For moms with young children, getting out the door in the morning can be the most challenging part of the day. But what if there was a way to remove the stress and streamline your morning—simply by changing what you say?
The power of positive parenting (and a great pair of shoes your kids love) can get you there. We partnered with Rack Room Shoes and Wendy Snyder, founder of Fresh Start Family Online, a Positive Parenting teacher and family coach, to create these 15 phrases that can help avoid morning clashes, finally get their shoes on and get you all out the door in peace.
WATCH: 5 easy school morning hacks
1. “Team __________, Unite and Engage!”
Take a break from: "Get in the car, NOW!"
Example: "Team Snyder Stars, Unite and Engage! The time to conquer on time arrival to school is now!"
Explained: In a calm time (not when you're rushed), explain how your family is a small, but mighty team, who together can accomplish anything you set your minds to. Then choose a fun team name and reference it to get everyone fired up to contribute and succeed.
2. “Remember our agreement about our morning plan?”
Take a break from: "I am so sick of having to do everything for you, get up and make your bed or else... !"
Example: "Hey guys, remember last night when we agreed we'd all do our part to have a peaceful morning instead of a stressful tear-filled start to our day? What did we all agree to do this morning?"
Explained: Kids do really well with agreements, especially if they have a strong need to feel powerful (a healthy human need that many strong-willed kids have). Involving our kids with agreements helps them to feel valued and feel like they belong (2 basic human needs). Positive parenting curriculum, like that found in The Foundations Course, teaches parents that when our children's basic needs are met, their desire to misbehave decreases.
3. “I need your help! I can’t do this alone. Can you please give me a hand?”
Take a break from: "There is NO WAY I'm going to raise entitled kids who don't do their part. Get up and do what you're told now."
Example: "Kiddos, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed right now and need everyone to chip in and help so we can have a peaceful departure."
Explained: When we are honest with our kids and let them know that we NEED their help to get out the door on time, we help them understand what true teamwork looks like. Most kids respond incredibly well when they are asked in a kind way to help. The key is to kindly ask with a vulnerable heart vs. demand with rigidity.
Another way to help them feel ownership without added pressure? Let them pick their shoes. With Rack Room Shoes' assortment of colorful styles your kids will love to put them on each morning, Choose a style like slip-ons or with closures like elastic laces or velcro) that they can do themselves—one thing off your to-do list, mama!
4. “Everyone has a job, let’s do this family... we’ve got this!”
Take a break from: "I'm so sick of doing everything, why can't you just do what's asked of you, so we can get out the door?"
Example: "Stella, you are great at encouraging us to not be late and Terrin you are always good at keeping us laughing. Mom will pack lunches, Dad will walk the pup, Stella, you watch the clock and Terrin, please be the music DJ. We need to be pulling away at 7 am family—we've got this!"
Explained: Helping kids feel powerful causes them to cooperate with us because they want to, not because they HAVE to. When we explain how they each add unique value to our family, our kids feel empowered and capable of helping the family reach goals (like getting out the door peacefully!).
5. “Stop, breathe, now try again, what do you need support with?”
Take a break from: "Stop whining and just get your shoes on so we can leave! I can't understand you when you talk like a baby."
Example: "Michael, let's pause and breathe together (actually pausing to model deep breaths)... now tell me what you need support with so I can help you."
Explained: Getting out the door each morning can be stressful for us all, so take a moment to slow down and use empathy to imagine what it must feel like to be your little person who is seeing the world as rushed, overwhelming, frustrating and hard. Offer support to guide them onward so they can move through the steps necessary to get out the door on time!
To avoid morning meltdowns, give them a choice between two things (like their sandals or their sneakers). They still feel some control over getting out the door, but it will take a lot less time than rifling through their entire closet. Plus, with Rack Room Shoes family friendly prices, it's easy to give everyone a few options.
6. “Would you like to sit down now and have time to eat breakfast at the table or continue to play for 10 minutes and eat your breakfast in the car?”
