Facebook, You “Make” Me Yell at My Kids


Dear Facebook,

I have a love/hate relationship with you (I know, I know, I am so not the first to admit that!)

I love that because of you I can feel a little bit “connected” to my friends who I don’t get to see on a day-to-day basis. I love that because of you, I feel like I know about their lives, their joys, their sorrows. With four kids under eight, even though I care immensely about everyone in my life, I struggle to keep in touch as much as I like. I struggle to remember big birthdays and anniversaries. And to be honest, as much as I know being connected with friends (like really connected) is important to me because it makes me happier and therefore a better mom/wife/daughter/friend/person, I still struggle to prioritize “be connected – in a real way– with friends.” So instead, I turn to you. You help me have a sliver of the connection that I so very much seek and it makes me feel a little less guilty and a little more okay that I am sucking at keeping in touch with those I care about. So thank you for that.

And obviously, I love that you gave me a way to create a supportive community two years ago when I started The Orange Rhino Challenge; without that community I am not sure I would have made it! And today that community is a source of love, support, and inspiration not just for me, but also for 50,000 others. Pretty cool. Pretty darn cool. So thanks for that too!

10307204_10152600745523707_6815964752845370236_nSo yeah, there are two really strong reasons why I love you and why I open you up everyday, okay, lets be honest, several or more times a day. Oh, wait, one more reason. I love the pages that daily pop up sharing inspirational thoughts; those really help me stay focused during tough days. But Facebook, oh, oh dear Facebook, the problem is that when I open you to see about friends and to check-on / check-in with The Orange Rhino Community, I don’t just see, but I feel.

I see pictures of my friends that I immediately love and smile at because I can tell my friend is happy and then… I feel jealous because it seems she is happier than me/living a life better than me/skinnier than me/a better mother than me because she does cooler things than me.

I see a link to a parenting article a friend shared and I can’t help but to click through because the topic speaks to me and then (more times than not)… I feel incompetent, judged, and overwhelmed by all I “need” to do or change in order to feel better about my parenting and that I am no longer on the “wrong side” of the judgment.

I see pictures of husbands and wives who seem to be so naturally gravitating towards each other in the picture, who so “clearly” enjoy each other and so “obviously” have some secret marriage ingredient I am missing and… I feel sad about the marriage boulder that hit a while back and that we don’t have lots of this type of picture lately (even though I know we will soon.)

I see The Orange Rhino Community page growing; I see the messages and the comments…and I feel so excited and happy. Excited that we are growing, that more people are feeling less alone in their struggle to yell less; excited that I still have a safe, judgment free place to share about my journey; excited that there are people I can reach out to and offer support because that brings me such joy. And then I feel overwhelmed because there is so much more I want to do for The Community and sometimes I feel guilty that I haven’t replied to as many messages or comments as I so desperately want to (and as you all so very much deserve.)

And well sometimes I see a really nasty comment on The Orange Rhino page and then… I feel very hurt and scared to continue on my public journey.

Yep, I “see” a lot on you Facebook but really, I “feel” a lot more.

I would love to say that the warm, fuzzy feelings you inspire last all day long and are so powerful that they immediately squash the yucky-I-feel-so-insecure feelings that I shared above, but that just isn’t the truth. It’s the opposite actually. It seems that for whatever reason, once conjured up, it’s the yucky insecure feelings that last all. day. long! Emphasis on all.day.long! This so ain’t cool! These feelings not only immediately put me in a grouchy, defensive, and agitated mood but they also immediately consume all of my thoughts leaving me completely distracted.

And guess what?
Distracted mind + Bad Mood = the perfect setup for yelling at my kids.

tip 46 squeeze dont screamWhen I am not fully present and focused on just being a parent, and instead focused on yucky feelings (or to-dos for that matter,) it is infinitely harder to be an Orange Rhino because my mind isn’t clear enough to focus on what I know I need to do to keep myself from yelling. When I am pre-occupied it’s just very hard to remember to: pay attention to my kids emotions and needs, notice cues that I am getting closer to losing it, think of alternatives to yelling, tell myself encouraging thoughts, and find perspective so that I don’t yell when I am pre-occupied otherwise. (Shoot, its hard enough to remember these things when I am in a good mood and feeling naturally calm and loving!!)

And you wanna know something else? Since you so often push me towards this grouchy, pre-occupied mindset, I have labeled you as one of my Yelling Triggers. Yes Facebook, I like you and all, but you make me yell. I know, I know. That’s a cop out. The real triggers are my insecurities, or better said, feeling that I am not “good enough or doing well enough.” It’s just easier and feels better to blame you! Ha! Seriously though, here’s the thing. You are truly a trigger for my triggers, so we need to work on our relationship. I like you but I love my kids, and my family and friends, more and I don’t want to unnecessarily yell or snap at them because you set me off.

I am not entirely sure where our relationship will go from here, but I do know a few things:

  • I don’t want to dump you because of your positive qualities so I will still be around, just a bit less. (And please know, checking my email/phone has the same effect as you. I tell you this so you don’t feel like you are the only one causing me strife; as an Orange Rhino I know no one wants to feel alone!)
  • I do need to take responsibility for my part in hanging out with you; I need to set better limits as to when I look at you so that if I am triggered, I am not in a situation where it will impact how I interact with those around me.
  • I need to work on my impulse control so that when I slip up and sneak a peak at you when I shouldn’t (sometimes a girl just needs to scroll to escape the craziness, you know?), I can successfully refrain from clicking on potentially triggering articles.

I hope you understand where I am coming from and aren’t hurt. If you are, please just don’t trash me in a status update because that would you know, make me feel bad, and then I would dwell on the hurt feelings, and then my son would innocently ask for a snack and I would snap at him. Thanks for understanding and being a good friend,

Your friend,
The Orange Rhino

If you would like to learn about all those things I know I should do to keep from yelling, check out my new book: “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can Too!” It hits shelves October 1, but you can pre-order it now by clicking here!

