Some days, my mommy brain is too tired to come up with an original phrase to handle the situation brewing in my house. That's when I turn to my tried-and-true Momisms, ready-to-use one-liners guaranteed to move the situation forward. Most of my favorite Momisms I inherited from my own mother. She had a stockpile of handy phrases that she used repeatedly with my seven siblings and me. Eight kids, one mom—she needed those go-to aphorisms! These Momisms got us up, out the door and on our way in the world. Need motivation or encouragement? Use a Momism! I only have two kids, but I find myself repeating these often:

"First things first." Wondering where to start on the never ending to-do list at home or the office? Here's where you start: with the first thing. It might be making coffee or bathing the kids before you can tackle the mess in the kitchen. But I've found that once I check that first thing off my list, the rest of the items begin to fall into place. Try this with kids overwhelmed by homework: Gotta sharpen the pencils before you can do the math!

"You'll be fine, dear." My mother would toss out this sentence whenever we were starting a new school, job or social experience like camp. No over-the-top self-esteem message here. My mother didn't promise that we'd be "fabulous" or "the best ever," just "fine." Positive and reasonable. That's the kind of reassurance kids need.

"Get up and get going." This is the perfect phrase to use on the kids when they come down with a case of the Monday Morning Blues."Just get up and get going and you'll feel much better," my mother used to say to me. Lying in bed, it's easy to talk yourself out of anything, especially school. But you do feel better when you get up and get going. Try this on yourself when you lack the mojo to go to the gym!

"Can't you just try and be pleasant?" Imagine eight kids around the dinner table, teasing and taunting each other. This is when my mother would pull out this Momism. I've updated to "Please try to be nice to each other." Notice the syntax. You don't have to be nice to each other, just try to be nice. Again, reasonable expectations that can be easily achieved. The effort goes a long way.

"You can never have too much ice." This has nothing to do with raising children, but it is a wonderful party-planning tip from my mother. It's true. You know why? Because ice melts. You will never regret a last-minute ice run before a party.

What Momisms do you use with your children? Leave your comments below.

Lian Dolan is a mother, wife, sister, friend, daughter, writer and talk show host. She writes and talks about her adventures in modern motherhood for her website,, and her weekly podcast, The Chaos Chronicles.


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