No need to read about what to buy for back to school- we all get school lists and have an abundance of No 2 pencils and washable markers. Therefore, my twist on this seasonal round up focuses on stuff that makes life easier this fall- items that are practical, positive, and pretty.
1. Makeshift Mudroom
Dreaming of a magazine-worthy mudroom? Yeah, me too. It’s a must-have for storing backpacks, shoes, jackets, sports stuff, etc. The biggest rule of thumb when creating an organizational space is: have a home for everything… and that’s where Overstock’s Seaside Hall Tree comes in.
You don’t need a picture-perfect mudroom; the Crosley Hall Tree is an all-in-one piece made from solid hardwood and veneers. Its good-looking physique isn’t too big, making it ideal for compact spaces. Pull the drop-down drawers forward with genuine metal hardware and find two spacious cubbies, designed for storing shoes and clutter. (Tip: put baskets inside the cubbies for added organization.) The tall, slatted back is equipped with hooks for hanging coats and backpacks, and two additional overhead cubbies offer ample storage. With a slashed price under $350, your mudroom dreams will become a reality.
2. The perfect desk
I prefer typing comfortably on my couch, but since I’m a big girl now, it’s time I surrender to a desk. Also, my young children are starting to get more homework, and we need a dedicated workspace that’s not the kitchen table.
Enter the Harmati Oreo Desk, an innovative multipurpose workspace easily assembled in minutes. Why I love it- there aren’t unnecessary frills: it looks good, it’s compact, and it has function- equipped with two spacious storage drawers. With a modern walnut/black physique, this simplistic design blends well in any room. Durable and sturdy, snag it for under $100.
3. Organizational wall decor
1Thrive is my newest organizational obsession. The company provides an A-list solution that keeps even the busiest families organized.
Forget the cliché calendar… 1Thrive offers custom wall features that makes creating a schedule easy-breezy.
All you do is visit the website and design your unique wall organizer with every element you prefer. The result: a lovely, functional, practical wall space dedicated to keeping life intact. Ideal for a kitchen, office, or entry, these awesome organizers take planning to a whole new level. Tip: order one of the pre-fixed organizers or design your own. There are tons of add-ons and decals.
BTW, my DIY design included a wide black magnetic base, white number glass magnets, two corkboards, a large monthly calendar, markets, a brushed gold file holder and mail storage.
4. A versatile playmat
For hard-floored-houses, it’s nice to have a dedicated play-space that’s rich in comfort, functionality, and attractive traits. The Wander and Roam reversible mats are made of one continuous piece of eco-friendly foam large enough for little ones. Built thick and soft, the mats can live in any room or roll up for easy storage when not in use.
I’m swooning over the ikat+stripe navy design- contemporary and cool for a nautical-meets-farmhouse feel. Non-toxic and BPA free, the hypoallergenic, waterproof design is a safe spot for kiddos.
5. Simple storage
If you’re like me, you walk into the Container Store and don’t know where to start. Among wanting every single storage solution, a good, all-around piece is the Start-A-Stack, the most popular Elfa Drawer combination for all-purpose storage in any room of your home.
The narrow-sized drawer concoction fits fab in any tight space. It features three Narrow 2-Runner Mesh Drawers, one Narrow 1-Runner Mesh Drawer, Drawer Feet, In and Out Stops and Back Stop Pins. The fine weave of the mesh prevents small items from falling through and the uses are endless. It’s a great spot to stash craft supplies, school stuff, toys, etc. The Start-A-Stack is part of the Container Store’s Elfa family (which I highly recommend), offering the best in versatile workspaces and storage solutions.
6. Long-lasting labels
Ditch the sharpie and upgrade your name-game to labels. I can vouch for giving Mabel’s Labels a whirl, and they don’t disappoint.
Mabel’s ultimate “Back-to-School Combo Label Pack” includes all the durable, waterproof labels needed to keep your child’s things out of lost and found. The stickers don’t fade or tear- plus, they’re available in an array of designs.
With new, on-trend options for children of all ages, Mabel’s makes labeling simple; the package also has tags for lunchboxes and backpacks. You can include a first and last name, in addition to selecting your font preference. I chose sharks for my toddler, footballs for my middle, and cacti for my oldest- such cute options!
7. Positive reinforcement
Let’s face it… life hasn’t been easy given all the covid stuff. It’s mentally draining for us parents, and for kids, too. That’s why I’m all about encouraging positive practices and adopting rituals that keep our kids- and ourselves- manifesting good vibes.
I love the positive affirmation cards for kids from Joyful Hearts Co. Words are powerful, and these colorful cards reinforce peace and harmony in a youthful tone. Examples include: “I am ready for new challenges;” “I am calm;” and “I love to learn new things.” The company also offers a Mindful Matching Card Game that instills gratitude in a fun, entertaining way
Another fun find: pre-made lunch notes from MyWish4U. These adorable cards are simple for slipping into your kids’ lunches, giving school-aged children reminders of love, thoughtfulness, and support during their school day. Starting this sweet tradition is easy — simply tear off and slip a note into your kid’s lunchbox or backpack. Positive notes, riddles, facts, jokes and more- your child will be thrilled to find them each day!