Dear The Orange Rhino Community:
Fear not, the page isn’t going anywhere!! Ever! I am though, actively creating new ways to achieve the same community feel and means of communication elsewhere as I have learned I am not alone in my struggle with Facebook (and well, my “friend” Facebook seems to not like sharing my posts with you!) One place I will be spending more time? The private Orange Rhino Community forum! It has been updated to provide better security and more bells and whistles. It is a great place to meet other Orange Rhinos sharing similar specific triggers as you (i.e. ADHD behaviors, potty training madness, homework battles) and who live in the same area. Check it out! www.theorangerhino.com/community AND if you want to make sure to see my blog posts, sign up to receive notifications of new posts by this fancy, schmancy new tool: 




Learning to “Hold” a Yell

In honor of my Facebook post last night which read: {New Tip for Bedtime} 
Tried something new tonight as not yelling has been hard, hard, hard lately I brought my water bottle to bedtime with me. I carried it around at all times, you know, like a lovey?! When I was frustrated, I took a sip of the cold water to cool down, literally and mentally. When drinking, I can’t yell and I have to slow down. Two upsides: (1) kids got sips throughout bedtime and didn’t need water when tucked in and (2) I didn’t yell. Downside: When I finally settled in to bed with my 4th child to read with him, I realized I desperately had to pee but that I was also wiped from the day/night and had no desire to get up. It made for an uncomfortable story time, but hey, I’ll take it as I will go to bed feeling much more comfortable with how I handled bedtime!


Originally posted September 2013

When I loaded the boys into the mini-van for our four-hour drive north last month, I assumed that no one would sleep and that we would need to stop every hour for someone to go pee. I mean assuming anything else was just setting myself up to be frustrated and annoyed, right?! So I mentally prepared myself for a long trek with lots of noise and lots of stops. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t try to make a peaceful, quick trip happen though! Yep, I had everyone try to pee twice before we left and I timed our departure with naptime for #3 and #4.

Well wouldn’t you know it. Within fifteen minutes of driving, not one, not two, not three, but ALL FOUR of my boys were sleeping! And wouldn’t you know it, an hour and a half later they were all still sleeping! Which is great, right? Miraculous even. Well yes, and no.

No because I had drunk a cup coffee to stay awake and had forgotten to try and pee twice myself! Yes, this mama had to pee wicked bad and there was absolutely, positively no way in hell I was going to pull over and wake up four sleeping kids to pee. Nope, wasn’t gonna happen. I didn’t even entertain the idea! You couldn’t have paid me to pull over and end my quiet, peaceful and easy drive up north. Sure I had to pee so badly that I had stomach cramps but the downside to that was far less than the upside of my boys not yelling at each other, asking me “are we there yet?” over and over, and complaining that they had nothing to do.  Pulling over just wasn’t an option. And then again, peeing in my pants wasn’t really an appealing option either.

So I did what I think most parents would do in said situation; my boys slept and I squirmed.

And I crossed my legs. And I squeezed. And I looked out the window for distractions. And I tried to think about everything but peeing. And I told myself over and and over “that I can do this, just a little bit longer, I can do this.”

And then, well then I had an Orange Rhino moment and I laughed so hard at my absolute ridiculousness that I had to squeeze even harder because after four natural births, well, you know, sometimes pee happens.

You see it donned on me at that moment that learning to hold pee and learning to hold a yell are very similar.

They both take paying attention to signals that you are about to explode and then acting accordingly to avoid said explosion.

They both take focus and putting mind over matter.

They both take practice and doing it over and over so you can go longer and longer.

They both take distractions so that you don’t think of the strong desire to do said action.

They both take positive thinking, telling yourself over and over that you can do it.

They both take choosing to do all of the above no matter how hard because the alternative is not really a desired option.

And they are both behaviors that can be learned and achieved over time!

Seriously, all ridiculousness aside and the fact that it is a wee bit crazy that I compared not yelling to not peeing in one’s pants, just think about the similarities. It is kind of uncanny, right? When I stopped and realized the similarities (which by the way was a great distraction and kept my mind occupied on something besides the growing need to pee my brains out), I couldn’t help but to think,

“Wow, all the skills that I thought I developed to not yell I didn’t really just develop, I already had them and had them since I was a child when I got potty trained! I just applied them to a new situation.”

My point in sharing this story and risking looking like a total fool for comparing something as difficult and personal as learning to not yell to something as trivial as not peeing in one’s pants is this: you already have some of the skills to yell less. You already know how to work hard to control yourself physically.

Yes, the desire to yell is a heck of a lot more intense and frustrating; it’s a heck of a lot more anger filled and most definitely a heck of lot more emotionally charged. I am not in any way trying to diminish that. I guess what I am trying to say in a most absurd but also light way to combat the heaviness of yelling as a topic is that…

You can do it.

You can yell less.

You have the skills within you already. You just need to apply them in a slightly different manner. Here’s how:

  1. Pay attention to your personal signals that a yell is coming on so that when you feel them the next time you know to run to the bathroom and scream in the toilet instead of exploding at the kids.
  2. Focus all your energy on one task, one goal, that of yelling less. Focusing on too many goals at once is too much stress!
  3. Practice not yelling over and over again. Accidents happen, trust me, since my fourth son was born I have had two. Totally mortifying. But hey, it happened and I learned that I need to focus harder on not laughing on a full bladder! So if an accident does happen and you do yell, forgive yourself. Let the shame and embarrassment go and know that there will be another opportunity to practice and succeed.
  4. Set yourself up for success by placing distractions around the house, or rather reminders to not yell. Place pictures of the kids in yell zones (great way to feel love not anger) and place orange rhinos up to remember to be warm and calm.
  5. Be positive and believing in you; tell yourself over and over that, “I can be calm and not yell.”
  6. Choose to not yell because you know not only does yelling not work, but that is just isn’t a good option. Choose to hold it together, to squirm, and to squeeze your hands in frustration instead of yelling. Choose to try your hardest even on days when you want to scream your brains out.
  7. Tell yourself that you are learning to yell less and that it takes time, just like potty training. I know wasn’t born knowing how to hold my pee or um, other things. Just ask my parents or the nice couple at the beach sharing a romantic picnic. I may or may not have walked over to them totally naked at age two and squatted on their blanket and left them a present. Like, a smelly one. Moving right along…. Seriously, it takes time to learn how to not yell but it can be done!

Okay, it’s official. This post is weird. I just told you that I pooped on a blanket as a kid and that I have pee accidents at the age of thirty something. If nothing else is achieved from this post, I hope you are laughing with me. Because laughter is a great way to be in a good space to achieve all of the above!

Happy holding your yells (and pees!)

