Now that most kids go back to school in August, rather than September, there really isn’t a ton of back-to-school clothes shopping you really NEED to do.  But there are a few things I like to buy so I’m ready and prepped when the weather decides to flip. The Land’s End Sherpa Hoodie I picked will for sure be a fall go-to for both my boys.  And the those iron-knee jeans are not only really good looking, they’re ultra boy-resistant as well.  Win-win.

And those DIY chalkboard lunch notes? EASY-peasy, with a side of adorable.  My boys are a wee bit too big for lunch notes from their mom, but I’m thinking I may put moronic jokes on them from time to time.

Enjoy the back to school rush!  

Disclaimer:  Land’s End provided me with the hoodies and jeans to feature, and paid me for my time.  But my opinions and love of these products is all mine.  I don’t say yes to stuff I don’t dig.

8 Must-Have Essentials for a Playful Mom’s Purse
Okay, we all love coloring now, right? But keeping crayons in your purse is an absolute ‘no’ as we’ve learned time and time again. For this list, we’re forgetting the kid stuff and sharing eight items you can stick in your purse that will bring a little more play and spark to your day… even if you’re mid-carpool on a 90 degree day with no AC. Seriously. 
First, you’ve got to have a good pouch to keep all your stuff in. LeSportSac is a go-to fave for a mess-proof pouch that will fit in your purse.  Shown is an oldie, but we recommend the LeSportSac 3-zip cosmetic now. It comes in a ton of awesome patterns, too.
Fresh breath can feel like a serious breath of fresh air sometimes. Grab a pack of Project 7 gum from the grocery store line and do a little good while you chew. They give back to a variety of charities for each pack purchased. (Plus the packs are resealable and taste amazing.)
Should you always have a good pen on hand to sign important documents with? Of course. But you should also have a few awesome colorful pens to make note taking and making more fun. Stabilo pens are a great way to go—they don’t bleed through paper and come in an insane amount of colors. You’ll be refusing to share with the kids after one stroke of ink.
YesTo Cleansing Facial Towelettes are amazing when you’ve been stuck in the car or airplane for hours. Or when it’s the middle of the summer and you’re feeling kind of sticky. They come in a variety of scents, as well as unscented and will have you feeling refreshed in no time. Plus, they’re 99% natural!
Another thing we always keep in our bags? Bobbi pins. But these bobbi pins are way better. ban.do has created a line of really fun, and sometimes sparkly, hair accessories that make pinning your hair back to deal with kids, pets and work way more pleasant. I swear just using one of these to pin bangs back makes me feel super cute all day. 
Discovered in the tiny travel thingys section of Target, this Method hand sanitizer is a life saver and germ killer. Plus, it doesn’t smell like rubbing alcohol and the packaging is super colorful.
A hardcover pocket-size notebook. You know, for those colorful pens we just talked about. Or doodling and coloring. Keep this paired with colorful pens in your purse and try to focus on it instead of your smartphone whenever you have a few minutes to wait somewhere. I’ve been known to kill time by doodling silly messages for my friends, then taking out the phone to snap a picture and send along. It will brighten their day more than a hundred emojis.  
—By Alaina Buzas, Contributor
(This post was in no way sponsored by any of the above brands. We just love them a lot.)

8 Must-Have Essentials for a Playful Mom’s Purse

Okay, we all love coloring now, right? But keeping crayons in your purse is an absolute ‘no’ as we’ve learned time and time again. For this list, we’re forgetting the kid stuff and sharing eight items you can stick in your purse that will bring a little more play and spark to your day… even if you’re mid-carpool on a 90 degree day with no AC. Seriously. 

  1. First, you’ve got to have a good pouch to keep all your stuff in. LeSportSac is a go-to fave for a mess-proof pouch that will fit in your purse.  Shown is an oldie, but we recommend the LeSportSac 3-zip cosmetic now. It comes in a ton of awesome patterns, too.
  2. Fresh breath can feel like a serious breath of fresh air sometimes. Grab a pack of Project 7 gum from the grocery store line and do a little good while you chew. They give back to a variety of charities for each pack purchased. (Plus the packs are resealable and taste amazing.)
  3. Should you always have a good pen on hand to sign important documents with? Of course. But you should also have a few awesome colorful pens to make note taking and making more fun. Stabilo pens are a great way to go—they don’t bleed through paper and come in an insane amount of colors. You’ll be refusing to share with the kids after one stroke of ink.
  4. YesTo Cleansing Facial Towelettes are amazing when you’ve been stuck in the car or airplane for hours. Or when it’s the middle of the summer and you’re feeling kind of sticky. They come in a variety of scents, as well as unscented and will have you feeling refreshed in no time. Plus, they’re 99% natural!
  5. Another thing we always keep in our bags? Bobbi pins. But these bobbi pins are way better. ban.do has created a line of really fun, and sometimes sparkly, hair accessories that make pinning your hair back to deal with kids, pets and work way more pleasant. I swear just using one of these to pin bangs back makes me feel super cute all day. 
  6. Discovered in the tiny travel thingys section of Target, this Method hand sanitizer is a life saver and germ killer. Plus, it doesn’t smell like rubbing alcohol and the packaging is super colorful.
  7. A hardcover pocket-size notebook. You know, for those colorful pens we just talked about. Or doodling and coloring. Keep this paired with colorful pens in your purse and try to focus on it instead of your smartphone whenever you have a few minutes to wait somewhere. I’ve been known to kill time by doodling silly messages for my friends, then taking out the phone to snap a picture and send along. It will brighten their day more than a hundred emojis.  

