heavy backpack by one strap can cause a disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, low-back pain, and poor posture.
4. Are the shoulder straps adjustable?  The shoulder straps should be adjustable so the backpack can be fitted to your child’s body. The backpack should be evenly centered in the middle of your child’s back.
5. Does the backpack have a padded back?  A padded back not only provides increased comfort, but also protects your child from being poked by sharp edges on school supplies (pencils, rulers, notebooks, etc.) inside the pack.
6. Does the pack have several compartments?  A backpack with individualized compartments helps position the contents most effectively. Make sure that pointy or bulky objects are packed away from the area that will rest on your child’s back, and try to place the heaviest items closet to the body.

Whether you have a new kindergartener just starting school or a how-did-he-get-so-big middle schooler, here are some of our favorites back-safe backpacks for back to school.

Favorite Backpacks for Back to School

l. to r. Deuter Junior | Landsend My First Classmate | JanSport Big Student | Old Navy Bungee | North Face Sprout | Landsend FeatherLight | JWorld Cornelia

Check out more back-to-school favorites in our BTS Guide below!

Momtrends was not paid for this post. This post may contain affiliate links.

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WallPops: Keeping the Workspace Nice, Neat and Pretty

Desk Near Window In HouseI’m much more constructive when I work in a clean, organized, and bright environment. It’s not all that surprising, but I’ve found that there’s a definite correlation between a room’s aesthetic and my level of productivity. Clutter and mess hinder my creative process and seriously diminish motivation… But give me some fresh flowers and natural light, and I’m a blog-post-writing machine. Simply said: The prettier the workspace, the more I get done.

That’s why I’m so excited to have discovered WallPops . They can transform any space in minutes—which is why they’re so perfect for sprucing up homework stations and decorating dorm rooms.

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Green table and tulipsWallPops is the premier line of peel-and-stick wall art. With easy-to-use photo frames, decorative wall kits, oversize message boards, dry-erase calendars, and more. There are countless products to keep kids (and grownups!) organized in a nice, neat, nifty, and, yes, pretty way.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are our own.

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Inside the Momtrends Back to School Bash

bts16I have a toddler and an infant, so I’ve yet to experience the hustle, bustle, and manic mayhem of the much-dreaded (or perhaps highly-anticipated) back-to-school season—at least not as a parent.

My son does attend nursery school though, and getting him prepared for a few hours three days a week is still a massive undertaking. We have to get the backpack, the snack-pack, the coolers, the clothes, the sneakers… And everything, save for his socks, required a full-name label. Sheesh! And that’s just the tangible prep work! Getting him mentally ready is a whole other story.

Suffice to say, I can only imagine how challenging it is when you’re sending the kids off to school five full days a week. (Seriously, most days I forget to pack him a sippy-cup of water!) How do you amazing moms do it?

bts18Believe it or not, back-to-school season is almost upon us. (Scary isn’t it?) Summer is fleeting and it’ll be time to send the littles off on the big yellow bus before you know it. Lucky for you (and me!), Momtrends is here to help. We recently hosted a large group of NYC bloggers for an evening of mixing, mingling, manicur-ing (couresty of Glam Squad!), product-testing, and trend-spotting. The evening event, held at Indigo Rooftop in NYC, highlighted a few awesome products and services to help make Mom’s life easier this busy BTS season. Sound good? Here are a few things you need to know about before that first bell rings on the start of the new school year.

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bts17Date Night Now by Sittercity
Who needs a date night? I do! I do! As parents, we are so busy planning school functions, activities, and play dates for our little ones, that we often forget to carve out quality couple time. And even when we do remember—finding a quality babysitter is no easy task. Fortunately, Date Night Now by Sittercity simplifies the process of finding, booking ,and paying sitters. This services provides you with access to an exclusive group of hand-picked sitters that are available exactly when you need them. Best of all, Sittercity has already vetted each candidate—in person!

bts22Mabel’s Labels
Seriously, my son’s nursery school makes us label EVERYTHING. Little people tend to misplace. Mabel’s Labels makes personalized, durable and absolutely adorable labels for the stuff kids lose. (Move over, permanent marker! You’ve been replaced!)

Play-Doh
What kid (or kid at heart) doesn’t love Play-Doh. You can sculpt and make just about anything your imagination can dream up. It also helps kids build motor skills. Win-win! With a two year old, this is one item that’s always on-hand in my home.

bts21Lysol
It’s no surprise that schools are, well, germy. The cafeteria, the bathrooms, the computer lab, the gymnasium—you name it, it’s got lots of bacteria to be killed. Lysol Disinfecting Wipes kill 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria—including Infleunza A Virus, Human Coronavirus, MRSA, E. coli and more. The wipe is ideal for cleaning messes on hard surfaces like door knobs, desks, light switches, and just about anything your kids touch. Pack ‘em in their backpacks or give a lifetime supply to your child’s teacher.

bts4Stride Rite
There’s a reason Stride Rite has been a staple in kids’ wardrobes since 1919. The shoes are equally stylish, practical, and durable. Stride Rite knows that kids march to the beat of their own drums, that they love dirt and mud, and they’re not always stable on their feet. And that’s why they make shoes that are designed with our favorite mini people in mind. (Bonus: Moms like them too!)

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bts6Matilda Jane Clothing
Who says you can’t mix and match. Certainly not Matilda Jane. This clothing company is known for its versatile prints, layers, ruffles, and girlie embellishments. Sold through Trunk Keepers (independent personal stylists),this brand has lots of adorable options for girls and a few fab picks for women too. A few Momtrends team members modeled some charming grownup styles from the brand; while some bloggers’ kids showed off children’s items during our casual fashion show!

bts5WallPops
Whether you’re decorating your child’s bedroom or styling your teen’s dorm, these peel-and-stick decals are a fun, bright, and easy way to spruce up any space. The dry erase maps are especially great for school-aged kids, and the dry-erase calendars are ideal for tracking school functions, PTA meetings, extra curricular activities, and more.

