Friday, July 26, 2019

Five on Friday - Favorite Back-to-School Products

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Well, it’s official.  This was the fastest summer ever.  It seems like we were just hightailing it out of there on the last day of school in May, and now here we are discussing backpacks and lunchboxes and shoes.  Sheesh.  We are down to just two weeks left of summer, and really, that’s longer than we normally have.  We typically start back the first Monday of August, but for some reason the school added an extra week to summer this year which means the school year will have five fewer holidays.  That part I’m not looking forward to at all.  I’d rather the kids have a slightly shorter summer so they can have Columbus Day, Veterans Day, President’s Day, etc. off. 

Anyhoo, I’m way off track so let’s get back to the point!  Today I’m sharing our favorite back-to-school items with y’all!

O N E – Backpacks and Lunchboxes

There is only one place we have ever used for backpacks and lunchboxes and that is Pottery Barn Kids!  We purchased a backpack and matching lunchbox for Jacob at Pottery Barn at the start of his Pre-K4 year and I am happy to report that after four years of everyday use both still look brand new.  I’m not even kidding, y’all.  BRAND NEW.  After four years of being hauled everywhere, kicked around, and stuffed to the gills daily, both items have held up incredibly.  Olivia has now used her set for one year as well, and hers, as you can imagine, still looks brand new as well. 

When we initially purchased Jacob’s, we bought the backpack in a size small since he was so little, so for the upcoming school year, we decided to upgrade his to a size large.  Last school year there were many days that he could barely fit all of the books in there that he needed to bring home, so we knew that for 3rd grade he probably needed something bigger.  If it wasn’t for the size, he could easily get 4-5 more years out of his bags.

The bags are a little pricey initially, but if you average the cost over the amount of years of use you get from them, it comes out to be way cheaper than buying a new cheap backpack/lunchbox every year and throwing them out when school ends.  The PB backpacks and lunchboxes are both machine washable, too, so you can disinfect them during the germy season at school.  You can’t beat that!

A few tips to get the most out of your PB school gear:

1. Purchase the Large size from the start.  Sure it’ll be a little big on your child’s back, but they’ll still be able to carry it, and this way they’ll get more years out of it.
2. Purchase a bag in darker colors.  Jacob’s set is navy with other primary colors on it and there are no visible stains on it whatsoever.  A few of the girls in his class have the light pink or light aqua bags and they do tend to show dirt more.
3. Purchase a design that can grow with your child.  They may love Disney’s Cars now, but they probably won’t once they’re in third grade.  Jacob purchased a Star Wars bag for his newest, and I’m hoping that will last him at least through 5th grade, maybe even longer since Star Wars is considered “cool” now unlike when I was younger.  PB also offers plain bags in stripes and solids that can grow with the kids forever.  Olivia’s is a floral pattern, so she shouldn’t outgrow hers for a long time.
4.Do opt for the personalization at checkout… if the kids have their names stitched right on the outsides of their bags they’ll be a lot less likely to get lost at school or mistaken for someone else’s bags. 
5. Wash your child’s bags a few times throughout the school year to keep them nice and clean (and germ-free).

If you do decide to go the PB route, I would advise that you order them ASAP.  I just ordered Jacob’s earlier this week and they were already running out of many sizes and colors.  Their selection this year is unbelievable, though!  I can’t believe how many options they have this year – Star Wars, Disney Princesses, Hot Wheels, Marvel, Cars, hearts, unicorns, mermaids, rainbows, planets, dinosaurs, etc.  The list goes on forever! 

T W O – Lunch Box Accessories

With regard to lunches, our kids opt to bring their lunches most days as they’re both very picky and don’t like much on the school lunch menu.  As stated previously, they carry a Pottery Barn lunchbox, and then we use the following accessories with their lunchboxes to pack their food:

Yumbox – each child owns one Yumbox.  The kids use the Yumboxes when they want lots of little bits of everything (lunch meat, granola bars, cheese, fruit, cereal bars, yogurt, veggies, etc.) because they have lots of little compartments.  We love these because they are leak-proof.  I can send yogurt in one of the compartments and it doesn’t leak into the other compartments.  They are pretty pricey initially, but overall, it sure beats sending seven different Ziploc bags every single day for two kids.  Plus, after one year of use, both of ours are still in perfect shape so I’m hoping we’ll get several years’ use out of each of them.  And in case you’re wondering, they fit perfectly in the PB lunchboxes.

Plastic Food Containers – we also own a pack of five of these generic plastic food containers.  The kids use these on the days that they want to take a sandwich (which is most days for Olivia – hello, PB&J!).  These are perfect because they hold a sandwich, some crackers or chips, and fruit/veggies and they also fit perfectly in the PB lunchboxes.

Hot Food Thermos – I just purchased one of these for each of the kids (blue for Jacob and pink for Olivia) because they have both requested to start taking hot food to school some days.  These are also leak-proof (you can even put soup in them) and they keep hot things hot for five hours and cold things cold for seven hours.  I’ll be sending mac n cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, and leftovers in these.  They come in lots of colors and characters and they’re pretty affordable.

Drinking Thermos – we have owned two of these for each kid for years, and all four of them are still going strong.  They are leak-proof… I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve found one turned upside down in the bottom of a backpack and not a drop ever leaks anywhere.  And they are also easy for the littlest of kids to open and close themselves… all they have to do is press a button to open and push the lid down to close.  Easy peasy.  Both kids take one filled with water every single day and we just rotate between their two all week.  Their school just installed filtered water refill stations throughout the school, so they can go refill them as needed throughout the day as well.  I never leave the house without my water bottle and neither do they.  I love knowing they can stay hydrated all day.

