The 2020 Back-to-School Guide: The Best Products for the New School Year! ~ Dallas Mom Blog and Fort Worth Mom Blogger: Trendy Mom Reviews
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Sunday, August 30, 2020

The 2020 Back-to-School Guide: The Best Products for the New School Year!

 


Back to School shopping is one of my favorite activities of the year. The products that I selected this year are helpful for families and students that will experience different school environments this year. Some districts offer virtual school for the first month or even until January. Others, like our district, give the option for parents to choose in-person or virtual schooling for their children. However, we have to keep in mind that if anyone in a class has COVID-19 symptoms, the children will move to virtual schooling for a few days after any possible exposure.  If a child is sick, they will need to participate virtually.  We are hoping for the best, but also realize that there may be virtual days mixed into our school year.  This guide reflects the 2020-21 school year!  We need our all-time favorite products, but we also have new items that are tailored to unique challenges for this school year. In today's post, I'll share trendy items that you will want to stock up on for the new school year!  

The Dyson V11 Outsize is the most recent model in the popular line of Dyson cordless stick vacuums. If you follow regularly, you may already know that we are big Dyson fans. As a boy mom, I have to tell you that our previous Dyson cordless stick vacuum was a game changer for our family thanks to the lightweight and powerful design that made it easy to clean up after our energetic little boys and visitors.  We used it on hardwood flooring throughout the majority of our home, tile floors in the bathrooms, and carpeting in our children's bedrooms. The vacuum was incredibly versatile and effective despite any challenges that our children threw at it. It never slowed down despite the massive amount of stuff that our boys tracked into our house or dropped on the floor. When I received the opportunity to try out the Dyson V11 Outsize, I was thrilled because it provides 25% more floor coverage per pass, is more powerful with twice the suction power of competing cordless vacuums, comes with a larger bin, includes more attachments, has a longer battery life, and even comes with an extra charger. 

Now that our children are home so much, the Dyson V11 Outsize is my new best friend. I use it daily in high traffic areas because this vacuum makes it quick and easy to clean our house so that I have a peaceful feeling at the end of the day.  I also use it weekly to clean our stairs, baseboards, plantation shutters, and lower mess areas such as my bedroom. My husband uses it to clean the inside of our cars. The powerful suction helps me to zoom through these chores.  The design perks of it being cordless and relatively lightweight helps use to complete these chores without much effort. We also appreciate the LCD screen that displays the run time countdown and performance. We've been able to clean our house and car on a single charge.  I'll share a longer post about our experience with the Dyson V11 Outsize soon. However, I wanted to included it in the Back-to-School Guide as well because I know that this product is a game changer for busy families. Visit Dyson here.

CeraVe is our go-to skincare brand. This brand was recommended by my dermatologist several years ago and my family members have used it ever since. A stable skincare routine is critical for all of our family members, especially my tween who is in a sensitive stage. We all use the CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser. That's right - all of us! This face wash is gentle and fragrance-free.  It uses a foaming action to deeply cleanse and remove excess oil, dirt, and makeup. It contains hyaluronic acid to help retain skin's natural moisture. It then contains niacinamide to calm the skin. When any of us start to experience dry skin, we switch over to the CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser for a few days. This usually happens as the seasons change and we experience swings in humidity. I also switch to this facial cleanser after winter laser treatments that temporarily irritate my skin. This hydrating face wash always seems to do the trick for each of us.  It's really nice because it's soothing and doesn't cause irritation.  

We also use CeraVe moisturizers, but we use different products for our different skin types. My son is a Texas tween, so it's critical for him to use good moisturizers and sunscreen.  His school has outside recess and I don't want him to experience sun damage like my husband and I experienced as children. He uses the CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with SPF30 protection against harmful UVA/UVB rays. His skin appreciates the hyaluronic acid that helps to retain skin's natural moisture. He is quite picky and doesn't like the residue left behind by other brands and formulations of sunscreens. Luckily, CeraVe uses an Invisible Zinc Technology with microfine zinc oxide spreads easily with a clear finish.  He also uses the CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion to provide overnight hydration.  Again, this uses the hyaluronic acid to help retain his skin's natural moisture.  The formulation is gentle and non-irritating.   While this is my son's go-to evening moisturizer, I also use it too when my skin is sensitive after winter laser treatments. (I have laser treatments in the winter months when the sun is not quite as strong.) I really like that the formulation with niacinamide helps to calm skin.

