7 School Supply Shopping Tips For Messy Kids

I know what you’re thinking. All kids are messy. Indeed, they are. I’m talking about kids who swim in the deep end of messy—kids who, despite their best efforts, are disorganized, sloppy, forgetful, oblivious of systems, and generally unaware of and uninterested in the condition of their stuff. I’m the parent of such a child, and I can tell you from experience, school is a stumbling block.

Whether your kid has an underlying learning or attention issue (mine does!) or he comes by his penchant for chaos honestly, an especially messy kid will struggle without the proper equipment. Here are seven school supply shopping tips to give your messy kid a tidy start to the school year.

1. Don’t be swayed by the 3 for $1 notebook sale. Those notebooks have flimsy paper covers that bend and rip easily. Buy notebooks with a plastic cover. They’ll cost more, but they’ll last. The same goes for folders and divider tabs. Make sure they’re plastic or laminated.

2. If your child is old enough to require a binder, buy reinforced filler paper. It has a strong, clear tape along the left edge to support the holes and resist tearing.

3. Speaking of binders, size up. It’s amazing how much stuff kids can cram inside a binder, and if you have a child who rarely never sorts through papers, a 1-inch binder will burst at the seams quickly. Go for the 1 ½- or 2-inch size.

4. There’s no correlation between using college ruled paper and future success. If your kid has messy handwriting and would benefit from having more space between lines, buy wide ruled paper and notebooks.

5. If your kid makes careless mistakes in math due to messy handwriting, buy ½-inch ruled graph paper. Lining up numbers on graph paper lessens the chance of errors due to disarray.

6. Get a zipper pocket or pouch that can be inserted in a binder or placed in a backpack. This is a clean, safe place for index cards, flash cards, and other small but important papers that would otherwise end up crumpled or lost.

7. Purchase or give your kid access to an e-reader so you can download ebooks when he conveniently forgets to bring his reading assignments home from school. Plus, you can adjust the font size and style and enable audio features, which is helpful for kids with reading challenges.

These shopping tips aren’t going to magically transform your kid from messy to neat overnight, but they’ll give your kid a clean, organized start to the new school year.

What school supply shopping tips for messy kids would you add to this list?

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Do You Have Summer Brain? (I Do)

Overview: Summer Brain is the weakening of a mother’s mental capacity during the months of June, July, and especially August to the point where she loses her f–king mind. Not be confused with Summer Slide, a condition that causes students to lose some of the academic gains they made during the previous school year, Summer Brain is an ailment that exclusively afflicts moms. It’s caused by a sudden and severe lack of routine and structure, which is common in the summer when kids are off from school. Summer Brain may be a temporary—or seasonal—disorder, but it’s a serious sickness and should not be taken lightly or ignored.

Symptoms: Symptoms of Summer Brain include:

  • A short temper
  • Forgetfulness
  • Extreme procrastination
  • Lack of patience
  • Paranoia
  • Exhaustion and/or insomnia
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Failure to differentiate between day and night and/or weekdays and the weekend
  • A strong impulse to nest
  • An overwhelming desire to binge watch “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta”

Diagnosis: A definitive diagnosis of Summer Brain is tricky. Its symptoms overlap with Mommy Brain, a terminal condition caused by acute anxiety, guilt, multi-tasking, self-doubt, and perfectionism that commences when a child is born and ends when a mother is able to never. The key difference between the two is the type of pain they cause. Mommy Brain results in an unending dull throb that can be managed with the help of doctors, therapists, yoga instructors, and sommeliers. On the contrary, Summer Brain causes a short-lived but shocking and piercing pain that brings to mind the passing of a kidney stone. With kidney stones and Summer Brain, there is only one way to end the agony.

You can determine the presence of Summer Brain by answering yes or no to the following statements. If you answer yes to four or more, you’ve been plagued.

Since the school year ended in June…

Have you forgotten at least one appointment?

Have you neglected a birthday or anniversary?

Have you pressed the “brew” button on your coffee maker without putting mug underneath the spout?

Have you served frozen pancakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner more than three consecutive days?

Is it possible that you didn’t brush your teeth today?

Have you given up screen time limits?

Do you avoid social situations for fear of nits?

Have you stopped going to the community pool because it seems like a lot of work?

Have you obsessively cleaned out your refrigerator, organized your plastic container cabinet, and/or alphabetized your spices while binge listening to Gretchen Rubin’s “Happier” podcast?

Have you had a tantrum over a wet towel and/or cheese stick wrapper?

Do you have more than a half inch of outgrown dark and/or gray roots in your hair?

Have you poured Cheerios in your coffee and coffee in your kid’s Cheerios?

Have you emerged from bed between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. to marinate chicken?

Treatment: The only known cure for Summer Brain is school. Once structure, routine, and the daily absence of children return to your household, the debilitating anguish of Summer Brain will subside. Patient research and feedback suggests the following activities can alleviate the severity of Summer Brain symptoms:

  • Shopping for school supplies.
  • Buying a pair of SOREL waterproof wedge boots at Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale.
  • Consuming pumpkin-flavored food and beverages.
  • Watching “Outdaughtered” on TLC (because at least you’re not trying to potty train quintuplets this summer).

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A Real Mom’s Back to School Checklist: Fantasy vs. Reality

It’s that time, Mamas. There’s a hella lot to do to get the kids ready for school, and it’s a damn good thing you’ve had all summer to get it done [insert laugh track].

If you’re anything like me, you want to be the mom who does all the things to ensure a smooth transition back to school, but you also want to be mom who puts all the laundry away and that hardly ever happens.

I’ve created a fantasy vs. reality back to school checklist to point out all the shoulda woulda couldas, but, more importantly, to emphasize what matters—getting your kids’ butts out the door on the first day of school because #ByeFelicia.

Good luck!

 2 months before

Fantasy: Schedule annual physicals and request medical forms for fall sports.

Reality: Build sandcastles. Eat ice cream for dinner. You’ll regret this later, but until that unfortunate Sunday night…

6 weeks before

Fantasy: Sort through last year’s fall/winter clothing to see what still fits or should be donated.

Reality: There is no fall/winter clothing to sort through because your kids refuse to wear pants.

5 weeks before

Fantasy: Check your kids’ progress on summer reading and math assignments.

Reality: Ha! It’s only July!

1 month before:

Fantasy: Purchase school supplies.

Reality: It’s too late. The shelves are stocked for Halloween.

3 weeks before:

Fantasy: Create a “back to school” organization station with color-coded bins, cubbies, and hooks for each kid.

Reality: Put a laundry basket by the front door.

2 weeks before:

Fantasy: Get your kids back on an early bedtime routine.

Reality: That seems like a lot of work when the first morning will be a bitch anyway.

1 week before:

Fantasy: Merge the new school calendar with all extracurricular schedules in a master calendar.

Reality: Your mom group text or local Facebook parents group will remind you about anything important.

3 days before

Fantasy: Meal plan for the first week of school.

Reality: Alphabetize your takeout menus.

The night before

Fantasy: Prepare healthy lunches and snacks.

Reality: You never emptied the lunchboxes in June. Call the EPA emergency hotline and burn lunchboxes in the backyard.

First day of school

Fantasy: Enjoy every moment! They grow up so fast!

Reality: Ask a friend to tag you in her pictures. Binge watch Orange Is the New Black. You can shower tomorrow.


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