5 Ways Getting Kids Out of the House is Like Herding Cattle

I laughed out loud when I saw the latest Holderness Family Video, which is spot on. I just love this family, and would like to move in with them. As if mornings are not stressful enough, getting your kids out of the house in a timely manner is one of life’s biggest challenges. It is actually harder than herding cattle. I have not, actually, had an opportunity to herd cattle in my lifetime, but it looks easier than loading up my mini van with mini people.

As a seasoned mom with three kids, I can tell you that getting them in the car each morning is a task that no one should have to endure. There should be a button moms can press, and poof – kids are automatically put in the car with seat belts on, and off we go.

If only it was this easy.

In my not-so-spare time, I wanted to make sure my statement was supported, so I decided to really understand the techniques of herding cattle as it may help us moms in our morning chaos.

What I learned: herding is a technique done by dogs and/or humans to move a herd of cattle from one place to another. YES: Moms — we do this 1000 times a day. We herd our children. So, we are experts.

I like the comparison, and there are many similarities, so I can now offer some solutions to making the job of getting out of the house easier. All in just five minutes.

Overall, The key to herding cattle is patience. It is an craft, and a science, requiring relaxation, motivation, great expertise of the cattle flight-zone, and a sense of “bovine psychology”. This is extremely accurate.

Moms need to be calm, understand their own “flight zone,” or fight zone as I would call it, the emotional state of the children and the end goal – the moments destination. Get them out!


1. Patience.

Never show fear in the morning. Even if you wake up in your worst mood, letting your young, the cattle, sense your mood will cause them to be wild. Be patient, zen, tranquil and collected. Show them you know the direction, and if you lead they will follow. Walk out to the herd of cattle i.e into the crib/bedroom; and make sure you have the mind frame to handle, and herd, as peacefully as you can while they exit their corral to the kitchen for morning feeding.

2. Know your “flight zone.”

I learned this is term to describe the maximum distance that an animal is comfortable maintaining in your presence. If you are outside of the animal flight zone, there will be no movement. If you step inside the flight zone, you will get movement going away from you. SO, basically, every morning we need to step in our children’s flight zones, so they move in the opposite direction: down the stairs and out the door! GO! JUMP ON IN THAT ZONE! LEAP!

3. Find Balance

For cattle herding, “flight zones” also have what is called a “point of balance.” Point of balance is a guiding point where an animal can move according to the “pressure” applied to it – like a shoulder. As moms, of course we should never push or apply pressure to our kids; but a little nudge, or light motivational, influential love pat, in the flight zone (aka the “tushie”) should be allowed before 7 AM!

4. Do the necessary preparations to get the cattle in order.

Be prepared ahead of time before you start herding them to the designated area. Open the gates through which you want the cattle to move, and close any gates you wish the cattle not to go through. Yes – open and close all the gates in your house — make sure bags are packed and in line by the door. Lunches are in check. All of the clothing needed for the day is readily available, and your car has gas. Always make sure you have gas to get the cattle to their promise land.

5. Don’t go after loose cattle, or stragglers: It is not worth the battle.

Loose cattle are your slow kids, or the lost belongings. Leave the kids on the floor who won’t move, and it is ok if your kids are at school with no pants. At least they are out of the house. Eventually, they will be drawn out of the woods, and regroup with their pack. If they see your anxiety over the stragglers, the cattle will run, so just be cool. Be very cool.

Overall, our kids, or cattle, are all feeding-oriented animals, and will train easily when given a reward for learning behavior. Rewards can come in the form of a chocolate treat, a cookie, a temporary tattoo, or even a shopkin.

As you are getting out of the house and herding your cattle, always remember this: we are training them. Always be confident in your ability to herd, they will respond to the way in which we handle them, good or bad, consistent or not. We need to remain calm when handling cattle. If we get angry – it is not worth it. 

They will not fail in life if they are late for preschool. Do NOT get frustrated, excited, or nervous; otherwise the cattle will sense your state of being, lose control, and become irrational. Then, the vicious cycle of morning will likely spiral into a world of untamed herds.

Yelling or using powerful force to get them going, will backfire. NOT FOLLOWING THE RULES OF CATTLE HERDING will increase their fear and likeliness of the herds getting away (tempting, I know, as we could sleep a little later).