my epic back-to-school manifesto

Ahhhh, back to school. The only three letter phrase delivering more dread to my soul might be “Beach is closed.” As much I love summer, the sadness I feel bidding adieu to strappy sandals and the blessed shore has more to do with the fact that soon I’ll be running through the house at 7 a.m. like a rabid cheetah, violating every motor vehicle law speeding the kids to school after forgetting their water bottles and nearly choking on pancake parts. Seriously. For less organized, frazzled mothers like myself, it’s all out madness.

I fully realize it doesn’t have to be this way. Thanks to the pain of social media, I see the parents out there managing to send their children off with heads full ‘o French braids and consistently matching socks. These are the same parents Instagramming their first day of school experiences with chalk board art indicating the grades each offspring is entering and what they aspire to be when they’re older. I just have to know, what time are these children waking up in the morning? I have to practically water board my children awake just in time to eat an Eggo and look non-homeless in 20 minutes.

So with these frightful memories fresh in the mind from last school year, I usually start out every fall determined to do things better-ya know, less bus chasing and more hair combing-but my resolve usually fades by mid-October, when the first kid boards the bus with his brother’s lunch (okay no lunch) or an inside out shirt.

So this year I’ve made a list. I’m shootin’ for 4 outta 5. Here goes:

 I Am Going To Buy 30-No 40 New Pairs of Socks Before School Starts

Which will most likely cost the equivalent of a week’s worth of groceries, but will hopefully save my children from running to the bus stop with one turquoise, one navy sock in the lucid echo of their mother yelling “they’re all in the blue family, guys, now RUN!” There is a Bermuda triangle effect responsible for the complete disappearance of socks between their bedrooms and the dryer, and it’s not pretty. I’ve stood over the sock drawer many a morning, talking myself down from a breakdown after sifting through 53 individual socks three minutes before the bus comes, and I’ve decided this year the insanity will end. I would truly rather spend $150 on footwear than be caught screaming “FOR ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY FOLD YOUR SOCKS TOGETHER!” even one more morning in this life. Re: grocery bill. It’s time for a good fast, anyways.

I WILL Have Everything Ready The Night Before

I actually think I heard the sound of friends’ laughter as I typed this sentence. But I’m doin’ it, people. I can absolutely iron two outfits (teenagers finally dressing themselves, praise ‘em!) have lunches made and water bottles filled, and stuff homework in the correct folders the night before. Because we all know it only takes is one AWOL permission slip or an undue lack of ice cream change to throw a school morning off its hinges. The problem is, this inner anarchist seems to surface after 10 p.m., where even if clothes are still in the dryer or I rightly know the boys’ sneakers are still outside, I will simply not perform one more domestic duty. I’ve made guacamole and watched an entire show knowing full well my son’s school library book is still lost or we’re out of juice boxes, and not an eye has batted. I would really like to woman-up this year and end this nightly procrastination to avoid the morning panic attacks that always ensue. Prayers appreciated.

I Am Going To Read The School Emails Daily, If It Kills Me (And It May)

Again. Not difficult to read a school email newsletter, once you make it through the through the excessive clip art and all capped sentences. (“HAPPY FIRST DAY OF FALL, EVERYBODY!!!”) I’m not sure if it’s because the kids come home with half a tree’s worth of flyers and we’re in a constant information overload, but I have always resisted reading the school communications of any sort. Kind of like the Human Resources emails at work….De.Lete. However, this civil disobedience only lasts so long until your child rolls up to school without jammies on “Wear Your PJ’s to School Friday,” or not dressed in school colors for spirit week….or waiting at the bus stop alone because you didn’t realize it’s a professional development day. Time to read some parent teacher communications…

My Children Are NOT Going To Miss The Bus

More than three times. Per semester. And sadly, this would be a drastic improvement. The problem is I just hate dragging my kids out of bed in the morning from a dead sleep. It just seems so unnatural. And also, I really just want to continue curling my hair while praising to Bethel Music and sipping my sweet caffeine. But it just never goes well, and on most mornings I’m over caffeinated, riding the rear of a senior citizen’s car driving to school like a lunatic. The only thing worse is being late for the afternoon bus stop pickup, in which case the bus driver will continue her route and then comes back to scold you for your tardy arrival. To her credit, after the last especially egregious encounter, when she yelled out, “I’m not playing these games any more lady!” I’ve been early ever since.

I Am Going To Keep My Car Clean To Avoid Drop-Off Shame

Among all the other strange phenomenon going on today, like parents signing every piece of homework like a Congressional bill, there is a new practice taking place at morning drop off, that some more orderly parents might consider sweet and helpful. Several teachers have taken it upon themselves to open the car doors and practically handhold the kids out of the back seat. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the gesture, and swift kibosh to my boys taking five years to unbuckle, but when your back seat is encrusted with mobile food carnage, and pieces of brimming litter fall out as the kids exit stage left, it’s downright embarrassing and a total buzzkill to whatever coffee grinds I snorted on the way.

We Are Going To Pray Every Morning

I always manage to pray in the car on the way to school with the kids, but something about praying “Jesus, give us a good day at school, and help us be a ligh- “ARE YOUR SEATBELTS NOT BUCKLED?!” kinda takes away from the peacefulness we’re aiming for. I’d actually love to be to read just one short devotional to start the day in peace instead of the normal frenzy I always feel guilty about. I think it makes such a difference, so gotta try.

So here’s to another school year full of high hopes and good intentions. May it be full of pre-packed lunches, readily available lunch money and endlessly matching socks. And clean (er) back seats. Lord, helps us all. Have a great 23-24 school year, mamas! xo.

For more on school humor, check out my post, “To the end-of-school mom hangin’ on by a thread…I get it.”



Jessica Kastner is an award-winning journalist, author and contributor to the Christian Broadcasting Network, Huff Post, God TV, Beliefnet, Crosswalk and many more. When she's not burning dinner, daydreaming about the beach, she can be found on the trampoline with her copious amount of children, wishing she'd ordered the turbo shot.

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