When it comes to preparing for a new school year, a little chaos is inevitable. But what if we told you this back-to-school season doesn't have to feel overwhelming? In fact, it can actually be fun for the entire family. It's not a too-good-to-be-true declaration either, at least not for the Tillerys.
Meet Nicole and LaTroy Tillery, parents to 6-year-old twins Moriah and Josiah. Nicole and LaTroy are influencers and content creators, and Moriah and Josiah are entering kindergarten this fall. While the family of four are intent on having a smooth, successful school year, they're also prioritizing having a good time and keeping prep as stress-free as possible.
Some of Nicole and LaTroy's best advice? Let your kids fully participate in the process. Moriah and Josiah, for example, have a voice in everything from arranging their closets and deciding their outfits while shopping at H&M, to picking the colors of their school supplies and choosing lunch options they're excited about."When our children take on back-to-school prep as their season, it becomes more fun," Nicole tells POPSUGAR. "Sometimes as parents, we think the preparation is all about what we need to get done, but involving our children makes it exciting and keeps them focused on what is positive about this season."
Making Back-to-School Fun
Although this will be the twins' first year in school, after attending a three-week kindergarten camp earlier this summer, both Moriah and Josiah can't wait to start school for real. To keep that excitement and momentum going, Nicole and LaTroy are maintaining an open dialogue with them.
For example, Nicole and LaTroy made the twins a countdown calendar to provide a visual of how close they're getting to the first day of school. "It's fun for all of us, but having a countdown calendar is an especially great way to get the younger children ready and excited," LaTroy says. "It's easy for us parents to get so busy until — boom — school starts next week, and there hasn't been much conversation or activities to prepare them and calm any anxious feelings."
Nicole and LaTroy are also engaging the kids in creative ways, like having them put on school fashion shows — one before back-to-school shopping and one after. "It's both fun and smart," Nicole says. "The first one shows what you already have at home, what still fits, and what they still like. Then, we'll build on those pieces while we're shopping." The post-school-shopping show will help both parents and kids style their pieces, giving them ideas for how they can create looks on their own.
When kids get a say in how they present themselves with clothes and school supplies, it helps them feel confident and empowered. "Moriah and Josiah get excited about the items they pick out," Nicole says. "It makes using those things, packing them, and wearing them that much more enticing."
Other activities Nicole and LaTroy incorporate into the season are shopping one on one with each child and then stopping for their favorite ice cream, laying out first-day outfits while singing and dancing to their favorite songs, and creating lunch options together while they taste-test new, healthy snacks.
Above all, though, the Tillerys say that making this time of year enjoyable is all about a positive mindset and thinking of the back-to-school season as a memory-making one. "Our children will feed off of our energy," LaTroy says. "It can definitely be a hectic and even stressful time for us parents — but do your best to make it fun and inclusive. Share how excited you are for them, and express that you can't wait to experience this with them. Most importantly, choose calmness in your energy, excitement in your tone, and encouragement in your words."
Making Back-to-School Stress-Free
For the Tillerys, smart shopping is one of the keys to ensuring a smooth school year — especially when it comes to clothing and accessories. For all of their outfit needs, Nicole and LaTroy rely on H&M. "Our kids shine when their outfits are a reflection of them," Nicole says. "We teach them to always show up as their very best selves, and when they get to give their input into how they dress for school, they're in a better mindset to take on the day."
The Tillerys love that shopping at H&M is a one-stop-shop experience, which definitely takes some of the stress out of the season. The clothes are affordable and trendy, and there's always something for everyone — including Nicole and LaTroy. Not only that, but as a busy family, they also appreciate the versatility the brand offers.
"Involving our children makes it exciting and keeps them focused on what is positive about this season.”
"One of our favorite items to shop for at H&M, for both Josiah and Moriah, are the matching sets," Nicole says. "It makes shopping so easy, and they can wear them together or with other pieces to make more looks." Every year, they also stock up on plenty of jackets for a quick way to switch up any outfit — and as a defense against chilly classrooms.
A solid wardrobe is just one piece of the puzzle, though. Meaningful conversation is another necessary tool for a successful school year. Nicole and LaTroy ask their kids what they're looking forward to and what they're unsure about. From there, the parents share what they're excited about for them.
"They may not realize the benefits of going to school, so we like to point them out," Nicole says. "We tell them they'll make new friends who they can invite over for play dates or to their birthday parties. We say they'll get to play outside every day and participate in their favorite activities, such as art."
The Tillerys also recommend communicating expectations with your children. Nicole and LaTroy, for example, have allowed Moriah and Josiah to eat out of their lunch boxes at home. They even set a timer to give them an understanding of what eating lunch at school will be like.
Ultimately, the experience is what you make it. The Tillerys are careful to use exciting language around the twins so that their perception of the back-to-school season, activities, and tasks feel just like that — exciting. "There is a lot to do, but it truly can be fun and stress-free — if we are committed to making it that way," Nicole says.
Credits: Photographer & Talent: The Tillerys