In the coming weeks your social media feeds will be flooded with images of children carrying backpacks bigger than their bodies, holding signs declaring "First Day of [Whatever] Grade." It's an exciting time of year for kids — new teachers, new friends, new things to learn. And for weeks parents scurry around, rustling up the necessary items and supplies their children will need to succeed. We know what they'll be asked to have, like notebooks, pencils, crayons, and folders, but what about us? What is the must-have back-to-school list for parents? Rest assured, a child's education is as much an endeavor for the parents as it is for the kids.
I will admit that I don't have a ton of experience as the parent of a school-aged child. My oldest finished up kindergarten in June, so he'll be heading into first grade in a couple weeks. Still, that's a solid year of parenting a school-aged child and I like to think I've picked up a couple things between then and now. (Spoilers to parents of kindergarten-bound children: on top of everything I mention on this list, you will also need tissues because you are going to cry your damn eyes out on the first day. It also helps to have a water bottle handy because you're going to shed so many tears you'll have to re-hydrate.)
When you're a parent there's no such thing as "over-prepared," so I'd say it's in your best interest to consider the following your official back-to-school must-haves. Prepare yourselves, parents.
List Of Parent Contacts
This is going to be an essential roster for the coming months. You're going to have to know The Parent Who Knows Everything, the parent of your child's new BFF (to contact for playdates, obviously), the class parents, and the cool parent with whom you can bitch about anything to without being judged (she will be worth her weight in gold and, believe me, the texts will be flying). You also need to know the number of the insane parent you want absolutely nothing to do with. How are you going to actively avoid their calls if you don't know their number? Think about it.
"How do you know there will be a parent like that in my child's class, Jamie? That's not fair." Honey, there's always a parent like that in your child's class. If you're lucky it's just the one.
A School Calendar
Not because you're actually going to use it (which would be logical and a good idea to boot). You're going to get it now, stick it in a pile somewhere in your kitchen, lose it, and then frantically text a group of parents in your child's class the night before, saying, "Billy mentioned something about socks today. Is tomorrow Crazy Sock Day? I can't find that damn calendar of events! It's somewhere in this mess of a house."
No reason to worry, though. One mom will be organized for all of you. She will either have put everything on her calendar as soon as she got the paper, or she will have taken a picture of that slip of paper at the beginning of the year and saved it on her phone. She will share that picture with you, but you will never save it. You'll keep asking her questions about school events and she's cool so she'll gladly oblige. You'll then tell her what a hot mess you are. She'll LOL.
But hey, make sure you have it now just so you can claim some degree of responsibility by letting people know that you had that damn calendar once.
Name Of Their New Teacher(s)
Then learn everything you can about them. How long have they taught at the school? What do past students think of them? What about past parents? Are they known for being strict? Fun? Too strict? Too fun? After all, you're going to be working with them for the next year of your child's life.
Look, definitely don't be a creeper to them. Don't email them a 10-page list of probing questions, for example. But this is your child's education we're talking about, so feel free to be a creeper about them, while simultaneously respecting boundaries.
A Personal Loan
If your school is anything like my son's last year, you are going to get a flier every single week with something that is going to require you to send your kid back to school with some money. A fundraiser, a pizza party, a teacher gift, a field trip, another fundraiser, a book fair, another fundraiser, pre-paid lunch tickets, another fundraiser, a t-shirt for the class party, and another teacher gift, just for starters. This is, of course, on top of their school clothes (how did they grow two sizes in a year?) and supplies.
And here I thought going to public school would give me some respite from having to pay for private pre-k or daycare. Ha! Girl, no. Look, I get it, but that doesn't mean it's not still a financial strain.
An On-Staff Motivational Speaker
I don't think I've met a parent who is physically capable of motivating their children to get out of the house on time, and in an orderly fashion, without resorting to stressful yelling and/or tears for someone involved. No matter what time I begin the process of getting ready, no matter how I order the morning, 8:15 a.m comes and goes and I'm lucky if I manage to hit my back-up time of 8:21 a.m. before giving up altogether.
Some motivational figures I'm considering asking to come help get my family's life and schedule in order: Terry Crews, J.K. Rowling, Hugh Jackman, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Oprah, and Kristin Chenoweth. I just feel like any of those people could really pump you up and make you believe in yourself to the point that you could get out the door on time.