My husband and I are trying our best to take good care of our 40-something year old skin.  We eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, and run almost daily. While the healthy lifestyle helps, we definitely need extra help from good skincare products.  The CeraVe Skin Renewing line is seriously amazing for aging skin. My skin is typically dry. I have fine lines on my forehead and around my eyes and mouth. My laugh lines are also showing my age. My husband has combination skin, but with similar signs of aging. We both use the same CeraVe Skin renewing products. The CeraVe Skin Renewing Day Cream and Night Cream products are amazing. These moisturizers not only help to provide intense hydration, but do so using hyaluronic acid to help maintain natural moisture. They also help to improve the appearance of tired skin which is incredibly important in our 40's.  These moisturizers have been part of our routine for over a couple of years now.   We use the CeraVe Skin Renewing Day Cream in the morning. (If you live in North Texas, this product is especially wonderful if you experience dry and dull skin as the humidity quickly drops during the first month of school.)   

In summary, CeraVe is a brand that was introduced to us by our dermatologist and we have been using CeraVe products for years. They have fantastic products that fit different needs and ages. It took many years for me to find products that worked well for us, so I am always enthusiastic to recommend the products that we use. Visit CeraVe here.

Sweet Maria's is our favorite source for green coffee beans. I wanted to feature Sweet Maria's because I know that many parents and teachers have morning routines that count on good coffee.  Sweet Maria's is an iconic brand to coffee connoisseurs who roast their own coffee beans since high quality green coffee beans create amazing results. (Read more about coffee roasting at Sweet Maria's here if you are new to coffee roasting. Spoiler alert- if you learn to roast your own coffee, you'll probably quickly prefer the freshness and your ability to customize the roasts to your preferences!)   

We've featured Sweet Maria's for several years because the green coffee bean sampler is amazing and gives customers something to look forward to on busy mornings. My husband has found many of his favorite green coffee beans through their samplers. Sweet Maria's conducts multiple trips each year to connect with leaders of coops and to make deals for the best batches. They do an amazing job and we look forward to their best finds! My husband loves to roast green coffee beans for himself and others. Throughout the school year, he roasts coffee beans for our son's teachers.  This is always a popular surprise. Some teachers even share their preferences and special requests. Some prefer freshly roasted coffee beans while others prefer for us to make lattes or other drinks that we send in with our children in the mornings. It's a fun hobby personally, but also a unique gift to let teachers know that they are appreciated.  Click here to visit Sweet Marias.

Coromega is a brand that I have followed for almost 20 years.  When I was in my early 20's, I was obsessed with hiking, exercising, and good nutrition. I packed my diet with lots of nutrients and also took supplements. One of the supplements that I took regularly included Coromega Omega-3 packets.  While I have less time to exercise now that my life is busier, one good habit that I've consistently kept over the years is to take my vitamins and Coromega Omega-3 packets.  If you aren't familiar with Coromega, let me tell you that they work some serious magic with their Omega-3 formulas because they taste good and I have never had fish burps from them. I have had failed attempts with other brands because I really dislike the fishy aftertaste. Another testament to the appeal of Coromega is that my children love them too!  My youngest son is in a picky eater phase.  However, Coromega Kids Omega-3 packets rock his little world. He happily reminds me that he needs his packet every morning. Finally, if you are in search of hand sanitizer, Coromega currently has 40-count containers of Hand Sanitizer packets that are great for the new school year. They come in a jar that is a great teacher gift!  Enter the coupon code "TRENDYMOM20" at checkout for 20% off your entire order. Visit Coromega here.

The First Alert Combination Photoelectric Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm with 10-Year Battery is an important safety device for families. Personally, I want to recommend the start of the school year as a good time to check all of your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and to replace them as needed.  It's also a good idea to check the status of where you have alarms in your home. When we moved into our new house, we realized that the builders forgot to install one in my son's room!  It was quick and easy to install one. Plus, First Alert now has smoke and carbon monoxide alarms with batteries that last 10 years.  To put that into perspective, the battery will last until my preschooler is a teen! It's a low maintenance device.  You will find it on Amazon and at stores nationwide.

Handy Hats is a trendy brand that is both stylish and practical. This is a high energy brand that is dedicated to quality. We love their Navy Kanga Hat and the timely Zoomin HatAt first glance, you may think that we just featured these hats because they are stylish. However, there is more.  

Each hat has a convenient pouch for you to store small items while you wear it!  For instance, check out the video here to see how the clever and convenient design works.  Check out the Handy Hats website and follow on Instagram and Facebook to watch as this growing company releases new designs over time! 

