And for better or worse, there are a handful of phrases that roll off my tongue way more often than I'd like to admit.
"He's not a toy, he's a person!"
My kids love their baby brother, in a manic sort of way. They love to pick him up, squeeze him, hold him, jostle him around, and basically give me a heart attack because it looks like they're going to drop him. All the time, I have to remind the littler ones that he's not the same as their baby dolls (you know, the naked ones face-down and covered in marker scribbles at the bottom of the toybox? Yeah. They need to be more careful with him than that.)
"Look at this room and put away everything you've touched today."
If I knew what I was doing as a mom, I'd probably teach my kids to put things away immediately when they're done using them. But I can't be on top of them all the time and honestly, I forget. So I do the next best thing, which is periodically flip out about what a pig sty the house has become and force the kids to clean up after their last 24 hours of activity. I'm not sure what that's teaching them other than that mom is mentally unstable.
"Did you do your list?"
"Take that out of your mouth."
The baby obviously inserts everything directly into his piehole, but we also have two other kids that constantly chew and suck on things that were never meant to be chewed or sucked. Buttons, nickels, craft pom poms, pieces of string, Legos, shirt sleeves, their own hair... you name it, and we've told someone to take it out of their mouth.
"Can you please answer that?"
After years of observation, I've decided no one in the house can hear the phone ring but me. Weird, right? Maybe it's just because I live in a house full of introverts, but the phone will ring and no one will even look up, letalone consider putting it to their ear and saying "Hello?" The best I can hope for is that someone will grab the still-ringing phone, sprint over to me, then press 'phone' and thrust it at my head. Baby steps.
"Talk nice and be nice."
After refereeing your 2 millionth sibling squabble, everything starts to sound the same. So I've hit on this little all-purpose gem: talk nice and be nice. Not entirely grammatically correct, but it basically covers every situation. Use a nice voice, keep your actions nice, and we don't have a problem, amiright? Sorry, kids. I know you want me to listen to every detail of who whacked who with a Hot Wheels track and whether it was an accident or not... but in the end, I'm probably just going to tell you to talk nice and be nice.
My kids will most likely have one of these 6 phrases engraved on my tombstone one day, because it's all they'll remember me saying after I'm gone. Now go put away everything you've touched today!