5 Ways to Make the First Day of School Extra Special

 Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MomentsShineWithWindex #CollectiveBias

It’s Back to school season! And either your kid is on-board or they’re not. 3 out of my 4 kids are now in school. My two oldest are in their final year of junior high. My five year old just started kindergarten. The teens were looking forward to the first day of school. They were excited to see friends and finish their last year before high school.

My kindergartner on the other hand was a bit nervous. Which wasn’t like him at all, really. He’s always been fairly independent. And so smart, he just loves to learn. I think he just had way too much fun this summer and didn’t want it to end! Right with you there, buddy…

Ideas for making the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

I wanted to make sure that the first day of school was something really memorable and special for him. While the teens got themselves motivated, my kinder kid needed a little encouragement. I created these fun and easy ways to make the first day of school extra special. These are particularly sweet for very young children (though secretly, my teens got a kick out of them too!) Keep reading for a free printable and a special offer from Windex® brand and Shutterfly®.

1. A Special Wake-Up

I’ll be honest. On most days, I wake up my kids by either snapping on the overhead light or opening the window to let in the sunshine! But on the first day of school (and maybe even for the entire first week), I’ll wake them in a special way.

Take a picture of them sleeping first. There’s nothing cuter than a sleeping kiddo!

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

For my music-loving kindergartner, I put on his favorite dance song and placed the CD player in the hallway before waking him gently. He happily jumped out of bed!

Long ago when my eldest son was in kindergarten I’d wake him up with a finger puppet character. Seriously. For some reason he’d get mad if I tried waking him up myself. But if Madame Queen the finger puppet awoke him by bopping him on the head he thought it was hilarious! Hey, you do what you can to keep the morning routine from completely melting down from the start, right?

2. Breakfast To Start the Day Off Right

My five year old would eat waffles morning, noon, and night. I know that waffles will be his request for the first day of school breakfast.

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

  • Take a breakfast request a few days before the first day so you can make sure to have all the ingredients on hand.
  • If morning time is tight, consider preparing as much as possible the night before. I tend to make waffles in batches and freeze them. Then I can just pop in the toaster to reheat in the morning.
  • Even if you only have time for cold cereal, make the meal more well-rounded by adding fresh fruit like bananas, blueberries or sliced strawberries.

3. First Day Photo Op

I’ll admit it, I’m a photo-taking-social-media-sharing-mama! I love to take a cute first day photo and share it across social for everyone to see.

  • Document each step in the morning process, from waking up your student, breakfast, outfit, to catching the school bus.
  • Take your first day of school photo in the same place each year. It’s awesome to see the growth of your kiddos!
  • Get inside the classroom and take a photo of your child sitting at their desk.

Ideas for making the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

4. Welcome Home!

When my kids come home from their first day, they’re always a’ bubble with things to share. They want to tell me all about so-and-so in their class, a strict new teacher or what they did at recess. This year I wanted to surprise my kids with a special “welcome home” window that celebrates the first day of school. In particular, I knew my 5-year old would love the decorations and fanfare for his first day of kinder!

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

I needed a clean and shiny surface to work with, so first I picked up Windex® Original Glass Cleaner at my local Kroger store, Food 4 Less. Windex® brand is known for its famous streak-free shine, so clean up on the window was quick and easy.

Ideas for making the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

While I was in the cleaning mood, I was able to clean up the kitchen and bathroom quickly with the Windex® Vinegar Multi-Surface Cleaner. I’ve always liked how versatile vinegar is to clean with but I’ve never liked the smell of it. This special ammonia-free formula has no harsh vinegar smell. It leaves behind only a fresh, clean scent.

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

Once the window was prepped, I was able to decorate it from the outside with a temporary glass marker and crepe paper announcing the first day of school!

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

The whole thing went together in just a few minutes and the impact was great. Check out the happy face on my kindergartner! And the big kids thought it was pretty cool too. And when it was time to clean up, Windex® Original Glass Cleaner came to the rescue again and wiped the window streak-free again!

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

5. A First Day of School Memento

I’ve created this first day of school certificate printable. My son proudly held his “award” for completing his first day of kindergarten so I could take a picture.

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

FREE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL PRINTABLE – Simply write in the name of your student and the date presented. After you take a photo of your student with their award, stow it for safekeeping in a school memory folder. I have a 3-ring binder for each child that holds awards and certificates.

