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Challenge: Back to School

Double Up When You Do Back To School Shopping

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I did not expect to be so emotional when it was time for my son to start school. But I was. It felt like the end of an era in parenting. The start of something new. I was excited about how he would grow during the day. But on that first day of school, while my son walked into the building carrying an oversized backpack, I carried shame.

We were still on food stamps (public assistance) and I felt like there was a sign around my neck advertising my poverty. My son was going to be attending school with children who came from families who had no idea what we had gone through. Would they judge us? Would they treat him differently? I worried about my son's clothes, his snacks, did I pack the right kind of lunch?

There wasn't time to hover on these feelings because I knew school was going to be the turning point for both of us. I would be able to take on more hours at work and by doing so I would soon be off public assistance.

But for a while there, times were tough for us. Very tough. For a while I flinched whenever my son was asked to bring in something extra for a school craft or event. When we turned the corner on our finances I still saw how stressful school could be for other parents.

That's why I know there are probably some families out there who are incredibly worried about all of the unknown expenses that come with back to school. We get the big list of supplies we need to provide our child, and we save and budget for it, but we can so easily be financially derailed by something. I've been there. Many of us have been there. If you are a mom feeling this panic and stress - please know you are NOT alone.

I would also like to encourage anyone who is able to, to double up when back to school shopping. If your child's list asks for one box of crayons, consider buying two or three and placing the extra aside. If you have backpacks your children have outgrown either by size or fashion, consider filling them up with back to school supplies and dropping them off at your local schools.

If your child comes home and says, "Mom! We have to bring in a pumpkin to school this week!" Maybe you have the budget to bring in an extra pumpkin. That's what a mom did for me when my son was in pre-school and I still weep with gratitude thinking about it.

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