Five Tips for A Great Back-To-School Season #ad

It’s back-to-school season for younger students, and it’s also back to campus for millions of students heading to colleges and universities across the U.S. An estimated 20 million students will be moving in to college dorms and apartments over the next few weeks, when parents and students will be hauling everything from TVs and tablets to towels and bedding.

As a mom of four children, I moved two of my children in to college apartments over the last two weeks and got one high schooler ready for her senior year. I can relate to the multiple to-do lists, making sure students in my house have everything they need for a successful school year. Here are a few tips and favorites for back to school and back to campus:

  • Embrace the back-to-school shopping haul. I love shopping for back-to-school items. Many parents dread the school supply lists, but I’ve always enjoyed taking the children to pick out a new backpack, crisp new pencils and nice pens. One of my favorite brands of pens is Pilot, an iconic brand for many reasons. The coolest pens we’ve found this year are the Pilot Frixion pens. They’re smooth writing, erasable and refillable, and come in fantastic colors. The erasable part is good for my daughter who has to use erasable pens in school.  One of our product testers loves the erasable markers!


  • Shopping for College Move-In. From firsthand experience, shopping for and setting up a college dorm or apartment is a huge task. Most parents and students are looking for a one-stop store with items at reasonable prices. I found a home décor superstore called At Home that offers everything from bedding and string lights (what college students rate top on their shopping lists) to underbed storage boxes and mattress covers (what moms rate highest on the list). At Home has a handy college checklist that is a must-have for new and returning students, and definitely for parents!


  • Pack healthy lunches. One of my best tips involves lunchbox snacks. When my children were in grade school, I started a routine of placing bins of snacks in easy reach, making it easy for them to pack their own lunches. I grouped items like fruits and cheeses in easy-to-reach bins and refrigerator drawers to make it easy for them to assemble their own lunches. Items like Sargento’s Cheese Sticks and Snack Bites are still favorites in our house. Sargento Slices are also favorites for my high schooler’s favorite turkey and provolone sandwiches. Sargento Slices are always 100% real, natural cheese.


  • It’s all about the lunch accessories. One of the biggest purchases for back to school is the new lunchbox and food containers. I discovered a BPA-free container called Goodbyn Bynto boxes that are perfect for packing a variety of foods. The bins have three roomy compartments and even include cool stickers that kids will love to use to personalize their Bynto boxes. bento_collage
  • Get some sleep. As most parents know, sleep can be elusive for the whole family when schedules change. The routine of a new school year may take time to adjust to, and natural sleep remedies like melatonin can come in handy for parents. Natrol Melatonin contains 5 mg of melatonin, a naturally-occurring hormone that promotes healthy sleep.


I hope you and your children embrace and enjoy the school year. It will be the holiday season all too soon! Follow more of the Back-to-School conversation on Twitter @momtalkradio.

Where Am I? On the Great College Move-In Road Trip! #AtHomeStores

It’s the halfway point in the Great College Move-In Road Trip for At Home stores to mark National College Move-In Week! Starting in Chicago last Sunday through Charlotte and on through Orange Park and Orlando this weekend, I’ve been in a different city every day, meeting with moms and college-bound students, showcasing the 50,000 items in At Home stores that make college shopping so easy on your time and budget! National College Move-In Week marks the peak of back to campus season, when over 130 colleges and universities welcome students back to campus. Follow my road trip journey (on Facebook and Twitter) as I log many miles in a Kia Sorento, an awesome vehicle that’s full of stuff right now!

At Home

Between this week and Labor Day, an estimated 20 million students will be moving in to college dorms and apartments across the U.S. College Move-In season is a unique, exciting and often-bittersweet milestone for families as students venture out of the nest to live on their own for the first time. Mixed with the excitement of moving to college are the costs and time to furnish a new living space. In a recent survey of moms by BSM Media for At Home, we discovered shopping priorities of moms and students, dorm room must-haves and the high costs of the college move-in season.

  • Tablets, TVs, string lights and wall hangings top the packing lists for college-bound students. When students are packing their tech items and new décor, they don’t forget a childhood memento or two like a stuffed bear or blanket.
  • Moms are purchasing mattress covers, under bed storage bins and other essentials, making sure their sons and daughters have everything they need for college living.
  • 46% of moms say the college checklist will cost between $400 and $600.
  • Another 37% of moms estimate moving costs (fuel, time off of work, packing supplies) at more than $500.
  • For décor ideas and inspiration, 66% of moms are checking online retail sites, followed closely by Pinterest as a preferred source of inspiration for 62% of moms.
  • Over 45% of moms say they will furnish and decorate the dorm room with fresh, new items, 43% will combine a mix a fairly even mix of new purchases and items from home, and only 9% are furnishing the spaces only with items brought from home.

Moms in the survey feel the most stress making sure their sons and daughters have everything they will need (61%), followed by their college student leaving home for the first time (43%) and getting them moved in (37%).

