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back to school

#BackToSchool Trend: ‘Mom’s First Day of Freedom’ Instagram Take Over

After a Summer of an empty refrigerator, a 24-hour messy house, being responsible for keeping the kids entertained, engaged or active, a lot of moms (and dads) look forward to sending their kids back to school. It’s a running joke among many parents to rejoice and joke about their glee over sending their children back to school.

I always poke fun at my Millennial mom friends and followers over the very creative ways they use social media to show off their milestones, extravagant themed kid’s first birthday or chic and stylish coordinated holiday cards and videos.

Add to that the relatively new trend of sharing the “Mom’s First Day of Freedom” on Instagram. Some moms go as far as hire professional photographers and coordinating a photo shoot to mark the occasion.

Some Etsy shops sell “Mom’s First Day of Freedom” Boards like the ones below:



View this post on Instagram

#momsfirstdayoffreedom #fireballthruastraw

A post shared by Whitney Hammonds (@whittykay30) on


What do you think? Would you get something like this and share on social media? Do you think it is mean-spirited or just a joke?


5 Back to School Tips for School/Life Balance

As many children go back to school this month, several struggle in class, lose assignment sheets and notes, miss assignments and  forget to bring home books needed to complete homework if he or she is not organized.  There are tremendous benefits to teaching children executive functioning skills. These are the type of skills top or mid level execs use to succeed in work but certainly can apply to kids as well.

Organization and focus are key qualities for many successful adults, but these skills do not come naturally to grown ups, imagine if you were taught it at a young age and grew with those skills.

Here are 5 tips to assist all parents and children:

  1. Stash and trash– Prevent mountains of papers from accumulating by learning what to keep and what to toss. This is a very important skill, even for the most organized adults! Teach children at a young age what types of documents to keep and throw away as well as how to best organize the materials they are keeping. Your future storage bins will thank you! 
  1. Balancing work and fun – It is important to teach children that there is a time for work and a time for play, and that they are both important for a well-balanced life! Make time for studying, after school activities and dinner with the family.
  1. Manage the day – Parents have planners, and so should children! Teach your child to use a day planner or calendar, where they can record their school work, after-school activities, social events and family time.  Whether it is paper or digital, it doesn’t matter. The point is that the child learns to manage their time and sets realistic expectations for each day.
  1. Organize assignments –Parents can help their children stay organized with color-coded folders and a desk-top storage system for their school work.  Children also really enjoy label makers. Divide the folders and storage containers by subject, and teach children how to label accordingly.
  1. Lightening the backpack without losing the work – We’ve all witnessed the tiny child with the gigantic backpack that weighs nearly as much as they do, as well as the extreme opposite of the student who shows up to class without a pen or paper. Teaching children to carry what is important for the day will help them be better prepared for class. Go over the day’s activities the night before, make a list of what classes and activities the child has and pack accordingly.

This solid advice should help parents have a basis and foundation for passing on these critical skills to their children.


The Cost-Saving School Supplies Shopping Tips Mega Families Use

The family-owned Atlanta-based wholesale t-shirt company, The Adair Group has a very comprehensive post with cost-cutting back-to-school savings advice that those very large families, like the Duggars, with over 8 children use. They were so kind to let me syndicate a snippet of their post where they talk about school supply shopping. In light of the recent gun battle at a Michigan Walmart recently, it may behoove you to check out these awesome tips:

Today, even public schools require you to purchase many items that in the past were provided.

Pens and pencils, rulers, calculators, and textbooks—children need all sorts of supplies before heading back to school. Organizing this can be a fun task for some families, and a way to start preparing and anticipating that first day back at school.

Renee from the Little Earthling Blog, another mega family favorite resource, suggests the following tips and tricks that she uses when dealing with her family of 14.

  • Make a list of what each child needs and stick to it. That way you will not forget any essentials, and your children are unable to sneak extras into the cart.
  • Shop at home first. Go through your children’s rooms, through the office and through every other space where there might be pens or pads of paper. Everything you find is one less thing to buy.
  • Try dollar stores for the small items like pens and pencils. These stores can be a cheap and easy way to get most of the basics your children will need.
  • school supplies wooden background
    Take notice of back-to-school sales and shop at a variety of different stores, making sure to buy everything you need at the cheapest price you can manage.
  • Buy more specific items first, for example, a model of calculator or a new backpack. Generic supplies typically drop in price late in the season, so plan to buy paper, pencils, etc. then.
  • A tip that might not be possible is to leave the children at home. The last thing you need is for your children to follow you around and try to influence your choices.

