Posts Tagged ‘new parents’

Tax Breaks for New Parents

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

DSCN2510Most parents aren’t aware of all the tax deductions you can take besides just the one for having a child. You can deduct birth expenses, childcare, nursing supplies like a rental or purchase of a pump, and you can even deduct your doula.

If you adopted a child this year, there are tax credits for that, too. And if you’re a single parent, you will now be eligible to file as head of household, which gets you additional deductions as well.

In 2015, new parents get more tax breaks than ever before for baby and breastfeeding-related expenses. So what can you deduct if you itemize?

  • Birth center or hospital stay. You can deduct whatever portion of your stay insurance had you pay for out of pocket.
  • Midwife or OB/GYN fee. The bill for your care provider is separate from your hospital bill, and it’s also deductible.
  • Doula. Doulas aren’t covered by insurance, and even though they aren’t medical providers, they are necessary (or at least many women think so!) for birth.
  • Adoption. If you adopted, the Adoption Tax credit is available to offset your out-of-pocket costs for up to $13,360 for couples who make less than $185,000 a year.
  • Daycare. The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit allows you to take deductions for childcare expenses up to a certain amount. You’ll need the tax number or name of your day care center, or if you use an individual who watches children in your home or their home, you’ll need their social security or tax number.
  • Pumping and nursing supplies. For the first time ever, moms can count breast pumps and “supplies that assist lactation” as medical expenses! Apparently, this change was suggested in 2010 but was rejected because the IRS didn’t think breastfeeding had enough benefits to be considered medical care. Insane.

For more information on these and other tax breaks, please talk to a qualified accountant. This information is not intended to be the sum total of your tax advice. Thankfully, my tax guy is super cool and didn’t blink an eye as I sorted through medical statements while nursing my now 1-year-old tax deduction.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mom of three girls who lives and writes in Queensbury, New York. 

Start a Date Night In: Part II

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

date niteThe first post for Date Night In covered some of the benefits of incorporating a consistent at-home date night into your relationship and schedule.  From personal experience, I can tell you that it is such a great way to build your marriage. I don’t know that our rules are necessarily the way to do it, but after a few years of a Date Night In routine, this is what works best for us.

  1. Be Regular. This is a cornerstone of Date Night In for my husband and I. We really look forward to date night, especially when work and life with toddlers is particularly challenging. Knowing that a specific day of the week is planned and dedicated as date night gives us something to look forward to for balancing out our week. We stick to once a week because that’s what works best for us– if we only have at-home dates twice a month, we notice that we feel less connected and are more likely to have communication issues. If you are great at sticking to a schedule, pick one day a week to always be “date night.” It’ll be easier to plan for and schedule around if you use the same day each week. If you can’t commit to the same day each week, pick a day on Saturday or Sunday when you plan our your family’s weekly schedule. Put the date on the calendar, write little count-down notes to your spouse – look forward to it! It’ll become a favorite part of your week.
  2. Plan Ahead. Date Night In is about setting aside time for connection and growth in your marriage–don’t wing it five minutes beforehand. Take the time to brainstorm a few ideas for you would love to do with that time together: Is there a movie that you know your spouse really wants to watch? Is there an idea you haven’t tried that you’d know would be a blast? When you take the time to think your ideas through, it will be more fun, and your spouse will see that you’ve put thought and effort into it. Speaking from experience, the well-planned, thoughtful dates filled with small details are the best. When we’ve been burnt out and thrown a date together last minute, it feels more like any other night rather than our special Date Night In. With just a day or two of advance planning, you’ll have time to write a date invite note, pick up the Redbox movie, borrow a game from a friend, or pick up that special treat that matches your theme. Planning ahead will also help you stick to your budget. If you know you have $10 to spend for a particular date, brainstorming thrifty ideas a few days out will help.
  3. Alternate Planning Duty. Everyone has different preferences for how they like to spend their downtime. Taking turns planning Date Night In will allow each spouse to pick their preferred date style often enough to keep the dates balanced. For our at-home dates, my husband prefers movies and indulgent treats. He’ll often pick a movie for us to watch and come up with a meal or snack idea that matches the theme of the movie. I have a lot of fun with him on those dates, but my “go to” date is a variation of game night. We have a number of two-player games that we both enjoy, and I have fun chatting and being silly during those dates. Alternating planning duty is also a great “act of service” gesture–the spouse not planning that week gets to see the other spouse put some thought and time into the date, simply because they want to show their love.  It is very meaningful for me to hear my husband’s date night pitch; I love his creativity and appreciate that he spent time away from his growing to-do list to put our date together.
  4. Pick a Theme. Having Date Night In themes is really a blast. It can take a little while to get used to the idea–at first it might feel a little awkward. At first, I would hesitantly hand my husband a “date card” with the plan for our date, hoping he wouldn’t think I was silly and would be willing to go with it. Of course he loved it, and silliness in a marriage is a good thing! There is so much you can do for planning date nights based on a theme. We’ve done so many fun, creative dates for each other. Movies and TV shows are great for themes–you can decorate your date space to match a theme, print out an image from the show or movie for your date invite, pick out a meal or a snack that fits with the concept. Other ideas include game night, dancing, massage swap, cookie-baking, sports watching, bathtub soak–anything you like to do together. Get creative and think of things that would surprise your spouse.
  5. No Distractions. This is one of the most important components of Date Night In. No technology–no cell phones, no tablet, no computer. Log off of your social media sites, turn your phone to “do not disturb,” leave email for later.  Last-minute work, kitchen duty, and craft projects do not belong on Date Night. When both spouses shut out these external distractions for a few hours, it speaks volumes. It says that you are committed to Date Night In and that you are giving your spouse your full attention. Babies might wake up and disrupt at-home dates–they certainly do in our home! But for the most part, it is easy to turn off the distractions and give each other complete focus. What a gift to be able to focus on just one another for a few hours each week. As you start incorporating at-home dates with no distractions into your week, I’m sure you’ll feel the difference between time spent together with access to those little distractions and a true Date Night In.

Ready to start planning Date Night In for you and your spouse? I’m excited to share some of our favorite date nights with you–stay tuned for more Date Night In posts. Happy Dating!

Claire Dodge is a wife and mother of two toddlers living in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. She is a Birth Boot Camp natural childbirth instructor and helps her husband part-time in his prenatal and pediatric chiropractic office. She loves all things natural living and attachment parenting, and loves to get lost in books, yarn, and a good run.