“this is not an emergency.”

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kidsandjosh-2 kidsandjoshthere were several moments over the weekend where i practiced chanting to myself a phrase a girlfriend of mine, who is a mother of two and also an exceptional human being, taught me last week.

it goes like this:

this is not an emergency.

and it’s kind of hysterical to think about saying to yourself, but honestly, i used it like 12 times on saturday alone. and seriously, it’s genius.

because, there are several moments over the course of a day where i’m completely frazzled by life and when my kids are being just a tad bit naughty during those moments it’s my instinct to want to raise my voice and freak out sometimes. but more often than not, their mistakes aren’t malicious or even intentional in anyway. they are little. they are curious. sometimes (all the time) they spill things. or just can’t yet comprehend why we must do things a certain way (like not crossing the street at a red light, or wearing a coat when it’s cold outside.) when i pause and kneel down to explain, or calmly ask for their help to clean up the spilled water or whatever it is, and not raise my voice before i go about trying to fix whatever, it’s amazing the difference it makes in our day.

and so, during several little mishaps that felt part annoying and part intentional and every part frustrating when it comes to kids and patience and mothering and life, i worked on biting my tongue, on pausing and chanting to myself, “this is not an emergency.” 

it didn’t always work magic, but more often than not, it absolutely completely did. and it was amazing.

may you chant with me in the coming week, or share your own personal mantras and chants that get you through your own weeks with me below. because I AM ALL EARS when it comes to trying out new tips and tricks with this stuff. i love learning from the pros.

and also, wishing you an emergency free day! week! life! ;)

  1. I get overwhelmed sometimes because I run my own business and it’s something that I wasn’t ready for or am used to. I definitely go through frazzled moments (like 80% of the day). Definitely going to try this chant out :) x


  2. Alison

    Thank you for sharing this piece of wisdom. I needed to read that today. :)

  3. Alyssa

    I love this one. new mantra. x

  4. Dani

    That’s some great advice indeed! I don’t even have kids myself (yet ^^) but I think this is most useful, even to apply to everyday “life sucks” moments (especially in this hectic Parisian city I call home)…

    Keep them comin’!


  5. jacqui

    What a great reality check phrase… I am in the same boat with my 3 year old…doesn’t want to wear a coat, doesn’t want to eat dinner, doesn’t want to do her hair. I use the deep breath tactic…the pause before i yell or say something awful. I am a yoga teacher so the breathing thing makes total sense (inhale for 4, exhale for 6). I also try and smile it out. Ha. Sounds weird but i am completely sure it changes my brain focus from mad to i can totally handle this. Oh, and mommy breaks. Remove yourself from the situation and get some fresh air. xx

  6. Michelle C.

    Mine is “burnt toast”. When things with kids start to send me over the edge and I start to feel anxiety or anger rising I love the analogy of toast. You know when your fire alarm goes nuts because your toast burns but it thinks the house is burning down? What do we do? Flap our arms or dish towel to get it to stop buzzing. So when I’m losing control I say “it’s just burnt toast, it’s just burnt toast”. And breath deeply to make the alarm stop sounding.

    As always, thanks for sharing!

  7. Blake

    This is really clever. I’m happy it works for you! Maybe this is something I can practice in my life too – especially when I’m stressed at work!

  8. joana

    my ‘it’s not an emergency’ is ‘everything is allright’.
    like it’s just water on the floor, everything is allright or it’s just another pair of trousers with icecream, the washing machine will work on that, everything is allright.
    it’s my way of putting everything in perspective and not raise my voice.
    this also works to calm my sons, because I’ve used it as a matra since they were born.
    it’s so funny because my oldest son already use this with his little brother. when the baby starts crying he reaches to him and gently says ‘everything is allright’. it’s so adorable to see.

