Cold Season Cures from a Kitchen Witch

Cold Season Cures from a Kitchen Witch

Kitchen cures for colds and the like are a dime a dozen, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work! With sickness season upon us and will soon ramp up into the absolute worst that tiny microbes can throw at us. If you have kids in school – literally any school, even home-school somehow – they’re going to turn into walking, talking petri dishes. You can load them up on medicine, give them three scarves and an overcoat, but they’re going to be sneezing regardless.

If you’re like me, you love science – I think medicine, vaccines, and pizza bagels are all wonderful advances for humankind. Sometimes, however, you might not want to give your kids (or self) 3 different medicines, all filled with items you can’t pronounce. Luckily there are some simple-to-use, cheap and easy home remedies that absolutely work to fight off colds and other nasties.

Some of these you will buy at the store, some you’ll make yourself, but all of them are things I personally do and I very, very rarely get sick. Even when my kids are little germ tornadoes, I weather the storm with these witchy kitchen hacks, and you can, too!

Kitchen Cures for Colds

When I know I’m going to get sick, I feel it at the back of my throat. It starts not as a sore throat but as a tickle, usually, maybe scratchiness, but I still know. That’s when I start taking raw, whole garlic.

Garlic has anti-microbial properties, but it’s especially good for when you’re getting sick in the sinuses. For most people, eating a whole clove at once might be…difficult. Dicing it up, however, makes it easier to take, and has the bonus of being incredibly spicy, which often clears out sinuses.

For colds or influenza, I will mix 1-2 cloves of chopped garlic with a tablespoon of raw honey and take that. It helps with sore throats, coughing, and it shortens the duration of my colds. If I get ahead of getting sick by taking this mixture, I can often completely avoid a full-blown cold entirely.

Kombucha is another thing I’ll start chugging at the first sign of a cold. The probiotics in kombucha bolster the gut microbiome, which in turn makes your immune system more robust. Opt for kombucha with less sugar, however – sugar itself can damage your gut biome and we want to avoid that.

kitchen hacks cure colds

Bone Broth

Chicken soup is good for more than a light meal when you feel bad. Actual scientific research shows that hot drinks like soup or tea help thin out mucus, which makes it less gummy in your lungs and easier to get rid of. Chicken soup in particular (when made with bone broth) has anti-inflammatory effects which can reduce nasal swelling, helping you breathe. The collagen in chicken bone broth also boosts the health of your gut lining, which again makes your immune system stronger.

Get a whole chicken from the store and toss it in the crock pot on high for 3-4 hours with some veggies. Strip the meat off the bones and use it in whatever you’d like – we’re here for the skeleton (I told you this was witchy). Drop the crock to low, add 6 cups of water, some salt, 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and let it cook for about 10 hours. This will draw out the collagen and give you a lovely bone broth. Just make sure you strain it before enjoying this kitchen cure.

Spice Kitchen Cures

Ginger is great for soothing a sore throat and it can suppress a cough as well. You take a few thin slices of fresh ginger and steep it like tea in hot water, adding actual tea bags if you like. The spicy ginger is soothing on your sore throat, and if you add some honey it can be a one-two punch against coughs. It definitely my go-to kitchen cure.

Echinacea root, taken as a tea (around 1-2 grams) a few times a day can help prevent the cold from getting a hold in your body. This is best done when I see my kids or husband’s eyes get that glassy, “I’m getting a cold” look. It’s like those over-the-counter cold preventatives but this actually works.

Turmeric mixed into your morning coffee – about a 1.5 tsps – has a potent anti-inflammatory effect. If coffee isn’t your thing, try turmeric tea instead, which you can make the same way as turmeric coffee with black tea bags, or you can buy turmeric tea bags already pre-made.

Cough remedies

Especially in fall as mold grows in the damp weather and fields are harvested, allergies are rampant. If not treated, allergies quickly turn into upper respiratory infections and we don’t want that.

