Back to School Guide

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Back to School Guide | Austin Moms Blog

Back to School Shopping

When you think of Back-to-School, shopping instantly comes to mind. From new shoes and back packs to clothes and lunch boxes, there is a ton to cover in preparation for the new school year. Here are some awesome places to consider, discounts offered, and resources to make your back to school last-minute shopping a bit easier!

BackPacks & Lunch Boxes

  • PotteryBarn Kids :: Currently offering FREE shipping on all back packs and lunch boxes
  • Stuck on You :: $10 OFF your first order
  • The Land of Nod :: No crazy discounts, but some super adorable backpacks and lunch boxes!
  • Vera Bradley :: 25% OFF all sale items + FREE shipping on orders of $75 or more!
  • Zazzle :: We LOVE Zazzle and all of the adorable options. Check out their site for FREE shipping codes, discounts, and other deals.

Kid’s Clothes

  • Gap Kids :: 40% OFF + FREE shipping on orders of $50 or more!
  • Children’s Place :: $10 OFF every $20 purchase!
  • H&M :: FREE shipping on orders of $50 or more + up to 80% OFF clearance!
  • Justice :: $15 OFF a purchase of $40 or more!
  • Carter’s :: 20% OFF

School Supplies


  • Shoe Carnival :: Buy One Get One 1/2 OFF + $10 OFF a purchase of $60 or more!
  • Converse :: 25% OFF – Converse offers design your own chucks! Make sure your little is unique with their customized shoes!
  • Nordstrom :: Nordstrom isn’t necessarily offering any crazy discounts or sales, BUT they have one heck of a return policy. So if those kiddo’s shoes wear out sooner than they are suppose to, take them right on back and get you a brand new pair!

5 Shopping Tips to Consider

  • Shop throughout the year…don’t feel like you have to buy everything right now!
  • We won’t see a cold day in Austin until AT LEAST October/November so hold off on buying some of those items. Believe it or not, most stores are already heavily discounting their winter apparel right around the time we actually need it.
  • Set a budget per child so you don’t end up going over-board
  • Consider paying cash so you don’t do the above.
  • Create excitement with some fun purchases like personalized items from PotteryBarn Kids, Zazzle, or Stuck on You. All 3 have some adorable options!

Transitioning From Summer to School Days :: Establishing a Routine

Sleep – From the Sleep Expert, Katie Bartley Sleep Consultant

As someone who can’t be roused before 9am during the summers, back to school is tough for the Bartley household! But as a Child and Infant Sleep Consultant I certainly know better and know preparation can be the key to an easier transition. My kids are 9, 7 and 5 so we will have a 4th, 2nd and kinder aged kiddo this year. Here a few tips to help you too.

  • Start early. About a week or two before school starts try to start inching towards your school routine. It doesn’t have to be quite as early but have a regular goal bedtime within 30-60 minutes of your school bedtime and do the same for the morning. For instance, we usually wake up at 6:45am during the school year. This week I have been setting my alarm for 7:40. It’s a nice way to ease into things.
  • Involve your kids. I have always found it best to engage my kids in order to get things done. We come up with the rules and the routine together. I definitely have the last word but it empowers them and gives them a chance to feel heard and have input. For us this has meant we have to have all clothes/backpacks/folders/shoes laid out the night before. And the kids also wake up with an alarm too. This has taken me out of the “bad guy” role who has to rouse them from their beds. They hear the alarm, get themselves dressed and come out for breakfast. Then it’s smooth sailing.
  • No electronics before bed or in the morning. My kids can be so busy during the school year and rarely have electronics time so we are pretty free and liberal with them in the summer. But after a summer of our brains turning to mush, we have learned it’s best to start establishing some more defined boundaries concerning electronics. So we start to taper them off gently!
  • Prepare. Just as the kids prepare the night before, this Mom likes to prepare too. And that means breakfast items. I need it to be quick and easy but also healthy. I am definitely not a short order cook so I like to rotate different favorites each week. That could be eggs one week and store bought muffins the next. But there’s no way there will be three different breakfasts every morning!