Take a break from: "I'm not going to tell you again, sit down and eat NOW or no screen time tonight!"
Example: "We need to leave at 7 am AND we need to eat breakfast, so you can either eat your breakfast at the table or in the car, which one do you choose?"
Explained: Kids have lots they want to do before school or camp, so use this opportunity to teach them about time management and also about being flexible with the rules. Putting breakfast in tupperware or giving them a simple granola bar and banana on the way to school can save you from a lot of "trying to force a sit down breakfast" power struggles!
7. “We need to kick it into high gear, should we move fast like a racehorse or speedy like a fire truck driver?"
Take a break from: "Why do you dilly dally so much? Stop dragging your feet, you are driving me nuts!"
Example: "It's 'go time' family, do you want to be a racehorse or fire truck driver to get us to the car fast?"
Explained: Children absolutely love playful analogies so use animals, race cars, fire trucks, athletes & cartoon characters to motivate them!
8. “Have you finished your chart?”
Take a break from: "Put your shoes on, brush your teeth, make your bed, fill up your water bottle, pack your bag, pick up your room, etc."
Example: "Please go check your morning chart and see what you still need to do."
Explained: Studies have shown that by the time kids get to elementary school, they often are given up to 1,000 compliance statements a day. This definitely wears on kids, especially kids who have a strong desire to lead. In a calm time, make a "morning routine chart" with your kids and use pictures or writing to list out the steps necessary for everyone to get out the door each morning on time!
9. “It’s important to me we are on time, so I need everyone to do their part to help us be successful.”
Take a break from: "If we're late one more time, I am NOT going to be happy!"
Example: "I care about arriving to school before the bell rings because I feel embarrassed when we have to go through the office, so I need your help so we can be there on time."
Explained: When we honestly share WHY we have firm rules around morning departure times, our kids are more likely to respect our boundaries and requests. Take the time to explain to them why being on time is important to you and respect for the timeline will come more naturally!
10. “I’m going to start the car and get the Moana soundtrack going. Grab your shoes and meet me there!”
Take a break from: "If you don't walk out the front door right now, so help me, things are going to get really ugly!"
Example: "I'm all ready, so I'll meet you in the car. I'll get the music and A/C going."
Explained: Oftentimes, more action, fewer words will get us great results with getting our children to get out of the house. This can work really well when you feel yourself butting heads with your child and want to avoid a full-blown power struggle with them. This takes patience, but it's a great way to get kids to move without nagging, yelling, threatening, or forcing them to comply.
11. “Can you please be in charge of the clock?"
Take a break from: "I have to do everything around here and I'm sick of being the time police, I said NOW!"
Example: "Mary, you love being on time as much as me, could you please be the boss of the clock and give us a whistle or chime the bell when it's 6:55 am?"
Explained: Putting kids in charge and giving them big jobs causes many kids to listen better and cooperate more. Children love to lead and when given the opportunity to help, they love to do so!
12. “Shoes, please,” (with kind physical touch & friendly eye contact), then, “car, please
Take a break from: "I've asked you three times now to get on your shoes... why can't you just put on your shoes like a big boy, you're 5 years old and should be able to put on your shoes without me asking you a gazillion times."
Example: "Breakfast." or "Teeth."
Explained: Reducing our verbal communication and combining our words with a neutral tone and soft physical touch often does wonders to inspire our kids to take action!
13. “Do you guys think we can beat our 'out the door time' from last week?”
Take a break from: "Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up!"
Example: "I'll push go on the iPhone timer, do you think we can all get in the car faster than we did yesterday? Under 5 minutes after we finish breakfast?"
Explained: Kids love games and learn incredibly well through play! Without creating competition amongst one another, time yourself as a team, then try daily to beat your own time.
Looking for more advice? Step into a Rack Room Shoes store near you or shop online. With a "Buy One, Get One 50% off" policy, you can make sure the whole family will put their best foot forward this back-to-school season.
This article is sponsored by Rack Room Shoes. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and moms.