Parents, the stuff is about to hit the fan. Let’s just hope that fan has a MERV-13 filter. Headlines pegged to the looming school year say, “We’re back to panicking.” And “Back to Abnormal.” It’s hardly the kind of vibe that puts you in the mood to buy binder clips and snazzy pencil cases. But—hear us out—that is exactly why you should. You, moms and dads, are the one thing standing between your students and a pandemic-induced typhoon of panic and despair. You must keep the new normal as normal as you possibly can. Let their anxieties about school swirl around friend drama, heavy workloads, tough teachers and the “wrong” jeans. You worry about quarantine and will-they-or-won’t-they hybrid schedules and variants—all while making masking and sanitizing second nature. Don’t lie to your kids, but don’t terrify them either. And, as you plan out those first few weeks, here are a few trending items that may make it all just a tiny bit easier.
6 Back-to-School Trends That Prove Parents are Bracing Themselves For Whatever This Year Will Bring
PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. You can learn more about that process here.
1. Mask Chains
Kids will be masking. They will need to remove their masks to eat and drink. If we know children, that means they will put their masks—germ-side-down—on the cafeteria table, or worse, the floor. Enter the mask chain or lanyard. In DIY beads or with sporty embellishments, these will help students hang tough.
2. Cute Sanitizer Bottles
Alien-accented refillable wrist dispensers. Bubble gum pink Purell containers shaped like a retro camera. The one with moose antlers from Abercrombie. Friends-branded sanitizer spray (for some reason) that urges you to “stay Monica-levels of clean.” It’s time to wipe out the idea that cleaning their hands is up for debate—or that it has to be boring.
3. Name Labels On Everything
Etsy is reporting a 65 percent increase in searches for custom lunch boxes, a 25 percent uptick in interest in personalized notebooks, and an 18 percent surge in searches for personalized pencil cases. Throw in the obvious hygienic need to label things like water bottles (sharing is no longer caring!), then contemplate investing in a company that makes adhesives. We love Label Daddy for its unique tie dye and Uni-Bunny designs and can attest to the fact that their stick-on clothing labels stay put after multiple washes.
4. Towels For Outdoor Learning
When distancing is not possible in the cafeteria, eating lunch on the blacktop is a welcome alternative. And all hail the teachers who take read-alouds or journal time outside. Make sitting on the ground more comfortable with a hip yoga mat or recycled-plastic towels so soft they could double as the cuddly blankets you used to send to nursery school.
5. Home Learning Space Optimizers
Distance learning is here to stay, whether we’re talking nightly homework or (gah) quarantine. We could all probably upgrade our learning station situations. Here’s the good news: After three years of this insanity, you now have a much clearer idea of what they need to help them work from home. Supply organizers, wall calendars and visual aides to map out their plan of the day are all tools proven to help kids become more independent and self-sufficient—and that, in turn, helps parents become less ragey.
6. Better Teacher Gifts
When it comes to showing our appreciation for teachers—many of them parents with kids doing distance learning themselves—it has become quite clear that a coffee cup is no longer going to cut it. (We even heard from a teacher friend that she received so many java jugs one year, she ended up throwing them away.) Etsy confirms searches for teacher gifts are up 76 percent since last year. So teachers, we got the memo. This year, think outside the mug, and consider wildflower seed bombs, a gift certificate to a local restaurant for a takeout meal, gorgeous bookends or a high-end margarita. And don’t be shy with those thank you notes.