Ideas for making the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

Once you’ve shared those adorable first day pictures on social media, it’s time to make a permanent memory of them. I’ve been using Shutterfly® since my teenager was a baby!

You can take those first day pictures and put them in a photo book. Or wouldn’t they look cute on the front cover of a spiral bound notebook? I also use the back to school photos that I take on my Shutterfly® calendar each year.

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

Check out this amazing national offer with Shutterfly®. Buy 2 Windex® products and get $20 to shop at Shutterfly®. (Offer valid 7/15/17 – 12/1/17. Visit here for terms and conditions).

How will YOU make the first day of school special for your kids?

Make the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

Back to School Snacks on the Go from SunRype *GIVEAWAY*

My kindergartner is a snack fiend. Seriously I have to hide the school snacks or he’d be helping himself to them all day long. And you know how that goes; then the kid doesn’t want to eat his dinner! We’ve taken to limiting the purchase of pre-packaged snacks in the home because he’ll eat them all up so quickly.
However I do like to have snacks with me on hand to take on-to-go. Fruit and veggies are ideal, but not always practical. My kids won’t eat a bruised up apple and fresh strawberries are best when chilled.
SunRype back to school snacks make eating fruits and veggies on the go easy and delicious with their 100% fruit snacks that are preservative and gluten free
We recently received samples of SunRype Fruit to Go. These are 100% fruit strip snacks, which I love. My first choice for snacks isn’t something heavily processed or that adds a bunch of ingredients I can’t pronounce. No added processed sugar here, just natural ingredients and no preservatives.
SunRype Fruit to Go are perfect for the back-to-school lunch box because they are also vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and peanut-free. Even my husband packs them in his lunch box (and he’s very particular about his food!)
SunRype back to school snacks make eating fruits and veggies on the go easy and delicious with their 100% fruit snacks that are preservative and gluten free
I received complimentary samples in exchange for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post includes affiliate links. Clicking and purchasing through the links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!
We tried both SunRype Fruit to Go in Apple Strawberry and Apple Strawberry Watermelon Flavors. They have a pleasant, fresh and flavorful taste. Not overly sweet and no aftertaste. And at only 50 calories, this little snack isn’t ruining anyone’s dinner!
SunRype back to school snacks make eating fruits and veggies on the go easy and delicious with their 100% fruit snacks that are preservative and gluten free
SunRype also offers a 100% fruit and vegetable bar called FruitSource. In flavors like Apple Mango Strawberry Carrot, I’m excited to try those next time! These make for the perfect school snack.

SunRype is available in the produce department at most grocers next to the fruits and vegetables. It is also available from Amazon. (SunRype Apple Strawberry Fruit to Go 100% Fruit Strip Snacks and SunRype Apple Mango Strawberry Carrot Fruitsource 100% Fruit Bar)

 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY or enter on the SunRypeUSA Facebook page.


WEEKLY PRIZE PACK DRAWING/PRIZE DETAILS:
From July 24 – August 28th, 2017 from the current entries received at the time of the drawing, the sponsor will be selecting at random two (2) winners each week (“Weekly Winner(s)”) beginning on Monday, July 31st, 2017 to win a prize package consisting of:

o   **A Blu-ray of “The Lion King” valued at SRP $39.99USD **Not Available Until August 29th, 2017

o   $50 Pre-loaded Credit Card

o   The Lion King BackPack – Suggested Retail Value $50

o   1 Case Of SunRype Product – SunRype Fruit To Go Strips/ FruitSource Fruit Bars Valued at approximately  $20-$25 USD) 

Prize packages collectively have an approximate retail value of $160-165.00 USD each.  There are a total of 10 of these weekly prize packages available to be won and the last drawing will be done on Tuesday, August 29th, 2017.  Entries will be carried over from one week to the next, however any one (1) person is only eligible to win one (1) prize throughout the entire Promotion period.

Kid’s Back to School Clothing Hacks and Budget Tips

Back to school shopping. Kids get so excited about the new stuff. And parents everywhere cringe and worry about the cost! With four kids to clothe (ages 16 months to 13 years), I know the stress of shopping for kid’s clothes. But I’ve gathered up some great ideas and hacks along the way that help me stick to my budget. Check out my 7 budget tips and back to school clothing hacks.

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. I was compensated for this post.

Back to School Clothing

#1: Back to school shopping doesn’t have to break the bank. Seriously, your child doesn’t need an entirely new wardrobe unless they grew 5″ over summer and have nothing to wear except pajamas. Pick and choose the pieces that are must-have.