Learn how to hold a “yell” with my 30-day guide, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too!” It hits shelves in October 2014 but you can pre-order it now so that you are one of the first to receive it! Click here to pre-order. 


When Things Don’t Go as Planned…I No Longer Yell.

This post originally appeared on July 10, 2013. This week, my boys and I are at the same beach I write of in this post. Things are going more as planned, which made me naturally think of this post when things were not going as planned as all. 

Well, once again, this is not the post I intended to write tonight. Nope, not at all.
That seems to be the theme lately: not doing what I expected to be doing.
That was certainly the case last week on vacation.

Did I expect to spend the first three days in the rain? Nope. I mean sure, one day of rain, or some drops here and there, but most certainly not three days of thunderstorms.

Did I expect to find our normally quiet, spacious beach overcrowded because the beach one block over was getting filled in as a result of Hurricane Sandy? Nope. And when I say overcrowded, I mean so much so that if one of my boys even flinched I feared they would get sand on a stranger.

Danger. This mom didn’t expect this and doesn’t like when things don’t go as planned. In fact, in kind of makes her want to scream….

Did I expect to have not one, not two, not three, but four kids all not sleep through the night, every night? Nope. Of course I expected one or two, and I expected early risings, but for all to not sleep through, seriously?

Did I expect to discover our favorite breakfast place would have the same great food and view but awfully mean and hungover college boys instead of sweet and caring college girls who helped with the kids? Nope. I know wait staff changes, but after many a long night I so longed for a little help at breakfast besides the caffeine jolt from my coffee.

Did I expect to call 911 at 4:30 in the morning because I was convinced someone was in the house?

Oh wait, that wasn’t on vacation; that wasn’t last week. That was last night, or I guess this morning. I think I am still shaking and still traumatized by the whole thing. The baby cried out at 4:30. He quickly settled and then I heard footsteps. Then I heard what sounded like toys banging around. I waited in bed, my heart already racing, trying to figure out my next move as my husband was traveling. I decided it must just be #2 up early (he doesn’t sleep well). I waited for the sound to stop. It didn’t. So I grabbed the bat and went out into the hall. I checked all the kids’ rooms. All the lights were off; the rooms were quiet and the beds full. Then…


The metal baby get at the bottom of the stairs crashed. I looked downstairs and saw lights on and heard even more noise and even more footsteps. I ran to my bedroom and called 911.

“Hello! Quick, hurry. Send someone to my house. I think someone is downstairs.”

“Hold on ma’am, where are you. Tell me what you hear. Police are on their way.”

“Someone is downstairs. I know it. I know it. Please there are footsteps and noise. Hurry! Hurry!”

I told her everything I could as quietly as I could. I prayed the baby didn’t wake and cry out again. The last thing I wanted was my four boys to wake up and get attention. The last thing I wanted was to be found, so I tried so hard to stay calm and not let my tears of absolute fear be heard. It was near impossible.

“Did you call out downstairs, to see if anyone answered?”

“No, I was too afraid. Please, hurry, hurry. I am so scared!” I sobbed. And I mean sobbed. I have never been so scared in my life. Visions of an intruder ran through my head as the banging continued. The beautiful calm voice came kept reassuring me as I continued to sob hysterically. A mere minute or two into the call, or rather an eternity if you ask me, she said:

“Okay, six officers are at your house and have surrounded the perimeter. Just stay on the line with me. You are going to be okay….Okay, the officers are walking around your house. Stay with me.”

“Please, please, tell them to come in. I can give you the garage code….”

“Ma’am, the officers see someone in your house. Stay calm. Okay, someone with a red shirt is walking around. It is a child. With blonde hair.” She matter-of-factly reported to me.

“THAT’s MY SON!” I bawled.

I threw the phone and ran downstairs.  I saw my sweet oldest standing in pitch black in the kitchen. I dropped to my knees faster than I ever have and let out the biggest sob of my life so far.

“You scared me! You scared me so much! I thought you were someone trying to hurt our family. I am so scared. Do you see how scared I am?” I said calmly-ish. Repeat, I said calmly-ish. I didn’t yell.

Flashlights flickered in every corner of the house. I opened the back door to a policeman and once again started bawling. I finally let out a breath; I don’t think I had really breathed for the last five or so minutes.

“It’s my son sir. My son.”

“What happened little guy?” The policeman asked so very nicely and reassuringly.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry mommy. I woke up and had a bad dream so I snuck downstairs to get something to eat. I think I will go back to bed now.”

“Sweetheart. Oh sweetheart. I am just so glad you are okay. This is why I have told you that we don’t go downstairs without an adult in the morning. This is why we stay in our rooms. Oh #1, you scared me so much.”

And on that note he shook his head quietly with understanding and turned and walked upstairs and went to bed as I apologized to the police officer and the other five of them waiting at the front door. I felt embarrassed to have made such a foolish mistake. I felt embarrassed that I didn’t think to pull back every cover in the kid’s room. I felt embarrassed that I was standing in the ugliest summer (ie. less cloth) pajama’s ever and that I hadn’t even thought to put on a robe to cover up what was hanging out, eh hem.

All six officers reassured me that I did the right thing; that this has happened before and it is better safe than sorry. I knew they were right but still, I feel a little silly today. Kind of.

I also feel a little proud. Just like I felt a little proud on vacation. Before The Orange Rhino Challenge, when something went awry and not as planned, I would get all bent out of shape. Beach closed? I would complain for two days, be a grump and be ripe to yell. Kids not sleeping? I would suggest packing up and going home and in the meanwhile, I would snap at the kids incessantly. Kid scaring the crap out of me? I would scare the crap out of him by screaming in his face.

Yes, before I taught myself to stop yelling, before I realized that I should expect to be triggered to yell big time by things not going as expected, I didn’t handle myself well at all when things went awry. In fact, I would get into such a funk that I either ruined a moment or missed out on an opportunity all together. The Orange Rhino Challenge hasn’t just taught me to yell less and love my kids more, it has helped me to love life more. I loved vacation – despite all the unexpected hiccups because I have taught myself to expect and accept the unexpected. Even my husband noted how calm I was compared to past reactions to similar situations. And last night was no different. I loved my son more than I would have in the past if faced with such a scenario because I have practiced handling the unexpected more gracefully.

