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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.

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

This article was sponsored by Kinder. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


Our Partners

Speaking to the nation Tuesday evening, President Trump addressed something that has been on the minds of pregnant people for weeks: Keeping newborns protected in hospitals that are also treating COVID-19 patients.

"I know many expectant mothers are understandably concerned about exposing their newborn babies to the virus," the President said.

According to President Trump, actions taken by his administration—including the development of field hospitals—this week will help keep delivery wards and COVID-19 patients "totally separate."

He said, "We're giving hospitals the flexibility to use new facilities to treat patients who do not have COVID-19, including expectant mothers, so they can deliver babies in a different environment so as not to worry about infection."

FEATURED VIDEO

The President acknowledged that this is a trying time for America and certainly for its expecting mothers, who are dealing with so many worries right now.

Many are worried about having to give birth without their partner or companion (though it should be noted that the New York hospitals that banned partners and visitors were later directed by that state's government to allow partners in), others are worried about being separated from their babies (this happens, but it is rare and a last resort).

Experts admit that everything is constantly changing right now and that birth plans are being interrupted, but medical providers are still doing the very best they can under the circumstances.

"Having a partner available, having birth support, is essential," Dr. Neel Shah, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School told WBUR's Morning Edition on Tuesday.

Shah continued: "Part of the challenge in this new context that we're in, is that the services that used to be essential a few weeks ago are still essential; we're just not able to provide them in the same way. And so we've got to figure out new ways of delivering the kinds of care that people really need, like virtual prenatal visits."

Some expecting mothers are seeking different hospitals, or birthing centers to give birth in. Others are investigating home birth.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that despite the pandemic, it believes "the safest place for you to give birth is still a hospital, hospital-based birth center, or accredited freestanding birth center" but notes that "every woman has the right to choose where she will give birth."

As Motherly's Digital Education Editor and Midwife, Diana Spalding, previously noted: "It's important to know that [birth centers or home births] may not be available to everyone."

As Spalding explains, "home birth and birth centers are considered safe for low-risk pregnancies", but if your pregnancy has been complicated they may not be a fit for you.

"It's also key to investigate whether your insurance covers out-of-hospital birth. And certainly, you'll need to see if the midwives have availability," she explains.

The ACOG and Spalding both recommend pregnant people talk to their care provider about any fears, worries or changes in plans.

"Perhaps one of the hardest parts of this is that we are still learning. Few questions have solid answers. Still, every day we know more, and I want to assure you that although it feels scary, there is still a good chance everything will be okay, especially if you take the proper precautions," Spalding writes.

Those precautions include staying home right now, practicing good hand hygiene and communicating with your prenatal care providers.

Everyone (even up to the President of the United States) recognizes how hard it is to be pregnant right now. Lean on the people and the resources that are available to you.

If you're pregnant, Motherly has made our Becoming Mama™ Online Birth Class free in response to COVID-19.


News

Sydni Lane, a trauma nurse and Instagram influencer is on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus pandemic and she shared a very powerful message with us this week—she's scared. She's scared of contracting this virus and bringing it home to her family, including her asthmatic children. She's scared for her safety. She's scared people still might not be taking this as seriously as they need to be.

Because she doesn't have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) at work. Because her face is bruised from wearing a mask for over 13 hours. Because she fears we may not have started social-distancing as a collective nation early enough. Because even though she accepted a job as a nurse in the ER, the day she'd have to fight a global pandemic likely hardly ever crossed her mind.

FEATURED VIDEO

And because this seems to be only the beginning for her and her colleagues as they prepare for the peak to hit eventually. She is understandably scared.

She wrote—

"I broke down and cried today.

"I cried of exhaustion, of defeat.

"Because after four years of being an ER nurse, I suddenly feel like I know nothing.

"Because my face hurts after wearing an N95 for 13 hours, which happens to be the same N95 I wore yesterday for 12.5 hours, and the same one from all last week.

"I don't know how many times I've heard the statement 'but this is what you signed up for.' Just, no.

"I signed up to take care of sick patients, yes. I did not sign up to be unprotected by their sickness (although my hospital is busting their [butts] to try to protect us). I did not sign up to be yelled at by angry patients because our government failed to be prepared. I did not sign up to risk mine and my family's health and safety because people wanted to go on their vacations after they said NOT to.

"An ER nurse in New York died today of COVID-19. He was in his 40s and had very mild asthma. That's it. This is not just a tall tale, this is the real risk. I have to go into every patient's room and in the back of my mind I think 'this could be the patient that gets me sick... that kills me. This could be the patient that gives me the virus I bring home to my children or asthmatic husband.' This is my new reality.

"But this is only the beginning. We haven't even scratched the surface of the impact of what this illness is going to make on our country.

"And I'm scared."


Our hearts go out to these healthcare workers who are—no doubt—superheroes. They are risking their lives to ensure the safety of ours. They're separated from their loved ones. Some may even be experiencing personal and even financial hardship right now. They are treating patients around the clock under extreme circumstances and, honestly, there are not enough words in the dictionary to accurately explain our depth of gratitude.

What we can do is help. If you have the means to, donate. Donate to Feeding America. Think of a friend or family member working at a hospital and Venmo them any dollar amount—even just enough for a coffee. If you know how to sew, make medical masks for your local hospital.

More importantly, reach out to them and ask them how they are. Let them know you're thinking of them and how grateful you are for their work. I bet they could use the encouragement right about now.