Honey has been proven to be as useful if not better than dextromethorphan (cough syrup) at treating, well, coughs. This study showed that 2.5ml of honey at bed time was better at suppressing coughs than over-the-counter cough syrups, and that’s great because cough syrup has a taste that is staggeringly awful. Do remember that you cannot give honey to kids under 1 year old, due to the chances of botulism spores being present.

Black licorice – whether you love it or hate it – can be a powerful medicine. Now, it’s not the candy that people who don’t love you give you as a treat – this is flavored with anise and has no medicinal properties. You want actual licorice root which contains glycyrrhizin, which reduces inflammation in the lungs. With all that said, you should avoid the root in excess of 1 gram a day (you can make a tea with it), as it really is potent and can cause problems in high doses. Best to stick with a lozenge that has licorice root as an active ingredient and stick strictly to the usage limits.

Eucalyptus oil and vaporubs are the smell we might have grown up with, but for a very good reason. These vaporubs can improve cold symptoms in just a few hours of application, opening airways, fighting inflammation and improving coughs. While I like essential oils, I don’t rely on them to fix my family’s sickness BUT eucalyptus oil in a humidifier is great when your family is coughing their lungs out at nighttime.

Stomach problems

Nobody wants this but it’s there so let’s talk about it. Woof.

Ginger again, steeped in hot water with peppermint tea will do wonders for nausea. We often break up peppermints into hot water with a slice of ginger and give it to our kids, as sucking on a peppermint is great for tummy troubles but the choking risk of hard candy is a no-no.

While not a remedy exactly, if you’re nauseated, closing your fist around your thumb can suppress the urge to vomit. Massaging point where your thumb is anchored to your hand is another way to ease nausea.

Don’t believe me? Try closing your fist around your thumb (same hand, basically make a fist with your thumb tucked inside) and then test your gag reflex; pretty wild, eh?

Mint is an herb we grow quite a lot of around our house, especially since it’s perfect for gardening on a budget. Since it’s somewhat invasive, make sure you tend to it regularly or it will take over whatever bed it’s growing in. That said, a tea made with 4-5 bruised mint leaves helps reduce nausea and stomach pain when you’ve got gastroenteritis or food poisoning.

Chamomile is another herb we love, as it’s similar to turmeric with its anti-inflammatory benefits. If you don’t grow chamomile, you can buy dried flowers online (or if you have a holistic/health food store nearby, you can probably get them there). Steep 3 dried flowers in hot water for about 10 minutes and then add some honey. This mixture is good for cramping, diarrhea and nausea.

Home remedies for colds are legit

Again, I don’t want to suggest you be afraid of science, but there are traditional medicines that have real, absolute uses in the 21st century. Sometimes letting a fever run its course is better than taking ibuprofen unless it’s keeping you from sleeping. Inflammation is the cause of a lot of the nastiness with almost all illness, and dealing with that using medicine can sometimes hurt just as much as it helps.

For instance, if you’re dealing with stomach pain and cramps, taking aspirin or ibuprofen might make the pain much worse. Soothing herbal teas have scientific validity and real-world applications. Plus, you can grow the necessary herbs yourself!

Do you have any kitchen hacks for colds that you think are worth sharing?

We’d love to read about them in the comments – building up a repertoire of useful home remedies for sickness is essential for any kitchen witch (and even non-witchy moms or dads)!

Wundertots Review

Wundertots Review

When I had my first child in 2013, I had all sorts of delusional ideas about his childcare. Like many first time moms, I had serious plans to have it all – a small classroom, multiple teachers, video monitoring, organic meals, plenty of outdoor time…

Instead, despite over 50% of my paycheck going to said childcare, I got none of that.

Teacher to Parent Communication Failure

While there were many frustrating moments surrounding my son’s daycare, it all boiled down to a serious lack of communication between the teachers, the director, and the parents. Now I’m incredibly fortunate to no longer have to deal with such things, given that I now work from home as a blogger and business strategist, but the sting still remains.