From firsthand experience after moving two of my children to collegiate housing over the last few weeks, I know how exciting and exhausting the college move-in process can be for parents. At Home makes it easy to make a one-stop trip to get the décor items the students want, the basics that moms know are necessary for a new living space, and all at very reasonable pricing. Find an At Home store near you at

Disney Sneak Peek #AwakenSummer

Not much can beat a Disney experience, unless it’s a preview of #AwakenSummer, what’s new and what’s in store this summer! I had the amazing opportunity to visit Disney for a press event recently to get a sneak peek at the amazing events in store for families visiting Walt Disney World.

What’s Happening Now: Frozen fans, this is for you. Anna and Elsa can be seen every day in the Festival of Fantasy Parade in the Magic Kingdom. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, enjoy a Frozen Sing-Along Celebration of “For the First Time in Forever”, plus special appearances by Anna, Elsa and Kristoff. At Epcot, guests can meet Anna and Elsa in Norway, located in the World Showcase.

At Epcot, the family-fun attraction, Turtle Talk with Crush, gets an update with Finding Dory characters in May. Character Meet and Greets include Joy and Sadness, two of the emotions from the Disney/Pixar film “Inside Out”.

Animal Kingdom is the location for the Rivers of Light nighttime show celebrating animals and nature. The Tree of Life “Awakenings” appear throughout the evening as animal spirits are brought to life. A nighttime dance party lights up Discovery Island with stilt walkers, musicians and more.

#AwakenSummer: This summer, Blizzard Beach will hose an impromptu sporting event known as The Frozen  Games. Kristoff and Olaf host a friendly competition of fun and games where everyone can participate. At Epcot, Soarin’ Around the World will take guests on a journey to far-flung lands.

These are just a few of the many fabulous experiences in store this summer. Visit for more information.


Little Sister Babblebaby by Madame Alexander #promocode

My little toy tester is going to love this cutie from Madame Alexander. The Little Sister doll features advanced “response” technology lets this lifelike Babblebaby™ actually baby-talk back when you stop talking to it!. An adorable 14″ baby doll featuring 80 different real baby sounds, this Babble Baby will be a hit that moms will love, too. Madame Alexander means quality toys with attention to detail and of course, hours of play. Perfect for birthdays, and just in time for a nice Easter basket surprise!

Bonus: you will receive 15% off plus free shipping on a doll of their choice. Use Promo code: MOM16
(Promo code rules: 1-use per customer, 15% off entire cart + free shipping​, not applicable to items in the sale category.)

Order at


I received a Babble Baby doll as part of the Madame Alexander Advisory Board, opinions are my own.

Toy Fair Finds: Soapsox and Yookidoo

With my MomTV mic in hand and a videographer in tow, I walked the aisles of Toy Fair ’16 looking for the hottest new toys and products for families. I found an amazing group of items, from Yookidoo and Soapsox for younger children to Shrinky Dinks and Lionel train sets for the older crowd. Take a look:



More Toy Fair finds coming soon.


Parents Spending Big Money on Connected #Toys for their Kids #DigitalKidsCon

Today I’m thrilled to be speaking at the Digital Kids Conference at Toy Fair, revealing new research from BSM Media on moms, kids and smart connected toys. And what better place to talk about the results than at the Digital Kids conference at Toy Fair ’16.  As usual, our moms provided valuable responses on how digital and traditional toys are blending, and how much parents are willing to spend big money for smart connected toys. Here is an excerpt from the press release for the research and event.

In a survey by BSM Media and Digital Kids Media, 65% of parents say they would pay more for a smart connected toy (versus traditional toy) or on average $41-60 per toy, while 23% of parents would spend upwards to $80 or more for a connected toy. The spend is high and threshold low for parents who are driving a smart connected toy market, which was projected to hit $2.8 billion by the end of 2015.

“Today’s moms, particularly millennials, were raised with technology which has had a tremendous impact on toy-buying decisions for their children,” says Maria Bailey, CEO of BSM Media and author of Millennial Moms: 202 Facts Marketers Need to Know to Build Brands and Drive Sales. “When they decide to buy, these tech-savvy moms do their research. They rely heavily on ‘word of mom’, online reviews, and of course, what the connected toy offers in education and entertainment value.”

Aside from a simple ask (which drives 53% of parents to purchase), parents are overwhelmingly swayed by the promise of learning.

  • When purchasing connected toys, games and apps, 65% of moms look for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) content, arguably one of the hottest trends of 2015.
  • Surprisingly, only 28% of parents said they choose connected toys that promote creative/imaginative play.
  • Of those kids with connected toys, 40% of their moms say their children spend equal time playing with the physical features as they do the digital elements.

“Today’s child anticipates that a toy will be interactive, adaptable and even programmable. Our young digital natives give little thought to the sophistication of smart connected play beyond that it’s just plain fun,” said Tonda Bunge Sellers, president of Digital Kids Media. “In fact, we are seeing boundaries between traditional and digital toys disintegrate for children as natural play patterns and learning become elemental to digital-physical toys, sports play, stuffed animals or even a rubber duck.”

