The First Month Of School Is An Absolute Sh*tshow, And Here's Why

Steve Debenport: Getty

I read somewhere it takes over sixty days to start a new routine or lifestyle.

I’m not so sure about that since it took my kids exactly 2 seconds to get used to the freedom known as summer vacation.

On any given morning of summer break, you might find my youngest swaddled in a fur blanket even though we’ve had no less than 80 days of temperatures in the 80s and a zillion percent humidity. That fan two inches in front of his face makes him “chilly.” He’s clutches the iPad and counts down the minutes until his older brother comes down to play Mario Brothers with him. He’s also liked to remind me every day that we are nearing the start of another school year and he’s not sure if he can “handle the stress.”

The feeling is mutual, kid.

When said older brother would make his way down from his cave of a room, he’d be wearing boxers that he’d stay in for as long as possible. My three kids spent all of summer break eating and drinking whenever they pleased. The days were theirs and they gave zero cares about anything.

Rip that lifestyle away from a child and tell them they have to get up early and do things like read and wear actual clothes and no one is going to be happy about it. And honestly, even after 60 days into the school year, we’re still just barely getting by.

There’s nothing like the first month of school to make kids and mothers of the world feel shook. And the thing is, when those precious kiddos come home, everyone’s day is far from over. On any given night during that first month of school, there are a slew of activities we are supposed to attend: curriculum night, beginning of soccer practice, band orientation, open house, the first PTA meeting … the list goes on and on. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

There’s no possible way to come up for air, and I’ve yet to meet a parent whose head doesn’t look like it might spin off their neck at a moment’s notice. We all have that frantic look in our eye, that says don’t fuck with me because I just cannot with one more thing.

And then there’s the brutal reality that a dip in the pool no longer counts as taking a bath. We’re doing more laundry and nagging our kids to wear something besides their prized hoodie everyday for fear of getting side-eye from PTA Patty with her perfectly dressed spawn.

Sure, the first day of school is exciting with its promises of a fresh start and the possibility of getting our shit together. But then reality sets in and we realize that we’re getting up at the crack of dawn to make lunches, and we’ve got a gazillion library books to keep track of, and a never-ending mountain of paperwork and permission slips that take up permanent residence on our kitchen table. And don’t even get me started on the fresh hell that is helping with homework every night.

The summer slide is real, folks, and re-entry is brutal for all of us — parents have forgotten how the school drop-off line works, kids need to clean up the potty talk, and everyone needs to get to bed at a reasonable time.

After being hands-free all summer long, children are now expected to carry heavy packs with school supplies on their back and keep track of things like jackets and what days they need to wear their sneakers for gym.

Not to mention every virus latches onto every child so they can bring home the germs to share with their family. And the cherry on top of this shitstorm is the first lice notice that arrives in your inbox.

Welcome back, everyone. Let the snot and hand sanitizer flow.

Thank God for those overly optimistic teachers and staff who greet the students and parents every morning. We’re obviously stumbling our way through this first month, taking one breath at a time and barely hanging on to our sanity.

Those blessed souls know it’s a shitshow, but they show up for it and make it bearable for our kids who miss walking around in their undies eating cheese sticks and Goldfish crackers whenever they want.

And every morning when I see their faces, I am so thankful my kids are able to spend their days with them — especially after the morning we’ve just had trying to get out the damn door.