11 steps for the lazy parent to crush the first day of school

Missing water bottles, bedhead,  a healthy breakfast that works with a nervous belly, parents popping champagne. The first day of school is a struggle and a celebration. After 11 years of practicing lazy parenting Steve and I have finally tipped the scales from tantrum to terrific (and yes, I am talking about me.)  Even more importantly, so have our boys.

What does the first hour of our day look like?

  1. 1.Waking up. The boys have been managing their morning alarms for five years. For some reason last night Leo asked me to wake him at 6:30. I pictured entering his surprisingly clean bedroom and heading over to his warm cocoon and giving him a kiss. His eyes would open into their almond shape and crinkle instantly into a smile. Instead I forgot him.  It was a horrible feeling, but it had been years since I had the responsibility of waking my boys.Leo calmed me down, his hand patting my shoulder. “I have plenty of time Mama, its really not a problem.” But I was still nervous, he had not yet done his hair, an exercise that can take between 5 seconds and 5 days.
  2. 2.Eating a Healthy Meal. Eating. Cooking. Not eating. These are the demons that haunt me. I am currently on a very low carb diet (for, like, the eleventyth time) and find breakfast almost impossible. I don’t like eggs. But I eat them. And feel very sad. The rest of my family loves eggs. So Oliver came downstairs muttering about protein. “I really want to make something that gives me energy for my day.” “Do you want me to make you eggs?” He asked me. Thats right. He asked me. I believe I might have grimaced. “OK, no eggs” he continued. “What about turkey sausage and oatmeal? You can have the sausage…” So Oliver got things going and I sat at the counter occasionally (or constantly) apologizing to Leo about forgetting to wake him. Leo likes to eat last so he polished off the sausages, had some cheese, peaches and warm orange juice. You read that right.
  3. Grooming.
    Would you seek hair advice from this guy?

    Oliver announced that he was going to brush his teeth for a second time. “I don’t want to have a mouth that smells like sausage” he announces striding from the room. “That’s what she said” I hiss to Steve. Somehow Leo doesn’t hear me. Side note- I met someone new last night and she was talking about vacations. She was giving a mixed review of a cruise (mixed seems generous to me, and David Foster Wallace.) Instead, she declared, “I really prefer things more rough and dirty.” My tongue is still bruised…it was the hardest..that’s what she said. Next Leo left to do his hair. GULP. Not two minutes later he returned. “That is some of the best hair you have ever had.” Oliver declared. I looked at Oliver’s bed-head, wondering how much credence Leo would give his opinion. He didn’t need it though. “I know” Leo said. “I KNOW” It didn’t look much different to me than any other day. Since I make it a policy not to talk about looks (except maybe blackheads (lowers regular head in shame)) I gave no response to his hair.

  4. Tidying. The boys loaded their dishes in the dishwasher. Apollo got to rinse the sausage plate. He didn’t load it in the dishwasher. For the record he doesn’t mind sausage breath.
  5. Gathering stuff. 
    I’m surprised the dog didn’t make it into the backpack..

    Oliver is standing at the counter. “I am going to check my backpack for the fourth time” he tells us. He lifts the flap of his messenger bag. Leo and I are both biting our tongues. Mine is still sore from last night. That’s what she said. Leo wants to tell Oliver that a messenger bag is not a backpack. I want to ask Oliver how inanimate objects might have left his bag in the last three minutes. Oliver is making satisfied sounds. Pencil. Back up pencil. My tech contract. Notebook. I don’t need to ask Leo what he has in his backpack (yes. backpack.) He has given me the tour. He has: hand sanitizer, water bottle, six decks of cards, phone, packs of pencils, rainbow eraser, full sized electric pencil sharpener, three notebooks, 16 highlighters, and “room for more.” Not sure what more might be, but always good to have an abundant mindset. Except maybe with carbs. Mmmm, Carbs




6. Waiting. Now we are waiting. We are 30 minutes ahead of schedule which will get the boys to school 20 minutes early. Time for a backpack check? Or eleven?

Do you see the deck of cards?

7. Leaving. That’s it. They leave to walk across the street to school, one with a backpack and a whole bunch of cards, the other a messenger bag with 2 pencils.

Was this11 steps?

Why no. It was not.

Because we have practiced meals and packing and waking up eleven thousand times. This is finally where the work of being lazy pays off.


What DID I do?

  • Drink tea
  • Flip through a house book
  • Get reassured by my 11 year old.

What DIDN’T I do?

  • Prep any food (including my own.)
  • Handle any school supplies.
  • Wake my kids (whoops.)
  • Help with a hairdo.
  • Match a water bottle top to a water bottle.
  • Dig wrinkled clothes out of the laundry.
  • Push anyone out the door.
  • I also didn’t eat toast. But that is for another post.


Wondering how we got here? It started early.

Over the summer back in the pre school years we had them gather lots of things, almost like a scavenger hunt. Then we had them select the things that went with them to school. Then they laid them out step by step and took pictures of them. We then made the pictures into a visual checklist and they got themselves ready for school. Lazy parenting sometimes takes a lot of work.





Interested in learning even more? Read this blog. Or this book.


Firsts and lasts

house moving.I’m killing time waiting to say goodbye.

I rather be up and out, or fully asleep, but I am in between.

I’ve showered and put the kids on the bus for their first day of school. It pulled up in front of our new house at 7:15, Oliver and I at the end of the driveway, early and anxious, Steve and Leo in states of half dress on the porch playing our morning roles to a T. They are gone before I can hug them.

Oliver runs onto the bus. I’m worried about Leo though, who’s goodbye ritual has become just that. With a hug and a kiss, then a pantomime hug and a blown kiss, the phrase missyouloveyousomuchrightbackatcha run together like the longest word. Then the dual fist bump ending in a snail antenaed topper, and the latest s, a second fist bump with one snail antannae bent down. Injured snail.

This seems to be the right amount of goodbye for Leo, anything less leaves him feeling tied to us, a kite with its string tangled in the tree.

[Tweet theme=”basic-white”]Why are the firsts so fleeting while the lasts, last? @annawritesstuff[/Tweet]

We made it through exactly none of that and I stood on the lawn waiting to pantomime my part through the bus window but he was negotiating his seat. Having been assigned a spot next to a blond head that at first looked like Oliver  but I see is in fact a strange girl.

I’m not sure who is on tilt without the proper goodbye, he or I.

I want to get out into the world, meet about my new project and stop feeling this unfinished business, but there is another goodbye looming. Alex leaves today. After a month woven in to the fabric our our family he goes back to his real life.

It is the third year he has spent August with us, and this makes his departure both more and less memorable. It is a interesting to have an inside outsider around. He notices how we have grown, and how we remain the same. He gives directions to the cab driver on his own, and knows where to pick up the milk. He can negotiate the boys moods, and ours. It is gratifying to have another semi adult with shared memories of road trips, and lost keys, and nights out. It is odd though to see how much older I feel after just two years. Slower, tired-Er.

When he leaves it marks the end of no rules summer, and the beginning of the routine. It also means none of us have a built in playmate, so the corn hole boards and the pool cues are put away, and family card games disintegrate more quickly without anyone to impress.

Goodbye Alex.

Goodbye summer

Goodbye bedtimelessness.

Goodbye snail-y.

It is the first day of school, and the last day of everything else. Why are the firsts so fleeting while the lasts, last?