Starter Mom: Back to School Spruce Up

by Nicole Loughan

kids cuts

It’s being spoken of on every playground throughout the land–the kids are about to go back to school. Wahoo. Most moms are beaming with delight; some newer moms like me are biting their fingernails and hoping that all of the proper forms are in. Don’t get me wrong, my excitement outweighs my anxiety by a ratio of two to one. I, like the other moms, am getting prepared for school by loading up backpacks with shiny new school supplies and grabbing new clothes at outrageous back to school discounts, which have been running since mid-May. My kids are still a little too young for the big show, elementary school. They will be starting pre-school, and I am already wondering how I am going to spend those four hours a week I am going to have all to myself. I have already scoped out a seat at Starbucks dreaming of that day when I will sit and have a warm, fresh cup of coffee uninterrupted while I read a book. Until then it’s time to get the kids in order–we have wild hair, shabby nails and potatoes in the ears. Read on to see how we spruce up for school on the cheap.

Nail polish – Painting your daughter’s (or son’s if he’s into that sort of thing) nails can be a great bonding activity. My daughter and I do it at least once a week while my son is taking a nap. We like to go to the store and pick out colors together, and by colors I mean I pick a color and she picks the one with the most sparkles. We tend to use cheaper brands like Wet and Wild or Sally Hansen, but for those with sensitive skin or allergies, there are brands of polish that are less harsh on little hands. One of the most common non-toxic paints on the market is Piggy Paint. It is available for around $3 per bottle and can be found at many kids’ stores. To find Piggy Paint in your area, go to and do a search for a store near you. Additionally, the chemicals in acetone nail polish remover can be hard on little kids fingers and growing nail beds. Most stores offer non-acetone removers. They take longer but the chemicals and the fumes are generally not as strong.

Haircuts – I only trust myself with touchup cuts between salon visits. But a touch up can save a few bucks and get an extra month or two out of a haircut. Minus one time I went a little too far with the bangs, but we will get to that.

First, wash your child’s hair, towel dry and brush through with a fine tooth comb to get out any tangles. Then when all the hair is straight and even around the head, I take two inch sections between my fingers and cut approximately an inch off the bottom all the way around. Remember, this is a touch up so I am not going gangbusters and taking off several inches. If you want to do a full on cut, please find more detailed instructions or do what I do and go to a child friendly salon. After the cut you want to brush each of the sections a few times comparing them against each other making sure they look even to the naked eye. Let the hair dry naturally then look again for any areas that are uneven. Big tip, hair will be shorter when it is dry, shorter than you think. I cut my daughter’s hair for a wedding and she ended up with one inch bangs. We invested heavily in headbands for over a month. If you are cutting an inch everywhere else, you only want to do about a quarter or an inch on the bangs or even cut the bangs dry.

Locally, for kids haircuts, there’s Fantastic Sams (26500 Agoura Rd, Calabasas), Salon Nuuvo (26777 Agoura Rd. Calabasas), Bambino’s (5148 Kanan Rd, Agoura Hills), Supercuts (5776 Lindero Canyon Rd, Westlake Village)

Clipper tips – My son gets nervous around the clippers and used to dodge them. Then my favorite stylist, my mom, eased his fear by letting him hold the clippers and turn them on himself. Now whenever I take him to the salon for clipper cuts, I ask that they let him hold the clippers first and turn them on and we have not had any more trouble.

Ear cleaning – Did you know they don’t even list ear cleaning as a use for Q-Tips? Back in my day my, mother used a bobby pin to get wax out. Disclaimer: never ever do this. It was the 80s. My doctor even told me to just leave wax alone, it works itself out, but I feel so gross leaving it. My mother used to warn me that if left untreated, dirty ears could grow potatoes. So what’s a mom to do?  I asked around. My pediatrician and the docs at say if you must clean an ear, and you don’t really have to, just rinse the ear with a little warm water then gently rub the area with a cloth. This does not get in the canal, but I found it does clean the exterior area enough that I can be relatively certain that we aren’t going to have any potatoes growing in there. If you are noticing an excessive build up of wax please talk to a healthcare professional.

How do you get the kids ready for back to school? Sound off in the comments!

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