Educational Products, Inc. (EPI) is a lifesaver for parents of young children!  They track down all of the school supplies that your school requests and ship everything to your doorstep.  This is especially timely right now when many parents prefer to minimize running errands as much as possible due to COVID-19.  The way that it works is that you visit the EPI website here, enter your zip code, select your child's school, and select your child's grade.  They show you the list of supplies for the respective school/grade. You then add the package to your shopping cart and checkout.  It's so easy and convenient to order their school supplies this way!  In the past, there have always been one or two items on the list that were unicorns and required me to visit multiple schools in order to track them down. The school supply experts EPI have you covered so that you don't have to worry about running around to track down items.  Their extensive database covers thousands and thousands of schools. Visit EPI here.

Texas Instruments is an iconic brand that has been around for decades. My first calculator was an early model, the TI-82. I used in high school, undergraduate, and my grad program.  I loved that it was a consistent tool that stayed with me for a decade as I progressed through geometry, algebra, trig, calculus, discrete math, combinatorics, and more. I also used it in other classes such as chemistry and physics. I even used it at my first job as an engineer. My calculator was constantly by my side for years. If you think about it, that's pretty cool!  When I saw that the TI-84 Plus CE was on my son's school list, I was excited to have the chance to check out the latest calculator. I was also enthusiastic about this school supply because (a) my TI calculator was a lifesaver in many classes, (b) the calculator will be an important tool for many of his classes for years to come, (c) the calculator will help him to learn many important concepts, (d) it's relatively user friendly so that he won't feel too overwhelmed in the beginning, and (e) it's a commonly used calculator that is well known and students are allowed to use it in many different exams.  

The experts at Texas Instruments evolved this calculator to make it even more amazing for current students.  There is a notable difference in the style. It's sleeker than my 1990-something model and comes in stylish colors such as silver, rose gold, and more. I also noticed that it is user friendly. The design team must have studied students and professionals who use their calculators in order to optimize the user interface for a good experience. They deserve accolades for this because a good calculator may give students a better experience and encourage their enthusiasm for math and science.  Another highlight is that students are able to practice coding on this calculator. That's a big deal because many children like my son enjoy coding.  Engaging features like this make my son want to spend extra time on his calculator. That's a major win in my book since I want him to feel comfortable with his calculator. As a mom and an engineer, I know that the TI-84 Plus CE calculator is an important tool for students to feel comfortable with, especially as they challenge themselves to learn new material.  Visit Texas Instruments here to learn more about their popular and widely used calculators.


Osmo offers expertly created educational games that combine technology and hands-on interactions. My oldest son used Osmo when he was in elementary school and absolutely loved it!  We had it at home, but then the PTO bought Osmo kits for the school, so he had a lot of exposure to Osmo.  It was a big part of his childhood!

When the Osmo Starter Kit arrived for his little brother, my oldest son instantly had happy memories and couldn't wait to help his brother to get started!  It turns out that our preschooler loves Osmo too. Since his preschool is closed until 2021, this has become a must-have educational tool to keep him engaged and learning. While he is learning his ABC's and counting through Osmo, this set actually offers so much more. He has the opportunity to practice hands-on problem solving which is more advanced than memorization. He wants to learn more and sees the value of the knowledge thanks to hands-on exercises and immediate feedback.  It's fun to watch him learn at a rapid pace!

If you have young children at home, we definitely recommend Osmo. You'll want either the Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit + Early Math Adventure (for ages 3 to 5) or the Genius Starter Kit + Family Game Night (for ages 6 to 10).  Even if your children will be in school, Osmo is also a great tool to reinforce and complement schoolwork. The key is that Osmo is fun and engaging! Visit Osmo here.

SunRype snacks are gluten-free, vegan, and low-mess snacks that are perfect for snack time. If you follow regularly, you know that I have been a big fan of SunRype for years.  My son jokes that the SunRype FruitSource bars are nature's candy! They contain sugar, but only from the natural sources of fruit and/or veggies in the respective varieties.  The Fruit to Go Bars are thinner snacks. The Fruit Source Bars are thicker. Everyone in my family loves both varieties. I keep SunRype bars in a kitchen cabinet and my children grab one daily to take to school for snack time. They are a staple for our snack time routines! 

I also send a large box of them to each of their teachers in case there are days when any children forget snacks. We add jokes to each SunRype bar so that it cheers a child up when they forget their snack and are surprised with an awesome snack and a joke.  Visit SunRype here.

Slammers superfood snacks are another staple for our children. They love the taste, but there are a few other reasons that we love them too. First, this brand uses the best quality ingredients and many of the varieties are packed with protein and nutrients. The second reason is that the pouches are not messy, so it's super convenient for classrooms with young children. Finally, my children and their friends love Slammer's.  