The idea that there is such disconnect between families and those put in charge of watching their children just breaks my heart.

So when a lifelong friend of mine mentioned to me that he had created an app meant to bridge said disconnect, I couldn’t wait to hear more!

Enter: David Jones with Lite Injen Labs

lite injen labs story

David is the founder of Lite Injen Labs and a father of three, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to creating a brilliant app that meets the needs of parent and daycare alike. There are certainly quite a few apps now on the market that allow for streamlined communication between childcare center and parent, but David wanted to take things a step further.

Thus Wundertots was born.

Wundertots Review

Unlike the “one stop shop” apps that many childcare centers may use these days, Wundertots is a custom built solution that allows the user to craft a tool specific to their needs (and the needs/desires of the parents!)

For example, should a childcare center or preschool be special needs oriented, Lite Injen Labs can customize the app to allow for additional features that similar apps fall short on.

Just imagine how nice it would be to remove the fear that your child is still crying an hour after drop-off! Instead of spending the day filled with dread, you could open up an app and see in real time just how your child thrives, even when you’re not around.

Unique Features

While I’m obviously all about the parent-focused features, there’s also a number of great behind-the-scenes that are greatly beneficial to those working at our childcare institutions. Not only do you get 3 months of back-end support, but there’s a backoffice feature that instructors can use to build a profile on each student.

I love the idea of being able to quickly and easily look back on my child’s growth and milestone achievements with just a few swipes of the finger!

Another personal favorite feature of mine is that Wundertots includes a fingerprint scanner function that does away with needing to remember what forms are due to be signed and when. No more worrying about forgetting to turn in a field trip permission slip or crossing your fingers that it makes it from your child’s bag to the teacher!

Wundertots App Spec Sheet

Invest in Wundertots

This app is perfect for any childcare institution – preschools, daycares, Sunday schools, camps, the list could go on and on. Basically any institution that wants analytical monitoring plus a way to better communicate with their parents should be looking to Wundertots. Not only will it make lives easier all around, but it’ll provide parents with serious confidence in knowing their children have been left in the best of hands.

If you want to be the best, you have to have the best – and that’s Wundertots.

Should you be interested in learning more about Wundertots (or being part of a case study for it) I definitely encourage you to contact Lite Injen Labs at 855-464-6536 or shoot them an e-mail at Support@liteinjenlabs.com.

wundertots mock up image

Do you have experience with similar apps introduced to you via your childcare institution?

I’d love for you to comment below and share with me!

 

Decluttering With Kids: Helping Them Let Go of Stuff

Decluttering With Kids: Helping Them Let Go of Stuff

Every time you step on a minefield of Legos, you probably think “these kids have too many toys”. You’re also probably right, but telling a kid that they have too many toys is…well just try it. Our kids are the first to talk about what they’re going to get for Christmas while the birthday wrapping is still on the floor.

The point is, it’s hard to convince kids that they should maybe get rid of some of their stuff. Their frame of reference is far shorter than ours as adults, so to them, this is ALL their stuff. But as they get new toys and games, there’s got to be some compromise lest your entire house explode like a cartoon.

Going into the conversation in the right mindset, with the right tools and a solid plan will help you immensely. Your kids might be resistant at first, but if you follow these steps you should be victorious in the long run.

How to Get Kids to Help You Declutter

get kids to help declutter

Ask them how they feel about the idea

If you approach it with a “it’s time we give your toys away” attitude, they’re going to balk. Talk to your kids about how they would feel about giving some of their toys away. They’ll still probably be quite resistant, but a discussion is better than an ultimatum.

Address each of their concerns thoroughly and don’t dismiss them. Again, these are their things, and when you’re 5, ownership is a weird concept. Explain that there are some toys that they simply don’t play with anymore, that giving anything away would be their choice and that you’re not forcing anything. This will allow them to consider and come to their own conclusion at first, making it more likely they’ll be receptive to the idea.

