Anytime school supplies are mentioned I think about a scene from the movie "You've Got Mail". Tom Hanks is narrating as his character types an email to send to Meg Ryan's character. He says "Don't you just love New York in the Fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address." I think the reason that line stuck with me is that I can relate to it. Though, I'm far enough removed from school now that the school supplies I purchase are for my children, I can still remember the excitement of back to school time. Newly sharpened pencils seem like the perfect metaphor for the clean slate and endless possibilities that a new school year brings.
As a parent of school-aged kiddos I still enjoy the excitement of a new school year, but getting caught in the madness of back to school shopping at a big box store can be overwhelming. Even thinking about it is enough to give me anxiety; The hassle of parking lot traffic, crowded aisles, not being able to find the one specific binder you need, and being all the way in the back of the store when your kid decides that they have to pee and the only bathroom is up next to the entrance.
One thing that I have found incredibly helpful since my oldest started school about 5 years ago, is ordering my school supplies online and doing a pick-up, or having them delivered to my house. It doesn't get much better than that, right? Wrong. I recently discovered EPI, a company that has been in the school supply business for 40 years. They not only assemble your school supplies in a pack for you, letting you skip the store, they go a step further. They ship the supplies in one pack directly to your child's school, labeled with their name to be ready and waiting for them on the first day. SAY WHAAAAAT?!? I know, it really is one of the greatest ideas, ever.
I would pay a steep price for the convenience of not having to shop for school supplies and lug them all to school, but EPI is actually really affordable. You could potentially spend up to 40% less than if you were to shop for each individual item yourself. EPI offers a variety of products so that they are able to cover anything your teacher may request on their list. They also give the school or parent goup a choice between name brands that you may be comfortable and familiar with, like in the package seen above, or saving money by using brands that the company offers at a lower price. Their basic elementary pack, seen below, has 43 items and costs around $35, isn't that incredible.?
EPI is not just a service for parents, they also work with groups like PTA, PTO, and charitable organizations. These groups are able to work with both EPI and the school to put together packs for students with the specific school supplies they will need, after all, a Kindergartner will not need the same items as a fourth grader. For added satisfaction all supplies from EPI packs are school-year guaranteed, so if for some reason an item is defective or doesn't meet your standards the company will replace it free of charge!
I was on the PTO board at my daughter's school for three years, and as a board we often discussed ways that we could ease the financial burden of buying school supplies that a lot of families face. These packages, are such a great idea for school organizations that may be looking to do something to ensure that all students have the tools they need to succeed each school year. Individuals and organizations do not have to be directly affiliated with a school in order to work with EPI, they only need to be in communication with the school so that they can receive accurate lists based on teacher's needs. If you are an organization interested in starting a school supply program at your school this video is full of great information. If you'd like more information about how you can bring EPI to your school, you can click here and request a free quote!
You can also check out EPI through social media including their Facebook page and Instagram account! It is my obligation to inform you that I was provided with free product and a fee in exchange for my review of EPI and it's services. However, I am not required to share anything other than my honest opinion with you. Check out my video below to see all of the supplies that come in the basic and name brand packs, remember that your pack can be customized and you are not limited to only the items you see below.
EPI is so confident you’ll love their prepackaged supply service, they’re giving away free packs to readers who sign up for more info! To enter to win a grand prize of 100+ arts and crafts supplies (valued at $250) or secondary kit prizes valued at $50, simply click here and fill out your information.
I love when I get the opportunity to share products and services with y'all that are really applicable to most of you. This is such a fantastic idea, I'd love to know what you think about it!
As you all know, mental health is something that I am very passionate about. I recently published a post about the stress women place on ourselves to keep up with each other, and how that can create patterns of anxiety and depression. So many of us (men and women) struggle with our mental health on a daily basis. I hope you were able to read my post from a few weeks ago, but if you didn’t, I wanted to include a little snippet for you:
“If you’ve been following me for any amount of time then you know that I am a huge advocate for mental health awareness. #Breakthestigma is a huge passion of mine. As a woman I feel like we are constantly putting pressure on ourselves to have “it'' all together. We set ourselves up in a way that can only end in feelings of inadequacy and disappointment. The bar of “having it all together” is NOT attainable. This is not my opinion, it is a promise, a fact. There is not a woman alive who has it all together, every single one of us struggles in our own way. For most of us, we silently suffer under the weight of our self-criticism. Ladies, let’s stop this shit! Let’s acknowledge our limitations, set realistic goals, and talk about the fact that some days (or weeks, or months, or years) we are a big hot mess. We feel depressed, we feel anxious, and we feel defeated. If we all say these things out loud that unreachable bar will hopefully begin to taunt us a little less. We will be able to hear our sisters, peers, and role models voicing the same thoughts and feelings that we deal with. To me #breakthestigma is about recognizing that there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to my mental health. It is recognizing the astounding data that tells us that over 23% of women worldwide suffer from an anxiety disorder, and over 10% of women in the United States (estimated to be 300 million people worldwide) suffer from depression. In my opinion one of the biggest goals of #breakthestigma is realizing that I am, we are NOT alone.”
