I made a joke about it the other day, but I legit feel emotionally victimized by the start of the school year. Summer just seemed to go by so incredibly fast. Right before summer vacation started, I quit my part-time work-at-home job so I could spend more time with the kids and so we could actually DO stuff this summer. And boy, DID WE EVER! We went to the pool a lot. We took a short day trip to another state and visited the capitol there. We went for long bike rides. We made ice cream and slime (not together. That would be gross). We watched fireworks, did a 10K race, played pickleball, and went to the county fair. It was amazing. And then shortly after the 4th of July, we started seeing back to school displays. And now here we are in August–the “Sunday of Summer”. It’s time to send the little monsters back to school. Here are some of our favorite items that are essential for the upcoming school year. And for the record, we were not compensated in any way for promoting these items. We just really like them and we think you will, too!
I know this doesn’t seem like a back to school necessity, but it is. Last year, I struggled with plastic baggies. When I was packing lunches for three kids five days a week, I found that I would go through a box of 100 sandwich baggies in a ridiculously short time period. So I began searching for alternatives to the plastic baggie, and I fell in LOVE with Bee’s Wrap. It’s a cloth-like square of fabric lined with beeswax. That makes it moldable to wrap your food or snack in. It also washes easily and quickly with warm water and soap. It’s eco-friendly and budget friendly in that it means after my initial purchase, I don’t need to spend any more money on food storage. There are a variety of sizes and purposes to purchase, and right now you can get 15% off your first purchase just by giving your email address. I will never buy another box of plastic baggies again!
Another lunchbox lifesaver to replace plastic baggies, (re)Zip pouches are leakproof reusable storage. You can actually COOK in these silicon pouches too! They are offered in a ton of different sizes, styles, and colors, and are a great substitute to a plastic baggie. Unlike the beeswax food covers, these can actually go straight into the dishwasher, which is perfect for parents like me. Generally if I have to hand wash something, it will get used exactly once before it sits on the counter next to the sink. There, it will grow mold while I tell myself (and everybody else) that I will get it washed soon. Rinse and repeat until it’s so gross I realize I will NEVER actually hand wash it at that point and toss it. Except the Bee’s Wrap. I’ll make an exception for Bee’s Wrap. Anyhow, I digress. The (re)Zip is extra amazing because you can pop that sucker right into the dishwasher to clean it. Easy Peasy.
Rubbermaid LunchBlox Lunch Bags
All of our favorite back to school products seem to revolve around lunch. I guess lunch was my favorite subject in school. Until I got to high school, anyway. Then lunch became the equivalent to tiptoeing through a minefield. Who do I sit with? Do I sit alone and have everybody looking at me and realizing just how much I don’t fit in? Do I sit with the girls on my squad? If I do, will they think I’m weird because of my lunch choices? Do I eat the pizza boat or pizza burger and risk horrible breath and bad gas the rest of the day? Anyway, I’ll rehash all my high school lunch insecurities another time. Moving on…the Rubbermaid LunchBlox Lunch bags are legit DA BOMB! Yes, I said da bomb. I realize my age is showing by my use of that saying. I love the LunchBlox bags because 1) they are super cute 2) they are the perfect size for my kids’ lunches 3) they are insulated and wipe out easily when the yogurt inevitably explodes in the lunchbox because their backpacks get TOSSED with alarming regularity 4) they are super reasonably priced! Other similar lunchboxes come in at a much higher pricepoint. They can also be found in just about every store that sells lunchboxes. My local King Soopers has them, as does Wally World and Target.
General’s Cedar Pointe Pencils
As a writer, my writing utensils are something I am ridiculously particular about. I like a good mechanical pencil with a pretty fine point. However, the classrooms want regular wood pencils, so I oblige. I have noticed over the past couple of years that the previously-preferred Ticonderoga pencils suck. The quality has really changed, and trying to sharpen them results in lead that pulls out of the pencil, and they don’t sharpen evenly. Gag. I came across the General’s Cedar Pointe Pencils quite accidentally, but I am so glad I did! They are pricier than Dixon or Ticongeroga or Mead. But the extra few cents per pencil is totally worth it when the pencil lasts longer, writes better, and sharpens evenly. These pencils will forever be the #2 pencil of choice for our back to school supplies.
Pentel Energel Pens
For reasonably-priced pens for the kids for school or for me to throw in my purse and use in my home office, the Pentel Energel liquid gel ink pen is my current favorite. These pens write smoothly, and the ink flows beautifully and dries quickly. No smudges across paper after writing with it, and no ink boogers like some other ballpoint pens can generate after prolonged writing. There are a ton of different colors available, too. I love the violet-colored ink. My daughter loves the pink. And of course my boys like to stick with traditional blue or black. If they accidentally write with my violet one or their sister’s pink one, they feel like they need to prove their masculinity in some way and do something with duck tape just to show the world they’re men. Don’t ask me why. I think it’s nuts, too. But I digress. Pentel EnerGel pens are affordable and widely available at most mass merch stores and grocery stores. Grab a few. I’m pretty sure you’ll love them, too.
Mead Five Star Notebooks
The single subject ones are my favorite. Just like the pens and pencils above, I am a bit of a notebook connoisseur. For a regular, run-of-the-mill notebook for school (or work, if you need it), the Mead Five Star notebook is perfect. It’s durable, the spiral binding doesn’t unravel or snag on crap. The cover doesn’t bend or rip off easily. The paper inside is a decent quality for taking notes. Overall, it’s a bit pricier than some of the cheapies that are available this time of year when school supplies are on sale. But it’s worth the extra cash because they are generally thicker and a ton more durable. They will survive a semester of being crammed into backpacks and stuffed into lockers. They are offered in a variety of colors, too.
For the parents. Not the kids. Just to be clear. Because lemme tell ya, getting through homework with my willful 3rd grader will drive me to drink on a regular basis. Take this opportunity to treat yourself to your favorite kind of booze. And maybe consider treating your kid’s teacher with a bottle of something. After all, they gotta put up with your little creature for 8 hours a day (or more if you’re in my kids’ district. The 4-day school week implemented this year means 9+ hours in the classroom. I’m getting off-track again. We’ll talk about that later, too). So whatever your poison is, grab yourself some and enjoy the shit out of it. You’ve earned it.
All Set to go Back to School!
Although I’m super bummed that school is already in session for my kids this year, I absolutely love getting them the gear that will lead them into the school year. I am all for whatever is going to make the year a little easier for the rugrats. Even more, I want to do everything I can to make it easier for the teachers tasked with educating my little assholes. And believe me–although I adore my kids and would lay down my life for them, I’m the first to admit they can be real assholes on a regular basis! Back to school means another 9 months of packing lunches, setting alarms, loading backpacks, and figuring out the crazy instructions for 3rd grade core math because That’s Just Life. Our favorite things for back to school may not actually get the kids to EAT their lunches or DO their homework. But at least we know they have the tools they need to get the job done a