Appeal to their sense of being “grown up”, and that letting go of old toys is a symbol of that.

Explain to them that if they DO give away toys, you will donate them to kids who don’t have any. Especially around the holidays when there are kids who won’t get much of any presents, your kids will feel good about helping other children.

Reiterate that it will still be their choice and that you won’t get rid of anything unless they say it’s okay.

Bust out the totes

Once your child agrees, the best thing to do is to get a handful of big storage totes and sit down in their room with them. You can go through their toys with them, sorting them into a “keep” and a “donate” tote. Once you’ve gone through everything, take the “donate” tote and put it up somewhere; your garage, attic or a closet are best. Leave it there for a few months just in case your child changes their mind about something. If they haven’t said anything about the toys after a few months, you can safely donate them.

Embrace sentimentality (to a point)

If you have a stuffed animal that was yours and you gave it to your child, then obviously that can stay. Their first blocks, or their favorite pacifier can still be used for any other kids you might have, so keep them, too.

If your kids are getting into the trenches about a Ninja Turtle they found in the back of the closet they haven’t seen in 3 years, that’s a different story. Additionally if they have a lot of baby toys that hold a lot of emotional weight but that won’t get used, store them in a safe place until your kids have kids of their own. I personally have multiple books that were owned by my mom when she was a kid that she read to me, that I now read to my babies.

Storing – not donating – of sentimental objects functions similarly to decluttering, but without the emotional loss of donating.

Make them into little entrepreneurs

If you are planning on having a garage sale, explain that they could make money on their old toys by selling them. Make sure they know that by selling a lot of old stuff they don’t use, they can pick up new stuff. While the ultimate goal of decluttering is to get rid of extra stuff, selling old toys to buy new ones has a distilling effect. Rather, the volume of stuff they get rid of will be much larger than any new stuff they buy. This also gives them some control over their domain which is always new and exciting.

Establish a “too big bin”

My daughter loves clothes – she changes outfits more than a Superbowl halftime singer. The problem comes when we go to dress her and every outfit I pull from her dresser is too small. The solution for us was a “too big bin”.

Essentially as your child goes to get dressed and finds that the clothes they’re putting on are too small, they take them off and into the bin they go. This can be a clothes hamper, box or (if you’re like me) a tote. The clothes can then be donated or sold. It keeps clothes that don’t fit from popping up when you’re 15 minutes late to dance.

Plus selling clothes is a great way to then re-invest in “new” ones, thereby getting kids’ clothes basically free!

Click for More Ways to Save on Clothes

Give them options for where to donate

The blanket concept of “donating” your old stuff is pretty broad, and it’s especially broad when you’re 5. Sit down and explain the many different places and people that can use their toys and clothes and why. For instance:

– Hospitals

– Preschools

– Family shelters

– Homeless shelters

– Resale stores that employ the homeless, disabled or other at-risk individuals

– Churches that have programs to serve the less financially stable in your community

You can also suggest they sell their stuff like we talked about above, but then show them charities to which they can donate the money. Programs for animals and kids are the ones our children are drawn to, but there are as many charities out there as there are causes to champion. You’ll find one that appeals to your kids.

Enable empathy

Your kids are little blank slates; if you show them that hoarding wealth and possessions is good, they’re going to grow up believing that. The same thing goes with showing them that they can help other people by donating their time, money and stuff.

We’re a family that’s big into volunteering with children, including making blessing bags for the homeless every year.

Most children look at their possessions as simply what they are, and they interact with them accordingly. If you show them that they can help other people, make money or contribute to the housework by donating or selling their stuff, suddenly they gain a new level of autonomy over their lives. You’d be surprised at how motivating a feeling of control and efficacy can be, especially for kids.

Have you decluttered your kids’ room? Did they help, were they resistant or did everything go better than expected? Let us know in the comments what worked for you!

Is Euzema Revival Cream Worth Using For Eczema?

Is Euzema Revival Cream Worth Using For Eczema?

