Begrudgingly Back in the Back to School Game

Begrudgingly Back in the Back to School Game | Houston Moms BlogWhen I started this gig, in the Back to School Game, my skills were on point. There were systems and routines. Every move was the result of research and planning. My playbook was extreme. Yeah… I was on a whole other level. School shopping for the kids was my sport. Back to School was my season.

Pregame and the Uniform

Back then, Katy Mills was my spot. Gap Kids, Carters, Osh Kosh, Gymboree and Old Navy – all stacked together in Neighborhood Six. A playground for the efficient mother of young children. It was here that I would happily spend hours moving from store to store and back again seeking out the best deals, coordinating outfits and envisioning just how cute my little team would look in their mother selected get-ups. 

Then there were the school supply lists…  ridiculously long lists of no fewer than 30 items per child that made me giddy upon sight. Ninety-five percent of this task would be completed within the walls of my personal slice of rouge heaven – more commonly known as Target. Without the kids. Because inevitably, they would pick tacky supplies that would be impossible for me to coordinate. On my own, I could take my time ensuring that their supplies would be properly coordinated once inside their desks. At home, the label maker and I would join forces to make sure that every supply – down to the individual pencil – was emblazoned with the name of one of my children. Because God forbid I use a Sharpie for labeling. And also because we know how teachers just looooooove individually labeled school supplies.

The New Back to School Game Playbook

In all things, there was an art to my preparation. But that was then. And this is now. I’m tired. And my knees hurt. And more often then not… I’m winging it.

Over the years, we have moved from Neighborhood Six and ventured into areas. Each year brought with it, a new favorite store. Aeropstale, PacSun, Zumiez, Forever 21, H&M and Zara forced me to move beyond Neighborhood Six. As the kids have aged, so too has their mother. Experience has taught me to strategically maneuver through shopping malls – always seeking the quickest route from entry to exit. Like a bob and weave, Hail Mary, home run type shopping situation for middle aged mothers of multiple children.

After sixteen consecutive seasons of back to school shopping, my art has evolved/devolved. With every school year, the chances become exponentially greater that the extra-large multicolored Fruit of the Loom t-shirts stacked on endcaps in Walgreens will find their way into my 13 year old daughter’s back to school wardrobe.

Halftime. Please.

My zest for all things back to school is in short supply. The thought of spending an extended amount of time {or money} in a mall walking from store to store with a teenager hoping to find things that the teenager actually likes and that the mother is able to tolerate is not my sport of choice. If it were left to me, there would be no shopping. All back to school clothing would be magically delivered by UPS or Fed Ex two to three weeks prior to the first day of school.

Sidenote:: What is the deal with all the midriffs in the teen/tween sections?! Bringing back belly buttons in NOT in the curriculum. 

And school supplies. The way I see it, by the time kids get to middle school – paper and some sort of primitive writing utensil are all they need. Why must I rummage through weekly ads hoping to save forty cents on a protractor? Only then to have to brave a war zone of overzealous moms {yes, I am talking about me circa 2005} and wildly excited short people sprinting through aisles hoping to snag the last three subject spiral notebook. Twilight and/or sunrise school shopping has become a thing for me in the Back to School Game because… the previous sentence.

Back to planning balanced school lunches with daily notes expressing my love and motivating my children towards success. Yeah, never wrote one of those and my balanced lunch planning means that I usually manage to keep a few bucks in her school lunch account – because she doesn’t like cheese sandwiches. Thank God for those lunch account balance text alerts.

The Fourth Quarter

In this sport… I’m no longer a starter. I’m coming off the bench.

*In my mind, Eye of the Tiger begins to play*

But alas, my parenting gig is not over. I have another five years, sixty months, three thousand one hundred twenty weeks, twenty-one thousand eight hundred forty days to participate in the sport of school – before Kid Three matriculates and I’m able to take on the role of spectator in the Back to School Game. So I’m going to work on my stamina, patience, early morning awakenings, and negotiation skills and get my head back in the game like any dedicated mother and coach would do for her team. 

Not Quite Ready for Retirement

Guess I better start looking for my label maker.


Need more back-to-school tips? Check out The Ultimate Back to School Guide for Houston Moms!

The Ultimate Back-to-School Guide for Houston Moms | Houston Moms Blog


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Joi was born and raised in San Antonio. After a brief pit stop at the University of Texas in Austin, Joi moved to Houston in 1994 and began checking boxes off her never ending to do list. During this time and in no particular order, Joi taught a little bit of everything between first and eighth grades, got married and then divorced, completed grad school, birthed a few babies – Ferris {November 1997}, Warren {December 1999} and Laylah {March 2006}, moved an old lady into her home – Granny {January 1925} started working in Human Resources, served an excessive amount of time (on boards, in booster clubs, team momming) as a crazy sports momma, and learned a lot of life lessons. Joi is known for her unabashed honesty, always present sense of humor and her #TeamTooMuch style of doing everything. On most days, you can find her caught up in her love/hate relationship with politics, feeding her Facebook addiction, or counting the number of days until her last child graduates from high school.

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