#2: Give the kids a choice. Let them have some input on what they’d like to wear. This really helps minimize stressful mornings when anxiety about school kicks in. Getting dressed and feeling awkward has a lot to do with that stress.

#3: Aim for comfort. However you don’t have to sacrifice cute! I’ve been purchasing from Gymboree for 13 years. I love the coordinating lines, how easy the clothing washes up and of course, how adorable my kids look in them.

Keep reading for my back to school clothing hacks and budgeting tips for shopping!

These 7 back to school clothing hacks help streamline the morning routine, save money and still have your kids looking cute for school!

1. Give Them No Reason to Say, “I Have Nothing to Wear!”

Before you hear those words, go through the closets and dressers piece by piece. Have your child try things on to verify fit. Too small? Have a donation box handy. Not in season? Put it in a storage bin under the bed for later. Once you have cleared out the old, you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll need to purchase.

Pre-Shopping Tip: There always seems to be that one piece of clothing that doesn’t match anything. My daughter had the cutest patterned pair of pants but she never wore them because she didn’t have a top that matched the colors. Decide whether you’ll let that piece go or try and find the coordinating item to wear with it.

2. Layer Summer over Winter

What’s in the closet that can continue to be worn, even in the chillier months? My daughter had the cutest chambray jumper dress from Gymboree that she wore all-year round. When weather was warm she wore the dress alone. When weather was cool, she wore it over a turtleneck and leggings.

For boys, lightweight button-up shirts can be layered over long pants and long sleeved tees.

Pre-Shopping Tip: Look in the closet and see what items can be layered during the winter. Keep that tip in mind when purchasing new items.

3. Prep the Night Before

To ease the morning-of-school stress, make it a habit to prep as much as possible the night before. This means getting backpack and homework organized and placing shoes (with socks!) by the front door.

I choose my outfit the day before and encourage my kids to do the same. This way they can decide what they want to wear with a little more time.  And they’re fresh and ready to get dressed in the morning!

Pre-Shopping Tip: Does your preschooler still struggle with getting himself dressed? If buttons and zippers are slowing him down, purchase easy, quick-on clothing styles like rib-neck tees and elastic waist pants.

These 7 back to school clothing hacks help streamline the morning routine, save money and still have your kids looking cute for school!

4. Stock Up on Layering Pieces

Long sleeved tees and turtlenecks that can be worn under coordinating shirts or sweaters can really extend the wardrobe. Cardigans, fleece hoodies and pullover sweaters are nice to layer over tees or button-up shirts.

For girls, leggings are perfect for layering under skirts and dresses when the weather is cool. Consider capri length for fall, full length and fuzzy lined for winter.

Pre-Shopping Tip: In the case of layering tees, I like to choose classic colors that coordinate with many other items in the closet. Think navy blue, white and black for the best versatility.

Gymboree Long Sleeved Tee

5. Choose Practical Shoes That Go with Everything

Have only a few styles of shoes in colors that coordinate with many different outfits. I recommend altering days to allow shoes to dry and air-out inside (helping to eliminate odors).

Pre-Shopping Tip: If you’re trying to expedite the morning routine, choose easy-on styles like slip on shoes or Velcro instead of laces.

Gymboree Mesh Sneakers

6. Shop Out of Season

This is one of my tried and true budget shopping tips. Shop NOW for next year! When I see that clothes are up to 70% off at Gymboree, I jump on that sale! I’ll purchase items for my kids, knowing that I’ll be putting them away for another season.

I recently purchased shorts in a few sizes larger for my toddler to wear next summer. They were $5.59 (already a fantastic price!). But when I paired that with my Gymbucks redemption, the cost went down to $2.80 and you CAN’T beat that kind of bargain!

Pre-Shopping Tip: If you want to buy ahead but aren’t sure what size your child would be, consider the style first. Opt for elastic or drawstring waist shorts and pants,  or loose dresses instead of form-fitting or “skinny” styles.

7. Don’t Need Full Outfits? Just Add Accessories!

One of my favorite ways to jazz up an “old” outfit is by adding cool new accessories. A fun pair of tights, belt, purse, coordinating socks or a hair accessory adds just a bit of spark to an outfit on a budget.

Pre-Shopping Tip: Don’t forget the underwear! I have to remind my older kids to let me know when their underpants are getting too small so I can reorder new ones! We’ve always purchased Gymboree because the elastic holds up so well and the designs don’t fade.

