The 7 things you should NOT do when your kids go back to school.

You know the drill.

No matter how organised you plan to be, no matter how earnestly you tell yourself that this year will be different, every parent drops a few balls when their kids go back to school. We all fail in some way.

Why can’t we just laugh about them? Oh, that’s right. Because they make us feel like bad parents and cause our children avoidable distress. But then again, it also teaches them resilience. Resilience people!

I have three children at school this year. Yes, my littlest cherub is off to school and I am distraught but also determined that she will have everything she needs, that she will seamlessly transition, and that her brothers will also want for nothing.

Caterina looks a little nervous about attending Big School, but mum (Jo) and big brother are proud as punch!


Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by The Athlete’s Foot. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

My saner self tells me that my fantasy of parental perfection is nothing more than a pipe dream because in the five years during which I have had children in school, I know one thing to be true. Stuff goes wrong, despite the best of intentions.

Here are 7 highlights from my ‘school mum fails’ reel. My intention in sharing them isn’t to scare you. Be brave! I intend to offer you comfort and some important lessons as well as a bit of a giggle – because laughter is much more fun than sobbing in the car on the way home from school drop off.

Fail number 1: WRONG UNIFORM.

My middle son’s first day of school was so exciting. Instead of feeling sad or upset I was excited for him. He was desperate to join his brother at school.

If only I had read that email about Kindergarten having to wear their sports uniforms on their first day.

Pushing aside the fact that it was a terrible decision by the school to ask Kindergarten to wear their sports uniforms on the first day of school (we wanted to take photos of them wearing their proper uniforms!), I do tend to go blind to school emails.


So Giovanni turned up to school in his full uniform, one of three kids whose parents hadn’t seen or read the email. I felt sick and he seemed to be a little put out, but also worried about upsetting me further with his discomfort. Which made me feel even worse.

Giovanni, who looks quite dapper in his school uniform.


My oldest child has food allergies and my middle child has asthma. I haven’t once remembered to drop their medication off to the school office on day one.

But I remembered everything else. Does that count for nothing?!?

So I normally have to do a mad dash back home to pick up Philip’s emergency pack and Giovanni’s inhaler and go back to the school, promising to drop off care plans from actual doctors later in the week.

Fail number 3: BUS PASS.

You mean they don’t just automatically get a bus pass?

I put my kids on the school bus and just assumed it would be okay, but apparently I have to actually apply for bus passes from the bus company, not from the school. When I rang the school to complain and was told the forms were in the Parent Pack I was given just weeks earlier I apologised and begged for new ones.

Fail number 4: ONE LOST SHOE.

The year we lost just one school shoe has to be the worst fail of all, made worse by the fact that the shoe never turned up. I just couldn’t believe it. I was having a perfect morning and it was just gone.

Just one shoe. Not both. How? Why? What? When? Where? Who?

It was the closest I have ever come to just giving up. I had gone to so much trouble to take the kids to the store and have their shoes properly fitted. I even had them wear them around the house with their school uniforms to get used to the idea of going back to school.


I had to send my son to school in sports shoes and buy new ones for him that afternoon, after another fitting.

Tip: Don’t forget when the first day back is… (Article continues after the gallery)


Fail number 5: NO CORN THINS.

By ‘Corn Thins’ I simply mean the food your child eats almost every day as part of their school lunch that you absolutely must not run out of. Ever.

My oldest child doesn’t eat sandwiches and will accept only Corn Thins as a substitute. Last year, I had none. In my defence, he was the one who had eaten them all and not put them on the shopping list. And because it was the first day of school I couldn’t do a lunch order. It goes without saying that he didn’t eat the delicious Vegemite sandwich I packed for him. He only eats those at home.

For my younger son I must not run out of diamond shaped rustic bread rolls and for my daughter I suspect my life will revolve around little red apples.

Fail number 6: I’M NOT ALLOWED TO WHAT?

Just seconds after I called out the window, “I love you” I knew I was in for it. And boy did my oldest child give me a telling off when he got home. “Never, ever, ever, yell out ‘I love you’ at Kiss ‘n Drop Mum. I was so embarrassed.”

But being the first day of school I was feeling a little emotional. I couldn’t help myself. Is that really the worst thing I could ever do to him?

Maybe I should try out a few different things, like “Are you wearing undies”? Then “I love you” won’t seem so bad, will it son?

Jo with her eldest son, Philip. (who she loves, but you didn’t hear that from us because she is trying to stay “cool”)

Fail number 7: DETAILS, DETAILS.

With three children in school I now have three library days to remember, three sports days (twice a week) to remember and three lots of everything else to remember/do/action/not forget.


It has become a running joke in my home that I always forget library bags and put the wrong uniform on the wrong child and while I am happy my children have developed coping skills, I’d also like to start getting it right this year. I have devised an elaborate system of smart phone reminders, post it notes and trails of bread crumbs from uniforms to children to help me do better this year.

Okay, so that’s my list. Hey, you don’t have to laugh that hard.

So, to all you school parents out there, let these be a lesson to you. As long as you get them to school, eventually, and as long as they are wearing something, and as long as they get food, at some stage, all is not lost.

You can have a do-over tomorrow, and the next day and the next day. Some days you may even get everything right. At the moment my Parent Report Card says, “Never stops trying” and that’s all I can do.

I hope you and your kids have a really great school year, with minimal trauma.

The Athlete’s foot are giving you the opportunity to win a $100 gift voucher. To enter, click here. 

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