I tie happy notes onto Slammers so that my children feel special when they find their snack.  I something customize the notes to whatever they are going through. For instance, if my oldest son has a big exam, I'll wish him luck and sometimes put some of his trickier spelling words on the note for him to repeat them in his head a few extra times before the exam.  My youngest son sometimes misses us while he is at preschool, so I'll print a picture and tie it to his Slammers snack.  It's a fun way to give encouragement!  Visit Slammers here.

OWYN is our favorite brand of vegan protein shakes.  I've had a lot of trial and error in trying different brands and formulations. Some are chalky or have a weird flavor. Some leave a terrible aftertaste. I probably would have given up on protein shakes if it wasn't for OWYN. This brand tastes amazing! They are also test their products for the 8 top allergens.  Their top seller is the Dark Chocolate variety.  This is currently Dairy Free, Soy Free, Wheat Free, Peanut Free, Tree Nut Free, Egg Free, Shellfish Free, Fish Free.  This nutrient packed drink has quickly become one of my favorite things to eat while also satisfying chocolate cravings. OWYN also offers other delicious varieties such as Cookies n' Cream, Smooth Vanilla, Chai, Strawberry Banana, and Chocolate.  I love the drinks plain, but when it's a special day like the first day of school, I'll use a blend the OWYN Smooth Vanilla protein with fresh orange juice! Visit the OWYN website here.


The Happy Planner will help you to stay organized this year. This is a popular brand from Southern California that you may have noticed from Cosmopolitan magazine, at your local Barnes & Nobles store, or from other moms who use their products. If you are helping your children with virtual school, then you definitely need a planner.  If your children will attend in-person school, you will probably also want a planner since COVID-19 adds an extra layer of tasks. For instance, my son will not have a locker this year due to adjustments for COVID-19.  Instead, he will bring specific books, notebooks, and supplies on different days.  We also have to remember to complete a log of his daily temperatures and upload it on Sundays. We may have virtual schooling days if anyone in the class has a positive COVID-19 test.  Thankfully, The Happy Planner has us covered whether our children are in class or on Zoom. Their new Back to Class Collection is truly fantastic!  For instance, I use the Classic Happy Notes in Leopard with the Classic Snap In Envelopes in Neutral Leopard


The Classic Snap In Envelopes in Neutral Leopard include three envelopes that are really nice for storing notes, receipts, appointment cards, pens, and other items. The envelopes are easy to snap into the planner. I also love the Value Pack Stickers for Appointments which help me to stay organized. I love how pretty my schedule looks thanks to the nice organizer and stickers.  It's little things like this that I appreciate daily!

 

The Happy Planner 12 Month Box Kit in Classic Brights is great for parents, children, and teachers.  Personally, we are giving this one as a gift to our son's main teacher. I know that this is a tough year to be a teacher, so I thought that the nice organizational supplies with bright and whimsical designs would be appreciated!  This set contains: a 12-month, non-dated Happy Planner, four sheets of stickers to add dates and inspiration to the planner and tabs, one bookmark, and three sticky note pads (20 sheets each).  I love that this sets addresses a practical need in such a beautiful way thanks to the colorful and upbeat design. These sets are sure to make life easier!  All of The Happy Planner products that I featured are available on their website here. Our local Barnes & Noble currently has the 12 Month Box Kit in stock too.

pediped shoes are amazing for little feet because they provide good support. Parents will love that they come with shoe inserts that you eventually remove to make the shoes 1/2 size larger. One thing that I've never skimped on is good quality shoes. I believe that shoes with good support are important for my active and growing children. At the same time, pediped has a hack that happens to make their good quality shoes more appealing than most. If your little one has a growth spurt, it is easy to remove the insert to make more room. It's a brilliant design, especially during the toddler and preschool years when little ones grow so quickly. My boys have the Flex Squad Camo and the Flex Force Indigo Lime. These trendy shoes are stylish and comfortable. Visit pediped here.


GoSili is a brand that was created to provide safer, more sustainable and more practical options other than single use disposable plastics. It is estimated that Americans throw away 500 million straws and 40 million coffee cups a day. GoSili products offer a way for us to make a difference. Their high quality reusable cups and straws are perfect for the new school year. We love the GoSili 16 ounce cup that comes in bright colors and the GoSili Reusable Straw Multipack.  I also have a large reusable cup that I take to a local restaurant for refills that uses extra long straws. I use the GoSili Tall Reusable Straw Multipack for this cup. The straw that came with the tall reusable restaurant cup was gross after a while, so I was thrilled to find the extra long reusable straws from GoSili.   They make it easy to be more eco-friendly on a daily basis. Plus, when you are done using the GoSili items, you may recycle them on your own or ship the items back and GoSili will recycle them for you! You can look for goSili straws at Target stores nationwide and online at www.target.com.


