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My boy and his friend checking out their new school
So MY SON started Kindergarten in September. I had a very VERY mixed bag of emotions leading up to that life change. With a 2 month old baby I was looking forward to some one on one time with my girl but on the flip side he was my first baby starting school at 3 and a half and I never really was away from him. After he was born I had such an internal shift I never went back to work full time. When he turned One Years Old and it was time for me to go back to work I started to freak out. I couldn’t bring myself to put him in any sort of daycare SO I started one of my own. For a whole year I did home daycare. I loved it. Within that year though we had downsized from a house to an apartment and doing daycare just wasn’t feasible anymore. About his second birthday I got a part time job cleaning in the evenings so I could be with him everyday. That year was great. We did toddler music class, swimming, play dates with play group and all sorts of fun stuff every day. When it was time for him to go every day ALL day I felt a little bit lost and a LOT sad.
Waiting for the School bus on the first day
ME crying like a blubbering idiot after he got on the bus… I took this to remind me in July how I felt when I left for the first time!
I am a planner and a list maker and I got on top of things in April in preparation for September. I didn’t want to have to go in August to and spend a bunch of money in one big shot. I knew there would be a new baby coming in July so money was going to be tight! So here is my list of what I needed to get, what I got, and my quick review on each item. I hope this helps some moms who have kids who leave to start school for the first time next September! This list will also work for those sending kids to a nursery school or pre-school program as well!
Here Is What You Need:
A Good Quality Backpack:
I did a lot of research on which backpack to get my little man for the big transition. I eventually settled on the Lands End back pack. I decided on this for a few reasons. The main reason was these bags have a lifetime warranty. If my kid drags this bag on the ground all the way from the bus stop to school and it breaks they will replace it no problem. This is HUGE value for me. I have a rough and tumble child so I think its best to cover these bases! They have a great chart for measuring the size of the bag to make sure they will fit your child before you order. I also ordered the previous years design so I saved a substantial amount of money on a great quality bag. I went with the medium size for my guy and its a bit big but I’m hoping to get at least two years out of this bag. So far its needed very little cleaning and has stood the test of a 3 and a half year old starting school and taking the bus on his own.
A Good Quality Lunch Bag:
This is the lunch bag that I decided to go with. It is a large bag that has the ice pack built into it. This was a bonus for me as I see it as one less thing for my kid to loose at school. With the ice pack built in his lunch and snacks will stay cold whether he likes it or not! I did some research to see if I could find a lunch bag that will fit a yumbox (see below) because I had decided early on that I was getting him one for his lunch. Its also a fun pattern and easy to open and close for little hands. It has a zipper but also velcro on the flap. While writing this post I came across this other bag from the same company:
I bought this bag today to try out and see if its a good second option for when the other bag is messy or he doesn’t need to take as much to school. If you want a review on this bag let me know and I’ll do that!
Easy Open and Close Containers For Lunch:
So the word is OUT and a Yumbox is the way to go. The best part about this container is its easy to open AND close for little kids AND adults. The next best part about this product is the leakproof design. The lid has a silicon that suctions to the tray making it leakproof (as long as its closed correctly). You can put liquid or things like yogurt or salad dressing in the tray and it won’t seep into the other compartments. In the picture above I put yogurt and dressing in for dipping. Each compartment is also conveniently labeled so you can give the appropriate amount of each food group. On the right is Protein (I put chicken in this one), the top is Dairy (I put vanilla yogurt with honey in) then top right is Fruit (apple slices of course) and the bottom is Vegetables (cucumbers always go over good at our house) the big compartment in the middle is for Grains (a bowtie pasta salad with Italian dressing and peppers). I bought two of these containers, one in blue and one in green. I ordered these from Well.ca and I warn you they are a bit pricey but in my opinion TOTALLY worth the price. After school started I went to a local shop and bought a snack size version:
This one only has 3 compartments and no labels. It is about half the size of the regular one. This one pictured I put in some Honey Dew melon, gummy candy in the middle and home made nut free trail mix on the right. There are two other sizes of yumbox so you will be able to find one that is right for you and your kids. The hard part is sometimes finding them as they sell out quickly!
Labels for EVERYTHING:
So now you are sending your kid to school with all this stuff its probably for the best that you send it all with labels on it. I HIGHLY recommend Mabel’s Labels
I was told by a friend they were the best and they really ARE. I use them on everything. My son’s clothes, his lunch bag, his yumbox, his boots, his shoes, his coat… EVERYTHING. They withstand the dishwasher and the laundry so they are high quality. I also tried the iron on labels and put them in his clothes including his underwear. I got the Big Kaboodle™ Label Pack
and still have tons of the labels left over so anything that needs replaced or new labels I’m still covered… best value in my opinion!
Easy Open Thermos or Insulated Food Jar:
For the winter months I thought my son would want a warm lunch on occasion. This is the “thermos” I bought him at Walmart. I put a label on both the lid and the metal container so both will come back home at the end of the day. The reason I picked this one instead of a fancy one is simple… I took him to the store and asked him to try and open a few and this was THE ONLY one he could open and close himself. It has a great kid friendly lid that is easy to get on and off.
Easy Open Water or Juice Bottle:
I send juice boxes to school but it is always a good idea to send a water bottle as well. Some days I even fill the bottle with milk so he gets an extra serving of milk. I like this bottle for a few reasons. One is its really easy to clean. Inside the lid is two separate spouts that are removable but stay attached to the bottle. This insures you aren’t getting any mold build up. I always clean mine in the dishwasher and it has lasted a long time. Again I put labels on the lid and the bottle just incase busy hands take the bottle apart. I got this one at Walmart as well but you can also get them from the Contigo site.
Easy On and Off Pants:
They start kindergarten so young now a days. I started when I was 5 years old and my son started at 3 and a half! That being said he was only potty trained for less than a year when he started. It was essential that I sent him in pants that didn’t have buttons or zippers or we would have been in big trouble! Carters and OshKosh have a great selection of pull on pants that are stylish and practical. I also really love the Gap pants as well because they have track pants and other styles that are pull on with or without a draw string.
You will need a good pair of Indoor and Outdoor shoes (and boots in the winter months). I didn’t put any recommendations here as this totally depends on what your child likes and or has already. Both pairs of my son’s shoes have velcro straps for him to do himself as he is not yet able to tie laces. Get what fits and you like. That is the main thing… you both have to like the shoes they wear! As far as boots go I HIGHLY recommend Boggs although they can be very pricey they keep their feet warm and are waterproof. I always splurge in this department and get my son Boggs.
YOUR BIG GIRL PANTS:
Here I am waiting on that first day for the bus to drop him back at home. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and we all survived. You have to put on that brave face for your kid so that they will not be afraid or timid when it comes to school. I didn’t start crying until my son was out of site and really now he loves school. He doesn’t want to miss a day and I’m not sure if its because I was brave for him or if my big girl pants had anything at all to do with it. In the end we all have had a good school experience and everyone deserves that. I hope that you manage and don’t have too much heart break when it comes to starting school.
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Thank you for your support and time! XO Meg