Hearing your child whine that they don't want to do homework will get old so fast.
An Advanced Degree In Math
Because guys, have you seen math homework lately? For one thing they are introducing concepts to small children that I didn't see until high school. My kindergartener was legit doing basic algebra last year. Above and beyond that, they are teaching math in a completely different way that confuses and even angers us traditionalists.
Honestly, if you actually dive into it a little bit (and it's all readily available on the internet) not only is it not actually all that difficult and it's usually better way of understanding math than we oldsters were taught. So don't get huffy about common core math, my friends. Instead, look into it! You might learn something.
(This is come from the least math adept person you will hear from today. Usually anything above simple arithmetic makes me break out in hives. Geometry makes me cry.)
A Fully Stocked Craft Closet
So. Many. Projects. You're going to need poster board, glue, glitter glue, crayons, construction paper, markers, more markers for when you're kids inevitably leave the caps off the initial markers and then complain when they dry out, star stickers, rulers, and the list goes on until a section of your house looks like Michaels.
A Extra Kitchen Added To Your Home For Bake Sale Purposes
"The bake sale is still looking for donations!" a flier will announce one day. You'll ignore it.
"Hey, just wanted to let everyone know that we still need volunteers for the bake sale from 9-11 this Friday! Who's in?!" someone will post on your local mom board on Facebook.
Then you get a text like the following: "Hey, Jamie! So, I was wondering if you would mind baking one of those banana breads for the bake sale! They're so good and the PTA needs a few more donations!" Guys, it's the insane mom you avoid like the plague! How did she get your number?!
All right, fine. FINE! I'll bake a damn banana bread. Not like I had anything else to do tonight. Repeat this cycle at least every eight weeks, and that's what it's like to have your kid go back to school.
So just go ahead and build yourself a professional kitchen so that it doesn't get in the way of your typical kitchen activities (like leaving piles of papers you don't go through and microwaving bags of popcorn). You might also want to hire a professional staff of bakers. This can all be paid for with that personal loan you're also getting for school supplies and fundraisers.
It really is the best way to get things done. Just make sure you buy your clone from a reputable clone company. Why? Well, I don't know if you're sufficiently educated in the subtle art of clone purchasing, but inevitably there will be moment when you get in a big fight with your clone and your partner can't tell you apart. You'll be all, "Shoot them! I'm the real me!" and they'll be like, "She's lying! Don't believe her!" Then your partner will get confused and probably shoot the wrong one of you and it's just a mess. A mess.
So yeah, make sure you're cloned at a place with at least four stars on Yelp.
In fact, go ahead and replace all your blood with coffee (I recommend a dark roast). It'll make things easier.
Extra Of Everything The Teacher Asks For On The School Supply List
If you can afford it, of course. Sadly, and stupidly, school budgets are being cut within an inch of their lives. This puts pressure on teachers and limitations on our children. Hence the list at the beginning of the year with supplies you need to purchase for the classroom. It will never be enough. So, if you can swing it, go ahead and send along a few extra glue sticks, notebooks, dry erase markers, or wet wipes.
A Preemptive Gift Basket To Say Thank You To Your Pizza Delivery Person
You'll be running around so much you're definitely not going to have time to cook. The delivery people in your life (pizza, Chinese, Thai, that sandwich place down the block) will become another member of your family. Thank them for all the schlepping they will do with a little something, not just because it's kind but because i's also a great way to get in their good graces and ensure that your food always arrives hot.
A Calendar Of Elections, Board Of Education, & PTA Meetings
Seriously though, this one is actually really important. I know it's hard to attend boring-ass meetings and inconvenient elections on top of everything else you have to do for your children during the school year, but these are little things you can do that can make a big difference.
The current political landscape has left many of us with a sense of helplessness. As a result, so many of us are asking wondering what we can do in the face of everything that's going on nationally, and even internationally. Well, you can start in your own backyard by making sure your voice is heard within your own community. Local politics matter.
A Bottle Of Champagne
Because after three long, hot summer months these little monsters are going back to school! We love them dearly but praise be.