Whiskware Snacking Containers are perfect for packing healthy snacks or lunches throughout the school year. We even use these versatile containers on road trips.  These trendy snacking containers feature three interlocking jars and a little carrying handle. They come in a variety of colors with fun designs, including funky animals, farm animals, robots, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Superman, and more!  They are reasonably priced at $12.99. You'll be able to wash and reuse them throughout the year. Personally, my youngest son loves the Superman and Yoda & Ewok snacking containers. My older son is a big fan of the Harry Potter and Darth Vader & Stormtrooper snacking containers. It's nice to send them for snack time since the three compartments allow me to include a few different items for a little buffet of options when snack time rolls around. Typical snacks that we send include fruit bars cut into bite size pieces, pretzels, cheese cubes, crackers, grapes, or veggie chips. We also use them for lunches. Typical lunch items that we put into the compartments include hummus, carrots, and sandwiches. I make a sandwich and cut it into quarters. I then split the sandwich between my two children by stacking two sandwich quarters into the bottom snacking container. Visit the Whiskware Snacking Containers website here to view all of the designs and to place an order.

The TruMed Infrared Thermometer is a touchless digital forehead thermometer that is timely for this school year since many schools require parents to take their children's temperatures before they arrive at school. My youngest son is a typical preschooler who draws the line at certain things. One of those things is taking his temperature with a thermometer that touches his forehead. He used to wiggle, swat at the thermometer, and complain. We used to have to take his temperature several times with our old thermometer because it was so difficult to move the thermometer back and forth across his forehead. He would pull away or push the thermometer so that we had to keep starting over.  When I saw that TruMed offered a touchless thermometer, I was thrilled. No one wants to upset a preschooler, so this was the perfect opportunity to try a new thermometer. Plus, now that we will need to check his temperature before he goes to school, we really need conflict resolution on the thermometer issue. It turns out that the  TruMed Infrared Thermometer worked well for him. The non-instrusive thermometer is perfect.  It's nice that I'm able to quickly take all of our family members temperatures without any drama before we leave the house. It's available at Target.com!

Rock the Locks is a trendy hair care line that is geared toward kids with bright packaging and great formulas. As a mom, I love that their professional quality products use clean ingredients. Their products do not use harsh chemicals, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, dyes, or petrolatum.  The line includes 7 fun products including Not So Knotty Conditioning Detangler, Don't Mess with Me Texture Paste, Curls Wanna Have Fun Curl Boost, Shake & Shimmer Glitter Hairspray and Total Softie Leave-in Conditioner! My children and I bond in the mornings with their Rock the Locks haircare products. They pick the hairstyle and products that they want to use each morning and then I help them to achieve their looks.  Visit Rock the Locks here.

NOSHINKU offers hand sanitizer that moisturizes and soothes hands as it kills germs. This trendy formula features premium ingredients (including bergamot for a gender neutral scent), defying the notion that hand sanitizer has to be harsh, smell bad, and dry out hands to get the job done. NOSHINKU provides a luxury hand sanitizer. Visit their website here

FluidStance offers award winning balance boards that are perfect for both children and adults. If you think about it, our bodies were meant to move. We weren't designed to live sedentary lifestyles sitting at desks all day. FluidStance balance boards enable non-distracting motion while we work.  We tried the Kids Balance Board (designed for up to 125 pounds) and the Plane Cloud Balance Board (designed for adults).

If your children wiggle a lot, you may or may not realize that fidgeting is a form of self soothing.  I think that we all do things to self sooth at times, but for many children, they tap, wiggle, hum, and move around in a way that seems distracting to watch. A good balance board may serve as an alternate outlet for wiggling. My son uses it at our tall kitchen counter where he is able to stand on the balance board and do his homework. It's pretty cool because he seems to be better focused and less distracted than when he sits to do his work.

My husband and I also tried the Plane Cloud Balance Board.  Personally, I spend a lot of time at my computer for work and am worried about long sedentary parts of the day. The balance board is a win-win that I'm able to stand and move around a little while also doing my work. My husband tried it and loves the opportunity to get out of his chair and expend extra energy while he works too.  FluidStance balance boards are such a simple and effective concept. We wish that we would have known about them sooner! It's great to have them for the new school year.

I hope that you enjoyed this glimpse into our favorite Back-to-School products! This is a unique year and we tried to find products that make life easier and more enjoyable despite the challenges in the world today. I hope that you have the opportunity to try some of these products and that they are helpful to you and your family!

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