My son saw fear in my face last night; not anger. My son felt love in my hug, not aggression. And as a result (or as I like to think) he heard every lesson I needed to teach him loud and clear…all without me getting loud.

I didn’t expect for my son to be the intruder in my house last night, but it taught him several great lessons. And I also didn’t expect The Orange Rhino Challenge to change me so much, to have taught me so many great lessons.

* * * * *

Learn more about how The Orange Rhino Challenge changed me beyond learning to not yell in my book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too!” It will hit shelves October 1st, but you can pre-order it by clicking here (the link will take you to my Publisher’s page where all the online resources for the book are listed).

LIMITED Time: Autographed Book Plates!

So, here’s the thing.

There is nothing I would love more in the world than to meet all of you! You all have been so supportive to me during my journey that I just want to see you in person and say thank you and then return the support by encouraging you that you can learn to “Yell Less, Love More” even if you think you can’t! But alas, as I plan my book tour, it is becoming abundantly clear that I will not get to meet all of you so I came up with an alternative idea for how I could give support back to you:

Personalized and Autographed Book Plates
that you can stick on the inside of your book! 

Book PlateI have three-ish months before my book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You can Too!” hits the shelves. That is three-ish months that I have to write personalized messages to as many of you as I can! So even if we don’t meet in person, I can still virtually “talk” to you before you read the book. If you haven’t read the post yet about what the book is about, here’s a summary:

Yell Less, Love More” is part memoir, part parenting guide, part writing journal, part “let me read this so I don’t feel alone.” It is organized into 30 days, each which includes: a personal story (some funny, some sad, some brutally tough yet beautiful, and all inspiring and useful), my top revelations (cliff notes if you will just for us parents who can only read the book on bathroom breaks), suggested actions to try that mirror my journey and three tips for not yelling. I arranged it as such knowing that many parents, like myself, don’t have time to sit and read an entire chapter of a book, let alone more than a few pages at once! The organization and graphic design of the book also make it easy and fast way to pick and choose which information one needs and has time to read at a precise moment! What is not included, however, are statistics about why yelling is bad and any statements that would make anyone feel judged or ashamed! Who needs that? Instead I offer my love, my support, and my vulnerability so that all readers can be inspired to start his/her own journey to yell less and finally go to sleep feeling less guilty and disappointed in him/herself! Here is a sneak peak at two pages (that are 99.8% final):

Day 22
Day 24 RATS

1) Click on the picture of my book below which will take you to my publisher’s site. Here you can select which online book retailer you want to purchase the book from. Pre-order the book so that I know the book plate will have a home! (By the way, most of the time it is less expensive to pre-order the book ahead of publication date than to buy on publication date when the book is normally full price! I just learned this and will be pre-ordering way more books in the future!)
The book!

2) Send an email to YellLessLoveMore@gmail.com

3) The email needs to include the following: proof of purchase (like an amazon screen shot or emailed receipt), the name you want the book autographed to, and the complete mailing address where the bookplate should be mailed. If you want, add any personal information you want to share. (I love reading your emails by the way; you all inspire me with your stories and triumphs!)

If you ordered before this offer came out, that is fine, you too can get this offer as well, just follow the instructions above.

4) I will write up to 250 book plates so email me today so you can get on the list! This is a LIMITED TIME thing so I can solidify the list and start writing! Autographed book plates will be mailed out shortly before the book is shipped because well, if any of you are like me, if I received a book plate weeks in advance, I would totally lose it, especially in all the back to school paperwork!

I am really looking forward to sitting on my porch at night this summer and “writing” to you!

The Orange Rhino, a.k.a Sheila
- or is it -
Sheila, a.k.a. The Orange Rhino ?!

The Orange Rhino’s Top 100 Alternatives to Yelling

So, learning to stop yelling can be, um, how shall I put it…difficult? And boring. And serious. And just all around blech. So when I started The Orange Rhino Challenge I decided that in order to help me stay on task and not give up on the difficult challenge, that I would to have fun with learning to yell less and love more. Here are the top 100 Alternatives that I created and tried on my journey; some are outright wacky, some are just funny, and some are plain fun. But I have found that in the heat of the moment, they all work because they do one or more of the following: help me calm down, get my kids attention, turn my negative thoughts into nicer thoughts, or make us all laugh and chill out. I say keep trying them out until you find one, or two, or hopefully ten or more, that really work for you. And remember, have fun with it!

During my Orange Rhino Challenge I used…
- Fun Alternatives
- I’ll look like a fool Alternatives
- I’ll be considered a bad parent Alternatives
- Preventative Alternatives (surround yourself with reminders) 
- You’ll think I’m Cheesy Alternatives
- Serious/Expected Alternatives 

Fun Alternatives:
1.  Run around the house  (adrenaline boost)
2.  Start talking jibberish  (makes kids laugh & stop pummeling each other)
3.  Start blowing bubbles  (reminds me of childhood & that I should CHILL OUT)
3 Fridge4.  Get the camera  (forces me to see behavior wasn’t so bad)
5.  Laugh. Even if you don’t want to.  (laughter is good for the soul)
6.  Bang arms on chest like a gorilla  (a good release and a great entertainment for kids)
7.  Put hand in front of mouth and pretend to “toot” a horn  (great attention getter)
8.  Do Jump and Jacks  (releases positive chemicals or something like that!)
9.  Do push ups  (see above)
10.  Start clapping & go until kids have stopped annoying behavior (a good release)
11.  Start drumming on table/counter until rage is gone  (a REALLY good release)
12.  Start the Hokey Pokey  (silliness can snap anyone out of it)
13.  Start a Dance Party  (adrenaline + fun, what’s not to love?)
14.  Sing. I especially like “La la la, la la, la LAAAAA”  (it’s unexpected which works wonders)
15.  Pretend to have Laryngitis  (silence also works wonders)
16.  Play hide ‘n seek. You hide. They seek. For a LONG time.  (fun game can snap anyone out of it)
17.  Put funny glasses on and “look” through their eyes  (they laugh, you find empathy) 
18.  Give a High Five  (The “slap” slaps you out desire to yell as does the touch of their sweet hands)
19.  Try to do a somersault (makes you laugh and maybe even pee your pants. Oh, but not me. As if).
20.  Speak in a Robot voice (makes kids stop and look at you and wonder, who is she?!)
21.  Start Playing with the kids (makes you realize how fun it is to be a kid!)
Tip 1422.  Grab children and hug them (it just feels good all over for everyone!)
23.  Start doing “crab walks” (entertaining and exercise releases good chemicals or something like that!)
24.  Spray silly string (a fun diverter)
25.  Bang a pot or pan (releases anger & starts a music party)
26.  Start running in place (adrenaline boost )
27.  Tickle child you want to yell at (laughter does the body good, more good than milk!)
28.  Pretend you are hurt and need Dr. so and so, insert kids name (kids come running)
29.  Go read favorite page of 50 Shades of Grey (did I just write that?! Next subject. Blush. Blush.)
30.  Whistle. Loudly. (helps you focus on breathing and annoys kids so they re-focus on you!)
31.  Hum. Even louder than whistle (annoys kids & gets them to  stop behavior and tell you to stop!)
32.  Pop some orange M&M’s into mouth (chocolate is a great mood changer)!
33.  Eat a carrot or an apple. Just something hard and crunchy (crunch out stress!)
34.  Eat frozen grapes & pretend for a second kids are sleeping & the grapes are wine (okay, it’s a stretch but reaching into freezer snapped me out of my moods!)

