Back-to-School Shopping Sans Clutter

Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend an average of $848.90 per child on back-to-school shopping this year, according to the National Retail Federation, or $59 more than last year.

Given the downturn in spending while kids were distance-learning during the #pandemic, the uptick isn’t surprising. In fact, that lull in spending may mean that many students (and their parents) will be buying more #stuff this year than ever before.

If you’re going to be shopping for school in the weeks ahead, consider what you really need — and what you and your kids can shed in order to make room for it. Otherwise, all of that too-small clothing and all of those broken iPads will just add to the #clutter.

To keep levels of #junk in check, do a thorough #decluttering before you send the kids back to school. Help your children sort toys and books into four piles, Motherly suggests: Keep, donate, trash and “not quite yet.” Put the not-quite-yets in a closet or other out-of-the-way place until your child is comfortable letting them go.

Clothing is simpler: If a garment doesn’t fit, it should be handed down, sold at your next #yardsale or #donated immediately. If something it too worn to be of any further use, you can cut it into rags or trash it.

Books that won’t get read again can go, too. While you may want to hold on to classics that get read again and again, some books are age- or classroom-specific. If your child isn’t going to read a book again, you can donate it to a local library or ClothingDonations.org.

Finally, you can take any starred assignments and drawings from last year off the bulletin board or fridge. New ones will be on the way in just a few weeks, and Family Handyman suggests several #space-saving ways to save and show off a few family favorites.

Once you’ve cleared out the extra stuff you won’t be using, you’ll have space for nearly $900 in new goods. Make a list and start shopping early, however, since there may be shortages of essential items such as backpacks, stationery and tablet computers due to supply-chain disruptions.

“What we will likely see is more limited choice and lower stock levels towards the end of the back-to-school period,” Neil Saunders, retail analyst at GlobalRetail Data, told CNN. “Some consumers will inevitably miss out on the things they want to purchase.”

Have Your First Post-Pandemic Garage Sale

Did you order and accumulate lot of extra #stuff during the COVID-19 shutdowns last year? Now that the pandemic is on the wane, you can finally have a #garage sale safely and make some money from that extra #junk. Sort through some your clothing, books and household goods and set aside whatever you don’t need that’s still in decent shape. Don’t overwhelm potential patrons with huge quantities of used clothing and books, Wholefully says; display and price only the best items in those categories and donate the rest.

Celebrating the Fourth of July Outdoors

The #pandemic is subsiding in most parts of the country, mostly thanks to a vigorous push to get people vaccinated against COVID-19 as quickly as possible. But you may still wish celebrate Independence Day outdoors this weekend.

The pandemic pushed people to take more of their activities outdoors over the last 18 months since the virus is difficult to transmit in open, well-ventilated areas. And there’s no reason to stop enjoying the outdoors — and the summer sun — now!

You may opt to get together with friends and family over a cookout or at the pool to observe the nation’s 244th birthday over the long weekend. Any or all of these options will now be relatively safe if you continue to take common-sense precautions.

The World Health Organization advises that even fully vaccinated people wear masks and practice other preventive measures such as hand-washing and social distancing to discourage the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Most people will be eager to see a parade and fireworks display since so many were canceled in 2020. Leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals, however — with record temperatures throughout the western half of the country, the risk of fire is substantial.

What’s more, pets and veterans alike may be traumatized by fireworks, says American Humane. The boom and bombast of ceremonial fireworks isn’t much different from live ammunition when you suffer from #PTSD.

Veterans’ groups will participate in Independence Day events throughout the country, however, appearing at parades and festivals. Many will feature fundraising for veterans’ causes, and all offer locals the opportunity to #thankaveteran personally.

If you have time, visit one of the country’s many state and national parks. More people have embraced hiking and camping during the pandemic, and there is probably no better or healthier way to see “America the Beautiful” up close.

Whatever you choose to do over the long weekend, try to get outside and celebrate the nation’s birthday safely. The pandemic is not yet over, but the good weather will end before you know it.

 

Managing a Move During the Pandemic

While slowing the spread of COVID-19 has required Americans to stay at home for more than year, where their homes are is changing rapidly. Since the start of the #pandemic, millions of people have pulled up stakes and #moved permanently.

Some people lost their jobs and were forced to move to save on expenses. Others want to find more space for their new #remote offices and classrooms. And some just want to get out of congested city centers and pursue a more socially distanced lifestyle every day.

If you’re looking at a move in the near future, be forewarned that the coronavirus has (of course) complicated the process. “Every task is just a little bit harder during the pandemic,” says USA Today.

To start, you’ll have to observe the proper sanitizing, masking and distancing precautions with any number of new people, including realtors or leasing agents, movers and storage facilities, and contractors and delivery personnel. And you’ll need them to take antiviral protocols seriously, too.

Look for “companies that require employees and customers to wear masks, detail how they practice social distancing, and can explain what steps they are taking to screen and protect their employees from becoming sick,” The New York Times says.

If you are in the market for a new home, rental and real estate agents are offering video tours to help people scope things out from a distance before they commit. Google’s Street View can also offer a preview of the new neighborhood.

Moving also means packing everything you own into boxes. Whether you’re purposely #downsizing or just trying to #streamline the moving process, weed out the things you won’t need in your new home; there’s no reason to move them.

As the disused clothing, books, small appliances and other household items start to pile up, set them aside in separate boxes and bags and contact ClothingDonations.org for a free, #contactless #donation #pickup. A masked driver will arrive on the appointed day to relieve you of that extra stuff.

Moving is never easy, but moving in pandemic times is that much more difficult. Let ClothingDonations.org help you strike at least one item off your long to-do list — and help you resettle happily in a new location as the pandemic slowly recedes.

Host a Virtual Super Bowl Get-Together

Technology is making it possible to join friends and family at a fully virtual, pandemic-era Super Bowl party that shares the fun while maintaining everyone’s safety. Hulu premium subscribers can use the Teleparty app to watch the game together on their screens, CNET says, or try Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Skype to “gather” remotely while watching the live broadcast. To get everyone engaged and involved, try a party game such as Big Game Bingo or rate the commercials together.