It's in the {Daycare} Bag

{Penelope was not impressed by first day of 'school' photos}

Yesterday was Penelope's first day back to daycare. If you follow me on Instagram, then you're probably tired of hearing about it, but it's what's occupying my life as of late. It's only the beginning, but it's a tough transition for Penelope. At 18 months, she is old enough to know what she does and doesn't want to do. Right now, going to daycare is on the doesn't want to do list. But we'll get there, I'm sure of it.

Over the last couple of weeks, I spent some time prepping for her return, which I thought would be perfect timing for those of you just sending your kids to daycare or preparing for back to school days. Today I'm sharing what's in her bag daily and monthly, plus how I'm packing her lunch each day. So hold on to your hats, this is going to be a long one.

Each month, it's requested that we bring a roll of paper towels, a box of tissues, a sleeve of diapers and wipes. I label each with her name. For the throwaway wrap, I just used a Sharpie and for the longer term usage stuff (like the wipes container, which I will plan to just refill as requested), I used these cute name labels from Stuck on You.

I'm still testing them out for durability, but they couldn't be simpler to use or more adorable.

On a daily basis, I send her food for the day, 1 wipeable bib, 1 bottle, 1 sippy cup and a pacifier. On an as-needed basis, I send a clean swaddle blanket for naptime and an extra change of clothes (though I don't send this every day...only when she has worn through an outfit and they need a replacement. Otherwise, the extra outfit stays at her daycare center in her own cubby). I took these photos over the weekend, before her new daycare bag had arrived:

I ordered this sweet everyday lightweight tote bag (medium size) from LL Bean. To be honest, I'm not in love with her Skip Hop diaper bag (pictured above) for daycare. It doesn't hold everything comfortably and the top is a magnetic closure so it doesn't always stay closed if the bag is extra full. It's great for a quick trip out, but not for daycare bag purposes. This tote is small (smaller than it looks in this photo), washable, personalized and pretty.

In the food department, her daycare center actually provides breakfast, lunch and snacks, but I don't feel totally ok with all of the options and so I plan to still send her food most days. I know that she will want what the other kids have and I'm fine with that. I'm not going to be the mom who doesn't let her kid have the Oreos while all of the other kids have them, and my baby is left out. Especially since a life without Oreos is no life at all, youknowwhati'msayin'?

So with that in mind, I purchased this cute bento box (as part of a bigger set) for her and filled it with all kinds of her favorite things.

In this bento box, I included:

1/2 C Horizon mac 'n cheese, to which I added mixed vegetables

1/2 C vanilla yogurt


green seedless grapes

cherry tomatoes

fork & spoon set

The box came with the two containers on the right side and for the tomatoes, grapes and blueberries, I just used silicon baking cups that I had on hand and can go right in the dishwasher with everything else at day's end. I put the name labels on everything. We will see how it all holds up in the dishwasher after a few days/weeks.

While Penelope is a good and cautious eater, I did end up cutting up the tomatoes and grapes. I usually let her eat them as is at home, but I'm not sure I'm ready to let her do that without my close watch. Smaller pieces it is, for now at least. 

We walk to daycare, and so I drop her off and pack up her stroller and store it in the coat closet at the center. All strollers are welcome, which makes it perfect for Shaun to pick her up in the evenings. If we had to cart the stroller back and forth after drop off and before pick up...well I'm not really sure how we'd manage that!

So that's what I did to prep for daycare. I imagine that back to school prep is about the same! I'd love to hear your stories and ideas. I'm always looking for simplified, creative ways to pack up her stuff with a little love thrown in :) And I'll keep you posted on some toddler bento box ideas as we move through these coming weeks and months! Meanwhile, please share your tips and stories!

Happy back to school days!