Natural ways to fight eczema aren’t easy to find – at least not ones that actually work. My daughter and husband both suffer from eczema, so we’re always on the lookout for something that can help with the itching and rashes. We’d picked up various skin calming lotions from Walgreens or other pharmacies and it always worked just okay to relieve itching. My husband has shampoo specifically for flare-ups that again does an okay job at relieving his symptoms.

I’m not a fan of “just okay” though, so when a family member recommended Euzema Confidence Revival Cream as a better solution, I decided to check it out. Right off the bat I noticed that they’re really pushing that it’s all natural and traditional ingredients that they use. I’m not suggesting this is good or bad, but it is their focus.

I picked some up and decided to do some experiments to see if it really was worth using compared to the stuff we already had.

Consistency

The first thing I noticed is that it’s got an interesting smell. It’s not bad, but it’s very potent. There’s frankincense as an ingredient, but it doesn’t come across as strongly once applied. The consistency of the cream is something like paste, but it goes on silky smooth without an oily residue. A little goes a long way on rashes, as my husband used what he thought was a conservative estimate and found that it was almost too much.

The jar we got is small, but realizing it doesn’t take much made me feel better about the product size.

Is Euzema only for eczema?

The package claims to be useful for psoriasis, rashes, bug bites and allergic reactions, including just dry, flaky skin. While I wouldn’t want to use it just as a lotion for dry skin, it does appear to be useful if you’ve got an eczema-similar skin condition and need something. We wanted something without steroids, especially for our daughter and Euzema’s all-natural formula was a big selling point.

The fact that it’s supposedly useful for things other than clinical skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis is great. We have terrible mosquitoes around our neighborhood and we’re not without bug bites every evening during the summer. Having another tool to in our arsenal to combat the mind-numbing itching from summer bugs is always welcome.

But DOES it work?

Euzema Confidence Revival Cream Review

Purple and white box with Euzema written on it

Does Euzema actually work?

We did a couple of experiments to make sure it was:

1 – not going to cause a reaction itself and

2 – would actually work for rashes, bug bites, eczema, etc.

First my husband and I both tried it on our normal, non-itchy skin. We rubbed in a pea-sized amount on our arms and waited and had no adverse reaction.

Next, my husband put some on an eczema flare on his face, and this was where he started with too much. It wipes off easily without a gross residue, though, so we finally dialed in the perfect amount. He said the itching calmed down almost immediately and within a few hours the redness had subsided significantly. The next morning it was starting to clear up, which put a smile on his face because flares are unbelievably itchy and obnoxious.

We tried it on my daughter’s itchy, dry eczema patches next and again, it quickly stopped the itching. The areas were significantly less red within a few hours. We also tried it on various bug bites we all had and it seemed to help calm the itching down.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) we didn’t have any other rashes or bites to try it on, but the small sample size we do have seemed to indicate it works!

What’s in Euzema?

There are many natural herbs used within Euzema. First, there’s licorice root – famously known for its use in traditional Chinese medicine. Licorice root is great as an antiviral and really helps moisturize the skin.

Next there’s something called Aquilara Agallocha. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how to say that, let alone what it was before using Euzema. A bit of research, though, shows me that it’s another name for Agarwood. Agarwood is often used in incense and it’s bark is turned into a paste for many skin conditions, including eczema.

Another one I had to look up was Trichosanthes Kirilowii Fruit. As expected, this fruit is another one common in Chinese medicine. It has many anti-inflammatory properties and is known for treating ailments both outside and within the body.

Lastly there’s the bamboo extract (yay one I didn’t have to look up!) Bamboo extract has natural anti-inflammatory properties and contains minerals such as: iron, Vitamin C, and calcium. Euzema even utilizes the natural wax of the bamboo to create the base of this ointment!

euzema skin ingredients

Is Euzema worth the cost?