turned funny 5

That would be my husband because he created this alternative and we both love it! Thanks hon!

“I look like a Fool” Alternatives:
35.  Yell into a Closet  (clothes don’t have feelings)
36.  Yell into a Kitchen Cabinet  (cereal boxes don’t have feelings either)
37 . Open up the freezer and put head in (it cools me down & makes kids laugh)
38.  Raise two hands in air (gets kids attention & warns that I’m about to blow)
39.  Go to the bathroom and scream into the toilet, then flush it away  (um symbolic?)
40.  Shake body, arms and legs  (like The Wiggles, Shake shake Shake your silly’s out)
41.  Get on back and put legs and arms in the air and howl like a Dog  (yes, I did this)

“I’ll be considered a bad parent” Alternatives:
42.  Put the TV on for longer than normally feels okay at really bad moments  (sometimes TV is better
than yelling, right?)
43.  Have ice cream sundaes together  (fun family activity makes me want to have fun, not yell)
44.  Start the day with Orange Yogurt  (A very small food coloring goes a long way)
45.  Sit down and “watch” the circus (gain perspective and laughter)
46.  Put ear buds in and listen to Radio! (ah, my kind of “noise”!)
47.  Close your eyes & put head in hands in disbelief. Nope I have NEVER done this either.
48.  Open a window and breathe in fresh air (kids laugh, what is she doing? Is she a dog?!)
49.  Close eyes and picture yourself on a beach, with a daiquiri in hand  (takes you to your happy place)
50.  Keep orange gum/tic tacs in purse (chewing /sucking sounds drown out whining!)

Preventive Alternatives (surround yourself with reminders that you don’t want to yell):
51.  Put orange post it notes all over the house ESPECIALLY where one is apt to yell
52.  Dress your kids in orange (a totally in your face reminder)
53.  Post pictures of kids in problem areas (forces you to fall in love all over again)
54.  Buy orange napkins and keep in the kitchen
55.  Buy (or receive for Mother’s Day!) orange kitchen towels
56.  Wear more orange (necklace, clothes)

I need all the reminders I can get!!!

I need all the reminders I can get!!!

57.  Paint your nails orange (reminds you every morning to be warm and composed)
58.  Print out Orange Rhino Logo, attach popsicle sticks and have Kids hold it up when crankiness starts
59.  Get kids involved! Have them yell “ORANGE RHINO!!!” when they sense eruption coming!
60.  Wear an orange hair elastic around wrist
61.  Place orange flowers in a vase in kitchen
62.  Serve Orange Foods/Drinks  (oranges, peaches, cheese, Cheez its, carrots)
63.  Drink from an Orange Straw (simply reminds you of the color orange, feelings of warmth!)
64.  Light a candle at known bad times, um, bed time? (Relaxes your mood)
65.  Use aromatherapy lotion on hands…instead of slamming a door in frustration (massage is relaxing) 
66.  Say “I love you. I love you. I love you.”  (Hard to yell when you realize you love someone).
67.  Think things could be worse (yes he’s on table, but he isn’t swinging from the chandelier. Yet.)
68.  Grab play-doh or silly putty and squeeze (don’t forget to stop squeezing)
69.  Drink a glass of water (forces you to take a breath. Or two.)
70.  Splash cold water on your face (snaps you right out of bad mood)
71.  Put a warm wash cloth on your neck (ah…relaxation)
72.  Text a friend announcing you’re going to lose it  (hopefully he/she will say “don’t!!)
73.  Set up phone calendar to notify you every 30 min to not yell.  (annoying but helpful)
74.  Stare at something in room that you love.  (finding happy moments erases anger)
75.  Ask your child WHY are you crying?  (the response will make you give a hug instead)
76.  Ask your child WHY are you doing that?  (the response will make you go, duh)
77. Tell yourself “I won’t yell. I won’t yell.”  (Tricks you into believing you won’t!)
78.  Put a finger over mouth in shhh position (creates physical barrier to yelling)
79.  Ring a bell like pre-school teachers (casts a magical spell on kids)
80.  Look at this cheat sheet! (gives you ideas or makes you laugh?!)
81.  If help is around, tag out. (gives you a well-deserved break!) 
82.  Go through yelling motions but don’t let voice out (shocks kids and yourself that you didn’t yell, releases endorphins from pride!)
83.  Go to www.facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino  and yell at me (that’s what the page is for!)

“You’ll think I am cheesy” Alternatives:
84.  Say out loud “Serenity Now.”
85.  Say out loud “They are just kids and I love them.”
86.  Say out loud “It’s Gonna be a GREEEEAT day” (like the guy in Jerry Maguire)
87.  Call a family council meeting and have everyone sit criss- cross applesauce (forces kids to stop)
88.  Look at TV and pretend there is a hidden camera (fear of judgment works wonders)
89.  Smile (rumor has it if you fake it, you’ll feel it?)
90.  Cry. Yup cry. Show your kids you’re frustrated (brings out empathy from kiddos & new behavior)
91.  Say positive thoughts out loud (forces you to see good, not bad and forces desire to be kind)
92.  Pull out family photo album (takes everyone to a happy, smiley place)
93.  Tell your kids how you feel (gets love and concern and teaches them to express feelings!)