Snack Box – finally, each kid has a snack box since they have to bring a morning snack every day.  The one we have comes with a cold pack, but we rarely use it.  I typically just send a granola bar, a cereal bar, Goldfish, or something like that in them.  I love these as well because they have two different compartments - one for crackers and one for fruit.  Perfect!

T H R E E – Shoes

I shared our favorite children’s shoes of all time here in this post, and I thought I’d include a few of them in this post since every child needs new shoes for school!  Our kids attend a private school so they have a uniform code that they have to abide by.  Therefore, they’re not allowed to wear our favorite Natives or any kind of sandals, but those of you who don’t have a strict dress code probably could send your kids to school in them.

Natives – the best shoe for kids ever!  I cannot stress how fabulous these shoes are!  I loved them so much for the kids that I bought myself a pair.  They’re the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever put on my feet and they are easy to clean if they get dirty.

Saltwater Sandals – the best sandal for girls ever!  These are the only shoes Olivia has worn all summer.  She’s even opted for her Saltwaters over her Natives most days.  Size up and they can wear them for a couple of years!  Also, Saltwaters just get better with age.  Olivia is on year two of hers and they still look brand new. 

Nikes – Our kids can wear close-toe athletic shoes in any color as long as they don’t have lights, noises, or wheels, and our choice for athletic shoes is always Nike for boys and girls.  We especially love the Velcro versions so the kids don’t have to worry about shoes coming untied all day long.  Last year Olivia had a single pair of Nikes for the entire school year.  She wore them every single day and they held up for the entire year.  We always buy them a little big so they have plenty of room to grow.  Jacob typically wears one pair per year as well, but he just got a brand new pair at the end of last school year since his feet grew so much, so he’s already set for the new school year.

F O U R – Uniforms

As I said before, our kids wear uniforms, but we can currently purchase them from outside sources.  My favorite source for uniform polos, shorts, and pants is Target.  Their Cat & Jack brand is very affordable and their polos hold up so much better than Old Navy’s!  Plus, their shorts and pants all come with adjustable waistbands, so if you have slender little babes with long legs like we do, you can buy shorts and pants with the perfect length and then just take in/let out the waist band as needed.  All of the Cat & Jack uniform stuff is on major sale right now with polos starting at just $4 and pants starting at just $10.  Plus Target also has a deal right now that you save $10 when you spend $40 on kids’ clothing, shoes, and accessories. 

The time to load up is now, my friends.

F I V E – School Supplies

And finally… the dreaded school supplies.  Sigh.  I LOVED shopping for school supplies when I was a kid, but I do not love shopping for them for my own kids.  Walmart at back-to-school time - UGH!  Or actually, Walmart anytime - UGH!  Haha.  Anyway, the kids' lists are miles long these days and they have to have very specific items (which I totally understand), so for now I take the easy way out.  Our school works with an outside company that provides them and all I have to do is click on the link in the email that the school provides each year to order the “Third Grade Boy” packet and the “Kindergarten Girl” packet.  I pay right there online and then that company delivers them right to our school.  It is THE BEST THING EVER.

I know my kids will eventually want to pick out their own, but do you know where I’ll probably turn for that?  To my beloved.  Amazon.  They have an entire section dedicated to Back-to-School right now and you can easily search by category or by grade.  Also, Amazon tends to have better prices than Walmart for most items, so you can do all of your shopping without ever leaving the house and rest assured that you won’t be spending much more money.  You also won’t have to fight with a million people in a single aisle and you won’t have to drive to five different stores looking for a single very specific item.  #WINNING

And finally, some back-to-school themed funnies...

Fitting for today's mention about Walmart.  Hahahaha.
I laughed way too hard at this!  But #truth

Get ready for the last minute shenanigans, Mommas!

Shoot, I'm already no help in second grade now that they have all of these backwards methods!

Get ready for it... busy season is upon us!

And in case you missed anything, here's what happened on the blog this past week...

Happy Friday!

*Linking up with A Liz Adventures and Carolina Charm for Five on Friday, A Little Bit of Everything for Friday FavoritesMeet @ the Barre for Friday Favorites, and Polka-Dotty Place for High Five for Friday.


  1. Those Yumboxes are awesome. My boys take something similar to work in the summer. Just wait girl, you’ll still be back to school shopping when they’re in college, only it’s waaay more expensive, lol. xo

  2. I LOVED back to school shopping! I was so excited to do it this year for a church project, haha. Sign me up for that! And I totally cracked up at the last funny. I feel like I am constantly repeating that to myself over and over again. Wishful thinking!

  3. We're starting Sophia in day care this fall and I'm more excited for the labels that I have to put on her things than anything else!! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  4. I've been on a search for a way to send warm sandwiches to school. Like veggie burgers, or even quesadillas. I think the best option is going to be the wide mouthed thermos. What do you think? Last year I needed a new backpack for Simon but there were no boyish PB bags available! I want to do my back to school shopping on Amazon. That would be so much easier than Walmart!

  5. E has to bring her lunch this year so I need all the lunchbox supplies so this was so darn timely.

  6. Even though I hated school starting back, I always enjoyed back to school shopping as a kid. I loved the fresh notebooks and planners. I still love when the time rolls around for me to buy a new planner! It's like Christmas!

  7. Those are the cutest backpacks. I plan on buying them next year for the girls. We love those thermoses. I need those bento boxes. So cute.

  8. I wish those Yumboxes had been around when my kids were in school. Not gonna' lie...I.DO.NOT miss packing lunches. LOL Your memes are the BEST!!!

  9. OMG that last funny is so my life right now. Have a great weekend!


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