Some more tips mega families use that might help you cost cut at this time of the year are:

  • Use a price comparison app such as Dealnews. Many retailers will honor competitors’ coupons too.
  • Buy enough school supplies for the year when they go on sale in the late summer. If you find you have too many, they will always last for another year, or you can share them with friends who are in the same situation as you.
  • Buy in bulk from wholesale stores and split the cost with friends, and skip the office supply stores.
  • Shop online for used textbooks. In some cases, it may be less costly to rent textbooks instead of buying them. Consider electronic copies, as these are often cheaper.
  • You can also rent calculators. Some schools have rental programs, but if yours doesn’t, try graphtor.com, which rents various models of Texas Instruments calculators for a low monthly fee.
  • Buy refurbished electronics especially for younger children who are prone to dropping them.
  • Some stores provide discounts on electronics for college and high school students. Check out the Apple Education Pricing page or Best Buy’s College Student Deals.
  • If you are looking for activities to entertain the children this summer, have them make their own school supplies. Get directions on craftchi.com on how to create a pencil case out of a mailing tube.

Get a ton of back to school tips from The Adair Group HERE!

Back to School: We Think Gymboree Makes The Cutest Top Quality Clothes for Kids

Gymboree Kids Clothing Newborn to Size 12

Because it is back to school season and parents are on the hunt for deals and top quality clothing for their school-aged children returning to school after the Summer Break, we are sharing some of the cool and super cute clothing that our affiliate partners at various children’s clothiers and brands are offering for sale this season.

We are starting with Gymboree.

This is a personal fave brand of the blog because we know from first hand experience that the quality of the clothing is superior. They last in the wash and the colors do not fade. The brand is known for selling very well coordinated pieces with whimsical characters or in solids, neutrals and other long-lasting hues. The clothing is made of natural materials mostly, and they look really cute.

Gymboree sells from baby to tween. Click to be taken to the site on any of these below featured images:

Back to School Tax-Free Weekends: List of States That Offer Them

It’s back to school shopping time and today, I’m heading to my local office supply and big box stores to gather the things my children need for back to school. This entire week, in my state is Tax-Free week!

It’s part of a growing initiative among US state governments to give a break to parents and care-givers who have kids heading back to school by alleviating the sales tax burden on items parents purchase as their kids head off to school. Maryland allows tax-free sales on supplies, clothes and shoes.

It’s a boon for brick-and-mortar retailers and outlet malls which see sales spike during this time of year and that is the purpose. The folks at TheSpruce.com put in the heavy lifting to identify all the states in the Union that offer Tax-Free weekends or weeks, including some that have past already but for your edification for next year:

States Offering a Tax-Free Weekend (or Week) in 2017

Alabama: Alabama offers two tax-free weekends each year—one for the back-to-school season and the other for severe weather preparedness.

  • Back to School: Begins the third Friday in July and ends the following Sunday (clothing, computers, books and school supplies)
  • Severe Weather Preparedness: Begins Friday of the last full weekend in February and ends the following Sunday (hurricane preparedness supplies and generators)

Arkansas: August 5, 2017 to August 6, 2017 (clothing and school supplies)

 ConnecticutAugust 20, 2017 to August 26, 2017 (clothing and footwear)

Florida: May 28, 2017 to June 5, 2017 (hurricane preparedness equipment and generators); August 4, 2017 to August 6, 2017 (school supplies, clothing and computers)

Georgia: In the past, Georgia offered two tax-free weekends—one for the back-to-school season (usually in July) and the other for energy-efficient appliances later in the year.

 But in 2017, the state legislature didn’t pass the legislation to keep the tax-free weekends as scheduled.

IowaAugust 4, 2017 to August 5, 2017 (clothing)

Louisiana: Lousiana offers three tax-free weekends each year:

  • Severe Weather Preparedness: Saturday, May 27, 2017 to Sunday, May 28, 2017 (hurricane preparedness supplies and generators)
  • Annual Sales Tax Holiday: August 4, 2017 to August 5, 2017 (personal property less than $2500)
  • Second Amendment Weekend Sales Tax Holiday: September 1, 2017 to September 3, 2017 (firearms, ammunition and hunting supplies)

MarylandFebruary 17, 2017 to February 19, 2017 (energy star products); August 13, 2017 to August 19, 2017 (clothing and footwear)

Mississippi: July 28, 2017 to July 29, 2017 (clothing and footwear)

Missouri: April 19, 2017 to April 26, 2017 (energy star products); August 4, 2017 to August 6, 2017 (clothing, computers and school supplies)