My husband said it was much more pleasant than the calming creams we have. He said they typically almost hurt when first applied to itchy, inflamed skin but the Euzema didn’t and worked almost immediately. My daughter’s itching stopped almost immediately, too, so she had no complaints.

It’s somewhat expensive, around $50/bottle, but the effective dose is small enough that the bottle should last you a while. It does seem to be more effective than over-the-counter creams, it’s all-natural. Given that it definitely does work, there’s plenty of “pros” to account for the cost.

As for cons, I’m not a big fan of the scent and again, the price is a bit steep, at least at face value. If it works for you as well as it appears to have worked for us, though, it’s well worth it. In particular if it works for psoriasis or for stubborn rashes, it’s definitely worth not having to use steroidal creams.

Euzema skincare claims that it also works on small cuts and pimples, and also on freckles by diminishing their appearance. The most useful aspects do seem to be on rashes, allergic reactions and chronic skin problems.

Have you been dealing with chronic, itchy skin problems and do you have a go-to product that helps?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments, especially if you have experience with Euzema yourself.

Hiring an Au Pair – Is It Worth It?

Hiring an Au Pair – Is It Worth It?

As much joy as parenthood brings, it also requires parents to shell out big bucks for childcare. In the United States, the average cost of Monday-through-Friday daycare adds up to a staggering $11,666 per year, or about $972 each month. Remember, that’s the average price tag — some parents will pay even more to have someone look after their child while they work.

Surprisingly, there’s another option, and it’s one that’s just as reputable as the local daycare center or a well-reviewed nanny. On top of that, it doesn’t cost nearly as much as traditional avenues — and your family might get a bit of a cultural experience out of it to boot.

What Is It?

Since World War II, Europeans have been enlisting the help of au pairs to help raise their children. The program started as women began coming into their own and seeking ways to make a living. At the same time, middle-class families struggled to find help because the number of available domestic workers decreased at the time. As such, the idea of an au pair came to be, and it helped both groups to get on their feet.

Nowadays, the idea of the au pair has made its way from Europe to the United States and beyond. Typically, families hire a childminder from another country who can provide great care while teaching the little ones another language or the culture of another country.

Saving Money with An Au Pair

hiring an au pair

What Does an Au Pair Do?

An au pair might, at first, seem comparable to a nanny, but they’ll come to your home through a government-regulated agency to ensure both you and the au pair are well taken care of throughout their stay.

For starters, an au pair is tasked with sharing his or her culture and language with the family with whom they stay. Let’s say you want your children to learn Spanish — hiring an au pair from Spain would be a great way to make sure. These assets are the most valuable that an au pair provides, and they separate them from a typical nanny. Of course, you can hire a nanny who speaks another language, but an au pair makes it part of their mission to enlighten little ones about other parts of the world while providing care.

Work Schedule

To that end, the rest of an au pair’s to-dos look a lot like a traditional nanny’s. In most agreements, the au pair will work for 45 hours a week, during which they can helm the childcare services you need — everything from infant care to cooking to light cleaning can be included. Don’t expect your au pair to do full-on house cleaning, however, as their contract will ensure that they’re only handling child-related cleaning. This duty list can include laundry and toy pick-up, for example, but they won’t be deep-cleaning any of the spaces in your home.

Au pairs are great resources for families on the go too. Since they’ll live with you — more on that later — they can come with you on trips to help you take care of your brood. All of these services come with a longer commitment than what you can get from some nannies. Your au pair will likely sign a one-year contract, so you can rest easy knowing that your employee won’t just quit and leave you in the lurch.

How Do I Get an Au Pair?

As previously mentioned, the state department regulates au pair programs to ensure that both families and hired childcare providers are safe. You’ll have to make sure your home has the potential to accommodate an in-house childcare provider. Au pairs will move in with your family for the duration of their contract, so they should have their own bedroom with a window and closet as well as access to a bathroom.

You’ll also have to provide him or her with a weekly stipend of about $200, full board and at least 1.5 days off per week. Some au pairs will come to America to learn English while they provide childcare — if your contract requires it, you might have to drive your au pair to and from such lessons as well.

