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.


Nine Ways Lazy Parenting Helps Grow Great Grown ups

Helicopter Parenting. Free Range Parenting. Sharenting. The names go on and on. We all reap rewards and pay the price for whichever philosophy we adopt. What happens when we don’t adopt a philosophy at all? What happens to our kids if we cross the line from laissez-faire to downright lazy? Let’s take a look…

Kid bundled in blankets
Also OK? Alternative outerwear. Bathrobes, blankets, and foxes are as warm as a coat when layered properly.

1. Outerwear – My son rushed out the door to school juggling his backpack, sneakers, and water bottle. What was missing? His coat. It was 5 degrees. Did I run after him? No. I sat at the counter sipping my tea. One frozen walk to school can save hundreds of mornings of nagging.

2. Laundry – My son rarely gets out of his snuggly fleece. The whole family rotates through contributions and it was his turn to do the laundry. After dumping a bowl of cereal down his front he added his “fuzzy” to a full load. He ran the washer and stopped there. From Friday to Tuesday things melded into a sour mess. He lost his beloved fleece. We were down a few sheets, but we are now up a diligent laundry doer. Things are fresh and folded in just a few hours.

Blond kid eating ice cream
Do you know when no one is picky? When it is ice cream for dinner.


3. Dinner- This one is a simple equation. One meal + full family = flexible eaters.

4. Cold Hard Cash – My kids get a dollar per year of life.* The money comes at the end of family meeting and is not tied to chores. Contributing to our household is an expectation that stands apart from payment. They are paid in cash each Monday. If they leave their cash lying around they lose it. This has happened one time each.

5. Reaping the Rewards of Natural Consequences* – Do you dread food shopping? Do your kids whine and demand things at checkout, do you forget half of your list? Here is the lazy way to address all of those problems… Let the kids shop. Our town has a small grocery store. One afternoon I sat in the car and talked with the boys about what our family needed to get through the week. They carefully wrote down a list. Which they ignored. (Some things run in the family) I gave them the money to shop and sat in the literal drivers seat while the boys took the figurative one. About 50 minutes later they were loading the car. By Thursday we were all a bit hungry. The next week they chose more chicken. As a bonus they appreciate the delicate balance of meal planning and budget and are much better companions when we take to the cart collaboratively.

Lazy parenting leads to kids sleeping in a big bed
I must admit that sometimes this is the result of the reverse tuck in. Just imagine me 3 inches away and Steve with no space left at all.

6. The Reverse Tuck In –  I go to bed. They tuck me in. So simple. So satisfying. They feel competent and grown up. I feel my eyelids on my eyeballs.

7. Playing Doctor (The G rated Version) – Think of this as a science-meets-sleep combo. When my boys were little I would lie on the couch and have them apply compresses and assess my “illness”. The patient was always comatose. Comas can take a while to come out of. This was a lovely blend of compassion (theirs) and rest (mine). If you find the doctor game cliche you can play coast guard where you are a boat drifting at sea, or sleep researcher. It is never too early to introduce the caring professions. Plus if your kids are boys you are fighting societal gender norms while you nap in bliss.

8. Dishes – My kids make their own breakfast, snack and lunch. As much time as this saves for me in the early days of their chefdom my satisfaction was wiped out by a sink full of sticky dishes. You know what is worse than free time? Scraping oatmeal out of a bowl. Since my boys would both prefer screen time to sink time they have started washing their dishes immediately after their meals. Which works for me.

[Tweet theme=”basic-white”]Whether you are aware or not your kids are right on your heels…so relax and make it fun (or at least easy) for everyone.[/Tweet]

9. Starting Without Them- Every morning we began our day late because of a certain dawdler in our house. Every evening we missed a bit of book time while one son opened all the drawers in the bathroom expecting some great discovery instead of discovering the plaque on his teeth. As it turns out waiting and whining are the worst way to address this. What was the best? Just get going. We would start the car or start reading while he was noodling around and as quickly as we began he would end his procrastination to participate.

dad and kids playing
Whether you are aware or not your kids are right on your heels…so relax and make it fun for everyone.

This list could be even more lengthy…but I am lazy so I will stop there. The bottom line is that doing less lets your kids do more — and they get ready to join the world without you having to say a word.

*The ideas in this post, like so many of my parenting posts, have been dramatically influenced by Vicki Hoefle of Parenting On Track. Buy Duct Tape Parenting here..

If you liked this post please read more, comment, or both…its a lonely thing being a lazy parent and long term blogger.

Eleven signs you are nailing this parenting thing.

The time a teacher who didn’t want my five year old to pack his own lunch.

The time the super hero story somehow made me talk about erections.

The (first) time I encouraged my kids to say fuck.

The post where I make people angry by admitting that I let my kids cry it out. And never “potty trained.”


See more at: http://goodmenproject.com/families/9-ways-lazy-parenting-raises-great-men-ajrt/#sthash.Byubs2zb.dpuf  Also syndicated on Babble.com.