Back-To-School Guide from A to Z

To quote the great Yogi Berra, “I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.”

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s turn our attention to all the things that need to be done before your adorable children head back to school.

You’ve had three months to get your s*** together, and you know you didn’t. But that’s okay. I’ve made a handy list you can stick on your fridge to help you stay organized during the next week or so. Good luck, and remember, alcohol is never the answer. (Unless the question is, “What can I get you to drink?”)


Act sad.

Buy too many school supplies.

Clean rooms to find socks and toothbrushes.

Don’t appear too excited.

Encourage earlier bedtimes.

Forage in closets for salvageable back-to-school items.

Grumble about the cost of new shoes.

Hail the benefits of hand-me-downs.

Invest in an expensive lunch box set that will be used exactly ONE time.

Jump for joy (when the kids aren’t around).

Kiss your homework-free evenings goodbye.

Lament the end of summer by eating an entire peach pie.

Mitigate the argument about, “All the other kids can stay up as long as they want.”

Negotiate a peace treaty between your daughters.

Ogle the beautiful fall fashions, and wish you could get some back-to-school outfits for yourself.

Prepare for the deluge of permission slips, disclaimers, waivers, applications, donation requests and registration forms.

Quietly discard the hundreds of water guns in your home.

Relocate the jars of snails, caterpillars, potato bugs and ladybugs your kids have collected over the summer.

Secure a home equity loan to pay for school and activity fees.

Throw a Back-to-School family dinner.

Unveil the new job chart for the year.

Vocalize concern about your daughter’s back-to-school eyebrow piercing.

Weep as your kindergartner, new junior high student and/or high school senior goes to school.

X-axis fear sets in as you realize you have a child taking geometry.

Yawn and decided you’ll tackle everything tomorrow.



Back to School Tips

Let’s all take a moment to observe a moment of silence as millions of kids return to school after a long summer vacation. Now, let’s raise a glass of champagne that millions of kids have returned to school after a long summer vacation!

Parents everywhere are facing that double-emotion “giddy/sad” as they miss their kids, but are ready to get back on some type of schedule that doesn’t involve going to bed at 2 a.m., eating graham crackers and frosting for breakfast, and watching hours and hours of Adventure Time.

Here are some steps to help make the transition back to school as seemingly smooth as possible:

  • Organize the carpool–Mom #1 can take kids to school on Monday and Thursday at 7:55. Mom #2 can pick kids up after school on even-numbered days, as long as it’s not raining. Dad #1 can drive to school on Friday mornings after he gets off his midnight shift. Mom #3 can never drive, but yells at you if you’re late picking her kids up. You end up driving the rest of the time.


  • Try not to act too happy–I made the mistake of doing the Happy Back to School Dance of Joy, right as my daughter walked back in the house to get her backpack. She was crestfallen. “I thought you LOVED having us home,” she said through her tears. That experience has left me feeling guilty for approximately one decade.
  • So. Save the joyful happy dance for when the kids are out of earshot. –They’re very worried about how you’ll spend your time now that they’re not around to ask you for snacks 50 times a day. They’re concerned you’ll develop a drinking problem because you’ll be so lonely. They’re right!!
  • Plan creative lunch menus–Your child will never eat what you make for them. So make lunch for your child’s best friend because they’ll be trading anyway. Never pack peanut butter, or anything with tree nuts. You’ll get the mother-from-hell calling you at midnight explaining how you’re trying to kill her daughter.


(My elementary school lunch box carried PB & J every day, with a thermos of fishy-smelling lukewarm milk and a homemade cookie.)

  • Get a reading list from the teacher–It’s always nice to get the reading list early so you can lose it as soon as possible. On the off-chance your kids actually read, be sure to pick up at least one book from the list.
  • Set up a homework space–This means a) not in front of the TV, b) not at your daughter’s boyfriend’s house, c) not at McDonalds (unless you’re there for a family dinner), and d) not in the bathtub at 10:30 p.m. because your child forgot to tell you they had a research project due the next morning.

Follow this advice and you’ll be surprised at how quickly the school year goes–and your kids are home for two weeks for Christmas vacation.