It's that time again, when kids go back to school and we as parents are preparing for their return to the classroom and trying to figure out how to help them unwind after a long day of learning. But between school gear, homework, getting meals prepped and all the other chores and events surrounding the end of summer, it can be hard to strike a balance. Never fear, it is possible, especially with the right kid gear, some planning and compassion for yourself and family. With that in mind, get ready to get back into the flow of school, and make it everyone's best year yet.
Back To School Inspiration
Sure there's the official school shopping list of pencils, binders and backpacks, but that's not all your kids need to start the year off right. Think comfort items and gear to help them showcase their personality. We're talking jazzy keychains, fun stickers to decorate supplies and water bottles with, and ways to dazzle hair and clothes. All of this is especially good to have if your child has to wear a uniform and can't project their style through clothes.
Another way to make back to school special for your child is to get them a new or gently-used lunch box, and then add fun treats and loving notes to surprise them during lunch. A bento box or the younger-kid friendly brand Bentgo make it easy to create whimsical lunches, and you can even scour Youtube for ways to turn your kid's meal into something almost too adorable to eat.
Think of ways to treat your little ones too. After all, getting an A in math or becoming the helper of the week deserves a little prize. While new toys, gently-used gear and games are always welcome, at least for my second graders, prizes can also come in the form of a sweet treat, outing to the playground, special adventure that weekend or a pizza party at home. Even letting your kid pick out their favorite film for movie night can be the encouragement we all need to make going back to school more rewarding.
Get the Energy Out
After school many kids have a lot of pent up energy, and sometimes it's best for everyone if they can just run, jump, play and go wild. But, time and the weather don't always allow for that. This is why having both indoor and outdoor gear kids can use on their own is important, for their sake and your own. Right now one of our favorite tools is those portable monkey bar kits that come with swings and climbing ropes that you can put right between trees right in front of your house. They are easy to set up, and you can still get stuff done while the kids play. Of course classic climbing gyms, slides, jungle gyms and other fun backyard gear works great too.
For extra outdoor excitement look at getting toys like the Marbles Brain Workshop Fündapop, which allows kids to play "catch" alone or with someone else. Of course a traditional game of toss and catch with a glove is also great, and gives you a chance to find out how your little one's day at school went. If stuck inside, your kid can practice eye-foot coordination and get some energy out with a hoover soccer ball. Or, purchase a gently-used mini trampoline, which is a great inside toy that can be used anytime and fights the fidgets away.
Finding Zen In Alone Time
Sometimes after a long day at school, or work for that matter, a bit of space and quiet time is needed. It's okay to let your kid decompress with their favorite cartoon or video game, just don’t forget to hand them a snack too when the day is done. Or, give your children a pile of paper and art supplies or a craft kit and let them zen out on creativity at the easel while you get dinner ready. There’s also the trusty bin of blocks or LEGOs for a bit of building time.
Even creating a cozy nook that your little ones can retreat to after a long school day can be beneficial. They can sit and stare, read books, play with stuffies and dolls and really relax while letting their minds wander during unstructured play time. After all, there's no rule that your child has to be constantly stimulated and/or directed. It's healthy, especially after a day in the classroom, to let them quietly discover themselves.
Adding Extra Fun To the Weekend
Weekends should be about family bonding, relaxing and not having to think much about school and sitting in a classroom. Make Saturday an adventure with a group bike ride around your favorite park, in the neighborhood or as a tool to get everyone to the local ice cream shop. Roller skates can work for this sort of outing as well, or even a combination of the two. And if you need either item, we sell a lot of wheeled fun in gently-used and open box condition.
Another great way to hang out and have fun is with a family and/or neighborhood basketball game. All it requires is a hoop, ball and some encouraging words. If the weather is acting up take the competition inside with a game of foosball or board games. Keep in mind that the weekend doesn't have to be all excitement all the time. It's okay to take some downtime too. Have a movie party with popcorn, let the kids play by themselves, read some books together and allow some quiet so everyone can recharge for Monday.