Penn and Kim Holderness, creators and stars of The Holderness Family YouTube channel along with their two kids Lola and Penn Charles, are masters of song parodies. But, like most parents, their morning routine presents more of a challenge. Luckily, these frustrating family moments are rife with humor and, more importantly, musical inspiration. In a recent video parody of "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" by Boyz II Men, the Holderness family hilariously captured the daily struggle many parents face trying to get their Kids II School.
Penn Holderness, father and singer in the video, views every morning with his family like a scene out of Groundhog Day. "We tell them every morning: 'Put on shoes. Get ready. Get dressed,' " he tells A Plus.
"Every day it's a surprise that they have to put on shoes, like every day. And pants," Kim, his wife and musical accomplice, adds. "This has been happening for two years, and they just don't get it."
The Boyz II Men morning parody song, "It's So Hard to Get Out the Door" was inspired by a pivotal moment in the Holderness clan's ongoing shoe struggle. One fateful day, Lola and Penn Charles not only made it out of the house and into the car, but halfway to school before telling their parents they weren't wearing any shoes.
Though exasperating in the moment, the shoeless incident became a humorous anecdote the Holdernesses could share and, after enough time had passed, laugh at — and, of course, make a YouTube video about. "It became this conversation topic for us, and usually when that happens there's something funny in there," Penn explains. "And so if it's something funny that's going on that's real in our lives, we just find a way to make it rhyme." They chose to parody a Boyz II Men song because, as self-proclaimed "old people," 1990s songs are the first place they look for musical inspiration.
While this video showcases the Holderness family's particular morning routine (and the inevitable shoe struggles that ensue), making videos has become a fun, if unexpected, way for them to connect with one another, as well as with other parents all over the world.
"What we've gotten out of doing all these videos is realizing we're all in this together. It doesn't matter where you live, it doesn't matter how much money you make," Kim said. "Parenting is this kind of unifying thing that we get to go through together, and so the camaraderie … has been — for us — really, really rewarding." She's thankful Facebook and YouTube have allowed her and her husband to create "this cool community of parents that get to go through it all and laugh at all this together."
After posting the video to their YouTube channel, where it's since received more than 300,000 views, the Holderness parents even learned their children's chronic shoe aversion was "fairly common behavior."
"We thought it was just that our kids were insane," Penn joked. "But apparently that's something that everyone does to avoid getting up and going downstairs." Kim has even toyed with the idea of letting her kids go to school shoeless so they'll stop trying to use it as an excuse, but she's worried her genius plan may backfire when the school won't let them in. Forced to choose between leaving the house late with shoes or having to drive back to get them, she's chosen the former — so far, anyway. Still, she mused, "Maybe that'll teach the lesson, but I haven't gotten there yet."
For now, they're stuck doing daily reenactments of Cinderella. "I love my kids, but as soon as they leave, there's a bit of an exhale because this happens every morning," Penn says. "We are crazy about our kids … we love being with them, just not really on school mornings, " Kim agrees. "On a school day, it's like pulling really lazy teenagers out of bed."
You would think weekend mornings in the Holderness house would be spent sleeping in ... not to mention basking in their collective shoelessness. You would be wrong. A sense of irony rises with the dawn — and the Holderness kids.
For a reason wholly unknown to their parents, those are the days Lola and Penn Charles jump out of bed at 6 a.m. While Kim and Penn try to recuperate from all those other early mornings, the kids partake in an age-old tradition: Saturday morning cartoons. "Now that they're a little older, they know how to turn on the TV by themselves," Kim explains, though she admits it's not the couple's "best" parenting. "We kind of put them in front of electronic devices … until we actually get off our butts and get out of bed." And just like that, the shoe's on the other foot.
"On weekends, we do take more time, and we actually make a big breakfast," Kim adds. "And we do have fun, but the fact that they wake up at like 6 in the morning is really annoying."
Does that sound like the makings of a follow-up music video? It very well could be. After making parody music videos for more than three years, the Holderness family has many more in store, especially if Lola and Penn Charles have anything to say about it.
"We're not quite like the Partridge Family," Penn is quick to disclaim. You won't find the Holderness family strolling through their local mall serenading unsuspecting shoppers. They're just like everyone else. They love the Hamilton soundtrack just as much as the next YouTube sensation family. "They [the kids] listen to that on the way to school almost every day," Penn says. "They change the words to songs just kinda like we do," Kim adds. "With anything on the radio, they change the words, too. It's really, really funny."
Clearly, the Holderness family business is safe with its next generation of creative geniuses. According to Kim, the job's main requirements are "have fun," "hang out with our family," and "make videos."
Shoes are a plus, but not required.