12 Back-to-School Essentials You Didn’t Realize You Needed (…until now)
It’s still summer, but we know you’re probably already compiling that back-to-school checklist. And we’ve got some ideas for you – items that you might not even realize you need until you really need them! These are time-saving, must-have items and our recommendation is that you get them sent directly to you via web. These are the things you and your kids never want to run out of during the school year. Is there a bigger waste of time than going from store to store to find something when you’re already busy? Instead, order everything you need at the same time, at the same place, and bam! They will arrive at your doorstep… every week, or every month or on whatever delivery schedule you choose. A subscription service actually makes parenting during the school year easier.
The start of the school year means a new outfit, meeting your teacher and unfortunately lots of germs. Hand washing is of course a must (I want to install a camera at the sink to make sure my kids actually do it!). But also make sure your child is armed with a great multi-vitamin. Parents might want to take one too, as well as some vitamin C when they feel a bit under the weather from ridiculously long days at work and home. (Update: we trust that you’ll check with your and your child’s healthcare provider before starting vitamins and supplements.)
When it comes to the best inventions ever, baby wipes are pretty high on the list. Throw a pack in your kids’ backpacks for extra cleanliness on the bus or at school. Put a pack in your car too. Awesome for any kind of mess and I personally won’t do an after school run to the ice cream shop without some wipes to clean up those sticky, satisfied faces.
3. Dental Floss
Remember that time you spent all day at school volunteering for teacher appreciation week only to find out later that you had a poppy seed the size of Kansas stuck in your front teeth? Not this year, baby! Always keep a package of dental floss in the car and one in your purse and you’ll never have those embarrassing moments. And I’m sure the nickname Poppy Seed Mama will eventually fizzle out. And be sure to also order some extra floss for your tweens and teens to throw in their backpacks and lockers. Because kids are anxious enough without having to spend half their math class trying to extract something wedged in between their front teeth. A quick trip to the bathroom with some floss and they can focus on learning — umm… whatever it is they are learning these days.
4. Printer Ink
Somehow I’m always printing and signing those school permission slips at the very last minute and that’s of course exactly when the printer ink runs out. It also happens when my kid is trying to print out an important school project. So until we live in a world where ink cartridges are no longer necessary and that will obviously be a very beautiful thing, bring down your stress level and make sure you’re stocked up.
It’s a good thing if your tween or teen raises their hand in class. But it’s a bad thing if they forgot to put on their deodorant that day. Ewwww. Keep their armpits armed with a steady supply of odor-busting sticks, creams and tubes, perfect for sports, cheer and general school day arm waving.
6. Feminine Protection
As any woman knows, there’s nothing worse than getting your menstrual cycle when you’re unprepared. (Also known in legend as “The Day I Wore White Pants.”) Keep your tween or teen girl ready for those unexpected moments with a stash of feminine protection for her locker, and maybe a few for her backpack or purse, too. (And maybe put a few in your glove compartment and your bag and your wallet and…)
The start of the school year for us means A, AA, AAA, C and D. Oh, those aren’t grades; they’re batteries. It seems we’re always in need of a few for science projects, calculators or (gasp!) video game controllers. (Hey, kids need a little fun privileges during the school year.) Keep your household juiced with regular shipments and you’ll never run out of batteries. Or, more important, you’ll never need to run out for batteries.
8. Allergy Relief
It can be hard to concentrate on 2x+4y=? when you have red, itchy eyes, a sniffly nose and non-stop sneezing. That’s why we keep our kids armed during the seasonal allergy months with over-the-counter allergy relief that doesn’t make them drowsy. (Then maybe they can tell me what 2x+4y equals because I have no idea.)
The kids go back to school and suddenly, you have to be awake in the mornings. Gone are the lazy summer days of waving them off outside, or yawning your way through their gaming/TV morning bliss. No, once school’s in session, you have to wake up the kids, make sure they’re dressed, have eaten and brushed their teeth. Sure you can try getting them ready for their school day without your morning coffee, but don’t blame me if you get calls from the principal wondering why your middle schooler is wearing pajamas for the second week in a row.
10. Nutrition Bars
“Mom, why did you put those delicious nutrition bars in my bag?! YOU ALWAYS DO THAT?” Sound familiar? Well, the reason that it doesn’t is because no teen in the history of teendom and/or nutrition bars has ever uttered those words. Let’s face it, school is for learning, but it is also for hanging out with friends. And checking in with teachers, talking to the coach, returning that book to the library and just being a kid. Which can get in the way of getting a delicious and nutritious lunch. Or, if your kid has a crazy early (like my daughter did last year- 10:30 am!) or too late lunch, a nutrition bar is a perfect tide-me-over so that your student can focus on learning (and being with friends) rather than wondering whether everyone can hear her stomach rumbling. (They can.) Obviously it’s also perfect as a quick and convenient after-school snack for when your kids’ school day extends into the later afternoon because of extracurricular activities.
11. Skin Care Products
One of the best parts about having a tween is that you can start sharing acne treatments. After all, you both want clear, clean skin when you’re seen around the school. And then, after all of the drama that ensues after your tween realizes he/she will still have acne into their 40’s, you can treat yourself to a soothing wrinkle cream for all of the new ones that cropped up overnight!
12. Surface Cleaner
You know how one moment you are relaxing at home, and the next moment your kids are back from school, and suddenly, they’re touching everything. With their hands. Hands on the counter, where you are preparing dinner; hands on the kitchen table, where you are reading a magazine; hands on the wall, which you like hand-print-free? And not just any hands, either. School-germ-infested hands. School-bus hands. Hands that have not been washed since the last time you nagged. That’s where the surface cleaner comes in handy! Yes, handy! A few sprays and the school germs are gone! Your home is as pristine as if you’d homeschooled your kids. The surface cleaner is also great for getting rid of school project debris, like glue and glitter and whatever else sticks to your table.
Published July 25, 2014. Last updated June 27, 2018.