As traditional toys take on a new life, offering a level of connectivity and interactivity like never before seen, parents are eager to purchase, but not without doing their homework first. Before they buy, 66% of parents research, read reviews and talk to other parents for connected toy recommendations.

  • Before buying, moms read product reviews 88% of the time.
  • Additionally, 71% of parents look to blogs for product recommendations, and 60% of parents ask other parents for recommendations.
  • While consumer reviews are key, moms will skip the stars and reviews completely if another mom friend recommends a game, app or toy.

For a snapshot of the summary and more findings, please see the infographic on the purchase influencers, cost thresholds and what motivates the child to ask and the mom to buy at BSM Media conducted a national study that surveyed 300 moms and 170 children (ages 5 – 16, mothers responded for 6 and under).

About Digital Kids

Through conferences and content, Digital Kids connects a global community of experts to share best practices and the newest innovations to inspire and advance business in the ever-changing world of kids’ digital lives. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Digital Kids is host to bi-annual conferences that attract toy industry stakeholders, app developers, brand owners, product developers and content producers to collaborate on the future of connected smart play products and services that span interactive, digital, physical, entertainment, and education. For more information, visit

About BSM Media

BSM Media is an internationally recognized, full-service marketing and media firm with the greatest breadth and depth of relationships with Moms and Millennials. CEO Maria Bailey and her team produce creative, turnkey programs that allow companies to reach their brand and product goals through influencer matchmaking tactics and trendsetting marketing strategies. For information and case studies on how to connect with powerful Millennial consumer groups, go to




Great Deals at #OverstockDeals

If you follow me, you know I am one of those Black Friday shoppers lined up at the crack of dawn to knock out my holiday shopping. I’m up at 5 a.m. for a run, then to the stores and home before my family has breakfast. My strategy has changed over the last few years as online sites like factor in to my strategy. I discovered awhile ago when I was redecorating my house and moving in to our new office space. (When I found an area rug I loved at a big box home improvement store, I took a picture of the tag and item number, when home and checked It was $300 cheaper! Score!)

I love to shop and in fact, if I’m buying something online, I always check before I buy it elsewhere because I always find great deals there. For Black Friday and on Cyber Monday, has amazing deals.  Black Friday deals are here, Cyber Monday deals are here. You’ll find everything from tech to jewelry to clothing for everyone on your list. Here are some of my favorites so far:

HP Stream 32 GB Tablet PC
Regular Price: $359.94
Sale price: $299.99

On sale through: December 14th


Stainless Steel Expandable ‘I Love You to the Moon and Back’ Bangle
Regular Price: $50.00
Sale price: $11.99

On sale through: December 16th


Hurricane 54-inch Foosball Table
Regular Price: $347.99
Sale price: $142.99

On sale through: December 7th


Hailey Jeans Co. Junior’s Striped Long Sleeve Open Front Cardigan

Regular Price: $39.99
Sale price: $14.99

On sale through: December 6th



The North Face Men’s Black Zip Pullover

Regular Price: $60.00
Sale price: $42.99

On sale through: December 3rd

north face


Acqua Di Gio Men’s Eau de Toilette Spray

Regular Price: $45.00
Sale price: $27.99

On sale through: December 14th


JBW Men’s ‘Krypton’ Black Chronograph Diamond Watch

Regular Price: $1350.00
Sale price: $159.99

On sale through: December 13th



Discovery Kids Animated LED Marine Lamp

Regular Price: $28.40
Sale price: $24.99

On sale through: December 16th


Discovery Kids Light-Up Musical Microphone & Stand

Regular Price: $29.99
Sale price: $22.99

On sale through: December 16th


Rolling Coaster Children’s Ride-on Car
Regular Price: $54.99
Sale price: $34.99

On sale through: November 30th


Cricut Explore Air Die Cutting Machine with Bluetooth
Regular Price: $390.80
Sale price: $199.99

On sale through: December 16th



GrandeLASH-MD Eyelash and Eyebrow Growth Enhancer
Regular Price: $64.95
Sale price: $34.99

On sale through: December 6th


Suzy Levian 14k Gold 7-8mm Freshwater Pearl Stud Earrings

Regular Price: $1080.00
Sale price: $79.99

On sale through: December 16th



Personalized Stemless Wine Glasses (Set of 4)
Regular Price: $52.00
Sale price: $27.99

On sale through: December 6th



Paula Deen Collection Aqua Speckle Porcelain Nonstick 15-piece Set

Regular Price: $180.00
Sale Price: $99.99
On sale through: December 6th

potsJoin me (@MomTalkRadio) on Cyber Monday, November 30th at 1pm ET/10am PT for an #OverstockDeals Twitter Party! Maria will be chatting about the holidays and giving away over $300 in gift cards.

Happy Shopping!