Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

8 Back-To-School Traditions Every Mom Should Skip

I’m so glad my kids are back in school. So glad! I have more time to get sh*t done, and despite their claims to the contrary my kids seem happier after a day of school, too. It's win-win for all of us. During this joyous time of year I've also learned that there are definitely back-to-school traditions every mom should skip. In the end these practices are way too much work and hardly worth the effort.

For example, I refuse to stress out over things like homework, school clothes, or the contents of my kids' cold lunches. As long as my kids are safe and healthy, I don't want to spend what precious time I have constantly fighting with them to get that perfect back-to-school picture. I don't engage in the mom-on-mom competitions that usually occur during school drop-off, parent-teacher association meetings, school fundraisers, and on social media. I know I'll never measure up to the mom making bento lunch boxes for her child, so why try, right?

We won't be the best-dressed, put-together, perfect family at the pick-up line, pep rally, or school fundraiser, but we’re happy, healthy, hot-messes that support one another regardless. In the end, at least to me, that's all that really matters. So with that in mind, here are some back-to-school "traditions" we should all feel more inclined to skip:

Elaborate School Lunches

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

I’m way too tired to spend time worrying about having an Insta-worthy lunch to send with my kids to school. I try to send healthy choices, but also make peace with the idea that about 80 percent of it will come back home at the end of the day. Like so many other parts of parenthood, I do what I can and don't stress about what I can't control. I also am over caring about what others think about me, especially if they're basing their opinion on the fact that I'm not sending my kid to school with an all-organic bento box lunch with seven servings of roasted vegetables and fruit cut into the shape of a star.

School Pictures

School pictures are a scam, people. Companies directly market to your kids, convincing them that they need these photographs. The same companies also send home strongly-worded flyers, letters, and forms, requiring that you pay in advance for a product that is likely to be substandard. I always end up feeling like crap when my kids come home begging for me to place an order, because chances are all of their friends and classmates will be getting their pictures taken.

They are also way too expensive for my family to afford. The packages usually start at $25.00 per child in our district, include sizes that we don't want, and are hardly professional enough to warrant such a high price.

School Dress Codes

I refuse to stress about the clothes my kids wear to school, even if they don’t meet the school's official dress code. For one, dress codes are often sexist, racist, and/or arbitrarily enforced. As a result, I think they are just another way we sexualize young girls and discriminate against people of color.

So I choose not to participate, especially since studies haven't shown that dress codes do anything to improve academic achievement or school safety.

School Dress-Up Days

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

You might think I am a curmudgeon, but I refuse to participate in school dress-up days. They often require items my kids don't own, and are announced with such short notice that I don't have time to get them what they need. Besides, I refuse to buy special items just so my kids can wear them for one day. If they want to participate they can make note of the occasion and wear something they already own. Otherwise, I am not going to stress about it.

School Fundraisers

When my daughter started preschool, her school sent home a form for her first school fundraiser. I remember panicking, because I didn't have time to sell it for her or money to buy enough candy so she could win a cheap plastic toy.

Then she started Kindergarten, and her school actually gave an option to make a donation of your choice and not be bothered about future fundraisers. It was awesome.

School Shopping

Taking my kids school shopping is a special level of hell. Stores are crowded, items are picked over, and even if you take advantage of sales everything is still expensive. Now I order everything online and make peace with the fact that I'll occasionally have to return a few things. Life is too short for Target tantrums.


I was kind of shocked when I saw how much homework my daughter had starting in Kindergarten. People, it was at least an hour of homework a night! I spent a couple of years facing tears and tantrums every night, trying to get my kids to do their homework, before I changed my mind about the entire debacle. Now, I absolutely refuse to fight with my kids about homework. Especially considering that at the elementary school level doing homework doesn't make much of a difference in how well they do in school, according to HuffPost. If they do it, great. If not, I'm not going to force the issue. It's just not worth the fight.

School Drop-Off/Pick-Up Drama

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

I sort of think that school drop-off/pick-up brings out the worst in people. It's never well-organized. I am always too early or too late. It takes forever. And, well, I get major side-eye and even rude comments from other parents about my messy hair, no bra, and the time it takes to unload or load all of my kids in the car.

So when I found out that our district was offering busing, I signed my kids up as quickly as humanly possible.