It’s that time of year again, and while parents out there may be rejoicing in the fact that the kids are going back to school, there are also things about this time of year that can be tough, including just getting ourselves back into a simple routine, juggling multiple schedules and keeping the whole family well fed and healthy. Our Philly editor shares her favorite services and products that have been keeping her sane this time of year. Plus, enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post for a chance to win everything on this “must haves” list!

I don’t know about you, but as my kids get older, our schedules get more and more complicated and I am chronically disorganized. My husband and I constantly share calendar invites for appointments, work events, kid classes, rehearsals and performances, and somehow I’m still not keeping track of everything. So, I tried this handy new app, Simpliday and I am totally hooked. First, it’s visually beautiful and intuitive to use. Plus, with a Premium account ($2.99/month), you can use your own photo for wallpaper (that beautiful sunset pic you took at the beach in July is going to be lovely to look at during what will inevitably feel like an endless winter, amiright?). You can connect your email to the app and turn email messages like, “Yes, let’s chat at 10:30 on Wednesday!” into an event on your calendar in one easy step. You can also sync reminders and set alarms seamlessly. I really like this app and if it helps me be even moderately more organized, I am in. (Enter the giveaway below and get Simpliday Premium for an entire year; $30 value)

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 8.27.30 AMHome Chef
Now that the weekday grind is beginning and our fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants summer days are over, it’s really time to get back into a supper routine for the family. As our evenings fill up with extra-curricular activities, homework and evening meetings, it becomes more and more difficult to prepare a healthy, yummy meal and get the whole family around the table. We’ve firmly believe in the power of the family meal around here, but let’s face it. It can be really tough to execute, especially during the school year. That’s why I decided to try one of the newer meal delivery services on the market, Home Chef. This service is my favorite so far (and I’ve tried a few over the years). First, you can view every meal recipe in advance so you can make sure it’s right for you. Then, when the meals arrive, each recipe has it’s own handy recipe card and Home Chef binder, so you can keep everything organized and continue to make your favorite recipes again and again, whether you order the full meal delivery service regularly or not. The meals I made were simple, straightforward and on the table in about 30 minutes. Add-on options are available as well, including breakfast, smoothies and seasonal fruit baskets. This service, even if you use it only occasionally during a particularly crazy week, will make the whole family happy. (Enter the giveaway below and get four free Home Chef meals delivered right to your door; $80 value)

dry-shampoo-lightACURE Organics Dry Shampoo
Ahhhh, dry shampoo…! Every mother’s dream. Or is that just me? But, let’s face it: some mornings you absolutely do not have the time or energy to hit the shower before the school day chaos begins. I’ve nearly resigned myself to Saturday and Sunday shampoos only. And, frankly, dry shampoo is always a greener option if you’re into water conservation. Plus, with ACURE Organics, you know you’re getting a USDA Certified organic product that’s cruelty, sulfate and paraben free. What more could you ask for (aside from a 20 minute shower on a Tuesday morning)? (Enter the giveaway below for two bottles of dry shampoo; $20 value)

image2Beautycounter‘s Charcoal Cleansing Bar and Purifying Mask
Here’s the thing: Moms are chronically putting themselves last, myself included. I saw a meme recently about moms spending days agonizing about a $20 item for themselves, but regularly throwing down $100 on things for their kiddos. Methinks we need to do a little soul searching and prioritize ourselves more often, ladies! To that end, I had to include a “mom’s only” pick as an homage to all those mamas out there (i.e., nearly all of us) who have a hard time putting ourselves first. Charcoal is all the rage as an amazing, purifying, soothing and smoothing option in skin care, but I hadn’t jumped on the band wagon until recently (Allure was talking charcoal back in 2013). And I. Am. In. I’m also picky about ingredients in my skin care products, and that’s where Beautycounter comes in. Their charcoal mask and charcoal cleansing bar are dreamy AND sulfate, artificial dye, paragon and fragrance-free. As a 40 year old lady whose skin still trends toward breakouts and rosacea, these products speak to me. After using the mask (and the cleansing bar to prep my tired mama face first), my skin feels more supple and less dry, even after a crappy night’s sleep thanks to my night-wandering four year old. (Enter the giveaway below and get the charcoal cleansing bar; $24 value)

Enter here to win all these fabulous items!

Disclaimer: While I received free samples of a couple of the products included in this round up, this is an honest, unbiased list of my top back to school favorites.



Mollie Michel is a South Philly resident and a Philadelphia public school parent. A recovering non-profit professional, Mollie is also an experienced birth doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, and the mom of two awesome girls and a sweet pit bull named Princess Cleopatra. In her spare time, she is usually trying to figure out how Pinterest works, training for a(nother) half-marathon with her dog at her side, or simply trying to keep up with her increasingly wily daughters.