The Before School Battle Rages On

This school year I decided to get organized. Not like last year when I scrambled every morning to find socks, clothes, shoes, pack lunches, brush hair, make breakfast… oh and welcome all the daycare children to my house one at a time.

Mornings were chaos and more than once there were tears and threats and declarations of “I hate school.” And these may or may not have all been from me.

This year was going to be different. VERY different. I swore it to myself. So, I came up with a strategy.

First, I cut my daughter’s hair above her shoulders. She didn’t want to put braids, or pony tails, or clips or even headbands in her hair, so this was the only option. Less tangles = less tears. Luckily, she liked the idea… or maybe she just liked the lollypop, ice cream, AND happy meal bribe reward.

My next idea was to pre-assemble lunches for the week. I would put snacks in baggies or containers. I would make sure the ice packs were actually frozen. I would put together sandwiches minus the condiments and have them ready to grab, slab and stuff in their lunch bags.

The next battle was in regards to clothes. On Sundays, I would lay out – with the kids’ help – all their outfits (socks and underwear included) for the whole week.

I just knew this would work. I AM A GENIUS.

The first day of school came and went perfectly. Everyone was dressed with matching socks and shoes and we were all smiling. Lunches were put in bags and backpacks were hoisted on shoulders. We even took the traditional first day of school photos without a single protest.

Yes! (insert cheesy arm pumping and literal patting of myself on the back)

On day two, I started to notice some cracks in the system. For one thing, my son was not wearing his sparkling white matching socks. Instead, he had opted to grab two different colored ones. He claimed he couldn’t find the right ones even though they were lying on top of the very outfit he was wearing. But, I let it go. No biggie.

On day four, my daughter informs me, as we are putting on shoes and are about to head out the door, that she didn’t want the crackers from the day before in her lunch. Okay, I’ll switch it out even though this means, unzipping the backpack, opening the lunch bag, removing the offending crackers, and bagging another snack. No biggie.

On day five, well… let’s just say day five happened. My daughter puts on the clothes she picked out and agreed to just the night before fine. We are all smiles like that magical first day of school. I’m making breakfast and notice my son is not wearing any socks and is definitely not wearing the clothes we picked out and the shorts he is wearing look like they are two sizes too small. I ask gently and calmly, “What happened?”

And he starts to scream and point at his sister, “It’s all her fault!” She left water on the sink and everything is all wet.

I was about to diplomatically (of course) respond, “When my daughter rips off her shirt and removes her skirt in the middle of the kitchen and screams, “This skirt is too short! I’m not wearing it!”

My jaw opens and out comes some other person’s voice yelling something like, “The bus is coming in 5 minutes and no one is ready? You have until the count of three to put on something and I don’t care what.”

They run upstairs and I hear drawers opening, doors slamming and indiscernible words of protest. Just then a parent arrives and I sweetly greet the child and start to pour cereal, all the while my heart is pounding as I am acutely aware that the bus is about to pull up any second.

I call out, “hurry, hurry the bus is coming,” and they come bounding down the stairs. My son’s socks are mix-matched and my daughter is wearing a long-sleeved shirt with a skirt and no socks. I shake my head and toss them their shoes and backpacks. We scramble out the door with mumbles of, “I hate school,” and I believe, “You’re the worst.”

They make it on the bus without a second to spare and I take a long deep breath. I start to convince myself that it’s just one bad morning when I open the front door to the house and realize the sandwiches are still in the fridge.

Yes, I’m a genius all right.



Nicole Dash is a writer, blogger and business owner who lives in the suburbs outside Washington, DC with her husband and four children. She started her career as a journalist and copy editor. She also managed public relations and corporate communications for a national franchise company, but in 2006 started a child care business. In 2012, she launched Tiny Steps Mommy, a lifestyle and parenting blog that quickly gained a following and connected her to an expansive group of women-owned businesses. In 2013, she started a digital marketing consulting business that focused on growing community in an authentic way. Through those connections she was inspired to open Play, Work or Dash, a coworking space that also offers onsite childcare up to three hours per day. It is where like-minded professionals pursue their business goals with the extra level of support parents desire; a place where you "bring your kids to work." She is an active member of the Washington, DC blogger community. She has been published on The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode and Pop Sugar.




  1. They’ll never remember this (you will, but they won’t). Trust me. My 3 don’t remember. And if they do, another Happy Meal bribe will help erase their memories. 🙂

  2. This post gave me a great laugh and smile- Nicole, your writing is genius!

  3. Blanca Alvarado says:

    So very funny! I remember those days well! Loved it!

  4. I’m sorry, but I’m giggling (and glad that I don’t handle mornings).
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