Back to School for the New-ish Normal

The end of August marks that special time of the year when kids, teens, and young adults head back to school. But instead of pencil boxes full of freshly sharpened No. 2’s, you’re probably stockpiling hand sanitizer, masks, and 6-foot long rulers.

So while this school year may look...err, scratch that. This school year will look different. Despite this fact, there’s no reason to skimp on school supplies! This year, treat yourself and your kid with this back to school shopping list recommendation. Students may need these items, but you totally deserve a version of them, too.


So many emotions, so few outlets. What to do? Suggestion #1: Coloring books!


For the most part, classrooms are closed, playgrounds are off-limits, and sports fields and complexes are empty. That means the usual day-to-day happenings where kids learn to recognize and respond to emotions are no longer occurring. Tackle this head on with “Feelings and Dealings: Color My Emotions: An SEL Coloring Book to Build Emotional Intelligence, Social Skills, and Empathy” by authors Camille Childs and Bryan Jones. This coloring book is fun, educational, and therapeutic.

Through A-Z illustrations of facial expressions and body language and fun rhyme-schemes that give meaning to the images, kids can color their way through 26 different emotions within various individual and social contexts. They’ll be exposed to basic feelings like happiness, fear, anger, and more complex emotions like distraction, anticipation, and jealousy. Ultimately, the book aims to broaden empathy in young kids, which is known to improve communication, enable collaboration, and deepen human relationships later in life.

“Feelings and Dealings” has been used by parents, teachers, caregivers, and mental health professionals to teach emotional intelligence and social skills for kids between 3 and 8 years old. But let’s be honest - no matter what age, we could all use a refresher in these emotional arenas! The paperback coloring book is available from Amazon for $9.95.


Yes, they do exist: coloring books that express how you really feel right now. These snarky and irreverent coloring books are just what you need after a long day of homeschooling (or worrying about the kids you sent off to a physical structure meant for education).

The author, who goes by pen name Sasha O’Hara, set out to publish “fun stuff for grownups.” And that she did. Starting at $4.99, get yourself a copy of “Calm the F*ck Down,” “Cheer the F*ck Up,” “Chill the F*ck Out,” or “Peace, Love & F*cking Happiness.” Each book is unique in character and design, but all contain single-sided pages with moderate to detailed drawings, so you can decide how complex a coloring course you’re in the mood for. Beneath every beautiful image of abstract patterns, cheery animals, and pleasant people are relatable sayings like “It’s been lovely, but I have to scream now” and “That’s MS. Bitch to you.”

Warning: these books do contain adult language, so please purchase and color responsibly.

Adult Book: Amazon

Kids Book: Amazon


Our eyeballs are glued to the computer, phone, tv, and tablet screens for a zillion hours these days. What’s the remedy? Suggestion #2: Blue light filter glasses!


Online school, digital karate class, virtual playdates. Kids need protection for their precious eyeballs, too! While natural blue light from the sun helps regulate wake and sleep patterns, the excess of artificial blue light from countless screens can be harmful. Help reduce eye fatigue, headaches, dry eyes, and possible sleep disruption with CalmOptic’s adorable and affordable blue light filter glasses designed for kids.

Choose from a variety of color options. For youngins from ages 3 to 9, the Cotton Candy, Blue Lemonade, Black Cherry, and Strawberry Swirl round lenses come in two colors (one for the frames, one for the temples). Yes, the arms of a pair of glasses are called temples. Now you know. All pairs of kid glasses are currently on sale for $25.

Teens ages 10 to 16 will enjoy a rectangular-shaped frame (more mature, right?) with colors like Hot Pink, Aqua Green, Pumpkin Spice, and Electric Blue. Buy one pair for $39.99, or save 10% by buying two pairs, 20% by buying three pairs, 25% by buying four pairs. Purchasing multiple might be a good idea, considering how often teens change their minds (and outfits)!

Each purchase comes with a microfiber cloth, drawstring bag, mini screwdriver (for tightening or loosening), plus a blue light testing card and LED flashlight.


Take care of your eyes. Until science says otherwise, they’re the only pair you have! The blue light filtering lenses from Warby Parker get the job done, and their frames are affordable but still super chic. These lenses block out more blue light than their standard polycarbonate or high-index options and can be added to any frames for an extra $50 on top of the selling price.

Their Home Try-One service isn’t new, but it’s particularly accommodating during these times. They’ll send you five pairs of glasses which you can try on for five days. Did we mention the free shipping? To help you choose which five pairs, use their Virtual Try-On app (works with iPhone X and newer models). Simply snap a selfie, choose a pair, and instantly see yourself in the future frames of your dreams.

For Adult: Warby Parker

For Kids: CalmOptics


So many things to talk about, so few people to speak with. How to solve? Suggestion #3: Conversation-starter cards!


Do not overlook mental health in the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. That’s why the Growth Mindset Conversation Cards from Big Life Journal are an essential tool for your kids’ growing hearts and minds. This beautifully illustrated deck of 52 cards features thought-provoking questions for young ones to contemplate (like kindness, resilience, gratitude, and more).

Questions like “what made your brain grow today,” “what is your favorite way to feel calm,” and “what is one quality you look for in a friend,” will leave you feeling like you’re giving your kid one of the best life tools: to ask, reflect on, and ultimately, answer their own questions. Until then, dive into growthful conversations together.

The deck costs $14.95 - but that’s not all! The back of each card features a beautiful sea creature. Turn every card over to unveil a majestic underwater scene.


They say comfort kills. You may have retreated to our comfort zones as a means of survival in this unpredictable time, but you will thank us for this safe change of pace! The Courage Over Comfort Desk by BestSelf is the perfect way to empower personal growth and stretch (or completely toss you out of) your comfort zone. Raise the stakes of personal development with family, friends, or a loved one.

The deck of 150 challenge cards costs $24.99 and will keep you entertained for as long as you can stand conquering fears and achieving goals. The idea behind the prompts is to suggest actions or steps you’ve never done before to normalize the act of thriving in discomfort. For example, “quit coffee for a week” or “get that haircut you’ve been scared to try,” are guaranteed growth-inspired prompts!

For the Adult: Amazon

For the Kids: Big Life Journal

For the new-ish normal school routine, make sure to treat yourself while making sure the kid(s) are happy and healthy. Your new mantra is “one for you, one for me.” After all, we’re all after restoring balance in the world!

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