It’s hard to believe that my first-born baby girl is off to her first year of preschool this year! Like most moments in motherhood, I’m finding it bittersweet. Part of me isn’t ready for Bella to spread her wings and fly into a classroom without me. I just keep wondering, “where has the time gone?!” I KNOW I’ll be a puddle of tears on her first day.
BUT… there’s another part of me that is super happy for her! My little lady is a busy bee and thrives on social interaction, routine, and structure so I’m sure she will love every minute of it. The other reason I’m excited is because it means BACK TO SCHOOL SHOPPING!!
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved all things school supply related. I still enjoy seeking out the cutest notebooks, folders, pens, and paper. I’ve been hoping my nerdy love of stationary was passed onto my mini. So when August was approaching and I hadn’t received a school supply list, I emailed Bella’s preschool teacher and requested one. Yes, I’m that mom haha. In the mean time, I consulted with my mama friends who have kids that have already attended preschool about must-have preschool items: what we need and what we don’t. Armed with that information, as well as my own online research, and shopping finds, I’m here to share with you- all of the best back to (pre)school products!
I like to shop local whenever possible, so our first stop was of course our favourite kid’s store in Saskatoon- Cravings. When one thinks of back to school, the first thing that comes to mind is probably a backpack! Bella chose a Skip Hop Butterfly Backpack. It’s cute, compact and a manageable size for her, but I’m unsure if it will be able to fit everything needed inside of it. I opted to get both a small child size backpack, as well as a full-sized backpack. Some of my mom friends had told me they wished they had just started with a larger backpack, rather than used a small one for one year and then had to purchase another. I also received a message from an IG mama who said her child’s preschool requires a full-sized backpack.
I have been a fan of Parkland bags for awhile now. Not only am I impressed with their quality, they also have the cutest prints and colours, AND their products are made out of recycled water bottles!! How amazing is that?! Our family already uses their duffle bags and backpacks, so I ordered Bella the Vintage Backpack in Quartz from their online store. It does look a little big for her right now, but it will also fit everything she needs (like her lunch kit, water, bottle, change of clothes, etc.). Perhaps on days days where the load is more, she can use her bigger bag! If you are in Saskatoon like I am, you will be happy to know that Cravings is looking at carrying Parkland products!!
Once the backpack(s) were decided on, it was onto the lunch kit. Parkland had a ton of cute coordinating sets in the funnest patterns that I just wish would have been around when I was in school. I showed Bella the options and she opted for the Rodeo Lunch Kit in Pink Freeze, along with a matching Highfield pencil case, and these adorable reusable snack bags. I am in love with the Peachy pattern!!
When we were shopping at Cravings, the staff showed us the OmieBox and it was so cool, we HAD to get one. It’s a bento box, with adjustable size compartments and a removable thermos! It’s a genius product that also reduces waste like plastic wrap and bags. I do think it may be a little heavy for my three-year-old to carry in her backpack this year, but the handle makes it easy to carry by hand. Can’t wait to get creative with some fun snack ideas. We also picked up this stainless steel S’well Water Bottle, that keeps liquids cold or hot for 24 hours. Lastly, we snagged some Rezip Reusable Storage Bags so we can further eliminate waste from meals. Snack time should be all set!
Once backpacks and snack time were covered, we moved onto the back to school outfits. Princess Bella is really only in a good mood if she’s wearing a dress, so I wasn’t even going to try to convince her to try on the leopard Beau Hudson cardigan I had my eye on at Cravings. She went right for the blue ruffle sleeve Tea Collection dress and I paired it with some cable knit leggings and a Gigi Pip boater hat (all from Cravings) for a complete back to school look.
When it comes to dressing my littles, I am all about comfort and style. I always looks for the softest fabrics. So we also got her another cute and comfortable long sleeved dress to add to her back to school wardrobe from Today’s Modern Bebe, which is a small shop based out of Airdrie, Alberta. I am a lover of neutrals and just couldn’t pass up this tan Long Sleeve Ruffle Dress made out of the softest bamboo, especially because they also had a coordinating crewneck for Luca #twinning. If you see anything you want to order from TMB, use my code KelsiKendel15 to save 15%.
No outfit is complete without accessories, am I right ladies? Bella Boo loves having her hair done (as long as I style it exactly how she instructs and not a cm higher or lower), and often requests a bow to finish it off. Most of her hair accessories are pastels, so I ordered a new set of bows in fall colours from Holding Port, a Lloydminster-based small shop. Cravings also carries this brand.
Next up was footwear, which my husband was most excited about. The school supply list stated that each preschooler had to have one pair of white soled sneakers to wear indoors at school. Bella already has an adorable pair of white and gold Michael Kors lace-up sneakers but I know from experience that they are a pain to put on and take off, and certainly not something I want to deal with at pick-up and drop-off. I knew we needed to find something that was easy to get on, and ideally, a pair that Bella could put on herself. Shoes are definitely an item I like to try on and purchase in store, rather than order online. Cravings had a big selection of comfortable kid’s footwear and I narrowed it down to two pairs that checked all the boxes. The Adidas Superstar Sneakers were my first pick. They are a classic style, neutral colours that would pair well with most of Bella’s wardrobe, and best of all- have velcro closure so she can do them up on her own.
But my little lady had her own opinion and as soon as she laid her eyes on the pink Minimoc Voyageur shoes, she wouldn’t even consider any other options. She wasn’t budging so we opted to get both pairs, but her feet recently outgrew most of her old shoes so they will be put to good use. The Minimocs are equally as cute and simple to get on, and they are also super lightweight.
I’m not going to lie, one of the back to school rites of passage that I’m most excited to partake in is the First Day of School photo!! I always look forward to seeing these photos show up on my friend’s IG feeds- peeping their cute smiles, outfits, excitement for the year to come, and reading what they want to be when they grow up. I was on the hunt for the best back to school sign and even put a question up on my IG stories, seeking your recommendations for the very best one. There were so many cute ones recommended but once I found Beyond Measure Board’s First & Last Day of School Board I knew that was the one. I like the square shape, size (so you can still see the outfit), and that it has the last day of school sign on the other side! Plus it’s a small shop based out of Calgary and the owner is the sweetest. The boards are flying out the door but will be restocked soon!
Once you have rounded up everything you think you need for back to school, you then HAVE TO, 100% order Mabel’s Labels. Chances are you have already heard of these things, but in case you haven’t- take note! I only recently discovered Mabel and her labels. They come in all shapes, sizes, and cute designs. The labels stick on everything from clothes, to backpacks, pencils, containers… you name it, you can stick a label on it. And the best part is- they don’t come off! These sticky suckers remain adhered even through the dishwasher and washing machine! I was extra pumped that they have special alert stickers for kids with allergies, so I ordered those for little Luca as well. I also may have ordered myself some labels too because I’ve lost way too many water bottles, coffee mugs, and pens at work. OH! Mabel’s Labels is having a sale this weekend- use the code LABELDAY to save 15%!
Aside from purchasing all those fun things for preschool, I also think it’s important to take time to discuss what’s to come with your little one. It’s going to be a big change for them. I’ve been telling Bella a bit about what a day at preschool is going to look like and we’ve also visited the classroom so she can be familiar with it. One more way of preparing your toddler for Pre-k is reading books about the experience! I’ve rounded up a few of my favourites on my Back to Preschool List on Amazon.
I hope you found this list helpful! If there are any must-haves I have failed to mention, please let me know in the comments below!