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The Most Important Measure of Back-To-School Success

Posted on: by Kate
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With the school year upon us, moms across the nation are jumping into action. That includes you and me, sister! We have a crap ton of stuff to do, and this super annoying deadline suddenly right around the corner, so just excuse me while I weep into my cold coffee because WHAT IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY HAPPENED TO MY SUMMER?!

I don’t know about you, but this time of year feels like waking up from a glorious night’s sleep, all snuggled up in your warm cozy bed, only to roll over and realize, “HOT DANG, I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE UP OVER AN HOUR AGO!”

This is August: waking from your summertime slumber to the deafening sound of back-to-school blaring in your ears.

You guys, it’s not like I’m aiming for uber-organized and ultra-prepared. I don’t need every i dotted and every t crossed and every school lunch planned out and packed 3 months in advance. I would just like to be a LITTLE less of a hot mess if at all possible. Not because I’m trying to impress anyone or win any awards. It’s just not super fun running around like a crazy person for an entire month, starting the school year in a frenzied, sweaty mad dash. #pitstainsfordays

This need not be our fate, friends! Back-To-School is not the boss of us!

Somewhere in the last week of July it hit me: I am the boss of back-to-school and not the other way around. I get to decide how this season is going to go down, and this year, I’m determined to do it MY WAY. This is the year we are going to make it happen, ladies! We’re going to have a smooth, peaceful (dare I say, enjoyable?) back-to-school season starting NOW!

Let me clarify what I mean. I’m not talking about a Pinterest-perfect return to school. Nope. That’s not what I’m aiming for. When we stop and think about it, what’s our real mission as mothers anyway?

No mom really wants her kids to say, “She was always organized and on top of things” as much as she hopes they say, “I always felt loved.”


I’m done feeling guilty for not scheduling haircuts 3 weeks in advance or doctor’s appointments two months out. I’m tired of feeling like a failure before the school year even starts because I didn’t find the best deals on office supplies or make the cutest teacher gift for the first day. I’m measuring my success differently this year, and I’d like to invite you to join me in this counter-culture revolution.

The Most Important Measure of Back-To-School Success is ATTITUDE, not ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

This is really hard for moms. We look at our to-do list, and we look around at all the tiny people who are incapable of providing any real help. “Who is going to do all this shopping if not for me? Who is going to stay on budget if not for me? Who is going to cook all the meals, pack all the lunches, turn in all the paperwork, keep track of all the details if not for ME?”

Plus, checking stuff off my to-do list feels GOOD. I love me some lists, friends. They are so pretty, and they show me right there, in black & white, what I actually did with my day. I did some STUFF. Crossed some crap OUT. YEAH, I DID!

But there is a question I have started asking myself, when tackling the many tasks involved in motherhood, that has been life-altering for me and my family.

What can I accomplish while still leaving room for kindness?

Complete game changer. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I can often only put in about 85% or even 75% while maintaining any sense of kindness or patience with my family. Once I start aiming for 100% (all the shopping done with maximum amount of money saved, all the meals prepped and frozen for a month, all of the papers filled out and copied and filed and backpacks packed a week in advance), I start turn into some sort of Stepford super villain.

I can’t be both nice and ultra-awesome at everything. I’m just not capable of it, and that’s okay.

I’m willing to bet you are the same way and so is every other mom you know or see on social media. That’s what all the first day of school pics don’t tell you. That’s what all the Pinterest-perfect posts and Instagram-filtered photos can’t convey. Were those beautiful people in that gorgeous photo kind to one another? How many times did that mom snap or rush or shout to earn an A+ in Back-to-School Preparedness?

I need to ask myself, “What is my limit before resorting to rudeness?” That is the ULTIMATE rubric for a mom.

I know prioritizing attitude over accomplishment is easier said than done because there is still so much TO DO. For me, some of my bad attitude actually comes from NOT being on top of things. It’s a delicate balance where I’m prepared enough to relax and parent with grace, but not so obsessed with my tasks that I turn the corner into crazy town.

But where is that balance? I’ve been struggling to find a way to prioritize back-to-school, organize all my to-dos, but still stay focused on kindness rather than checking off check boxes. So I developed a couple of resources for myself, and I’m sharing them with you!

First, I designed The Sweet & Simple Back-To-School Survival Guide. These printable sheets boil back-to-school down to the bare essentials, and also, encourage & equip you to stay sane and keep the peace.

The full set of printables are part of my second resource, the Back-To-School Like A Boss e-mail series, where I send weekly e-mails leading up to the first day of school. Each e-mail is packed with tips and hacks, and even includes expert interviews, all to help you accomplish as much as possible with the best attitude possible. That’s an A+ in my book!

As a Highlights Along the Way reader, you get exclusive access to the first part of the planner HERE. If you like what you see, head on over to register for the Back-To-School Like A Boss e-mail series, and get the rest of the planner pages sent right to your inbox.

Remember: You don’t have to have it all together to be a good mom.

Your kids don’t need you to run your life with military precision. All they really need is a loving home to return to at the end of a long day at school. Back-to-School is not the boss of us, my friend. It can be whatever we want it to be, and this year, I’m choosing an August overflowing with grace and goodness, even if some boxes go unchecked. Will you join me?

Marie is a San Diego-based blogger, Christian speaker, and Cheerleader for Moms Everywhere! When she laughing (loudly) with her husband, singing (loudly) with her son, or wrangling her (loud) twin daughters, you can find her sharing hope, humor, and hacks for moms on Facebook, Instagram, and her blog,


Until Next Time ~ Kate
Comments: One Response
  1. Dandi D says:

    I always love going back to school time because my family thrives on routine.

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