 

 

7 Books for Kids to Read Before a Disney Vacation

Getting kids ready for a Disney vacation? Every child, from babies to teens can benefit from one of these tried and tested Disney books for kids before their magical vacation. Whether doing Disney parks research, educating on the history of Disney or just getting familiar with characters, these are books kids will love. These are the top books for kids to read before a Disney trip that will get them prepared and excited!

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

Disney Books for Kids

Yep, the internet is great for travel planning but I don’t necessarily want my kids surfing the web (even if they’re just looking for Disney vacation stuff). I love that these Disney books for kids exist to help get them prepared for vacation. Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Black Loop. Today we are sharing the Disney books you should have in your collection. I’m talking about the books for kids that they should read before your Disney vacation.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

For Research and Planning

If you want to get the most out of your Disney vacation (money and time well-spent) you’ll have to invest some research and planning. Get kids on board with a guide book they can read with you at home.

The Birnbaum’s 2018 Walt Disney World For Kids guide book really helps to build excitement. Kids may have heard of the rides and attractions but not know any details other than that. The book informs kids on what to expect once they get to the Parks (psst…helping kids know what to expect can help minimize disappointment and meltdowns!)

For Babies

If you’re planning on taking your baby to Disney, I suggest helping them get familiar with the characters. Disney Baby I Love You This Much! features Mickey and his friends with a sweet story line. Point out the characters in the books and repeat their names. Expand baby’s character palate with the equally adorable Disney Baby My First Colors. I love the colorful fold-out pages and less often seen characters in this book.

My daughter loves these books (we received complimentary copies from Disney Baby). Most babies are very excited to see characters in the park though some might not want to get closer than a few feet. My daughter at 6 months old wanted to touch characters. However at 13 months old, she cried anytime we were within 10 feet! Read more about my “no-cry” ways to introduce your baby to characters in the parks.

For more tips about taking babies to Disney, read about the things to do at Disney World with a baby on TravelingMom or my posts at Disney Baby.

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

Even babies will appreciate these Disney books for kids before their vacation.

For Preschoolers

When planning your preschooler’s first Disney trip, you’ll want to give them more of a backstory on the attractions. Preschool #DisneyKids are easily drawn into the magic! My preschooler loves storybooks, like the Walt Disney’s Classic Storybook Collection.

Planning a California trip to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure park? Check out my TravelingMom post with insider tips for taking preschoolers to Disneyland. And more preschooler at Disney tips here, as well.

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

For Princesses-in-Training

Is your little princess excited to wear her costume at the Park? Get her ready from head-to-toe with the help of this DIY book, Disney Princess Hairstyles. The step-by-step illustrations make it easy to recreate some truly stunning braids, buns and up-dos, inspired by Disney Princesses. For even more inspiration, try Disney Frozen Hairstyles: Inspired by Anna and Elsa.

  

Give yourself plenty of time at home before your trip to practice and perfect some of the more elaborate designs.

Doing your child’s hair and sprinkling your own glitter will save you big bucks! However if you can’t handle the complexity of these styles, consider booking a reservation at Bibbidi Bobbity Boutique instead.


For Tweens

Many kids at this age have an appreciation or interest in history and historical figures. A non-fiction account of Walt Disney can really spark the thoughts of impressionable tweens. Walt’s quotes about imagination, hard work and steadfast dreams hold true for kids today. Tweens can truly find inspiration in knowing Walt Disney’s background and childhood history.

Tweens also love to find out how things work. The basic principles of creative “Imagineering” can affect tweens in a positive way.

I recommend Walt Disney: Young Movie Maker (Childhood of Famous Americans) and Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real.

    

For Teens

My fantasy-loving teen has really enjoyed the Kingdom Keepers (7 Book Series). Getting to stay at Disney after everyone leaves – amazing, right? Fighting Disney villains to save the world? Even better! This dramatic chapter book series is great.

For Aspiring Animators

Immersing kids with Disney pre-trip really gets them in the mood for a magical vacation. Watching the classic Disney animated features helps get kids excited for what they’ll see on the rides. And possibly for the character meetings they’ll have as well.

My kids enjoy the Learn to Draw series. The step-by-step illustrations guide kids how to draw characters, whether it’s classic Mickey from Learn to Draw Mickey Mouse & Friends Through the Decades, an animated favorite from Learn to Draw Disney’s Classic Animated Movies or Moana & Maui from Learn to Draw Disney’s Moana.
    

