Remember when back to school was the 1st day of school outfits and trapper keepers? Who can forget those Ticonderoga pencils we had to feed into metal wall sharpeners? Or, how having a lunchbox with matching thermos that was NOT stylish!? Now, our kids are getting prepared for a post-COVID dynamic where masks may or may not be required. There will be restrictions on sharing of any kind, and more unknowns than we can plan for. So, what essentials can we be mindful of? How can we focus on cleanliness without sacrificing practical needs for getting back to school?

Back to School Edition: 2020 vs. 1990

Courtney 1990

Oh, 2020, you’ll be a year we try to forget. We’re up against a global pandemic and headed back to school soon. There’s a fear lurking around the corner. How can we keep our kids and families safe?

Our children are facing threats nonexistent during our school days. Back then, we NEEDED the snazziest school supplies and weren’t too worried about a deadly virus floating around. Right? “Mom, when can we go to Kmart, I need a zip-up trapper keeper! And Scratch and Sniff Garfield stickers, like, NOW!” 

It was simple. Now, not so much. Our kids will be social distancing, wearing masks, and preparing for a post-COVID dynamic. Goodbye, recess, and close-knit group projects and hello, anxiety! BUT, there are ways our pint-sized people can seize their school days during COVID-19. As parents, we can ensure their safety and health without entirely sucking their mojo dry. 

Let’s start by:

1. Talking a Little Less and Listening a Bit More

Children are busy bees and curious minds. They may have eavesdropped on your conversations about COVID-19 news. Chances are, they will pick up misinformation from television or online. 

What can you do? Ask questions. Follow their lead. Help them navigate this time with facts from the CDC. In an age-appropriate way, coach them on how they can stay safe during school hours. Set clear expectations. 

Next time you get this: “Why should I wear a mask? It’s uncomfortable! Masks are stupid!” –You’ll know what to say. 


2. Getting Creative With COVID-19 Protocol

We all know masks can get irritating if you’re wearing them for most of your day. Ouch, 8-hour school days plus bus rides!

Here’s how we can help—opt-in for fabric or cloth masks. You can DIY your own or buy inexpensive options online in Etsy shops or Amazon. Get your kiddos masks that reflect their personality, style, or interests. Better yet, let them shop with you side-by-side and pick out ones they love.

The options are endless––superman, funny facial expressions, quirky prints, colorful florals––you get the idea. When kids incorporate masks into their outfits, they’ll feel good about wearing them. Masks allow for creative expression. AKA, they’ll connect with masks in a less scary state of mind. 

“If I don’t wear this surgical grade mask, I’m going to endanger my parents or grandparents”–versus–“Hey, my mask looks pretty cool. I’m excited to keep myself and others safe!”

Cotton masks are also a great natural alternative for sensitive skin. They’re machine washable and provide zero waste. Kill those germs with hot, soapy water, and bam! You’ve got yourself a germ-free, eco-friendly, and reusable shield. Bonus: zero itchy noses.

3. Building Excitement With the Small Stuff

Masks are one part of the problem, Courtney. I get it–kids need constant entertainment. How can we divert the big black boredom cloud circling above us right now? “No social gathering” is tough.

Staying indoors surges digital activity, but it doesn’t have to be this way. We know– laptops, iPhones, iPods, Tablets, and Instagram are “everything.” BUT, buying some good old fashion rubber and wood school supplies can bring some joy as your kids head back to school.

Foster fun! Think:

  • Creative planners
  • Cactus pen sets
  • Multi-colored pencils and cupcake shaped erasers
  • Reusable cloth lunch bags for keeping that PB&J safe and well
  • iPhone Charger stickers
  • Travel-sized hand sanitizers

Awesome idea alert! 

  1. Buy hand sanitizer in bulk and $1 travel size bottles. Let your kiddos decorate their bottles. Pom poms, glitter, stickers–you name it. What a cool way to dress up something that kids may otherwise view as medical or boring?
  2. Buy Felt Letter Boards. While your coffee is brewing, write a positive message. “Good luck with school today, honey!” Whatever inspires happy vibes bright and early in the morning. 


4. Keeping Routines Going

If you start early, routines ease chaos. Try to balance school and playtime at home. For example, you can carve out an hour after school for exercise and fresh air.  Which type of routine you pick will depend on you and your family’s lifestyle. 

Bonus Tip: You can brainstorm different themes throughout the month. For example, schedule an “Italy week” or “Camp week!” These themes inspire relevant food groups, activities, and educational resources. 

Be inventive! Can’t go camping? Why not set up an indoor tent in the family room. Squeeze in play dates at home or in your backyard.

5. Becoming Design Savvy

Hosting games can boost happy hormones. Home or DIY crafts are perfect too! You can spruce up your child’s bedroom space into a small oasis by adding a HINT of a theme. Use detachable items (so you’re not stuck with it). 

Think: peel and stick Princess wallpaper. Projector ceiling lights. Glow-in-the-dark stars for a space vibe. Paint a chalkboard wall for playing teacher. Fun spaces will give your kiddos something to look forward to when they come home AND a project you can bond over.  Any positive distraction from COVID-19 news? Yes, please. 

Here are some more resources for activities your kids will love:


6.  Packing Essentials in a Grab-And-Go Fashion

Tune in to what your kids adore.  Disney character water bottles, neon backpacks, or tie-dye hand sanitizer key rings. The options are endless.

Are you feeling a tad bit more positive? I hope these ideas helped you envision a more positive back to school edition during COVID-19.

Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to send me a pic of your kiddo inspired DIY projects on my Facebook page!

Quarantine is hard–we’re spending a lot of time indoors. If you’re living in a space that could use a pick-me-up but aren’t sure where to start, don’t stress! I’ve got solutions for your design dilemmas. 

Consult with me safely. I offer a complimentary, no-strings-attached phone call consultation. We can also consult by video conference. If you’d like to meet in your home, please know we will use all current safety protocols.

Email me to book a call time!

In the meantime, catch other great design tips on my YouTube channel, Real Life Design with Courtney Warren!