More Serious/Expected Alternatives:
94.  Count to 10. Or 100. Or 1000 until you calm down.  (forces one to regroup and get perspective)
95.  Walk away  (more opportunity to gain perspective)
96.  Take a deep breath  (if one is breathing, one can’t yell!)
97.  Whisper  (don’t know why this works, it just does!)
98.  Turn the Lights off  (the shocking factor stops kids in tracks and adds calmness)
99.  Keep a journal and write why you want to scream  (paper is a great listener)
Stress Ball 2100.  Grab your hands together and squeeze (a great release)

* * * * *
“Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids– and How You Can Too!” is The Orange Rhino’s (a.k.a. Sheila McCraith’s) parenting memoir and guide from her year long journey to stop yelling. It shares more alternatives like these as well as manageable actions and inspirational personal stories to help you on your own journey to yell less and love more. It is due out October 2014 but can be pre-ordered now to get the best price. Order here.

It’s Not Too Late to Stop Yelling at Your Kids. Here’s How I Know.

This post first appeared on The Huffington Post as part of their Father’s Day Series. 

This is quite possibly the email I get most often from people who have just heard about The Orange Rhino Challenge, my promise to go 365 days straight without yelling at my boys.

Dear Orange Rhino,

I am inspired by your story and how you stopped yelling. It gives me hope that maybe I too can change and stop yelling at my kids, but I really am afraid it’s too late. I have yelled for so long that I doubt I will really be able to change. And I fear that because I yelled for so long, the damage is so great that not yelling now won’t even make a difference in our relationship. Help!

Without fail, every time I receive an email like this, I get all choked up because not only do I know all too well the “it’s too late” fears — but also, the email reminds me of a painful time in my relationship with my dad when lots of “damage” threatened our future. As a gift for my dad this Father’s Day (an odd gift, I know, but trust me, it’s a good one), and as a way to offer hope that it isn’t too late to stop yelling, I share this story with you.

* * * * *
I never yelled at him.
I just stopped talking to him.
For three years.

For three whole years I didn’t talk to my father because I felt so angry and hurt from the huge, gigantic argument we had the day before I started my sophomore year of college. He tried to fix things by sending funny cards “just because,” by calling me to check in, by bribing me with a free meal at my favorite restaurant which he promised (and I knew) would taste infinitely better than cafeteria food. But I refused. I refused to talk to him and I refused to forgive him for our moral disagreement. I felt the damage had been done — that it was too late to reconcile, too late to make a better future. So I just didn’t talk to him.

About three years after college, I became engaged. At that point in my life, my dad and I had just started to share short exchanges. But our relationship still felt volatile enough, and my anger and hurt still felt large enough, that I worried — no, feared — that I wouldn’t even let my dad come to my wedding. In fact, I spent my entire engagement fearing that our past would prevent my childhood dream of my daddy walking me down the aisle from happening. Thanks to the support and urging of my now husband (and a lot of telling myself, “it’s not too late”), my dad and I reconciled and reconnected enough that come my wedding, my fear that my dad wouldn’t be there subsided.

And then January 2nd happened.

The night before my wedding, despite the fact that everything seemed good — like really, really, miraculously good — my dad abruptly left a family gathering and went back to the hotel. I of course immediately feared and assumed that he wasn’t just going to the hotel, but rather packing up and heading out. My dad’s best friend, who knew all the history, saw the tears form in my eyes and the color quickly leave my face, and said, “Don’t worry. I’ll go check on him. It will be OK.”

I didn’t believe my dad’s friend for one second. As I stood in the corner of the restaurant, trying to smile and feel happy, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “I knew it was too good to be true; I knew the past was too bad to overcome.” Fortunately, my dad’s friend returned smiling and practically laughing and said to me: “Sweetie, your dad is fine. He’s in bed and he isn’t going anywhere. Especially because he has the runs! And he feels like he is going to throw up because he is so excited, nervous and sad that his baby girl is all grown up, that you are getting married tomorrow, that you forgave him enough for him to be here and to walk you down the aisle. It’s just a lot for him. But he’s OK. It will be OK.”

And it was OK.

The next morning I walked down the stairs of my childhood home to see my future husband crying. My dad stood behind him, crying as well. I stood in front of both of them, bawling my eyes out, and then wiping my eyes madly, totally forgetting that I had just spent an hour getting make-up on! Oh well. Smeared mascara didn’t matter at that moment. I was getting married to an awesome man and the other awesome man in my life, my dad, had made it.

And not only did he make it, but he also got me to the church in time to walk me down the aisle! We weren’t a minute late — and it turned out that, despite my fears, it wasn’t too late for my dad and me to share good moments and good memories again, either. That day, as we stood together at the back of the church, waiting patiently for my ring bearer to help my flower girl diligently place the rose petals one by one by one, we laughed together at the anal-retentive behavior so well known to both of us. We stood together and admired the beautiful details of the historical church, sharing our appreciation for architecture, a passion he passed on to me that I am now passing on to my boys.

We stood together and finally had a moment of peace.

It wasn’t too late for us, for our relationship.

It wasn’t too late for us to repair our father/daughter bond and find joy again. For so long I assumed that because of the “damage” that had been done a few years prior, my dad and I would never share another laugh, another story, another peaceful moment. I assumed that it was simply too late and that it wasn’t even worth trying to make amends because no matter how many new, good moments we might share, they would never outweigh the past bad moments enough for our relationship to feel OK instead of negative and volatile. I assumed that our future held nothing but more anger, more hurt and more bad interactions.

But I was wrong.

I was woefully, woefully wrong in my assumption that it was too late.

I am so grateful that despite the past my dad and I shared, and despite our fears that a better future might not happen, we still tried to change our future. Because that moment in the back of the church with my dad, well, it was nothing short of unforgettable – exactly what I had always imagined and hoped it to be. Did that moment of peace make me forget the past or feel better about it? No, of course not! But, it did make me feel a tiny bit better and give me the courage to move on from the past and continue to work to change our future. My goal isn’t to forget the past (can’t do that!), but rather to fill my heart with enough new, loving memories that they, and not the angry ones from the past, take precedence in my heart and mind.