By Alaina Buzas, Contributor

(This post was in no way sponsored by any of the above brands. We just love them a lot.)

5 Quick Confidence Reads for Moms 
Let’s face it, the internet is glorious but not without its downfalls. Seeing “super hero moms” do it all can bring a lot of pressure to our every day lives. And it can get kind of exhausting. 
We found five great blog posts (three from moms) that remind us to chill out. That no mom is perfect. Over the next week, we challenge you to try reading one of these with your morning coffee (they’re all really short) and think about it throughout the day. Talk about it with your friends. In person. Have some real-life mom-couragement… then go play with your kids. 
Let’s All Have Less Mom Guilt, Shall We? 
Women & Circles
Single-tasking is the new multitasking
Real is Better Than Perfect
Turning Jealousy Into Motivation
Know of another great read playful moms would love? Share it with Meredith on Twitter or Facebook!
—By Alaina Buzas, Contributor

5 Quick Confidence Reads for Moms 

Let’s face it, the internet is glorious but not without its downfalls. Seeing “super hero moms” do it all can bring a lot of pressure to our every day lives. And it can get kind of exhausting. 

We found five great blog posts (three from moms) that remind us to chill out. That no mom is perfect. Over the next week, we challenge you to try reading one of these with your morning coffee (they’re all really short) and think about it throughout the day. Talk about it with your friends. In person. Have some real-life mom-couragement… then go play with your kids

  1. Let’s All Have Less Mom Guilt, Shall We? 
  2. Women & Circles
  3. Single-tasking is the new multitasking
  4. Real is Better Than Perfect
  5. Turning Jealousy Into Motivation

Know of another great read playful moms would love? Share it with Meredith on Twitter or Facebook!

—By Alaina Buzas, Contributor

PLAY of the DAY: custom wood-burned signs! A DIY project your bigger boys won’t be able to resist.

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Here at our unplugged cottage in the woods, I’m forever trying to conjure up ways to engage my not-so-little boys.  Especially on gray days like today. When it’s beautiful outside, there’s a million things to keep em’ busy and having a blast, but we’ve had our share of Octoberish weather this summer and it’s all too easy for them to resort to Clash of Clans on their phones.  Which makes me slightly nutty.

So at a visit to a local craft/hobby store, I spied this “wood burning” tool along side a batch of tree slices, turned into woodsy-cool plaques. So I bought it all.  Because burning your name or any other fun something into wood with a hot tool has tween-teen boy heaven written all over it, no? Plus I wanted to play with it too.

 For under 20 bucks I got the tool (that’s basically like an old-fashioned ink pen that gets SUPER hot when plugged in), and several sizes of those  tree-slice thingys.  And we got to work.  

First, we all took turns burning letters into a sign for our screened-in porch, we call “The Lodge”.

image

Now, it should be noted that this activity is for older kiddos, I’d say 10 and up. Girls would completely dig this activity too, I just happen to have dudes. 

My son Truman was 11 the first time he used the hot carving tool, and I was right there supervising.  Maxwell was 15 and all on his own.

It takes a bit of practice to learn how the tools works, how to best write with it, and how long to hold the tool down on the wood for best results. But it’s great fun figuring it all out.

This is what I made:

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Romantic, huh?

So, next time you want to be a total rock-star mom to your older kids…especially those way-to-cool-to-craft, boys, give this little activity a try.  

Just don’t call it an “activity”.  Go with “dangerous wood-carving experiment”.

Done and done.

