Back to School Etiquette

I hope everyone’s week is going well. I had the pleasure of guest posting on one of my favorite blogs this week – Not My Circus – written by my friend, Hannah Hairston. Not My Circus  is a beautifully written and designed lifestyle journal that celebrates modern motherhood, personal style, and a healthy lifestyle, and Hannah is a mom to two precious little girls. With four darling kiddos between us and school around the corner, it was only fitting that I share my tips on back to school etiquette (it’s never too early to teach our children about great manners!), and so I hope you’ll visit her blog and take a read. I’ve also posted some of the tips below, and as always, email me at if you have any etiquette questions.

Our little boy is starting preschool in a couple of weeks, and preparing for his first day and the coming school year has opened my eyes to an entirely new world. His seersucker backpack is monogrammed, first day of school outfit selected, new shoes purchased, and I even had precious little blue dump truck labels made for his water bottle and lunchbox. He’s ready to go!

Preparing for school is more than just monogramming a backpack, coordinating calendars and packing lunches though. It’s making sure our children can shine as their best selves, and helping them to have a great first day, and in turn, a great year. We can help them to shine like the little stars that they are by giving them a foundation for good manners, and that starts at home. So parents, sharpen those pencils as I share my top tips on back to school etiquette. Wishing everyone a fantastic school year!

Punctuality: Talk to your children about what time school starts (and ends) the importance of being on time. Explain that if they are late, the whole family will likely feel stressed and flustered, and it will disrupt the class. Make sure and wake them up in the morning (or if they are old enough, show them how to set their alarm clock) at least an hour before school so they have plenty of time to eat breakfast, get dressed, etc., and try to stick to a consistent morning routine. That way, they will know what to expect and it will make it easier on both of you.

Magic Words: Please & Thank You: Whether 2 or 12 years old, it’s oh so important to always say please and thank you. These powerful words show gratitude and respect and are the ABC’s of good manners.

Looking your best: Clean clothes, brushed hair, brushed teeth, clean face – kids need to look their best so they can feel their best and be confident. Talk to your children about making a great first impression with their teacher and classmates on the first day, and how that begins with taking pride in one’s appearance.

Be prepared: If you have younger children, this applies more to you, Mom and Dad. Make sure and read all of the letters and emails from your child’s school so you can send them with whatever it is that they need, be it chocolate chip cookies for the bake sale or a costume for dress-up day. Also, be sure to communicate any allergies or other need-to-know info with your child’s teacher and school.

Respect the teacher: You will likely have an opportunity to “meet the teacher” before school starts, and so be sure to remind your child of their teacher’s name and how to properly address them – Miss, Mrs., Mr. X. Also, remind them that the teacher is in charge, and the importance of listening to them and following directions, as well as talking to them if there is a problem.

Respect classmates: Just as we encourage children to respect their siblings and friends, they need to also respect their classmates. This means striving to always be kind, friendly, empathetic and inclusive. Additionally, its paramount that we help our children have compassion for children who might be different from them, and teach them how to embrace their classmates and their differences.

Playground behavior: Playgrounds are a time for children to run around, have fun and get all those wiggles out! That said, it is not ok to push, pull hair, name call, cut in line, etc. Instead, encourage your child to take turns, share toys, make new friends, and follow the school’s safety rules. This goes for sportsmanship too – help your children learn how to celebrate wins, and accept losses and above all maintain a positive attitude.

Classroom behavior: When inside the classroom, children need to use their inside voices and listen to the teacher. If they are standing up in their chair or interrupting the teacher while she’s reading a story, it will disrupt the class and make it hard for the other children to enjoy school.

Wellness: Again, mom and dad this one’s for you. If your child is sick, please keep them home and be considerate of the other children in the class who don’t want to fall ill.

Wallpaper Love Affair

I’ve always liked wallpaper and its ability to transform a room, however the love affair has never gone beyond mere appreciation of this design element. That is, until recently. A little wallpaper bug must have bit me, as I have been daydreaming of wallpaper patterns 24/7 and visions of wallpaper for the boy’s rooms and our guest room dance in my head! Quadrille, Katie Ridder, Scalamandré, I could go on and on! I do still favor a home of mostly clean white walls accented with beautiful art, however small doses of wallpaper – grasscloth in a powder bath, baby blue stripe in a nursery, a feature wall in a guest room – bring spaces to life by adding unexpected color and character. I think you have to be careful with wallpaper, as too much of it can be overwhelming, and it’s so important to choose the right print for the right space. And so, here are a few of my favorites, and I hope these give you some inspiration. Enjoy!

Healthy Bolognase

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! We had a busy one, filled with a beautiful birthday party on Saturday morning at a nearby park (C was in heaven with his slice of birthday cake, hamburger, ice cream cone, and splash – soak! – in a nearby fountain), and then Saturday afternoon the hubby and I packed our bags and headed out for a little staycation. As our first night away from our darling boys, we missed them dearly however it was such a treat to have some time just the two of us, feel pampered and stay in one of our favorite hotels. And to sleep in past 7am – oh my goodness, we forgot what that felt like! Did I also mention the incredible meals? Dinner included maple and black peppercorn crusted buffalo tenderloin with creamy jalapeño cheddar grits, wilted greens and a butternut squash tamale – yum, yum, yum!

Back to the boys – I knew C especially would be missing us around dinnertime, and so we thought making his favorite dish would help. We surprised him with spaghetti Bolognese, and the child couldn’t have been happier. I consumed copious amounts of this comforting and classic Italian dish during my two pregnancies, and so perhaps that’s why the boys adore it so. They both had seconds on Saturday night, and C even ate the remainder for lunch on Sunday.

I’m planning on making it again this week for dinner, however I’m going to tweak the sauce slightly. While the traditional version calls for milk or cream to be added to the sauce, this recipe that I’m sharing today replaces the dairy with pine nuts making it a bit healthier. Plus, it’s filled with carrots and celery, so its perfect for those kiddos who shy away from veggies. Given that I try to steer clear of dairy, this recipe is a great alternative and one that I can eat, guilt-free. Paired with a crisp green salad and crusty baguette, it’s the perfect meal, and I hope you will give it a try too!


Healthy Bolognese Sauce 

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

4 carrots, chopped

1 can of crushed  tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup pine nuts

1 tablespoon oregano

1 pound cooked ground beef 


Pour the oil into a dutch oven over medium heat, and add the onions, celery and carrots. Sauté the vegetables until they are soft, and the onion is translucent. Add the apple cider vinegar and tomatoes. Cook the sauce for 10-15 minutes (stir constantly). Next, add the salt and fennel seeds, and stir the sauce until well combined. Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor, add the pine nuts, and blend until smooth. Transfer the sauce back to the dutch oven, and add the oregano and cooked ground beef. Warm the sauce over low heat, and serve with your favorite pasta.