Meet with an Agency

A slew of agencies exist to connect families with the right au pair. Most of the time, you’ll post online and share a bit about you and your family. Then, you can peruse available childcare providers — and they can search for your profile too. Once you find one with whom you connect, you can suss out the details of your contract with the agency. Usually, they charge application fees, and you’ll have to pay a bit more once you find the right person for the job.

Even with the agency costs, application fees and weekly stipend, hiring an au pair can be a much more cost-effective option than nannies or daycare centers. Plus, you and your children will benefit from the cultural experience — and you might just make a lifelong connection with the young man or woman who comes to care for your children. It’s a wonder that au pairs are so often overlooked as a way to care for children — now that you know the secret, you might just be ready to find a foreign caretaker to look after your little ones.

 

brown hair girl with glasses smiling wearing a blue shirtJennifer Landis is the Mindful Mama behind the blog of (almost) the same name – Mindfulness Mama. She hopes to help other mamas make more out of mom life by sharing her expertise in parenting, budgeting basics, and healthy living. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.

How to Save on School Supplies

How to Save on School Supplies

The dreaded rush to get the kids prepped for back-to-school time is upon us. New clothes, new backpacks, new pencils – new, new, new. It all costs money and you might end up in an argument or two before the end of it.

Serious question – is wine an acceptable addition to a back-to-school list (for me, I mean)?

Fortunately, with a little preparation and planning, you can get everything your kids need, some of the things they want, and still have cash left in your wallet. And maybe a little sanity left in your mind!

Budget-Friendly Back to School Tips

save money back to school

 

Start by planning

At this point you should have a list of things your kids need from their school. It may be tempting to just run to Target or wherever and pick it all up and be done. This is the worst thing you can do. A tiny bit of planning, forethought, and restraint can save you a tremendous amount of stress and money.

Scour your house first

Your kids have random school supplies all over your house; it’s their nature. You very rarely will need to buy crayons, pens, pencils, markers, or cases year-to-year unless your child is an avid artist. This alone could save you $10 or more.

Create a detailed list

Once you know what you need, make a list and stick to it. The smartest way to go about this is to schedule an in-store pick-up. This will help you avoid impulse buys, especially at places like Target where they layout is designed to make you impulse-buy. Go in with blinders on, buy only what you need and get out. Not today, Satan!

You can also shop online

Shopping online is a fantastic way to avoid impulse purchases. No silly little things to buy near the register if there are no registers!

Involve your kids

Kids love new stuff; honestly, we all do. It’s not reasonable that you can buy every new and designer thing they want, but if you talk to them about what they want the most you can come to a reasonable agreement that leaves you both happy.

Plan around “tax holidays”

Now, my state doesn’t do this, but many do. To ease the burden on families, many states have what are known as “sales tax holidays” and they’re exactly how they sound. These designated days allow you to buy kid-centric items without sales tax.

Garage sales are your friend

Starting as soon as the weather gets nice, start hitting up garage sales to get gently used clothes at a bargain price. Kids grow up quickly and nobody wants totes of old clothes lying around. You can typically even find designer kids’ clothes at insanely low prices just because nobody wants them once they’ve been outgrown.

Click for Our Top Tips on Saving Money with Kids Clothes!

 

Don’t get caught up in the small things

Cutting coupons and running across town because markers are .25c cheaper at Walmart than Target is not worth it, especially with gas being expensive. Instead, plan on comparison shopping for your bigger ticket items; laptops, shoes, backpacks, uniforms, etc.

Shop smart

So now that you have your plan of attack established, you can save money in a ton of different ways. There are sites that give you money back, some that save you money, and a few others in-between.

Buy discounted gift cards

We all get gift cards we don’t want sometimes. Did you know there are places online where you can sell those cards at a discount for cash you can use anywhere? It’s true, and these places naturally allow you to buy discounted cards as well. Check out Raise.com to learn more!

