21 Things Every Mom Knows About Back-to-School Time

We know how calendars work. We’re smart people! And yet every year, we will insist there is so much time to get everything done before school starts. We laugh and wave our hands and say, “I’ll get to it” while lazily sipping margaritas in the backyard, just out of reach of the kid’s water gun fight. Then we blink, two-and-a-half months fly by, and we realize it will take a glue stick-scented miracle to get everything done before school starts, beginning with the long-held tradition of Back-to-School Panic Prepping. Mind you, this prep is still done with a smile—YES! YES! YES WE DO! WE HAVE BACK-TO-SCHOOL SPRIT! HOW ‘BOUT YOU?—and we know exactly how it’s gonna go once we get started. So that helps a little. Right?


1. Nothing is more exciting to a child than realizing he is about to have his very first school locker. NOTHING IN THE UNIVERSE EVER. Thus, the locker lock purchase decision is the most important one you’ll have to make.

2. It’s considerably more legal to simply buy the required summer reading books at the store than attempt to bribe you way to the front of the library’s wait list.

3. This is a good time to maybe start emptying the kids’ backpacks from the last day of school three months ago.

4. An accurate back-to-school budget would be exactly $7 million per child. And that’s just to replace the thermoses your kids lost at camp this summer.

5. No Facebook comment threads are longer than the ones in which local parents announce the teachers their kids got this year.

6. It took Magellan less time to circumnavigate the planet Earth than it does for you to find that one, final college-ruled green composition book your son’s teacher absolutely requires him to have.

7. It’s not uncommon to cartwheel down the aisle when you DO manage to find that darn notebook.

8. Watching kids put on proper footwear for the first time in months and try to walk around the shoe store is not unlike watching a baby fawn take her first adorably clumsy steps.

9. None of the pants your kids wore six months ago fit anymore. NOT A SINGLE PAIR.

10. Back-to-school clothes shopping for your kids has two settings: trying to be totally chill about what you want them to wear vs what they want to wear, or getting weepy at how much they look like big kids in their new clothes as they roll their eyes at you, pretending they hate the shmoopy, love-filled attention.

11. There will be at least one conversation about whether or not you’re still allowed to hug and kiss them on school property.

12. You can create a Pinterest board full of school lunches that look like a rainbow of nutritionally balanced eye candy, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be back to throwing fistfuls of crackers and a rogue string cheese in their lunchboxes by the second week of school.

13. The closer you are to the first day back, the more likely your kids will finally master the habit of sleeping in.

14. The only thing more dangerous than the running of the bulls is the running of an errand at Target the week before school starts.

15. This is when the countdown begins for the ice cream truck to stop coming around, so the responsible thing to do is to get yourself and all your kids a treat from it every chance you get, while you still can.

16. It feels downright delicious to pack new school supplies in a new backpack with a new lunchbag.

17. The sounds your daughter and her friends will make when they are happily reunited on the blacktop for the first time in months can shatter glass.

18. As much as you want to relax on the first kidless day of the school year, you want to purge your house of all the sand, summer crafts, and old busted toys your offspring piled throughout your home all summer long even more.

19. Nothing makes a kid’s new classmates give her a new nickname faster than your insistence you pay top dollar to have her proper name embroidered on her new soccer bag, backpack, and lunchbag.

20. During the last few days of summer, you all really look forward to the routine of being back in school.

21. During the first few days of school, you all really miss the lack of routine of being on summer break.

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