New Mexico: August 4, 2017 to August 6, 2017 (clothing, computers, computer equipment and school supplies)

Ohio: August 4, 2017 to August 6, 2017 (clothing and school supplies)

OklahomaAugust 4, 2017 to August 6, 2017 (clothing)

South Carolina: August 4, 2017 to August 6, 2017 (clothing, school supplies and computers)

Tennessee: July 28, 2017 to July 30, 2017 (clothing, school supplies and computers)

Texas: August 11, 2017 to August 13, 2017 (clothing, backpacks and school supplies)

VirginiaAugust 4, 2017 to August 6, 2017 (clothing, school supplies and energy star products)

If your state does not sponsor a tax-free weekend, consider driving to a nearby state that does. Alternatively, contact your local state representative to request that he or she initiate sales tax holiday legislation for your area.

Get the most out of tax-free weekend by planning your shopping day, including having a list and knowing where you’ll go, buying in bulk, using cash and using price matching at stores that offer it.

Back to School: 8 Tips for Dealing With Separation Anxiety

Bellyitch Rewind
Few things tug at a parent’s heartstrings like the cries and pleas of a child in the throes of a separation anxiety attack; still, they are a normal (if distressing) part of childhood development. With proper coping strategies and plenty of love, the worst of your child’s anxieties can be managed until he’s older, at which point most children tend to outgrow their fears of being separated from a parent or familiar adult.
Managing your child’s separation anxiety and helping her to cope with the necessary but painful routine of parting is a matter of being patient, for the most part. Keeping your composure and maintaining a grip on your patience is absolutely necessary in order for you to successfully employ other management techniques.
  1. Establish a Goodbye Ritual – Sharing a special goodbye ritual with your little one is both comforting and reassuring to her, letting her know that staying at school, daycare, or under the care of a nanny is a new part of her routine. Because structure and repetition are so important to young children, establishing a ritual that accompanies every separation can help normalize that separation, making it less stressful for her over time.
  2. Stay Calm – Kids react to the emotional state of a parent or loved one, so allowing yourself to become overly emotional or anxious in her presence is likely to only exacerbate the anxiety and fear that she’s already feeling. Maintain your composure as best you can, saving the emotional moments for a time when you’re out of her sight.
  3. Don’t Hover or Linger – While it might seem that your hysterical child will never calm down after you leave, childcare providers will almost always reassure you that their emotional state will improve dramatically once you’re gone. Lingering around and hovering over her will only prolong the process, stretching out both her suffering and your own.
  4. Speak with Caregivers and Teachers – Experienced childcare providers and preschool or kindergarten teachers are well-versed in reassuring both hysterical children and their concerned parents, so don’t hesitate to speak with them about how your child is adjusting. When normal separation anxiety is particularly difficult for a child to shake, or persists after a significant adjustment period, these people are your best allies in combating your little one’s fears and helping her learn to cope with separation in a calm, healthy way.
  5. Resist the Temptation to Sneak Away – It can be very tempting to wait until your child is distracted and slip quietly from the room, but this may not be the most productive method of dealing with her separation anxiety. Looking up to find you inexplicably gone, without any sort of a goodbye, can lead to a panic that she’s been abandoned or, at the very least, to feel that she can’t always trust that you’ll be where you should be.
  6. Communicate With Your Child – You can help prepare your child for preschool, kindergarten, or childcare by talking about the upcoming change, practicing separation on a small scale, and answering any questions that she has. These methods can be very effective in preventing the worst of her anxiety before it starts, and maintaining that open line of communication as she adjusts to her new environment and has new experiences is vital.
  7. Be Firm and Consistent – Don’t waver or bring your child home after a particularly bad outburst, as it sends the message that a tantrum will yield the desired result of either leaving daycare or school with you or sending your nanny home, rather than being separated. Focus on maintaining a firm but gentle demeanor, and a strong grip on your resolve.
  8. Know When Separation Anxiety Indicates Something More Serious – While separation anxiety is a very natural, normal part of growing up for many children, there are times when it could indicate something more serious. If a previously happy, well-adjusted child begins to regress and show signs of anxiety again, or if existing anxiety is severe and does not lessen with time, you should contact your pediatrician or medical provider for advice.

Good luck!

