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Back to life, back to reality.

That’s my sentiment when it comes to my oldest (and soon my middle) child going back to school. Summer becomes a short stint that feels like a flash of fantasy life. Sleeping in, doing activities on our own time, eating at random times… Basically, controlled chaos.

Now, in a couple weeks, we will be pretty regimented again. Activities like dance and swimming will be on schedules, up early to get the big off to school on time (taking him and picking him up), dinner early enough to have a decent bedtime. Our days seem to fly by thanks to the hustle and grind, but I cherish the moments anyway. Even when I feel I’m going crazy. So, we try to prepare.

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All school lists vary, but here are my 6 Staples for the Back to School Grind:

back to school staplesBackpack

Obviously this is a pretty key element to going to school. And with so many options, I have fun letting my little one pick out which “packpack” (as my daughter calls it) he would like for the year. I love the ones that include a lunch box, but some of those lunch boxes are pretty small and this year my son wanted a pug backpack. (It’s his new obsession. Thanks, DanTDM.)

Lunch Box/Bento Box

I have tried a couple of bento boxes and have seen a few I want to try, and found a couple I’m not a fan of. If you have any favorites, please feel free to leave a comment below to let me know. I also prefer lunch boxes that either fit the bento box or is at least big enough to fit a sandwich, drink, and a few other items. I’ve got a Skylander one from a few years ago that is a pretttyyyyy tight squeeze. I ALSO have to be able to include my lunch box love notes (I even added those in his lunches for Camp Invention this week).

Pencils/Pencil Case

Pencils and big erasers have become an essential part of schooling. Some lists also include crayons or markers, but Ticonderoga pencils and big pink erasers can be counted on. Predictable, but necessary. Pencil cases are another item like a backpack that I can show my son options and allow him to pick out his own within reason.

back to school supplies


We have numerous notebooks around the house for notes, lists, and coloring reasons. And, yet, I buy more each year rather than looking through to see if there are any not written in (though, to be honest, I’m sure they’re all scribbled in at least a bit). My favorite is the packs you can get for a not exorbitant amount. Or the $0.25 sales for them. I like to save where I can and still letting my son have a little bit of “choice” in school shopping. Back to school means budgeting and making sure the splurges make sense. Folders I can usually find some “cooler” options for him to decide on that are still under $1 a piece. That makes a mama happy.

back to school essentialsShoes

It never fails that my son grows so fast I can barely keep up. One year he had grown two sizes and I had no idea. Poor kid. So, we now check shoes before the beginning of the school year. And, while you can usually find a good deal, I don’t mind spending the money on a good pair of shoes if I can’t find any in good used condition from a local UpCycle in his size. I consider it another way for me to bond and have some fun time with him — seeing what style he chooses and what colors he’s fond of as he grows and changes makes the money worth dropping. Although, he’s not as into shoes as he was when he was younger (probably a blessing since shoes get more expensive the older he gets).


Starting back to school with a new ‘do gives my son a bit of that confidence boost right before meeting new classmates and a new teacher. We clean up his summer grown mop and this provides him the opportunity to, again, feel like he has a bit of control as I generally let him choose what cut he would like. And, again, thanks, DanTDM because for the past few years he’s been all about taking a picture of him in to get his cut. No complaints here, though, because I find the ‘do to look good on him. Thank goodness! We also sometimes let him get the colors that wash out so he can have a little fun with his hair.

While that list helps me tackle a few essential elements before the back to school grind ensues, I know that just hits the tip of the iceberg of back to school tasks. Each appointment to make sure health is in check, every schedule adjustment to accommodate (or arrangement made), and every other little addition (like lunch money) that nickels and dimes you to pieces.

We’re all just doing our best and hopefully having some fun along the way! Let those flaws fly high, rock that parenting, and get back to that reality.

6 Staples for Back to School Grind

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