5 Best Coloring Books for Moms
Yes, coloring books for grown-ups. According to a few recent studies, and internet chatter, coloring can be a great stress reliever for adults. The publishing world has definitely taken notice, filling shelves with coloring books aimed at an older demographic. And we’re not really complaining because coloring is pretty fun. 
How many times do you join the kids at the table and pick up a crayon to color along with them? And not only is coloring calming, it can be a great way to get your kids talking. Sitting down with them and sharing a box of crayons opens a great opportunity for discussion. I’ve always found kids can say some pretty insightful things with a crayon in hand. 
But we don’t blame you if you want something a little more challenging than the pages your kids are filling. There are so many options online for grown-up coloring books (some even a bit PG-13 rated), so to help narrow it down for you, we’ve rounded up five of our favorite ways to color as an adult. 
Colour Me Good: Ryan Gosling — Reminds us of the Ken pages in our old Barbie coloring books. Also, a great excuse to stare at Ryan Gosling for about 30 minutes. 
Secret Garden by Johanna Basford — This book is just beautiful. It’s one you can keep on the coffee table and grab while watching TV, or invite a friend over and have a boozy coloring party. The pages are definitely frame-worthy. 
Pixel Pictures: Bold Patterns — This whole post is actually because of this book. I bought the Retro Robots version on a whim yesterday and filled four pages while catching up on Cutthroat Kitchen. Something about filling the tiny boxes was strangely satisfying. 
Colored Pencil Postcards — This box is a bit different but it will definitely help you keep up your correspondence. The box includes a booklet on color theory and colored pencils as well.
Color Your Own Monet Paintings — The classiest coloring book we’ve ever seen. Dover has a whole series dedicated to famous artists if Monet isn’t really your guy. 
Do you often color with your kids, or do art projects on your own? Have you found it to be a stress reliever? Let us know at Facebook.com/MeredithPlays or tag your colored pages on Instagram with @MeredithPlays.
— By Alaina Buzas, Contributor

5 Best Coloring Books for Moms

Yes, coloring books for grown-ups. According to a few recent studies, and internet chatter, coloring can be a great stress reliever for adults. The publishing world has definitely taken notice, filling shelves with coloring books aimed at an older demographic. And we’re not really complaining because coloring is pretty fun. 

How many times do you join the kids at the table and pick up a crayon to color along with them? And not only is coloring calming, it can be a great way to get your kids talking. Sitting down with them and sharing a box of crayons opens a great opportunity for discussion. I’ve always found kids can say some pretty insightful things with a crayon in hand. 

But we don’t blame you if you want something a little more challenging than the pages your kids are filling. There are so many options online for grown-up coloring books (some even a bit PG-13 rated), so to help narrow it down for you, we’ve rounded up five of our favorite ways to color as an adult. 

  1. Colour Me Good: Ryan Gosling — Reminds us of the Ken pages in our old Barbie coloring books. Also, a great excuse to stare at Ryan Gosling for about 30 minutes. 
  2. Secret Garden by Johanna Basford — This book is just beautiful. It’s one you can keep on the coffee table and grab while watching TV, or invite a friend over and have a boozy coloring party. The pages are definitely frame-worthy. 
  3. Pixel Pictures: Bold Patterns — This whole post is actually because of this book. I bought the Retro Robots version on a whim yesterday and filled four pages while catching up on Cutthroat Kitchen. Something about filling the tiny boxes was strangely satisfying. 
  4. Colored Pencil Postcards — This box is a bit different but it will definitely help you keep up your correspondence. The box includes a booklet on color theory and colored pencils as well.
  5. Color Your Own Monet PaintingsThe classiest coloring book we’ve ever seen. Dover has a whole series dedicated to famous artists if Monet isn’t really your guy. 

Do you often color with your kids, or do art projects on your own? Have you found it to be a stress reliever? Let us know at Facebook.com/MeredithPlays or tag your colored pages on Instagram with @MeredithPlays.

— By Alaina Buzas, Contributor

6 Bags to Help You Schlep Your (Kids’) Stuff Through the Rest of Summer
Summer is about halfway over and it seems like the peak of beautiful days filled with park visits and playdates. And stuff. A lot of stuff. Sunscreen, a change of clothes, snacks, lots of water bottles, flip flops, sunglasses, toys, swim suits, towels… the list seems infinite. 
Bring a lot of sass and color to all that stuff with one of these cute summer tote bags. They’re colorful, cheerful, and will have a few jokes for mom packed-in, too. 
Emotional Baggage, from The School of Life
Thank God It’s Friday, from Etsy
Book *Wine Bag, from Etsy
Hooray Tote, from Ban.do
Blocked Tote, from Zappos
Standard Baggu in Cat, from Baggu
Have a go-to tote you carry around during the summer? Share it on the Meredith Plays Facebook page or Tweet it at @MeredithPlays.
—By Alaina Buzas, Contributor

6 Bags to Help You Schlep Your (Kids’) Stuff Through the Rest of Summer

Summer is about halfway over and it seems like the peak of beautiful days filled with park visits and playdates. And stuff. A lot of stuff. Sunscreen, a change of clothes, snacks, lots of water bottles, flip flops, sunglasses, toys, swim suits, towels… the list seems infinite. 

Bring a lot of sass and color to all that stuff with one of these cute summer tote bags. They’re colorful, cheerful, and will have a few jokes for mom packed-in, too. 

  1. Emotional Baggage, from The School of Life
  2. Thank God It’s Friday, from Etsy
  3. Book *Wine Bag, from Etsy
  4. Hooray Tote, from Ban.do
  5. Blocked Tote, from Zappos
  6. Standard Baggu in Cat, from Baggu

Have a go-to tote you carry around during the summer? Share it on the Meredith Plays Facebook page or Tweet it at @MeredithPlays.

—By Alaina Buzas, Contributor