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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

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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!

A New Way to Score the BEST Back to School Deals and Up to 80% Off

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It’s back to school time already!

Around the country and the globe, many parents are getting ready to send their kids back and some early birds are already assessing their needs and taking inventory of school clothes, supplies and equipment they already have so they know what they need to get.

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Fortunately for today’s modern parents, coupon sites make it even more cost effective to find deep discounts and deals on everyday items.

I am happy to have discovered GroupOn coupons recently when I needed to get my break pads changed. I conducted  a simple Google search and discovered a deal and a coupon and knocked $30 off the cost of new break pads! Sweet!

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When  I took a look around, I quickly discovered that GroupOn has curated coupons for many other retailers that would come in handy for school shopping in its new GroupOn Coupons offerings.  For example, there are coupons where you can take up to 80% off already reduced items at JC Penny!

  • Macy’s – 60% off store wide and more
  • Office Depot – 50% off already reduced items discounted for the Back-to-school season
  • Target -5% off Everyday shopping spree which you need at Target because you never leave that store with what you just went in there for
  • Footlocker -As much as $200 for apparel and sneakers which a large family with a lot of children who take gym or play sports need.
  • Toms – 25% off the popular go-to mom shoe
  • NewEgg – Deep markdowns on laptops and tablets for your kid heading off to college
  • Old Navy – Not just 60% off but an extra 30% off clothes you need to stock up on for back-to-school
  • Asos – 10% off for your fashionable tween or teen and 20% off for moministas who are working moms
  • Kohl’s -An extra 20% off already reduced back-to-school items and I spotted a big $30 off Nike coupon too!
  • Walmart -Up to 86% off electronics for your college- or high-school bound kid.
  • Sears – Not just a $35 off site wide on all departments, but discount codes on auto service to get the minivan in shape for the new school year
  • And more!

Hop on these deals because a lot of them are available for a limited time and for limited quantity so you don’t want to miss out.

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7 Back-To-School Tips for Special Needs Students



Heading back to the classroom this fall is exciting, but it can also be a challenging time for families of children with special needs. The Episcopal Center for Children (ECC), a nonprofit organization serving children with special needs ages 5-14 in the Washington, DC area since 1895, offers tips to help:

Tip #1 – Organize your paperwork and review the schedule. Review your child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). Do you have any new medical or psychological reports that the school should know about? Talk with the school to make sure their plans for your child match the intentions in the IEP. Ensure the school staff are up to speed on where your child is at now. Make sure you know where your child’s classroom is, any transportation plans, and what he or she will need to bring each day.

Tip #2 – Calm any stress or first day jitters your child may have. Whether it’s a new classroom or familiar surroundings, children may be nervous about starting back to school. Talk with your child about their feelings. Assure your child that going back to school will be a good thing.

Tip #3 – Delay getting new school clothes. You may think a new outfit will help calm first day jitters, but for some special needs children, new clothes may aggravate issues. For children with sensory issues, new clothes may feel itchy, stiff and uncomfortable. If your child needs it, let him or her wear clothes that are comfortable and familiar for the first few days of school.

Tip #4 – Help your child “picture” going back to school. If your child is returning to a familiar school and you have photos showing him or her at school or with friends or a teacher, show the photos to your child. If you visit the school before school starts, take a picture of your child in his or her classroom, and show the photo to your child later at home. Some children visually process information and benefit from visual assurances. Create a visual countdown chart at home, so your child can help move the numbers as you count down to the start of the school year.

Tip #5 – Begin introducing new routines before school starts. Morning and afternoon routines can help your child transition into and out of school each day. You may need to establish an earlier bedtime routine to make sure your child is up on time and ready to go. Start thinking about how you want to approach homework. Talk with your child about when and how homework will be completed.

Tip #6 – Talk to the school staff about any of your concerns. Open communication helps children with special needs. Speak with school staff if you have noticed something new about your child that may impact their education. Open communication with school staff will benefit your child. Because transitions are hard for many special needs children, clarify with school staff how transitions are handled. Who greets children as they get off the bus? How are transitions between classes or activities handled? Tell your child what to expect.

Tip #7 – Go to school events. If the school has an open house, parent-teacher night, or back to school program, attend. Talk with the staff about your child’s progress. If you are not able to go, make a point of calling the teacher at another time and getting caught up on the information.

4 Articles about that Crazy Back-to-School Supply List!

 

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Raise your hand if you have at least one basket or box or drawer or bin somewhere in your home that houses the piles of excess school supplies your child’s school made you buy that the kid never used?

I have such a massive basket in the corner of the office in my house so brimming with items that we can literally do shopping from this basket! Wow!

And…. surprise! I’m not the only one who feels this way! There have been several articles written on the ridiculousness!

Are School Supplies Getting out of Hand, All Parenting.com

Open Letter to Sadist Teachers, PeopleIWantToPunchInTheThroat.com

Too Many School Supplies, On My Mind

What Do You Think of Your Child’s School Supply List, NorthesCambia.com

Cray!

 

Back to School Hairstyle Ideas for Long Hair (8 LINKS)

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Finding the perfect and easy-to-pull-off  hair for school can be a challenge especially if you have a child that has extremely long hair! Thank goodness for our friends from Aupair.net for culling this wonderful list of 24 websites where you can go to nab fab, cute and age-appropriate hairstyle for your tot to teen. Reposting this for Back To School prep.

 Here are 8 links dedicated to long hair
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