3 Back-to-School Hacks That Will Make Your Life Easier

This time of year can be tricky, but these simple back-to-school hacks will make the transition so much easier. This post is sponsored by TruMoo. All opinions are my own.

I stood in front of the receptionist, breathless and wild-eyed but still smiling. I had just successfully navigated the pickup line at my daughter’s middle school for the first time and managed to get to the pediatrician a little early for her physical. I felt like a champ. A flustered champ with at least six other essential things on my to-do list before bedtime, but a champ nonetheless.

After a few taps of the keyboard, my bright-eyed enthusiasm was dashed. Apparently, I got there really early. The receptionist looked up over the top of her glasses and informed me that our appointment wasn’t for another week.

Oops.

I wanted to sink into the industrial carpeting and slink back out the front door. Hi, I’m a hot mess. And yes, I’m this kid’s mother.

Is anyone else having a really hard time getting used to the back-to-school schedule? September is almost over and I’m still struggling. Transitioning from a laid-back summer to a stricter, more full back-to-school schedule is not easy.

Still, in the week or two since The Incident, I’ve found three completely key tips that have made our lives so much easier.

Three back-to-school hacks to make the transition easier

back-to-school hacks | how to make life easier as you transition into a new school year | parenting school kids

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A Hands-On Book That Will Get Your Kids Excited About Science

Getting kids excited about science - bath fizzies with DK's Maker Lab by Smithsonian

An award-winning kids science book that will foster a love for science while having hands-on fun.

Step into my house and you’ll find surfaces littered with Ziplock bags open just enough to let the day’s latest slime creation ooze out, bottles filled with unidentifiable concoctions that contain some kind of plant matter, and everyday objects “scented” with copious layers of lotion. My girls love science. They love to experiment with different ingredients to see how they react and to proudly create their own “essential” recipes.

Sometimes, I’m all for this scientific exploration.

Other times, I wonder how long I’m expected to let something sit (bacteria multiplying by the second) while we “wait” for the reaction.

When DK offered to send us a complimentary copy of Smithsonian’s Maker Lab, an award-winning book that encourages kids to build, invent, create and discover through 28 DIY science experiments, I jumped at the chance. Crafty science projects that will work and teach the girls a little bit about the science behind them? What could be cooler?

Getting kids excited about science - bath fizzies with DK's Maker Lab by Smithsonian - kids science book with cool projects and experiments

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6 of the Best Family-Friendly Spots in Mystic, CT

watching the African penguins at Mystic Aquarium

As chocolate ice cream dribbled down my littlest’s chin, a band played in the background, and the sun set behind my family, I could only think one thing: best vacation ever!

We’ve made visiting Mystic, Connecticut a family tradition for years now. Full of New England charm and nestled halfway between New York and Boston just off Interstate 95, it’s the perfect destination for families living in (or traveling through) the northeast.

Over the years we’ve done our share of exploring the area and there are a few family-friendly spots in and around Mystic that stick out for us.

Things to Do with Kids in Mystic, Connecticut

Mystic Aquarium

I’ve been going to Mystic Aquarium since the early 80s. I remember being so excited packing up our minivan with coolers full of drinks and food that would last our family of six all day. We could barely sit still once we hit the road.

Those warm, fuzzy feelings are what made me want to take our girls there. And, for the past five summers, we’ve done just that.

There are so many cool things about this aquarium.  One of the first exhibits we always check out is the beluga whales—this aquarium has the only beluga whales in New England! It is absolutely amazing to watch a gigantic beluga whale swim right past you. They weigh thousands (!) of pounds but they glide by with ease. Ellie couldn’t get enough of them.

beluga whale at Mystic Aquarium

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Our Kids Have Seen Enough Tobacco

Tobacco Free New York - #SeenEnoughTobacco

This post is sponsored by Tobacco Free New York State. All opinions are my own.

I have always thought smoking is disgusting. I remember sitting in the back of a limo on the way to a bar mitzvah in middle school and watching one of my classmates pull a pack of cigarettes out of her sequined purse, as if she was the coolest thing since roll-on body glitter. She lit one, cracking the window and puffing outside while giggling like a fiend and no doubt feeling like a total bad ass. She passed it around and some of our friends took a puff, while others pretended to look through her as if they had no idea what was happening.

I was one of the latter.

The idea of inhaling poisonous fumes combined with the amount of trouble I would get into if I was caught was way too much for me. I would have been happy to melt right into the slippery leather seats.

Tobacco Free New York - #SeenEnoughTobacco

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Summer Learning with My.Future

not all screen time is evil | summer learning with My.Future

This post was sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club of America as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.

This year, Samantha’s 10th birthday coincided with the last day of school. We surprised her with a (refurbished) iPad and it was clear within a few hours that we would have to put some serious restrictions on her usage of the thing this summer. If it were up to her, girlfriend would be on musical.ly 24 hours a day until the bus comes back to drag her to fifth grade.

But this is not a blog post about the evils of screen time. Because, to be honest, I don’t think all screen time is evil. Ellie has been doing yoga almost daily lately, thanks to DVDs we picked up at the library. Yes, there’s a screen involved, but she’s up and moving her body in ways she might not have been.

not all screen time is evil | summer learning with My.Future

While I don’t want my girls glued to glowing screens all day, I’m no fool. Technological savvy will be a major asset to them in the future. By 2018, jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are expected to grow almost twice as fast as jobs in other fields in the US. Plus, there are ways to have them use tech positively so that they’re learning without even realizing it. Samantha is obsessed with apps like Scratch and Hopscotch, which teach kids basic programming and coding skills. I like that they stimulate her and encourage her to continue learning—even while on summer vacation.

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