Aren’t those numbers astounding? In 2018 National survey data showed that more than 8 percent of adults aged 20 and older suffer from low mood, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among women, slightly more than 10 percent have depression, versus 5.5 percent of men. "One of the findings that surprised us the most was that for both men and women, about 80 percent of adults with depression had at least some difficulty with functioning with daily life," said lead author Debra Brody.
These include going to work, completing daily activities at home and getting along with other people, said Brody, of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
Something you may not have realized is that depression is an umbrella term, medically it includes multiple different diagnoses including: Major Depressive Disorder and its related mood disorders including bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety disorder and suicide.
As I previously shared, one of the biggest goals of breaking the stigma is knowing that you are not alone. The National Alliance on Mental Health asks “Do you have Stigma? Stigma harms the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental health conditions. It shames them into silence and prevents them from seeking help.”
What frustrates me so much about the stigma of mental health is how often it presents us with the opportunity to use mental illness as a type of scapegoat. It is used as an outlet in which to place blame when we are presented with less than ideal situations or conditions. For example, I suffer from depression and anxiety. Thankfully, due to an individualized medicine regimen, and implementing coping skills I acquired through therapy my mental health conditions are not something I am in an active battle with. Certain environments, and situations may trigger or increase my anxiety, but for the most part I am able to manage my life in a way that allows me to avoid those things as much as possible. So yes, I do have anxiety and depression, but it's not something I suffer from every day. If I snap at you, or you notice that I am in a bad mood- more than likely my anxiety is not the culprit. People with depression and anxiety can experience an entire arsenal of emotions that are not symptoms of their mental illness. Personally, I often feel that if I am not visibly cheerful, the people I encounter will make the assumption that I am depressed or anxious. You may be reading this and having the realization that you are one of the people guilty of this, and that is ok. If you don’t have a mental health condition, there is simply no way for you to comprehend what those of us that do experience and feel. However, as more open and honest discussions take place, people without depression will have the opportunity to expand their understanding and educate themselves more. I am no mathematician, but with depression affecting Americans in such staggering numbers, I feel comfortable in assuming that every American has a relationship with someone dealing with mental illness. Every. Single. One. Whether it is themself, a family member, or friend- and whether it has been clinically diagnosed or not- this affects all of us.
If you know that you are one of the millions of Americans dealing with depression, and you have not sought help for it, I implore you to do so.You are not broken, you are not weird, and you certainly are not alone- so please do not let the stigma be what stops you from getting help. Talk to your doctor. You do not need to see a specialist right away. If you feel that you need help fast there are several help lines that you can call and speak to someone immediately.
The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, ET.
The National Suicide Prevention life line is open 24/7 in North America by calling 1-800-273-8255. You can also chat with someone through their website.
If you don’t have a doctor that you are comfortable with another option is to get in contact with a local counselor or mental health facility. For example, Lynn Thompson Umstead, LPC, NCC, CIRT, CAMS, is the founder and clinical director of Ray of Hope Counseling Services. She is a trained mental health professional, with a Bachelor degree in Psychology and a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology. In addition, she is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a certification as an Imago Relationship Therapist (CIRT), and is also a National Certified Counselor. Lynn also holds a certification as an Anger Management Specialist (CAMS). She has had experience in a wide variety of settings when working with individuals, couples, and families. These settings include in-home therapy, in-patient and out-patient hospitalization programs, group homes, administration of psychological testing in private practice, and in a hospital environment. If you were struggling with infertility problems, anger management, relationship problems, and more, you would seek out Lynn because she has the experience and understanding when it comes to what you are going through.
In fact, all of the counselors at Ray of Hope Counseling Services have quite a few areas of expertise, so I am sure that you could find someone that fits your needs there. A great thing about their practice is that they offer online therapy, so you never need to have the excuse of “I don’t have enough time” anymore. But, if you’d rather go in-person, they also have eight locations all around Georgia, so if you are looking for a therapist Athens, or a therapist in Marietta (along with many other locations), they have a location for you.
If you are reading this and are not local to Georgia, I guarantee that there is a similar option available where you live. I will gladly help you find a local place that you can reach out to. Know that I’m here, and you are not alone.
Hey y'all! I'm Layne, a 30-something Southern Belle trying to navigate this craziness we call life. I'm a wife, mom of 2, and all around hot mess. I'm passionate about mental health, and love everything having to do with fashion. I'm living a super blessed life, and I love sharing it with you.