Back to School 2017

The good, the bad, and the ugly

In honor of a famous Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, here are some tips to help the Solo Mom who is always responsible for getting other humans up and at ’em. Managing the Wild West of the early-morning cattle—I mean school—rush can be good . . . bad . . . or ugly.

Basic rules

  1. No showers ever.
  2. Five minutes for toothbrushing, bathroom evacuation, and hair brushing (applies to adult and progeny alike).
  3. Indoor voices only.

Getting up

  • The Good: A gentle last-minute shake and quiet drawing open of curtains.
  • The Bad: Two alarms in every room!
  • The Ugly: Pots and pans and you singing “Ready” to the tune of “Happy” by Pharrell Williams or the chorus from Fitz and the Tantrums’ “The Walker.”

Getting dressed

For you:

  • The Good: Arrange your clothes the night before.
  • The Bad: Trade in those pajamas for workout wear. Spring out of bed, ready for action.
  • The Ugly: What’s wrong with pajamas?

For them:

  • The Good: Arrange their clothes (or, in the case of teenage girls, get them to arrange their clothes) the night before.
  • The Bad: Have them sleep in their clothes.
  • The Ugly: Just wear what you had on yesterday!


  • The Good: A healthy overnight oatmeal blend you have lovingly stored in BPA-free jars accompanied by a fruit smoothie.
  • The Bad: Instant oatmeal, frozen waffles/French toast with instant orange juice.
  • The Ugly: Trader Joe’s This [insert fruit here] walks into a bar… What? It’s healthy!


  • The Good: Made the night before and ready to go.
  • The Bad: Top Ramen and/or a jar of peanut butter with crackers and a plastic spoon.
  • The Ugly: Yesterday’s uneaten lunch. So? It’s recycling!


  • The Good: Homework packed up the night before.
  • The Bad: Just shove everything in a backpack, and figure it out on the way.
  • The Ugly: Tell the teacher your mom ate your homework! We’re late!



Margot Kessler, a screen and television writer living in Los Angeles, is the sporadically witty Solo Mom of two lovely daughters.

Note – Feature photo from


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