  9. I think that’s a lovely mantra and I could certainly use it, even if only with my four-legged children.

  10. Shilpa

    I was in a spiritual gathering yesterday and the spiritual leader said, we should have one-liner stickers at our home/ workplace which reads “Living at ZERO complaint level” and it was a surprise to see you write about it today too… Feels like the universe is re-emphasizing this fact through you, and I should start following it too :-)

  11. Mare

    My mantra is..you will miss this when it passes. It works magic when my boys misbehave (I even get tears in my eyes if I think about it in depth-is that weird?). anyway, I will try yours too.

  12. Michelle

    I just learned about using this phrase last week as well from a Mom Conference speaker on raising kids to be friends by Laura Markham. I have been using it and I have taught my slightly irrational 11 year old the phrase too and it’s helped her so much just in the last week. It really does seem weird but it totally works!

  13. Morgan

    While watching a close friend mother her 3 yr. old through a piece of dropped cake I overheard her calmly say, “It’s ok. Remember? This is a little problem.” Over the course of several other interactions she would ask her daughter, “Is this a big problem or a little problem?” I think that is so genius and something I have now applied to my life! Asking myself that question before I react helps me gain perspective quickly and get control of my actions before I respond.

  14. I like to say, “it could be worse” to help me put things into perspective and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t it depends on my mood or what’s going on in the day but it does work! because let’s say I spill coffee on my clothes before leaving to work, it could be worse than that. It really is all about perspective these days. Keep on smiling!

  15. JP

    i always love your honesty- it is so easy to look at the photos of your beautiful, fun-loving family and label it “perfect”….i love this mantra and use a similar one myself when things are feeling a little too harried [and i dont even have children!]….so thank you for sharing this helpful tool + the fact that we all, as humans, struggle with frustrations and irritations and don’t always instinctively handle them with poise and grace the first time around. you guys are truly awesome and i love following your journey!

  16. Rose J.

    That’s a good one. “This is not an emergency.” I like that.

    There’s a post I wrote back in 2012 where I was beginning to lose it! There’s a book called Mommy Mantras that really helped me in situations like this, and there are times where I’ll reread it because let’s face it…every mother no matter how many kids we have, or how close or far apart in age they are, we all need some sort of mantra, or a way to help us deal with sibling rivalry.

    “I can stand this” is mine. Here’s an excerpt from the book…

    “I can stand this” is crucial. Try to ameliorate the stress-provoking situations, but let’s face it, mothering has its share of things we just have to tough out.”

    I love this book, and if you haven’t read it you should! It truly was an eye opener for me.

    Another thing that helps is when I see my kids having visions in my head of when my kids were a baby, or toddler age I “lock it in.” That’s another mantra. whenever my 10, and five year old start bickering I begin to picture Chelsea as a toddler, and how sweet her smile was (is), and all the funny, and cute things she used to say and do.

    Or when she was five, and how she would kiss Noah on the forehead when he was a tiny baby. Kind of like how your kids are with Conrad. Moments like that help me to not yell at her. I have realized that in the end their bickering is not serious, and if no one is getting killed let them have their fun.

    After all…they’re only little once, or in my case…They’re only 10 once, and five once.

    Hope this helps, and have a great week!


  17. Jessica

    Wow I needed this today, a lot. I’m currently going through a separation after 5 years (I haven’t accepted the word divorce yet) with a 3 year old, a puppy, a house on 3 acres with LOTS of leaves falling, and now two jobs. This past weekend was the first weekend all alone. Soccer practice, a haircut, a puppy who ran after a deer in the woods, getting ready for work this morning with a 3 year old who doesn’t want to wear a coat “I don’t like cold weather” who runs away and hides when we’re already 15 minutes late had me at my wits end. I needed this chant, I’m already imagining how many times I’m going to use this chant.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you… Happy chanting!!!

  18. Mallory

    Great mantra! I’ll have to remember that! Mine is ‘This too shall pass.’ I use it to remember that frustrating phases (throwing food from the table) won’t last. But also to remind myself to enjoy the little things.