Meals – From the foodie experts, Nutritional Wisdom



  • Nutrition smoothie: 3-4 oz unsweetened coconut milk, ½ frozen banana mixed with ½ scoop protein powder, 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Gluten-free waffles with maple syrup, ghee and fresh strawberries
  • Green eggs (made with pureed spinach) and ham
  • Oatmeal (avoid instant: less nutrients, more sugars) with cinnamon, maple syrup,flax seeds, walnuts and a tablespoon of coconut oil
  • Avocado Carrot & Honey Muffins



  • Organic PB&J on sprouted grain bread with raw veggies and hummus
  • Bento Boxes: turkey and grass fed mozzarella cheese roll ups with dehydrated string bean chips
  • Bento Boxes: blueberries, marcona almonds, grass fed string cheese, banana/veggie chips, etc.
  • Pizza Pinwheels


  • Cucumber & Hummus Boats
  • Apple “Donuts” – slices organic apples with peanut butter and chia seeds; or Siggi’s yogurt and Sprinkelz; or hazelnut spread and coconut; or cottage cheese and pumpkin butter with flax seeds. Have fun with it!
  • Veggie skeleton and brain dip
  • Egg Carton Snacker: dried okra, gluten free pretzels, organic fruit, dried fruit, nuts, etc.
  • Siggi’s yogurt with fresh fruit
  • Rainbow Fruit Cups with coconut milk whipped cream and their favorite fruit
  • Annie Chun’s Seaweed Snacks with fruit and nuts



  • Gluten-free chicken tenders with veggies (broccoli, asparagus, carrots)
  • Nitrate-free hot dog (Whole Foods), sauerkraut, beans and a salad
  • Zoodles (zucchini “noodles”) with pine nuts, veggies, basil, spaghetti sauce, spinach, etc. (aka whatever veggies you can sneak in)
  • Applegate Farms Organic Italian Sausage with veggies (raw or cooked)

Want more support? Who doesn’t! Nutritional Wisdom works with families and children of all ages – follow Nutritional Wisdom Kids on Instagram or contact us for more details.

5 Transition Tips to Consider

  • Start your sleep training NOW… don’t wait until the night before school starts to establish your new non-summer sleep routine.
  • Pack lunches the night before. This will truly save your time and sanity. Just do it!
  • Start the year out healthy. Set the tone with healthy lunch and after school snack options. This will set the tone for the year!
  • Let your kids help! They should be responsible for helping at night in preparation for the school day AND in the morning. Teach them young to help out so by the time they are self-absorbed teenagers, they’ve got the system down to perfection.
  • Consider Bath Time & Reading every single night. First of all, get those school germs off your kids! More importantly, start mentally winding them down with a bath. Follow up with story time, whether they are reading to you, you are reading to them, or possibly even pointing to colors and objects if your child is in a Mother’s Day Out program and still young.

Bullying & Friendships

This fall my daughter, Veronica, will be in 8th grade. Our family has weathered the ‘tween years and now we’re collectively cruising through middle school. We’ve been confident that our daughter would be able take care of herself because we set her up for success from day one: the first day of kindergarten.

On the first day of kindergarten, Veronica was five years old. We all waited at the bus stop, determined to send her on the bus in order to help her establish her independence. Of course, the moment she waved to us from inside the bus, her dad and I drove furiously to school in order to meet her to take pictures of her arriving at school… but hey – she rode the bus solo on Day One. She was one of only a handful of kids to do so, and the only kindergarten student on the bus.

Her dad and I were both bus riding folk as children, so we gave her the best advice possible. “Here’s what you do. Go straight to the back of the bus and find a seat. That’s where all the cool kids are.” We were disappointed to find out that the bus driver had assigned seats for the kids. The young kids, like my daughter, had to sit at the front of the bus. This was supposed to keep them away from the bullies.

That didn’t happen.

Enter a girl I’ll call “River.” River wanted my daughter’s snacks. And I can understand why. I’m a good cook. I’d give Veronica home-made banana muffins each day, and apparently, River really liked banana muffins. River, who was the same age as my daughter, told Veronica that she wanted her snack. So the first time River asked for Veronica’s banana muffin, Veronica gave it to her.

When Veronica came home that day, she told me what had happened. I told my daughter that I wasn’t baking snacks for River, I was baking snacks for her. I explained that if she gave her muffins to River, she’d have no snacks for herself. Further, I told her to tell River to tell her mother to bake her banana muffins if her daughter liked them so much. It sounds convoluted now, but Veronica totally got the message.

The next day, River asked for Veronica’s snack. Veronica said, “No.”

The day after that, River asked for Veronica’s snack. Veronica said, “No.”

I explained to Veronica that at some point, River would get tired of asking her for the snack. She’d realize that bullying my daughter was pointless, and that she’d just stop asking. And that’s exactly what happened.