All of these sites function the same way, allowing you to pick up gift cards below their market value, which basically means free cash for you just for shopping at a specific place.

Buy online through Ebates (Rakuten)

We use Rakuten (what used to be Ebates) for virtually everything we buy online and we’ve covered that a few times in other articles. The premise is that they offer you discount codes and cash back when you buy from major online retailers through the Rakuten link. You can save quite a bit of money this way and then you get some cash back, too. Sign up through our link and you’ll get $10 in your Rakuten account after your first $25 transaction through a Rakuten link! We bought our most recent laptop through a Rakuten Dell link and earned about $80 back, in addition to the discount code provided. It’s a huge deal, so take advantage of it!

Join Rakuten and Start Saving Today!

 

Shop with kid-centric sites

So you can get everything in one-stop shops like Walmart or Target, but ThredUp and Schoola offer massive discounts on gently worn kids clothes and other items.

ThredUp is an online cosignment and thrift shop, with clothes for kids and moms at steep discounts. Our referral link will get your $10 off your first purchase, so check that out.

Along the same lines as thredUP, Schoola is a site that offers clothing at a discounted rate. The greatest part of Schoola however is the fact that 40% of their sales go to a local school of your choice. There’s no downside here, and our link will also net you $10 off your first purchase!

Schoola

Don’t shy away from dollar stores

Especially when your kids are younger, they’re not going to care if their Spiderman lunchbox came from Target or if it came from Dollar Tree. Use this to your advantage as long as you can, but also remember that you can get basic school supplies that are good quality from these places all the time.

Dollar Tree

Basic is best

When I was a kid, Lisa Frank stuff was what everyone wanted. The markup on those folders (through my adult eyes) is absurd when just a few folders in my favorite colors would have been fine. Get your kids in the habit of expressing themselves not through what they buy but just being themselves. A life lesson and savings all rolled into one! If your kid is a doodler, some basic notebooks and folders will be covered in their own artistic expression in no time, and it will have more personality than an expensive notebook ever could.

Plan for next year now

If you’ve got kids in school, you have an idea what they’ll need for next year. They might need some specific things going from one grade to another, but the notebooks, pencils, and art supplies remain the same. Here are some tips to help you for the next back-to-school season.

Take advantage of the post-season

Walgreens is one of my favorite places to shop, especially after a seasonal sale has ended (looking at you, Halloween candy). The same is true for back-to-school sales, where in the weeks after you’ll find stores scrambling to get rid of merchandise. This means savings up to 70% or more on things you will absolutely need again. You can always use spiral-bound notebooks, pencils, pens, folders, crayons, markers – the list is endless. The same 3-subject notebooks that are $2.99 at the start of BTS season are .45 cents after. They’re not going to spoil or go bad, so why not buy them now and keep them in a designated spot until next year?

Have a designated homework spot

Create a quiet, organized place for your kids to do homework, study, read and write. This not only builds consistently good study habits, but it also helps you keep track of all your school supplies. Make sure that all your notebooks, books, and writing instruments go back to this spot and you won’t need to scramble around your house for next year’s BTS rush.

Set up swaps

If you go to a school with a uniform – an increasingly popular prospect – see if you can swap your gently used uniforms with those of other families. Your 6th grader might have outgrown their clothes but the family down the street could have an 8th grader who doesn’t need their uniform anymore, and their 5th grader needs new outfits. Nobody likes having to buy new uniforms, so see what you can set up with your friends and neighbors.

Like with most things, planning is key to ensure that you don’t waste time or money. While back-to-school shopping with your kids can be a great bonding experience, be careful you don’t end up getting coerced into buying hundreds of dollars more than you intended. Plan ahead, set boundaries, opt for simplicity, shop online when you can, and go through websites that reward you for spending smartly. You’ll earn your degree in savings in no time flat!

What are some of your favorite back-to-school season savings tips?

Let us know in the comments!