  19. Charlotte

    I love this mantra!! Thanks for sharing!!
    Mine is “every day is different”. It has saved many bad days since my son was born last june. Motherhood is hard, sometimes you feel like a failure but at the end of the day when your baby smiles at you, you feel like a rockstar!!!

  20. Callie

    this may sound silly or simple but…

    i say, out loud or in my head, the numbers “6, 7, 8, 9, 10.” i don’t say it toooo quickly – i really hear myself say each number.

    i picked it up from my dad, and for some reason it just works wonders to diffuse a stressful moment. but i love “this is not an emergency” too! great tip and post.

  21. jaana

    My personal mantra for life and motherhood: “Perfection is totally overrated”. When I think I’m doing things wrong or my kid is doing things wrong. It’s all ok! We can work it out. We can forgive each other. We can try again tomorrow. Perfection is totally overrated. And pants kind of are too.


  22. evanda

    i feel like i could use this phrase & i don’t have kid. such a good reminder to just take a breath.

  23. Laurel

    Genius. Im definitely going to make this my mantra this week! :)

  24. Jeni

    I need to read this, like, everyday.

  25. hanna

    Very good tip for dealing with being overwhelmed –Hanna Lei

  26. Heidi

    We have two. “It’s no big deal” and “it doesn’t have to be perfect”. Both employed to help my 6 year old handle stressful situations at school. Today at the grocery store, though, my 3 year old said to me four different times when something was frustrating me “mom, it’s no big deal”. :)

    Amazing how much it helps!

  27. Sabine

    Thank you! This sooo worked for us today!!! :)

  28. Beth

    My mom’s similar mantra growing up was “no one is bleeding.”

  29. Carly

    That is a great phrase! It’s so important to think about things and recognize what is worth getting upset over and what is not.
    Dresses & Denim

  30. Sarah

    Yes. This. I like to give myself a break when things don’t exactly go just right. I say: I am doing the best I can with the resources available.

    Mantras are powerful! Thanks for sharing your gem. My friend has a hymn he chants when he’s afraid, but I can’t remember what it was. If I find it I will post it.

  31. amber

    Here is one that has helped m, probably not applicable to children. I cant control what other people say or do. I can only control my own feelings and reaction to them.

  32. Nici

    love this one! on my mind all this over the weekend, and your text is like : yes, I got it now!!! also like the comment above by mare “you will miss this when it passes” thank you all so much! bon courage all you mamas out there! our kids grow so fast and yes, someday in the future we will really miss all those “funny” things….

  33. Jessica

    Thanks for posting! I feel less alone. I find myself feeling all kinds of guilt (“I doubt other moms get as irritated and frazzled as me. What’s wrong with me? Why am I not constantly in love with wrangling small children all day?”). Last week was a doozy for us and I found myself turning into grumpy, mean mom. I will be putting your mantra to use. A couple I like are: “A bad moment does not equal a bad day” & “This is not forever” (meaning your kids won’t always be so high maintenance and tiring. One day they will all use the restroom by themselves, get themselves dressed and bathed, and heck even help out around the house)

  34. Paige

    I’m just going to pin this to save and read it every morning before I start my parenting for the day! Great advice and wisdom!


  35. You have no idea how much I needed to hear this today. This weekend was a rough one with my step son and I need to start putting practices like this in place. Coming from a place of positivity shapes things for the better every time. Thanks

  36. mitzi

    i also like to use, “LET IT GO’ with lots of deep pursed lip breathing hehe

  37. Breanna

    Love this! I don’t have children (just a hilarious cat), but I do tend to get anxious and overwhelmed by grad school/life, so I’m definitely going to give this a try!

  38. marlena

    great mantra!
    in these difficult moments of a day, I always say to myself –‘chill out!just chill out (deep breath) nothing happened” and it helps, sometimes a lot!


  39. Christina

    So much truth! I find myself often putting myself in my son’s itty bitty shoes when I raise my voice for curiosity or trying thing and have that “no way do I want my closest confidant to be me when I act like that”. Thank goodness for a forgiving spirit within all children.

