Judging the Moms Not “Properly” Dressed at School Drop-Off


Many months ago, I clicked a link from Facebook that someone had shared about how women should be dressed when the dropped their children off at school (and probably by the same token, picked them up from school). By dressed, I mean in clothes for the day. No PJs. No sweats. And most definitely no workout clothes! The main points seemed to be that getting dressed shows that you respect yourself and it also shows respect to those around you. As a society, we should be less slobbish and more proper.


As I read it, I thought that it was something I should find myself agreeing with, but I just didn’t. Why did I think I should? Well, I am one who puts a lot of effort into being ready for the day before I leave to take my kids to school. It really isn’t about people seeing me; we get to drop our kids off and they have a short walk into the school while a teacher or the principal watches them. I can pretty easily make myself look presentable from mid-chest up. I just like to be ready for the day at an early time. That’s me. My day goes smoother and I am a much nicer mother. 


I am a mom who showers every day. I get dressed every day. I do my makeup every day. I do my hair every day. I get up early each day so I can accomplish this. I also really believe in taking care of yourself and representing yourself well. I do think that in general we should take care of ourselves and be well-groomed. So this post I was reading really seemed like something that should be right up my alley. 


But it bothered me.


I just can’t help but think, “Who cares?” Do we really need to be spending our time judging other moms because they are in a public place without having spent time getting ready for the day yet? And do we really need a dress code for adults dropping their children off at school early in the morning? It almost is enough to make me go against my nature and start wearing my workout clothes to take my kids to school each day just to get under the skin of someone (and if I am being honest, I totally drove my kids to school in my workout clothes this morning because I was thinking about writing this post. I have that streak in me). That isn’t really the way, though. So maybe talking about it can get us all thinking and changing our attitudes. 


Here is a list of things I think and things I know about moms who drop their kids off at school without being fully ready for the day:

  • She is going to exercise. Many moms exercise after their kids are off to school. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to get ready twice in one day. It doesn’t make sense to get ready before you exercise. I think exercising is a very important thing to do. It keeps you healthier, which keeps you around longer and helps you have more energy to take care of the people around you. Can’t we all be impressed with the mom who is on her way to exercise? So good for that mom who is on her way to exercise!
  • She did exercise. Many moms aren’t ready for the day yet because they spent 30-60 minutes exercising already that day and haven’t made it to the shower yet. Again, let’s be impressed with the mom who is taking the time to take care of herself. This mom is not at the school in her workout clothes to rub it in your face. 99% of women who have birthed babies don’t want to prance around the world “showing off” their bodies in their workout clothes. 
  • She’s not a morning person. Guess what? Not everyone has an easy time getting up early in the morning. The later you get up, the less time you have to get everything done before kids go to school. I don’t fault anyone for not being a 5:30 AM riser. 
  • She is going to go home and clean her house. Cleaning the house can be a sweaty, dirty job. I know in hot weather, I don’t like to shower until after my house is clean. I am fine in the winter months, but in summer months, I get sweaty cleaning. If a mom is off to do some dirty job, there is nothing wrong with her waiting to shower until after it is done. 
  • She spent the morning taking care of her kids. It takes a lot of time to get kids up, fed, showered, and dressed. Moms might also have lunches to pack, hair to do, homework to check, and laundry to move around. I don’t think a mom should be harshly judged because she spent her time on her kids rather than on herself. 
  • She is pregnant or sick. Like I said earlier, I am one who is usually ready for the day before my kids leave for school. I carpool with a friend to school and she is the same way. However, when either of us is pregnant, we are rarely ready before our kids leave for school. We have always been able to tell the other one is pregnant with she is not ready for the day consistently over time. Guess what, being pregnant or being sick while you have children living in your home can pretty much just suck. Not that we don’t love those little children of ours–we obviously do since we keep truckin’ along even though we feel awful. But something has to give, and in true mom fashion, we let ourselves give. And that is okay because the kids have a time deadline to meet. School starts at a certain time and they need to be ready and there by that time. We can always attempt to get ready later. 
  • She has a newborn. Second to being pregnant or sick is having a newborn. You might feel well enough to be ready (if you are getting enough sleep at night), but your time is not your own and it is not always predictable. That mom you are judging right there may have slept 3 hours nonconsecutive the night before, and we should all be impressed she remembered to put pants on, even if they are yoga pants.
  • She has a sick child. The newborn comments all apply here.
  • She doesn’t care what you think. And good for her. 
  • She is having a rough morning and the last thing she needs is judgement from the outside. We seem to judge ourselves harshly enough that we don’t need much help from others on this. 
  • She loves her children enough to be seen in public even when she doesn’t look her best. She could make them find their own way to school. She could make them be late so she can look appropriate. She didn’t, however. She put her own pride and insecurities aside and she took her child to school even though she wasn’t ready for the day. She may have been up all night with a sick child. 

Like I said, most days, I am ready before my kids are. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I don’t think a mom who is ready doesn’t exercise (because I do), doesn’t clean (because I do), doesn’t take care of her kids (because I do), or doesn’t love her children (because I do). It also doesn’t mean she is vain or insecure. It doesn’t even mean she has it all together and is having an awesome day. It just means she is ready for the day. The time of day we get ready and to what degree we get ready is definitely not something that needs to be fought over in the mommy wars. Let’s increase our #sisterhoodofmotherhood. Let’s only notice what others are wearing if we intend to offer help if we see a need there. 

8 thoughts on “Judging the Moms Not “Properly” Dressed at School Drop-Off”

  1. I love this post! Sometimes it's good to just list out all the reasons why a mom might not be ready at drop off {like you did}…because when we read through them, it sounds ridiculous that anyone would judge. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I totally agree with you Val! I'm a working mom so 9 times out of 10 I am dressed in professional attire on my way to work in the mornings but on my days off I definitely have no makeup on, my hair back and yoga pants on! You would never hear men talking about this kind of stuff, it's sad that we as women trivialize ourselves with issues like this.

  3. "Mommy Wars" and judgemental people wear me out! Can't we just all give each other a break? AllieK is right… men would never talk about this kind of stuff. I doubt they even pay attention to what people are wearing in the carpool line. Maybe we should learn a lesson from them. Just on occasion of course 😉

  4. Great post Valerie! And I am so with you on the pregnancy thing. I am a get-dressed-right-away kinda person but in pregnancy I am doing well to put on clean yoga pants many days between morning sickness and fatigue and just nothing fitting. And morning sickness starts way before you can see a woman is pregnant! Also, you never know when someone might be dealing with chronic illness. Our neighbor has MS and needs a cane to walk during flares…she's often in her pajamas but if you saw her for 5 min at carpool I doubt you'd realize how sick she is and just see the pajamas.I figure parenting is hard enough! No need to add extra requirements to it that don't have any bearing on how healthy or well-loved our kids are. I'm all for dressing nice but it's so important not to hold other people to our personal standards.


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