8. Custom gear
Every year my kids get a backpack upgrade, and this time around, I gave Wanderwild a whirl… and am overly pleased. The backpack company offers three styles: The Explorer, The Wanderer and The Adventurer.
They have fun prints, color combos and patterns, and are built to last with plenty of pockets, adjustable straps, and details made for kids’ little fingers. (Note: ‘The Explorer’ has a front Velcro pocket for quick access while ‘The Wanderer’ has a zipped front pocket for small essentials. The Adventurer is roomier and is a favorite of older kids and parents.) Each backpack also has a hot spot for personalization to add a name, monogram, or initial embroidery (you can choose the design/font!).
9. Affordable fashion
My kids dress better than me, but I have a little secret: I’m as frugal as they come! I love a good store sale; but more so, an online shop that offers stylish finds at slashed prices.
Pat Pat is my go-to for all things fashionable. They have everything from standard tees to bomber jackets. (Seriously, how cute is this for under $6!?) Kids outgrow things all the time so I simply cannot rationalize overspending- that’s why Pat Pat is a great solution for shopping-addicted mamas! (And YES, they have stuff for adults, too.)
Here are some of my favorite finds for fall:
Adorable airplane tee ($3.99)
2-piece plaid pants set ($9.99)
Geo Pattern Sweater ($16.99)
10. Picture Day ensembles
For the prettiest and preppiest school Picture Day photos, turn to Classic Prep. The timeless styles are high quality and super swanky, but instead of feeling stiff, they’re movable, soft, and comfy to play in. The outfits are exactly what many envision for child portraits- and there’s something for everyone thanks to the exclusively designed prints.
Click here for my favorite find for girls.
Click here for my favorite find for boys.
Trending for fall: cardigans, Gingham tops, ruffles and floral.
11. Reusable bags
I swear by Bumkins reusable bags. Ditch the plastic baggy and opt for food safe bags that are machine/dishwasher safe and BPA free. The smooth zipper closure doesn’t hold crumbs and the single-ply construction means no worrying about icky stuff growing between fabric.
Ideal for snacks, electronics, toys and more. Plus, there are plenty of awesome designs, ranging Disney, Marvel, Nintendo, Harry Potter, Sanrio and more.
12. Healthy lunching… for you, mama!
Us mamas are always on the run, and I’m often left starving and snacking on my kid’s leftovers. Well, it’s time to welcome Lotus Foods into your life; my latest lunch go-to: Rice Ramen Noodle Soup Cups.
Lotus Ramen Cups are ready-to-eat in 3 minutes with hot water. They’re delicious, filling, and healthy made from organic whole grain brown rice noodles along with spices and veggies. Never any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
They’re also Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan and certified gluten-free. With plenty of flavors to choose from, you’ll stay full and satisfied for hours. My picks: Hot & Sour and Spicy Kimchi.
13. Sweet sleeping essentials
Make bedtime a breeze by upgrading your kids’ mattress to something extra comfy.
Bundle of Dreams is known for their super safe crib mattresses, so they decided to offer twin mattresses with the same top of the line features. This mattress is made with an innerspring support system and padded with revolutionary Bundle Fiber allowing for 100% breathability.
It’s quilted to a certified organic cotton material and, at no additional charge, is covered with an extra organic zippered, water repellent cover that further protects the mattress from accidents.
14. Activity essentials
I have three boys 8 and under. With each being loaded in after school activities, I’m always on the go. As a soccer mom, I’m upping my game when it comes to working the sidelines… and that’s why I love my Grizzly Cooler.
Grizzly Coolers is known for its Made in USA hard-sided coolers. Here’s why they’re my pick for schlepping after sports snacks, picnic lunches, and beyond.
· They flaunt a fast-draining capability and secure drain plug (no more tipping a cooler to drain it).
· Slick Feet are included to move a cooler easily into or out of a vehicle. Grip Feet keep coolers in place.
· Integrated slots for Grizzly Ice Dividers for cooler organization and cooling. Cutting board dividers also remain in place using these slots.
· Solid dry goods tray to keep items dry.
· Each hardside cooler comes with two lock holes to keep your cooler secure and contents safe.
No doubt, your colorful Grizzly Cooler will keep things cool. The company also makes soft-sided coolers and insulated drinkware.
Another soccer mom essential: a Little Unicorn Outdoor Blanket. I used mine all summer at the beach and plan on transitioning its use to the grass as I watch my kiddos score goals. It’s great too, because I have a toddler who needs a spot to sit during all these games.
The spacious 5x10 outdoor blanket is designed with water-resistant fabric to handle any surface or spill, and with a bagless, compact fold to make packing up quick and easy. Features an adjustable carrying strap and a pocket for all your stuff. Only $80! I got the Shoreline Stripe.