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What to Consider Before You Let Your Child Ride the School Bus

The first day of school is a momentous occasion for both parents and their children, but so is the first time that your child rides the school bus alone. For some parents, necessity forces them to put their kids on the bus, as their own professional schedules won’t allow for drop-offs and pick-ups. In other cases, belief that riding the bus builds character or exposes kids to manageable difficulty to give them strength is the motivating factor behind using the school bus as primary transportation. Whatever your reasons, there are a few things you should know before your little one climbs those steps for the first time.

Basic School Bus Safety

In order to teach your child the basic rules of school bus safety, you’ll need to know them yourself. Your child should never run to or from the bus, even if he’s late. He should always stand back from the curb and wait for the bus driver’s signal before crossing the street, and should be at least ten feet in front of the bus for peak driver visibility. While he’s on the bus, your child should never shout, get out of his seat or roughhouse with other kids. If you’re not there to put him on the bus and escort him back at the end of the day, your child will need to know these things in order to handle himself safely.

Expected Times of Arrival

Even if you’re not going to be there to greet the bus at the end of the day or put your little one on it, you should still know the expected time of arrival each way. Arranging a system of notification, especially at the end of the day, will let you know that your older child has reached his stop safely. If you don’t know what time the bus arrives at the stop, you won’t know what time to expect that message.

Adults on the Bus

Some school districts or individual buses have an adult aide, in addition to the bus driver, who works as a monitor, while others rely solely on the attention of the driver. If your child’s bus will not have a monitor, you’ll need to understand that he may be exposed to bullying or other behavior that goes unpunished, as the driver’s attention is focused on the road, rather than the conduct of her young riders.

Rules of Conduct

While there are some basic rules of common sense conduct that hold true on every bus, there may be more specific ones on a particular bus or within your school district that you’re not aware of. You can’t pass those rules along and explain them to your child if you don’t know what they are, so make a point of procuring a copy of the conduct rules from your child’s teacher or school administrators before his first solo ride.

How Behavioral Problems are Handled

Kids on the school bus may not be monitored as heavily as they are in class, which can lead to behavioral problems you’d never consider under other circumstances. Whether your child is the victim or the perpetrator of these infractions, they’re so likely to happen that you’ll need to have a basic grasp of how your school district and bus driver will handle potential behavioral problems.

Age Span of Student Riders

In some districts, it’s feasible to keep younger children separated from the older, more rambunctious bus riders. Smaller areas may not have enough students to warrant more than one bus on a single route, however, and may lump kids of all ages together. This can make for some particularly scary moments for very young children, who can be the target of older bullies. Find out what the average age span is of the riders on your child’s bus, so that you can be prepared for any problems or can make alternate arrangements if you feel uncomfortable with the idea of him being surrounded by junior high students.

Your Child’s Ability to Handle Riding the Bus Alone

Some kids are more mature than others of their age, while some fall a bit behind on the scale of emotional maturity. Before you put your child on the school bus to essentially fend for himself, you need to know where he falls on that scale and how capable he is of handling the potential stressors of riding a school bus. In the end, you’re the only person who will know exactly how prepared your child is, and how well he’s likely to deal with the situation.

10 Tips for Decluttering Your Home for the New School Year

I was cleaning out my basement this weekend and so I can totally relate and understand the research that shows that the average American home has 300,000 items in it. That’s why it is a good idea for everyone to use the season of preparing for a new school year to get the home in order.

Decluttering expert Tracy McCubbin, founder of dClutterfly, has 10 tips and tricks to declutter and organize your home in preparation for kids to go back to school, including:

  1. Before the onslaught of this school year’s crush of homework and artwork, make sure you have decluttered last year’s!
  2. After a summer of “I’m bored” you’ll have a great idea of what toys your kids really play with.  Time to donate (or toss if they are broken) toys that didn’t get touched. And don’t forget the holidays (more stuff) are just around the corner.  3.1% of the world’s children live in America, but they own 40% of the toys consumed globally.
  3. Did summer reading lists create a glut of books in your home?  Time to do a purge of the books that won’t get read again or won’t ever be read.  Also, return the overdue library books! Insert book drive center
  4. Running around in bathing suits and sprouting up like weeds means your kids have outgrown a lot of last year’s clothes. Time to do a deep dive on their clothes and donate the clothes they don’t wear or can’t fit into any more.  Plus you’ll then have plenty of room for back-to-school clothes shopping.
  5. Most kids get new backpacks for the each school year.  If last year’s pack is still in good shape, think about donating to a local nonprofit that works with foster kids. Use this an opportunity to declutter backpacks, duffle bags and suitcases.
  6. Everyone is back at or has moved on to a new sport so back to school is a great time to get rid of old sports equipment. Oftentimes, teams collectively donate used equipment to teams and schools that don’t have big budgets so maybe put together a cleat drive?!
  7. Pool, River, Lake or Ocean … have all wreaked havoc on your towels. Once everyone is settled in their new schedules, pull all the towels out and see which ones can go. Donate to local animal rescue.
  8. Tackle your garage. 25% of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside them and after a summer of everyone home, the garage has become the dumping ground. Tackle this before winter comes! And remember, this is probably one of the biggest jobs on the list .
  9. Constant snacking has probably turned the kitchen upside down. It’s time to return order and systems back to the kitchen.  And maybe a purge?! Sort through food storage, top but not bottom … out! Broken or cracked plates … gone.
  10. Next year think about doing this decluttering while the kids are at sleep away camp!