  40. Julie

    This helped me through a super stressful day, thanks for sharing! Always love your posts

  41. Kimmy

    Growing up, when we were elementary school aged, my mom always started her day with a bath, and the rule was: no bugging mom unless it was an emergency. And then she had to define what an emergency was (of course): unless something is on fire or bleeding, it’s not an emergency. :)

  42. Randi

    Count me in on the chanting this week! I notice the difference in our days too when I’m calmer with my reactions. They say a good nights rest does wonders! (But that’s a big lol in my house)

  43. Lexy

    Something that I tell myself constantly that helps me in all facets of my life—be it professional, personal, religious, familial—is, “Focus on your locus of control.” I love that it’s affirmative and specific. I am a capable being who can act and react, but my stewardship is limited. What I am/do/say can be extremely powerful, though, if I let go of everything that I cannot control and focus on what I can. Extremely simple, yet extraordinarily hard! I’m working on it.

  44. Cait

    This is definitely a good phrase…One that I am trying to remind myself of more is something a wise older woman told my little sister when she became a mother last year. “They are not irritating, you are irritable.’ It’s a good reminder that they are just being babies/little children and are not trying to make things hard for you personally, but you often react in an attitude that is not loving toward them. SO convicting to me!!!

  45. Elizabeth

    Oh how I needed this today!! Now I just pray I remember it in the millions of moments I’ll need it with my 1 & 3 year olds!

  46. Alisha

    With my 15-month-old, I say, “You’ll miss these days. You’ll miss these days.” Because they’ll be gone all too sign, right? And even though she might be driving me crazy at the mo, I’m going to miss her baby days SO much, especially since I can’t have anymore kids. Telling yourself it’s not an emergency is also a good choice!

  47. This is a good one. I often have to take a step back when my one year old has used up all of my patience and I find myself raising my voice at her. And then I think, ooh big bad mommy yelling at a baby, aren’t you tough? It’s so hard!

  48. Barbara

    Thanks for this post! I’m going to use this new mantra and see if it works! Maybe it’s better if I would use it not only with my daughters but also with husband!! ;)

  49. one of my favorite verses is “counted all joy my brothers when you are faced with trials of many kinds, for the testing of your faith develops perseverance” so when times are tough I constantly repeat “count it all joy”

  50. Lee

    I love that chant. Thank you. Another one recently I have been using is “drop the story”, meaning, drop those worrisome stories in your head about things that you said, or did or didn’t do, and what others might think, or the consequences that may come of it because usually those “stories” never come to life and I have spent all that time worrying and not being present.
    (“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere”― Erma Bombeck)

  51. bri

    i so need to say this to myself more often. or maybe have it printed out and hung up in my kitchen! ha! i also find deep breaths helps and reading ‘peaceful parent happy kids’ really has some great tips on how to really train yourself to be calmer and more accepting of little minds and bodies instead of molding them to be tiny adults. because they’re kind of like cavemen at this age ;) toddlers, man. nothing like it!

  52. I love this piece of advice…. I NEED IT and am going to need it!

  53. Lacy

    Ginger Flowman has some great books on this subject! Thanks for the post!

  54. Lauren

    I LOVE THIS! I need to say this mantra to myself too!

  55. I totally get it. As a mom of 3 its not always easy (understatement) to put things in perspective and stay calm.
    I had a long conversation with a girlfriend of mine that gave me a great tip.
    As it is not always easy to keep calm, try putting yourself in timeout. ONLY when you are calm and ready to deal with whatever is out there, you are free to join the gang :)

    I know it doesn’t help when they are running to the street in red light, but it sure does when the wall becomes their canvas…

    Hope it helps

  56. Rowena

    I love this! I don’t think it matters what you say to yourself, I think it is the ‘pause’ that does the trick. I (try to) pause, then ask myself if it will matter tomorrow.