So there you have it. These are a few essentials that will help streamline and simplify going back-to-school. Check them out, stock up, and get ready for academic awesomeness… summer will be over in the blink of an eye, and school will be in session before you know it!

bts3Event Sponsors:
Date Night Now by Sittercity
Mabel’s Labels
Lysol
Stride Rite
Matilda Jane Clothing
WallPops
Play-Doh
Vamousse
ThredUp
Indigo Rooftop
GlamSquad

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are our own.

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Raise Your Hand for Teachers and Celebrate Amazing Educators

thredup raise a hand for teachersMy all-time favorite teacher was Mrs. Pfeffer. She was a music instructor and a choral coach, and she directed the high school’s theatrical productions. But she did a lot more than help a room full of off-pitch teens sing in tempo and instruct a 16 year-old “Eliza Doolittle” how to speak with a cockney accent (BTW, that was me, of course.). She taught her students about mutual respect and personal passion. She was strict and hilarious and, once you earned her trust and regard, she treated you like a peer, a friend, and an equal.

Music and theater aren’t often top priorities in the education system. But, lucky for me, the school I attended had deep roots in the arts and was committed to introducing young adults to all things creative.

Of course, that’s not the case at many other schools throughout the United States. I’ve heard from many friends that their district’s art teachers and music teachers and PE teachers are treated like second-class educator because they don’t teach “important” topics covered in the core curriculum. I’ve read stories about teachers who have bought art supplies or instruments or, yes, even extra pencils and notebook paper for their classroom—because their districts just didn’t have the budget for these “extra” items. And this goes for math, English, science, and language teachers too. In fact, I, personally, don’t know one teacher who hasn’t taken money out of her own wallet to help enhance the student experience.

It goes without saying, but teachers are amazing—especially the ones who go above and beyond for the benefit of the young minds they’re helping to shape. To celebrate and thank the teachers who make a difference, thredUP has partnered with AdoptAClassroom.org to launch the “Raise a Hand for Teachers” program. Did you know that, on average, teachers spend $500 of their own money each year to help outfit and equip their classrooms? And 70% of teachers have purchased apparel items—jackets, socks, and shoes—for their students.

raise a hand for teachers thred upNow through August 23, kids can nominate a teacher to win one of three grand prizes from the Raise a Hand for Teachers contest: $2500 for classroom supplies and $500 to spend at thredUP—and 50 runner-up winners will receive $100 to spend at thredUP. (In case you are unfamiliar, thredUP is a one-stop resale site featuring kids’ brands—Janie and Jack, Mini Boden, Zara Kids, Lilly Pulitzer, etc.—at up to 90 percent off retail.) Yes, you need to check it out.

While you’re browsing around online, vote and watch a cute video of kids thanking their teachers HERE. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Good luck, teachers… and, while we’re at it, thank you for all you do. Back-to-school time will be here before you know it, and you deserve a little gratitude… Some extra supply money in your pocket wouldn’t hurt either.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are our own.

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Start Learning Early With Brainzy.com

I love finding games, apps and websites that have enough educational content to satisfy the former teacher in me with enough fun and entertainment to keep the kids interested in playing again and again. One of my newest finds is Brainzy.com developed by Education.com, one of the web’s fastest growing parenting and educational resource websites.

BrainzyBrainzy is a unique math and reading program designed for kids in pre-K through first grade (roughly 3-7 years old). It offers more than 300 games, stories and activities to teach foundational concepts in reading and math and provides fun opportunities for students to practice and master the concepts. We’ve been using it on the computer, but Brainzy also recently launched it on an app.

With Brainzy, kids explore the Land of Knowhere, where they meet and learn with a cast of creative friends –  Roly, Floyd, Tutu, Officer Ice Cream, Birdee, Cuz-Cuz, Muggo, and Penelope Pegacorn.

brainzy characterKids choose from Math or Reading in their grade level and then select an age-appropriate skill to work on. Reading games include alphabet games, phonics games, and sight word games and videos like “Alphabet Demolition Bingo” and “Short E Rap.” Math games build skills in counting, number recognition, shapes, and addition/subtraction through games and videos like “Subtraction Ski Race” and “Stacking Up the Ice Cream.”

Brainzy 7Brainzy 4

For each skill there are a number of activities shown on the right of the page that a child completes. The activities range from interactive stories and videos to games and puzzles. The goal is to become a “master” of each activity to complete the level.

Brainzy 5

 

I’ve enjoyed watching how engaged my kids are on Brainzy. I have both my 4-year-old Pre-K-er and my 6-year-old first grader on it and both of them are able to use it independently and are interested and motivated to do the activities.

Each Brainzy account can accommodate up to three players, making it easy the whole family to use. The program also lets parents track each child’s progress and performance. (Teachers! Brainzy also offers a classroom version for teachers that can accommodate up to 35 students.)  Brainzy 2Brainzy 3Our family has tried a lot of education apps, but Brainzy is definitely one I’ve been impressed with. While Brainzy currently is designed for Pre-K, K and 1st, they are actively expanding the program to go up to 5th grade.

Brainzy is available by monthly subscription ($6.99 per month) or annual subscription ($3.99 per month), and provides an ad-free environment safe for kids to explore on a tablet, desktop, or laptop computer. Visit Brainzy.com for more information and to sign up for a free 7-day trial.

education.com

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