Life

Bestselling author, professor and researcher Brené Brown is well-known and loved for her inspirational approach to life's challenges (and for her Netflix special The Call to Courage)‚ but even she acknowledges that the coronavirus pandemic presents a whole new set of challenges for families.

"Collectively, what I see is a growing weariness. I think we're tired, physically, emotionally, spiritually exhausted," Brown said on Monday in an interview for the Today Show, adding that part of the challenge is acknowledging that we're in it for the long haul. "We're going to have to settle into a new normal, while grieving the old normal, which is a lot to ask of people."

FEATURED VIDEO

With schools and workplaces closed and social distancing measures in effect across the country, many parents are pulling triple-duty at home right now as full-time caregivers, homeschool instructors and workers. At some moments, it can (understandably) feel as if parenting through coronavirus requires more than we have to give.

Enter Brown's "family gap plan," which can help families bridge the gap during tough moments.

As Brown explains it, "I'd say (to my husband), 'Steve, all I have is 20%.' And he's like, 'Hey, I've been holding down the fort here. All I got is 20.' So we'd say, 'Okay, we've got a gaping 60%. What are our rules when we don't have 100% as a family?'"

Brown stresses the importance of keeping lines of communication open as a family: "Let people know where you are." She and her husband have a policy of being honest with their children about moments when they feel low-energy or high-stress.

"I'll say, 'We have to make 100 as a family. I've got 20, and your dad's got 20. What do we do to get to 100?' And it's about the way we talk to each other, the way we show up with each other, extra kindness...and takeout."

In fact, Brown's kids helped come up with the set of rules their family follows whenever there's a "family gap" and things aren't adding up to 100%:

  • No harsh words
  • No nice words with harsh faces
  • Say you're sorry
  • Accept apologies with a "thank you" (as opposed to "okay," which can sound frosty)
  • More knock-knock jokes and puns

Every family is different, and your family's way of bridging the gap may call for a different set of rules (and the truth is, it's okay to not be okay sometimes). But as tactical, actionable advice for keeping the peace at home goes, the more humor and kindness, the better.

News

It was 8 pm on Sunday night and the kids were in bed. I was in the middle of urgent work emails for my mental health clinic to ensure we were prioritizing the health and care of our clients in light of the novel coronavirus spread. My work demanded my attention.

My partner walked into the room. I looked up and paused and saw the uncertainty in his eyes. I could see that he needed me.

This was one of those moments. This was a bid for attention.

Bids for attention are our attempts to connect with our partners—to be seen, to be appreciated, to be acknowledged, to be given affection. They can be small bids (like making eye contact and smiling) or bigger bids (like asking for help). Often it is not about what someone says or does, but rather the meaning behind the action.

FEATURED VIDEO

When your partner asks, "How was work today?" (or even just, "What's up?") what they are really asking is, "Will you talk to me?"

If they glance over and smile at you, what they really want to know is, "Will you notice and connect with me?"

For some, reaching for connection with our partner takes the form of actual verbal requests for help, as in "I need help" or even "I feel like you don't love me."

For others, nonverbal expressions are how we attempt to connect—for affection, care and engagement.

On that Sunday night, my partner didn't say anything. It was all in the look on his face.

I could have said "I have to do this!" and dismissed him from the room. I could have made a list of the things that were necessary to get done. I could have ignored him altogether.

But how we respond to these bids for attention in our relationships is key.

We can either turn towards our partner and see these bids for attention, or we turn away and shut them down. Dr. John Gottman, the relationships researcher, clinical psychologist and founder of the Gottman Institute, found that couples who were still married six years after their initial research meeting turned towards each other 86% of the time, while couples who ended up divorced turned towards each other 33% of the time.

So how do we respond to bids for attention?

One way of responding is by turning towards your partner. This is you seeing your partner's attempt to connect. This is you deciding that whatever is going on for you can wait because you can see that your partner needs you. This is you, at times, putting aside your own feelings, and seeing your partner's.

What does turning towards look like?

  • Smiling back and holding eye contact.
  • Sharing the feeling that comes up at that moment.
  • Responding to touch and letting your partner know you feel them there and appreciate their efforts to connect.
  • Asking what your partner needs in the moment.
  • Seeing your partner's emotion and reflecting it back to them.
  • Asking how you can help them in this moment.
  • Asking a following up question.

The challenge, of course, is that during times of stress and overwhelm, or when we feel disconnected and distressed, we get stuck in turning away from our partners.

Turning away takes a number of forms, too. Sometimes it looks like walking away and not acknowledging your partner, or passing each other in the hall and not meeting your partner's gaze. It may also look like staying away from your partner instead of going to them, or changing the topic when difficult things are brought up. It may also be minimizing the other person's experience ("it's not a big deal") or coming back with a defensive response. Maybe you don't even respond to your partner at all.

Missing these bids for attention sends our partner the message that we don't see them and that they are not important. This slowly erodes the health of your relationship.

We all miss bids for attention at times—particularly during times of stress and struggle. We must learn to tune into our partner and see them when they are asking—silently or out loud—for connection. What are the ways your partner tries for your attention? Have you shared with your partner how you try to get their attention?

On that Sunday night, in the middle of a pandemic, I chose connection. I paused my work and connected with him. I asked him what was going on for him, and I held him close.

You can choose to respond to your partner during this difficult time. You can choose to see your partner in front of you and create closeness and responsiveness. Because this is a time when we all need to create connections.

Love + Village
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