10 Things I Dread About Back-To-School Season

by Rita Templeton
Originally Published: 
BraunS / iStock

There are things I don’t like about summer break, such as the (unfounded and ridiculous) moans of “I’m booooored,” the disappearance of mass quantities of food the minute it hits the fridge, and the fact that summer isn’t actually that much of a “break” at all.

But even though my kids have spent most of their summer on a mission to zap what remains of my sanity, I’m actually a little sad that it’s almost time to send them back to school. Because there are definitely things I dread about back-to-school season — for example…

1. Bedtime

I’m a serious slacker when it comes to summer bedtimes. I let my kids fall asleep on the couch, the floor, the chairs — whenever and wherever they happen to lose the battle in their personal crusade for wakefulness. But that’s because I spend the entire school year maintaining a strict bedtime schedule (and pulling my hair out trying to enforce it). So I’m not exactly looking forward to implementing the back-to-school schedule again, especially considering that for the first few weeks of school, it will still be semi-light outside when I send my kids to bed. That’ll go over like a turd in a punch bowl.

2. Getting Up Early

My kids have always been early risers — on weekends and holidays, that is. But on school mornings, I have to evict them from their beds using a forklift, a cattle prod, and an industrial-sized vacuum. It’s exhausting. At least during summer, no one has to be forcibly pried from between the sheets.

3. Back-to-School Shopping

Some savvy moms stock up on school supplies and clothes throughout the year, so they’re not hit all at once when school starts. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those moms, even though I swear that someday I’m going to be. (See my Pinterest boards for all the other idealistic things I’m “going to get around to.”) Instead, I’m the mom you see at the store, pushing a cart surrounded by excited children and being bombarded with cries of, “I need one of these! And one of those! And can I get the folders with Ninja Turtles on them?” while trying to consult multiple supply lists, while also trying to remember shoe and pants sizes and crying as I look at the total on a receipt that’s taller than my sixth grader. I am a glutton for punishment, apparently.

4. Thinking About Lunches

You know what my kids have for lunch during the summer? Whatever they prepare for themselves — cereal, sandwiches, ramen noodles, something questionable from the ice-crusted depths of the chest freezer out in the garage. I honestly don’t give it much thought. But during the school year, I have to pack lunches. And healthy, decent ones that won’t raise red flags about the overall quality of my kids’ nutrition — because if I left it to them, they’d eat pudding cups and Cheez-Its. It’s either that or pay for a school lunch that they’ll inevitably end up wasting 75% of.

5. Looking for Shoes Every Morning

I keep waiting for the day when my kids will learn that if you put your shoes where they belong when you take them off, you will never lose them. But I also keep waiting for the day when Publishers’ Clearing House shows up at my door with a bazillion-dollar check — and I’m rapidly losing hope that either one will ever happen. So at least four mornings a week, I’ll be flying frantically from room to room, racing the clock on a mad hunt for stray shoes that should have just been in the closet, dammit.

6. Pick-up and Drop-off

The school parking lot: Where normally reasonable people lose all sense of courtesy and decorum. It’s like a vortex of suckage, a cluttered mass of cars that crowd and block, driven by people who pay no attention to lanes and park where they have no business parking. The place where even non-road-ragey people like me have to try extra hard to refrain from waving with their middle finger. It’s also the place where my toddler may have picked up the word “moron.” Oops.

7. Making Sure My Kids Are Tidy All the Time

Any mom who tells you she’s never said “the pool counts as a bath” during the summer is either lying or June Cleaver. I mean — I don’t let my kids develop a crust, or a stink that heralds their arrival from a mile away, but I also don’t make them take baths every single night either. Their nails get a little longer between clips. Their hair grows a little more unkempt between trims. Because in the summertime, I don’t actually give much of a shit. But they have to look more presentable for school. Sigh.

8. Making Sure There Are Clean, Coordinating Outfits

The other day, my son came downstairs wearing an orange-and-yellow tie-dyed shirt with red and blue plaid shorts. And I didn’t care, because summer. Pajamas all day? Sure. As long as it means I don’t see a bare ass on my couch, then by all means, wear whatever you want. During school, though, I have to make sure they choose outfits that actually go together and guarantee that said outfits will be both clean and easily accessible. That means actually staying on top of the laundry. The horror!

9. Homework

Call me crazy, but I kind of enjoy not spending my evenings saying “do your homework” a million times, locating sharp pencils and decent erasers, listening to whining, and checking answers and feeling like an imbecile because this isn’t the way I learned math.

10. General Obligations

While our summer schedule is relaxed and go-with-the-flow, our school year schedule is jam packed with more stuff to remember (or, in my case, forget). There are school functions and deadlines and appointments and conferences and projects and permission slips that should have been signed three days ago. Not to mention extracurricular sports and clubs and birthday parties. Good thing I have a personal assistant to help me keep track of all the things. Oh wait…no, I don’t.

Considering all these things, summer isn’t so bad after all. I just wish it didn’t take me all summer to come to that realization. But as I prepare to send my kids back to school, I have to keep in mind that I’m probably not dreading it half as much as their teachers.

Maybe I should send a bottle of wine with all the new notebooks and pencils this year.

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