I should mention that a lot of fellow moms encouraged me to call the school so someone could intervene on behalf of my daughter. While tempting, I knew that this would be a counter-productive course of action. My daughter had to stand up for herself early and consistently. She had to know that certain types of behaviors were right and wrong. And most importantly, she had to know that she was in charge of dealing with inappropriate behavior on her own.

Now what would have happened if River had hit Veronica? Well…that’s why we enrolled Veronica in Kung Fu class. And now, as a Black Belt, Veronica is providing empowering lessons to girls and boys who are just like she was, way back in elementary school. We are so proud of her and her independence!

janis powers

Author of “Mamas Got a Brand New Job”, Janis Powers is also a writer for the Huffington Post. We love Janis and immensely thank her for today’s insight on bullying and friendships!

Tips from a Teacher


  • When shopping for school supplies, stick to exactly what the list says. If it says “red, yellow, and blue folders,” please get those colors. We have a system for using the specific colors, etc.
  • While on the subject of school supplies, please do not label everything with your child’s name unless specifically asked to. Most of the time we use supplies in a community fashion, aka, we share everything. It becomes an issue (especially with little ones) when Johnny ends up with a pencil with Sally’s name on it, etc.
  • Come to “Meet the Teacher Night.” This is a time to meet your child’s teacher/teachers and familiarize your child and yourself with the school building. This is also a good time to bring school supplies if you have them already, as it’s one less thing to worry about on the first day. This is NOT the time to conference with the teacher about your concerns for the upcoming year or to give her information overload on your child. If you feel the need to speak with the teacher about special concerns before school starts, write them down or ask her for her email. If it can wait, request a conference on the second week of school when things have settled down a little.
  • Try to plan ahead to make everything on the first morning of school as smooth as possible. (Clothes picked out the night before, lunches ready, breakfast choices prepared, etc.) Do your best not to rush, push, or argue with your kids that morning. Choose your battles and let the little things slide to keep the peace. Sending them off on a positive foot will be best for all involved!
  • On the first day of school, your child’s confidence level really feeds off of yours (especially younger babies). Be confident walking into school and talking about school to others. Your hanging around, peeking in windows, coming back in the room to give more hugs and reassurances gives the child a message that they should be uncomfortable with the situation and adds, or even creates stress on the first day. Talk to your child in a matter-of-fact way about their day. Don’t get him/her over excited or anxious- some kids can’t handle that kind of emotion and it comes out mixed up like crying or screaming.
  • You want to help, but not sure what you can do? Ask the teacher what supplies they might need more of… Teachers are notorious for spending their own money on supplies and often individual teachers use supplies not on the master list, so this would be a huge help!
  • Know how your child will be getting home the first day/week of school and try not to change it. The end of the first day is CRA-ZY! It’s understandable that sometimes things out of your control happen and you need to change transportation, but if that’s the case please call with as much advance as possible to ensure all parties get the message.
  • If your child is starting Pre-K or Kinder, put a piece of masking tape on their shirt with their name, teacher name, and the way they will be getting home that day. Often the younger kids are so overwhelmed and shy that if they get lost they clam up and won’t share their name with a teacher trying to help them find their way.
  • Pack a healthy and convenient lunch and snacks (if your teacher allows them). Try not to pack foods that your child has a hard time getting into or foods that make a big mess (and remember, most schools will not heat meals up.) If your child will be eating the school lunch, read the menu ahead of time to make sure it’s something your child will eat (a hungry child = a cranky child).
  • We know you are entrusting us with your most prized possession! We value your trust and ensure you that while your child is in our care they will be loved and taken care of as if they were our own. Remember, most teachers choose this profession because we love kids! We are human and will make mistakes, but we put our hearts and souls into what we do. We view you, the parent as our teammate! If there is something that arises as an issue, communicate with us FIRST. Your child knowing we stand united will make a world of difference in their behavior and attitude toward school in general.

Read full article here.




Is homeschooling right for your child? Here are some articles regarding homeschooling options.


Preventing Lice

It happens!  Relax, take a breath and don’t make your child feel bad. Here are some tip!

  • Lice do not fly, jump or hop, they crawl from head to head.
  • Try and avoid head to head contact.
  • Studies have shown that rosemary, tea tree, peppermint and citronella are fragrances that lice do not like the smell of.

We hope this guide helps you prepare for the new school year!


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