It has been 10 years since I stood at the back of that church with my dad. Since then, we have shared many a beautiful moment. My anger has softened and my mind now truly focuses on the positive moments in our relationship, like when my dad held my first son, when I called him laughing because I had just vacuumed up an unpeeled banana from my minivan, when… well, I could go on and on and on as our life is now full of good moments. Did it a take a while for us to get beyond the past, beyond just one peaceful moment — to reach a truly peaceful place? Yes. But we got there. It was not too late.

* * * * *
Kicking my “it’s too late” mentality to the side and going after what I wanted — my dad in my life — didn’t just make my wedding day and my future with my dad better; it also made my future with my four sons better. Often during the early days of The Orange Rhino Challenge, when I found myself struggling and wanting to quit because I felt it was too late to stop yelling and that my kids would always remember the awful times I had yelled in the past, I would find myself thinking of my wedding day and that moment at the back of the church. The moment I thought might never happen because it was “too late” and the past was “too negative.” The moment that didhappen because it wasn’t too late. The moment that has become a powerful reminder to me not to quit or give up because, as I learned with my dad (and later re-learned on my successful Orange Rhino journey to stop yelling), it is never too late to change the future.

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” -Carl Bard

* * * * *
The Orange Rhino’s (a.k.a. Sheila McCraith’s) parenting guide and memoir, Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids — and How You Can Too!, shares more touching personal stories from her journey to stop yelling as well as manageable actions, practical tips, and genuine, loving support so that you too can succeed on your own journey to yell less. Her book is available for pre-order now and goes on sale October 1, 2014. To learn more about The Orange Rhino Challenge, go to www.TheOrangeRhino.com

Check out my interview on Huffington Post Live talking about this post:



Use of The Orange Rhino Trademarks

June 11, 2014

First there was one The Orange Rhino®. Then there were 100 Orange Rhinos. Then there were 10,000 Orange Rhinos. And now, well now there are almost 50,000 Orange Rhinos: people who are determined to respond with warmth instead of yelling when triggered and who are doing so by taking The Orange Rhino Challenge®.

How cool is that?! Wicked cool if you ask me! It is crazy how much The Orange Rhino Challenge has grown and it makes me so happy! Since I started The Orange Rhino Challenge in January 2012, my mission has always been not just to get support for myself, but also to get support for others so that less people go to bed feeling as awful as I used to! I know how cruddy it felt to go to sleep at night after having yelled too much that day; how cruddy it felt to feel all alone, like I was the only one who yelled at her (or his!) kids; and how cruddy it felt to feel so ashamed that I couldn’t share my secret with anyone. I didn’t then–and I still don’t now–want anyone else to feel as cruddy as I did, especially now that I know that change can happen and that it feels great!

When I see private other Orange Rhino Facebook pages pop up, I get so excited, truly! (And I get it, the privacy piece! I am working on that, in the meanwhile, check out our online community, www.TheOrangeRhino.com/Community) These pages are growing awareness of OUR community and are giving so many people the support they need to succeed. It is stinkin’ awesome! Think how many parents – and therefore kids!!! – we are all helping?! I love it, especially since so many of these pages have genuinely good intentions and share the core principles of The Orange Rhino Challenge.

If you do have or want to create one of these pages (or blogs or products) and want to use in any way, shape, or form, any of the Orange Rhino Trademarks items  (“the marks” are: THE ORANGE RHINO / ORANGE RHINO, THE ORANGE RHINO CHALLENGE, and the orange rhinoceros with pink birds design) I have to insist though that you get my permission. Using “the marks” without permission is not allowed and using “the marks” without permission poses a risk of potential negative press to my family and loss of our community. (***There’s a long explanation as to why, but I won’t bore you, just trust me that the risk is real, especially to my kids, and read the short version in italics below!)

Again, while I KNOW in my heart that so many of these private pages, new blogs, and new products for sale that use my trademarked names and images are well-intentioned and serving a phenomenal service, I must now publicly state the following:

THE ORANGE RHINO / ORANGE RHINO, THE ORANGE RHINO CHALLENGE, and the orange rhinoceros with pink birds design (collectively known as “the marks”) can not be used without permission of The Orange Rhino LLC.

If you do have a Facebook Page or Blog that does use these marks (or even comes close to using these marks) in the title (or in the case of a product, on the product or where the shape is my trademarked rhino) you need to do one of the following by JUNE 18, 2014.   

(1)  Become an officially approved Orange Rhino page. (Which by the way, would be so cool and opens the doors to lots of great new ideas and opportunities!!!) In this case, I ask that you agree to “use of trademark” terms, which are very simple (i.e., State on page/blog/product that “the marks” are used with permission, inclusion of me on page/blog/product so I can see content/usage, link back to official Facebook page and blog, agreement to basic values and beliefs.) TO DO this option, please email theorangerhinochallenge@gmail.com by June 18, 2014 with the email title: Trademark Permission. Once we have emailed and terms have been accepted (which really is a friendly email exchange and a chance to chat and figure out how to work together in other ways!), I will email you official approval. Then, and only then, can you use “the marks.”

(2)  Stop using the page/blog/product effective immediately (due to the name trademark infringement). This is not my hope! I don’t want to lose the pages/blogs/products at this point because I know the intentions are good and good for our greater community! I really want these pages/blogs/products to exist so we can all stick together and give greater support.

Whichever option you chose, and you need to chose one or the other, I need to know by June 18, 2014. If you have any doubt, please email theorangerhinochallenge@gmail.com   ALSO, please know that using (i.e. copying and pasting) any of the content from my website, or from the emails I sent in the 30-Day Challenges is subject to copyright and also needs me permission.

Please note:
It IS okay to use the words “The Orange Rhino” and “The Orange Rhino Challenge” within blog posts, i.e. “I am taking The Orange Rhino Challenge(R)” or “I am working on being an Orange Rhino”. Please link back to my blog, www.TheOrangeRhino.com when you do so though.  One way to think about it is, think of your favorite brand, say Coca-Cola. You can say/write, I drink Coca-Cola, but you can’t print their logo without permission and you wouldn’t be able to have a page, “Coca-Cola.com”

Also, The Orange Rhino button found on my website in the right hand column is also okay, and encouraged to use so long as again, you link back to my blog, www.TheOrangeRhino.com.

