How Kids Put on Their Own Shoes, in 32 Maddening Steps

We have a shoe rack. One shoe rack in the same place by the same door where it has always been for the past few years. IT IS THE ONE LOCATION FOR SHOES. And yet the finding of shoes and placement of them on my children’s feet makes me cry tears that taste a lot like the broken dreams of a woman who understands nothing anymore.


Despite my reminding them of where to put their shoes and how to put them on two to six times a day every day for approximately 1,277 days so far, the process of allowing my kids to put on their own shoes has been a long, painful experience. I know I am not alone here. When I even mention the phrase “my kids’ shoes,” most of my friends throw whatever is nearest them at a wall in frustration. Thankfully, I have learned to duck.

No matter how much time passes, or how old or capable my kids become, the shoe situation is always something that remains a complicated, frustrating ordeal. Here are all the things that happen when I—or any other mom—optimistically call out, “It’s time to put your shoes on!”

1. The kids dash away in any direction other than the one where the shoes are kept.

2. I shout, “WHERE ARE YOU GOING?”

3. They claim they need to poop or find something or hide in a closet.

4. I move closer to where they ran to and start counting to three.

5. The kids insist they are getting socks, which I had told them to get, like, two hours ago.

6. Sounds of struggle and some banging will be heard.

7. They will come back to show me that they have socks on.

8. The socks will not match, be clean, or be put on right-side-out.

9. I will sigh and say, “Just go put your shoes on,” while pointing to the one place the shoes should be.

10. Shoes there will not be the ones the kids want to wear.

11. The hunt for the only pairs of shoes not there will frantically begin.

12. One kid will find a shoe in a toy box and put it on. It will be his sister’s shoe.

13. His sister will FREAK THE FREAK OUT that he is breaking her shoe forever in meanness because he is a poopyhead.

14. Ritz crackers will be eaten by one kid while I calm down the other.

15. I will look at the cracker-eating kid and tell him to find ALL THE SHOES OR ELSE.

16. While he does that, I will remind everyone that they are about to be late.

17. One kid will turn on a TV.

18. The other kid will show up riding a broomstick pony and wearing a cape but no pants or shoes.

19. I will pinch that spot between my eyebrows and take slow, deep breaths.

20. The kid with one shoe on will now want a cape, too.

21. A chase commences.

22. Yelling does, too.

23. And a threat or two.

24. All kids will be corralled to sit on the floor next to the door they should have walked through 10 minutes ago while I stand above them telling them to JUST PUT THESE SHOES ON NOW LET’S GOGOGOGOGO.

25. At least one kid will forget how to tie his shoelaces.

26. At least one kid will put her shoes on the wrong feet.

27. I will roll my head back, stare at the ceiling, and fondly recall the days when my offspring were too young to wear shoes.

28. When I look back down, the kids will be wrestling.

29. I will break it up and reach to put the kids’ shoes on for them, only to have the kids shout in their most offended voices that they want to do it themselves.

30. I will say, “FINE. Just carry them to the car and do it in there HOW IS THIS SUCH A LONG PROCESS EVERY DAY?!! OMG, JUST NOBODY TALK. JUST GET IN THE CAR.”

31. Everyone will shuffle to the car, some in tears, some just feeling ragey, and buckle right in without a word.

32. Within seconds, everyone’s shoes will be magically on exactly as they should be, proving that those kids do know how to put their own damn shoes on, after all.

More Mom Truths:

Graphic: Kim Bongiorno