Stock up on sketch paper, pencils, erasers and colored pencils so kids can work on their art. This is a great on-the-road activity as well!


Looking for Recommended Disney Books for Grown-Ups?

Make sure to check out my post, Best Books to Buy When Planning a Disney Vacation. Those are the books that the grown-ups should read for research and fun before their trip!

Many of these books are available for Amazon Kindle as well.
Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

For more Disney book recommendations,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Blogorail Black | Ultimate Guide to Disney Books

Disney Trip FREE Printable – Packing List for Kids

When traveling with kids, packing for any extended vacation takes advanced planning and organization. And for a Disney trip, packing all you need is essential since most (if not all of your time) will be spend on Resort property. You certainly don’t want to have to make a side trip if someone forgot to pack something essential. Keep reading for my Disney trip packing list for kids.

Disney Trip Packing List for Kids

I’m a HUGE list maker! I honestly make lists for everything. It helps me stay organized leading up to a trip, when planning, packing and yes, even when putting everything back into the suitcase to come home. Don’t want to leave anything behind!

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase through the links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids

Even with the best laid plans, sometimes things go awry! On one Disneyland road trip, my husband put our toddler in the car without his shoes on and it wasn’t until we were a block from the Disneyland Resort did we realize that he didn’t have any shoes!

Quick stop at Target and all was good. But hopefully you can avoid extra stops and with these Disney trip printables from the Blogorail team, you’ll be organized and prepared!

Be sure to also check out my other printable packing lists –

Traveling With a Baby in Diapers – FREE Baby Packing List Printable!

Mom’s Disney Packing List – FREE Printable!

Expectant Mom’s Complete Disney Packing List of Important Needs

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids that they can use to pack for themselves!

Let The Kids Pack

My goal is to have my older kids pack their own travel bags. I’ve created a list that is straightforward and that kids can check-mark off as they go. Nobody will forget their shoes if they follow this list!

Open and print a copy for each child and they’ll be prepared to pack up their own Disney vacation bag! Keep reading for the free printable.


Save money on a DISNEY VACATION!

Purchase discount Disney tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today.

Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 


Helpful Packing Tips for Kids –

Keep it Small

Consider smaller sized travel items that will fit inside one zippered pouch. Don’t worry about shampoo & conditioner since the hotel will usually have those available. You can pick up small body wash bottles at Bath & Body Works. Choose toothbrushes that are on the shorter size that will fit inside the pouch. Use a compact hairbrush that folds up or pack a travel sized version to preserve space.


Bundle Up

Bundle outfits into a stack with everything they’ll need to wear for the day (socks, undies, shorts, tee, hair accessories, etc) and then slide the bundle into a large zip-close bag. Press the air out of the bag before sealing shut. At the end of the day, fold the dirty clothes back into the bag and zip it shut. This keeps the dirty clothes from getting mixed in with the clean clothes and it keeps your hotel room from stinking like a dirty gym sock. Am I right about that? Ewwww….

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids that they can use to pack for themselves!

Use and reuse zip-close bags for travel

It’s also so much easier to pack when there are individual bags with the air squeezed out. I even go so far as to label the day of the week on each bag so they can pick it out and get dressed each morning without fuss. Reuse the bags for your next trip.

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids

Neat and Tidy

Pack a small pop up mesh hamper for kids to toss their dirty clothes or shoes into when they return from the park. This will eliminate the “Where’s my left sandal?!” in the morning.

Have kids store their personal toiletries in individual travel toiletry bags. This keeps the bathroom counter neat and tidy and nobody is looking for their toothbrush when you all stagger back to the room late at night.

The Park Bag

Have a “Park bag”, aka: backpack for each child. I found one that my son uses for Disney trips on Etsy and it’s embroidered with his last name. Kids older than about 6 yrs old can use a backpack that holds their supplies for the day. Find something that your kids can easily take off by themselves when getting on rides.


Kids can keep track of their own snacks, souvenir money and maps. I know my son is always proud to carry his own Disney bag through the day (so long as it’s not overloaded and too heavy!)

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids

Ready to let the kids pack their own Disney luggage and park bag?

Click here for your FREE Disney Trip Kids Packing List!

For more Disney trip printables,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Disney Trip Printables Loop:

What packing tips do you have when taking kids on a Disney vacation? Please share in the comments!

Disney Trip FREE Printable - Packing List for Kids that they can use to pack for themselves!