Back to School : 10 Things Organized Parents Do to Get Their Kids’ ClosetsReady

As you prep to send the kids back to school, you may want to reassess what’s in their closet now and consolidate uneeded clothes, give away some, fold away some for younger children and basically get organized. Here are 10 tips to help you do that from a past post:

1.Take inventory: Go through the clothes that you already have for your child and see which items fit and which items don’t. Take the items that they have out grown to a resale shop or donate them to a worthy cause.

2.Assess how your child dresses: Don’t buy a bunch of dresses if you have a tomboy who doesn’t like to wear dresses. This may seem like common sense, but for some reason people love to buy pretty dresses and then they hang in the closet with the tags on them. Or they are worn once for that special occasion and that’s it.

3.Buy separates: Instead of buying a bunch of dresses you need to buy separates so that you can mix and match tops and skirts. You can also wear the tops with jeans or other pants. A dress is one outfit, but if you buy three skirts and three tops that can be mixed and matched then you can get nine outfits out of those items.

4.Buy basic colors: When buying pants or skirts think about buying basic colors, black, blue and brown. Those will go with a lot of different things you may already own. The more combinations that you can make the better off you will be.

5.Don’t buy outfits: Stores are great about putting together outfits, like pink and green striped leggings with a matching pink and green top. This is a one trick pony. You might be able to wear the top with jeans, but otherwise you can wear the pants with that one top and that’s it. Plus it’s such a bold color choice that you don’t want to repeat it in the same week.

6.Teach them to wear things more than once: The biggest thing that they can wear more than once is pajamas. There is no need to have seven pairs of pajamas. They can get up in the morning and fold them up and put them under their pillow for the next night. Having three to four pairs of pajamas should be plenty.

7.Add leggings to an outgrown dress: Do you have some dresses that are getting too short but they fit otherwise? Just add a pair of leggings and you can still get some more mileage out of those dresses.

8.Jeans, jeans, jeans: Most of the time jeans can be worn more than once in a week so teach your child to hang or fold them up after the first wearing unless they know they got a stain on them. Jeans are very versatile and can be worn dressed up with a nice shirt or sweater or worn with a T-shirt.

9.Buy basics: Buy a sweater in white so that you can take those short-sleeved dresses into Fall and Winter. Buy a white shirt that will go with anything or under any sweater to make an outfit warmer for winter. Black pants are always a good idea because they can be worn with any shirt and can be dressed up or down depending on the circumstances.

10.Take pictures and make a fashion book: Boys are especially bad about grabbing the shirt that is on the top in their drawer and wearing it over and over. For boys you might want to hang shirts so that they can all be seen. With girls, make a fashion book. Take pictures of all of the separate pieces and then mix and match them in a fashion book to show the different outfits that can be put together. Even young children can pick out an outfit and pull the pieces out of their closet and put a matching outfit together. Accessories for girls are also great to stretch a wardrobe. A great colorful scarf can be added to a basic black or brown top and you have a completely different look that how you wore it last week. Accessories are cheap and this is a good place to allow your kids to follow the trends, but not break that bank.

Good luck!

Back to School Hair Cut Styles for Boys (Link)

Soon, parents will be purchasing supplies, bookbags, clothing and other items to prepare to send their children back to school.  Some school systems across the country and globe return to school as early as August, and others with year round school are going back in July, even. In addition to purchasing items, moms and dads may also be lining up hair cut appointments for their little sons.

There are tons of sites out there dedicated to hairstyles for girls but not too many dedicated to boys styles and cuts. Thankfully, more are coming on the scene. Alen from FancyHaircuts.com asked that we share a link to a recent post with over a dozen style and cuts to draw inspiration and ideas from, including those from the above collage: Visit the page HERE!

Good luck, parents and caregivers!