21 Things Only Mums Know About the First Day of School

The nice thing about the first day of school is that it comes right when the tips of our toes are creeping over the edge of sanity after approximately 99 days of applying sunblock, sweating, driving to various overpriced camps, and applying anti-itch medicine to imaginary bug bites on our children. Instead of desperately focusing on exactly how many more minutes there are until their bedtime, we spend our last days of summer break buying school supplies, realising how many sizes too small their current sneakers are, and figuring out the logistics of getting multiple kids to different schools on opposite sides of town that start and end at the same time.


Then The Big Day arrives and you take a deep breath, for you know it will go exactly like this:

1. You will wake up earlier than usual and with a giant grin across your face while humming, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

2. You’ll make a healthy, home-cooked breakfast full of foods that you will not cook again at that hour for the 179 remaining school days (because, let’s face it, that would be insane).

3. Your kids will sleep in for the first time in three months and be harder to wake up than hibernating bears in a January blizzard.

4. You’ll spend their entire breakfast calmly explaining the new Pinterest-inspired system you’ve created for organising their backpack, lunchbox, water bottle, shoes, and jackets for a much more streamlined school year this time around.

5. Your kids will roll their eyes at you. Hard.

6. Shiny new backpacks will be ready by the door and will have been hanging there for a solid week because OMG, YOU HAVE WAITED SO LONG FOR THIS DAY TO COME.

7. Those backpacks will be far too heavy for at least 50 percent of your kids to actually carry.

8. Your kids will decide they hate everything you packed them for lunch, which they agreed to eat just 12 hours ago, so you’ll replace it all with popcorn, entire bags of Goldfish crackers, and a cheese stick just to look like you care about nutrition.

9. You will take at least a hundred pictures before they leave the house but that doesn’t mean they won’t already have stained/torn at least one item of clothing.

10. Those pictures will be posted on Facebook before the first bell rings.

11. The kids’ new shoes they insisted on wearing will give them blisters by the time you get to the end of your driveway but SORRY KIDS, NO TURNING BACK NOW!

12. There will be chaos at the school drop-off or the bus stop as if none of you have ever done this before, even if you all have done it the same way for years.

13. Some kid you don’t like will be wearing the exact same outfit as one of your kids. You’ll hate yourself for how annoyed this makes you.

14. A whole bunch of kids will be wearing eyeglasses.

15. Only a third of them will be wearing prescription glasses.

16. The kids will be nervous to meet their new teachers, and worried they’re getting the mean one. You’ll reassure them with the big fat lie that none of the teachers there are mean.

17. The kids will insist they don’t know anyone else in their class — despite the fact that you confirmed that some of their friends are, in fact, in there, too. They know you lied about the other thing (see #16). They also know you’ll say anything just to get them to school.

18. You will be thrilled to get them out of your hair until the second they turn to wave goodbye to you, then you will get a twinge that makes you feel like crying. Your kids will see the tears coming and RUN LIKE HELL to get away from your public display of mom-ness.

19. Within minutes of their arrival home after school, your new system of organising backpacks, lunch boxes, water bottles, shoes, and jackets will all go to hell in a handbasket, which you will return to Homegoods tomorrow between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

20. When you ask your kids what they did today, all you’ll get in return is something about cool erasers and eating lunch. Seriously, that’s everything you’ll ever learn about their seven hours away from you today, no matter how many of your offspring you probe for more details.

21. All of your excitement about that first day will die a sudden, terrible death the moment you hear the phrase, “Mom, I have homework.”

Graphic: Kim Bongiorno

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