Summer's not officially over, but it sure feels like it since most kids have gone back to school. Camila Alves has always been one of our go-to experts for navigating the first few months of a new school year. She wears many hats: wife, mom to three kids under the age of 8, model/lifestyle personality and most recently organic baby food maker. This year, she spent much of August covering the Olympics in her native Brazil and still managed to pull it together in time for the new school year. Even if you've already crossed shopping off your back to school list, she shared these ideas with us on finding great gear, packing killer lunches and keeping your kids organized and motivated all year long.
1. How do you help your kids get and stay organized for the school year? Do you have any tips or tricks that have worked for you and your family? I always worry that I'm going to forget something on the school supplies list. I love how Target's School List Assist helps me stay organized and makes sure I have everything my kids need. When your kids see you preparing for the school year and staying organized, it helps them stay organized too. I recommend ordering all the items on the school list online but making a special trip to the store for backpacks and lunch boxes. Those are easy to shop for and fun to pick out in person. It'll be a much quicker trip that way.
2. Your kids are still young, but how do you motivate them for school? Are there any fun traditions or rewards in your household? We don't use star charts in the house. I try to teach my kids that doing well is what they should always aim for, and when they keep doing well for a good amount of time, I reward them with a fun family activity or adventure. I use a lot of interactive play to encourage them to stay engaged in learning. Use what you know they already love to motivate them. For example, when my son was learning to read, he was into detective stuff. I set up sidewalk chalk drawings in different places outside of the house and included vowels and sight words that would lead him to the next drawing. I would repeat the exercise after lightly erasing the drawing, and we would go outside at night with a flashlight to do it again.
3. What are your tips for back to school shopping? Did you stock up on anything in particular this year? Was there anything that stood out as a must-have for you or the kids? I suggest getting kids involved in shopping so they're excited to hear it's back to school time. My kids and I love the Embark Jartop Backpacks and Embark Crushproof Lunch Boxes from Target. We enjoy picking out matching backpacks and lunch boxes, plus they come in lots of fun patterns and colors. My kids also love to express their individuality, so I'm a big fan of the new line of Bethany Mota DIY supplies that let kids personalize all their notebooks and other items. I also love the new Cat & Jack line, which has great options for my kids' uniforms. The collection was designed with input from real kids and features wardrobe staples and on-trend pieces that are perfect for school pictures, the playground and everything in between.
4. Let's talk school lunches, which I'm sure you're thinking about more than ever with the recent launch of Yummy Spoonfuls. How do you strike a balance between packing healthier items and things they'll actually get excited about eating? How do you get creative with lunches? I take my kids' school meals very seriously because I know it will affect their performance throughout the day. I set a menu for the week on Sunday or Monday, and I try to pack full meals with a variety of healthy foods. Writing down the menu also helps me visualize the variety to make sure I am not feeding them the same veggies or fruits over and over again. I love incorporating the flash-frozen Yummy Spoonfuls pouches that I created with my partner, Agatha Achindu. They're a perfect addition to my kids' school lunches, and I don't feel guilty including them because they're made with fresh, certified-organic whole ingredients. My kids love the mango and avocado flavor and the pinto beans, brown rice and turkey recipe.
5. Do you have any ideas for establishing a solid back to school routine before the kids go back? My kids go to bed early so they're rested for their first day. I actually begin the early bedtime routine the week before school starts so their bodies can get used to it. Set up their school clothes the night before in their bedroom outside of the closet so there's no back-and-forth and discussion in the morning. Have them put their supplies inside their backpack the night before too.
6. Once the kids are successfully back in school, what's your go-to activity for a little bit of "mommy time"/ guilty pleasure? I wish I had time to have one, but with my Yummy Spoonfuls business, that's my time to put my head down and work. If I did have time, I think rock climbing would be a guilty pleasure.