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“Back to School” Shopping When Staying Home with Littles

I recently shared that I’m planning ahead for the fall, and that includes a short shopping list to help myself overcome some challenges in our schedule. I say “pretend” because I’m pivoting into fall with a Toddler and an 18 month old. They are not going to school, but this feels like back to school shopping all the same!

Challenge: lunch with littles at the park

Solution: Bento boxes and a picnic blanket for the car


This is a weird one to start with, but they have been my absolute favorite purchase! For lunches at the park, these little cups keep things like chopped fruit and pretzels separate, and then they go right in the dishwasher.

This bento box is just the right size for Emerson and Elliot. I keep their food separate because of all Elliot’s allergies. These boxes are perfect for snacky lunches, which is our favorite way to eat!

A blanket to make park lunches a bit easier! I’d rather keep the girls on the blanket any day than eat at a dirty picnic table. This one is cute, washable, and rolls up for easy storage!

Challenge: Toddler is dropping a nap (but mom still needs that time!)

Solution: “Rest time” over naps with a Yoto player for solo-entertainment

We have a full size Yoto and Emerson loves it! We are using it to help Emerson institute “rest time” while she’s not napping. So that I still get my work time! The Yoto is easy to use, and while it’s an investment, we have enjoyed it a lot. So far, I say worth it! Pictured here is the mini, which I’ve heard does everything the big one does and is less exspensive!

These cards were a pretty penny, but Emerson has loved listening to these Disney stories, and I love that she’s enjoying the stories without the screen time. They have lots! And you can even record your own, which we have done with Slugs and Bugs and kids podcasts we enjoy.

The necessary counterpart to a Yoto during rest time, ha! These are the best thing we have gotten to go with the Yoto, and Emerson feels like such a grown up when she wears them.

Since we have the full size Yoto, we got this case to store it in. It even comes with a little book for the card. Her headphones store in the side pocket. The case is honestly really nice!

Challenge: Toddler is taking her first ballet class (and is nervous & excited)

Solution: Buying her gear in advance and watching ballet class videos on YouTube to help her prepare

Emerson is taking her first ballet and tap class this fall! She’s so excited, but also very nervous. I can tell because she talks about it nearly all the time. So we decided to help her prepare in a few ways. We visited the room her class will be in (a lovely parks and recs employee gave us a tour, it was amazing!), and checked out lots of ballet books from the library. We also bought her leotard early so she can wear it and act out the class before it happens.

We were told to buy these ballet shoes, and they’re honestly so great for the price. Our local ballet supply store had the same ones for $$$! Emerson wears these daily, and the real leather soles and basically untouched. We’re using a few YouTube ballet “classes for toddler” videos for her to get an idea of what a class will be like.

Challenge: Toddler Discipleship with limited attention spans

Solution: Multi-purpose Discipleship cards, workbook, books, and a theology podcast!

Obviously, I made these! But these have been a family favorite. Each letter of the alphabet covers a different name for God from the Bible, teaching our girls who God is and what he has done for them. Scripture is on every card! They’ll help Em with her alphabet, and also teach her about God in little bits of time.

This sticker book is so vibrant, and so much fun! It’s all about Christology, the study of Christ. It teaches young ones who Jesus is, what he did in his life and ministry, and why his death and resurrection are important. And each lesson has tradable Bible verses and lots of stickers. Em already loves it, honestly!

Okay, so I wrote these too, but they’re still a family favorite! They’re short and rhyming, and Emerson can nearly recite them by now. But they teach BIG truths I want her to know! They’ll be in the rotation this fall.

Tiny Theologians is launching a podcast in September! I’m so excited. Each episode will follow the adventures of a brother and sister as they learn about God. Emerson has listened to the rough cuts and is already enthralled by the stories and music!

Challenge: Answering the same question daily (iykyk)

Solution: “Today is” board, timer, and visual schedule

This new Target find is so cute! Emerson often asks if we can go to the park in the fall, but like a thousand times a day when it’s raining. So we’ll add this to her morning routine (more on that soon!) in the AM so she can answer the question about the weather herself.

Visual timers are a gamer changer for us. Emerson still doesn’t really grasp that screen time is at 4:00, but with this she’s learning what it means when we say 4:00 is in 45 minutes.

This visual schedule is helpful for each day! The pieces are aesthetic enough for me to keep in the kitchen, but really help Emerson know what the day will hold.

Your turn!

What’s on your “back to school” fall shopping list with littles? Anything we need to try?

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