I’m That Hot Mess Mom in the School Yard

I'm the Hot Mess Mom in the School Yard - SavvyMom

School has just started and it’s already happening.

You know that mom who’s always running across the blacktop as the school bell rings, dragging a reluctant kindergartener with each hand, desperately trying to make eye contact with the teacher so she’ll hold the door open for juuuuust a minute longer? WHAT A DAMN MESS MOM THAT IS.

Also, hi. That mom is me.

I am not a morning person. So getting my ‘spirited’ four and five-year-olds fed, dressed and off to school by 8:30 a.m. – yup! I suck at it.

There are plenty of reasons I’m perpetually late getting my kids to school, but a lack of planning isn’t one. Every school year, at night, I make my kids’ lunches and pack their school bags with spare clothes, library books, show-and-tell items, and whatever other arbitrary nonsense has been requested just to test my patience and my parenting skills (a ‘Q’ item, a photo of our family pet, 100 paper clips, an autographed first edition Hemingway classic, the actual Holy Grail). I pack it all. Then I place those bags neatly in the front hall, and in the winter, I put them next to their snow pants, jackets, and boots. I put their mittens and hats in their bags, assess my neatly organized foyer, and go to bed knowing that it means nothing. NOTHING!

School mornings are a shit show. My husband wakes up the kids, one of whom bounds out of bed fully awake but inexplicably angry. The other hides under the covers like a teenager, demanding “five more minutes,” which she gets. Woken up again, she remains unsatisfied with the twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep she just enjoyed – the type of sleep parents only dream of – and vocalizes this with fervor. We head downstairs and while her brother yells about yogurt, she flops onto the couch, often explaining why she can’t attend school that day. (Side note: she actually LOVES school. She just doesn’t like mornings. Thanks, genetics.)

My husband gets to leave for work at this point, which is great (for him).

I make a quick breakfast for the kids – usually oatmeal, cereal, or fruit and yogurt – and get myself dressed while they eat RIDICULOUSLY slowly. Like, so slowly that you’d think they can’t possibly be hungry, but when you try to take their bowls away to expedite the whole getting-them-to-school-on-time process, they loudly protest that they are STILL! EATING! Ok, ok. You have two more minutes.

I finally get them through the torture that is breakfast and hand them each a full outfit, which they simply have to put on their bodies. It doesn’t happen.

We argue about pants (they don’t want those ones).

We argue about underpants (yes, you have to wear them).

We argue about socks (too high, too scratchy, yes you have to wear them).

I have usually fallen into a rage blackout at this point, but eventually, I find myself in my car with my children. This is especially ridiculous because we live walking distance from the school, and I love walking almost as much as I hate driving. However, worse than driving is dragging two tired, stubborn children to school before I’ve had a coffee.

Do you know what turns a pleasant seven minute walk into a 30-minute nightmare? Kids.

So there we are every morning, running across the blacktop while the other parents and children stand around the kindergarten pen in an orderly fashion, looking much more composed than I ever do. Some of them are even holding lattes from nearby coffee shops, which makes me wonder what time they get up in the morning and if they secretly have personal assistants. How else can you be somewhere before 9:00 a.m. with your hair looking good and your kids all neatly dressed? My kids usually have oatmeal somewhere on their faces, which I spit-clean off as I hand them off to their teachers.

There is no coffee for me until I hit the drive-thru post drop-off. That’s when the magic happens, and my human self emerges from its tired cocoon. I imagine that my children go through a similar metamorphosis when the sugar from that instant oatmeal hits their systems. You’re welcome, kids.

Weekday mornings suck in my house. What could I do differently? Well, I could get up earlier, or send my kids to school naked, but I haven’t had success with either strategy thus far. I could become a morning person or change my kids’ personalities, but I don’t think those are feasible ideas either. Plus, they’re largely demonstrating my gene pool in action – how can I fault them for being just like me? This is what my mom calls payback.

So we forge on like brave little soldiers/the neighbour sideshow, knowing that one day, mornings will get a LITTLE easier for us all. Maybe. I hope.


A version of this post originally appeared on mabelhood.com and is shared here with the author’s permission. 



  1. Chrystal on September 1, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Love your article! I can totally relate :-/

  2. Jen on September 2, 2017 at 9:59 am

    This is so spot on and I can relate so well! I do believe it’s genentics as some kids fly out of bed early and are ready to hit the ground running and others are cranky and tired. My kids also hide under the covers – they’re older and therefore know that the school day that awaits is not nearly as pleasant as staying in bed. Add picky eating, cell phone (for the older one) and sibling taunting to the mix, and it adds 10 extra minutes to the show. Everyone somehow gets to school on time, but it’s a gong show most mornings unless the stars and moon are aligned that day.

    I appreciated your honest and humorous description of your typical week day mornings. You are not alone!! 🙂

  3. Melissa on September 2, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Just a few thoughts from a totally non-morning person mom of a spirited child: 1. have your husband make a pot of coffee before he leaves (or wean yourself off caffeine so you don’t need it to function in the morning). 2. have better breakfasts: scrambled eggs take less than 1 min per egg in the microwave and paired with a piece of bread with some peanut butter will give everyone – husband included!! – a better start. Instant oatmeal, breakfast cereal, bread with jam etc contains little if any protein which is needed to get going and keep energy sustained. Try for a higher-protein, lower sugar breakfast, and get your husband involved; he needs to eat too! 3. Choose to walk. Or bike. We live a little over 1km from school and walk everyday, regardless of the weather: it used to take nearly 25 min to walk, which really sucked for me to have to do the return trip when it was -25*C but we’ve shaved it down to under 15. It’s a 4 minute bike ride for me. Not only does this exercise help everyone, but it’s a lot less stressful than getting in the car. It’s also a whole lot safer – for you/your kids and other kids – since the number one cause of preventable injuries in kids under 15 is being in an auto crash. It’s also shown that kids who are driven to school have a far worse connection with their communities, have difficulty understanding maps of their communities and also exercise contributes to better alertness and learning ability in school. It probably takes you longer to get them there by car than if you walked, though it may feel faster.
    I’m not trying to preach or shame; I’m just saying that these are things that I have done. I’m not even going to pretend like there aren’t days when my kid shows up at school without her teeth brushed, having forgotten something, or having grumped all the way there: there are. At least twice in kindergarten, I carried her – kicking and screaming – out the door with her shoes in my hand, hair unbrushed and both of us in a rage. Our life is not perfect, but walking/biking to school was something I committed to early, and it took a couple months to figure out the breakfast thing which has helped. I only have one kid, but my husband doesn’t help at all in the morning: we usually wake him up just a few minutes before we head out the door, just enough time to say goodbye. I’ve been very strict with bedtimes, and ensuring we get up with 90 minutes of time in the morning and I’ve even set alarms in my phone so that things get done (close to) on time in the morning.

    Hope that helps. Good luck.

  4. Heather Dixon on September 3, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Melissa – I love these tips!! Thank you so much! A good reminder right before another school year starts! I’m totally going to work on walking/biking more. 🙂

  5. Heather Dixon on September 3, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Jen – YES!! We are not alone!! Haha. Ah, the morning gong show. This too shall pass, right??

  6. Alicia on September 5, 2018 at 12:49 am

    Loved your article and I totally relate. I am not a morning person and am likewise very organized…and perpetually late. I do not drink coffee, but from what you wrote, it makes me wonder if you drinking a coffee while they eat might be helpful? Maybe your husband could even make it ;o). Anyway, just a thought!

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