If you doubt your usage, please just check in by email theorangerhinochallenge@gmail.com

Again, I REALLY want to emphasize that I am thrilled that these private pages/blogs/products are spreading The Orange Rhino message. I am not trying to intentionally diminish that in any way! Believe me! I just want us to spread our message and support together as a united front and properly from a legal perspective, so that we can make the most impact.

I don’t love having to write this post since I know it doesn’t apply to many of you. I hope that you can appreciate and understand why it is necessary though and I truly hope that it brings us together in a new way that yields wonderful, new plans and ideas to grow The Orange Rhino Community! All my best and thank you for your continued support for my journey and all the other Orange Rhinos learning to yell less and love more,

Sheila, a.k.a. The Orange Rhino or
The Orange Rhino, a.k.a. Sheila
(still can’t decide which to do first!)

*** With my name, Sheila McCraith, officially out there and attached to The Orange Rhino “brand,” anytime someone uses one of my trademarked items (“the marks” reference above) there is the risk that that people will be wrongfully led to believe that whatever statement, opinion, picture, etc… is shared in connection with my logos, is mine. This is already happening and it is a risk to both me, and my kids, for the potential of negative press exists and it will impact my entire family and potentially our community. As part of my mission to help more parents, I am trying to grow The Orange Rhino Community so that we can reach more people on a different level, in a different way. I was strongly advised that to do so (and again, to protect my family), I needed to Trademark everything, which is why I did.

Furthermore, every time I do something related to The Orange Rhino Challenge, whether it be for the Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino), my blog (www.TheOrangeRhino.com), our PRIVATE online community/forum (www.TheOrangeRhino.com/Community) the store, and now for my book, I do so not just because it makes me happy (which keeps me from yelling!) but also, and more so, I do it because I genuinely want to help people. I know it sounds corny, but I feel like this is exactly what I am meant to be doing in my life right now. For years I tried to find my way. I tried baking (I love decorating cakes!) and I tried photography, but they just didn’t stick. This, leading The Orange Rhino Community, hasn’t just stuck, but it has become a wonderful part of my life. I do not want to risk losing it.

How I Stop Myself From Yelling Unnecessarily at My Kids

I am in a funk.
And I am fairly certain that I have no clue whatsoever as to why I am in said funk.
And I am more than fairly certain that said funk is making it woefully difficult to not yell.

Like, really, really difficult.

Because I am in a mood. I am present, but not. I am happy, but not. I am sad, but not. I am around and here and “doing” what I need to be “doing” but I feel this little I don’t know what “it” is, nagging at me, leaving me feeling just off. And again, really wanting to yell

…at all the noise (I swear my almost three year old, who just “found” his voice is louder than his older three brothers…combined!)

…at all the clutter (hello, end of the year school papers!)

…at all the whining that comes from water fights (yes, dear son, if you squirt your brother he will get you back, twofold.)

…at all the not listening that comes with spring fever/end of the year fever. (Okay, it is mostly coming from the fact that I am in a funk and not communicating as effectively as I can.) Tip 19

…at all the lost shoes that are needed to get out of the door on time but have disappeared into the great outdoors during water fights

…and well, at my kids, totally unnecessarily.

When I figured this funk had started settling in, my first thought was (and advance warning to the men for this statement), “well of course it is! It’s that time of month!” But then that time of month didn’t happen and I realized my count was off and well, that I couldn’t blame my crankiness on the calendar. Blech. Bummer. That is such an easy thing to blame and a readily acceptable one. It comes. It goes. Funk be gone; yelling less and loving more becomes easier again just like that!

No lie, I was totally bummed to not have the “calendar” as my scapegoat especially since my funk was growing and growing and with it my desire to yell. My husband ever so innocently and lovingly said to me this past weekend, “Babe, what’s up? You are crankier and snappier and more distant with all of us. What’s going on?” I roared back, okay, not roared but really snapped back in a rather annoyed way,

“Get off my back! If I knew, I would fix it and wouldn’t be as cranky! Besides, I am well aware I am cranky and I am working on it. I don’t exactly like being this way you know. It’s not fun!”

And that was the truth. All of it–not just the not liking being cranky (who does, right?!) but also that I was working on it. Because I am. Every. Single. Day. Here is how my new “Orange Rhino” mind is operating right now at any given tense moment to help me figure life out so that I get on a less cranky path.

* * * * *

Me: I just “oopsie-snapped” at kids.
Orange Rhino Mind (ORM): Why did you do that? Did they deserve it?

Me: No. I’m just cranky.
ORM: Why are you cranky?

Me: I don’t know. Leave me alone!
ORM: No, I won’t stop pushing you because you know that if you don’t figure out what is silently eating at you, your crankiness will grow, it will be come a trigger and you’ll yell and you don’t want that.

Me: Okay fine. I’ll think about it but really, I’ve been thinking about it for days now and I just can’t figure out what is eating at me.
ORM: Okay, let’s go through the list of things you know you need to do for you to be in a good place. You know, the basics you learned on your Orange Rhino Challenge that need to be taken care of so you are best apt to not yell. Ready? Are you tired?

Me: No. I am actually sleeping better lately. (Side bar: We’ve been sleeping on my husband’s bed from high school. It’s what, 20 years old? Got a new mattress. Oh. My. Gosh. Get a new mattress today people! Life changer! I wake up rested and don’t have to stretch my “getting old joints” to move!)

ORM: Is it lack of exercise?
Me: Nope. Not that either. I have a new exercise regime going and I feel great.

ORM: Are you hanging out with friends, you know, socializing and laughing and connecting with adults?
Me: Yeah, more than usual.

ORM: Are you stressed?
Me: Yes. No doubt. But I know that, it isn’t nagging at me. And it’s good stress.

ORM: So what the heck is your problem then girl?! What’s driving the funk? (Okay, it doesn’t say that. I say that.)
Me: I don’t know but I have to – and really want to – figure it out because I know it is driving me closer and closer to yelling.

* * * * *

As I sit here writing this, I fina-friggin-ly feel like I have clarity. Yee-haw!

I learned on The Orange Rhino Challenge that when I find myself wanting to yell unnecessarily at the kids way more than usual, that I need to stop “blaming” them as the reason I want to yell, but instead point the blaming finger at myself. When I get to that point, I do what I wrote above. I drill and drill and drill myself with “Why?” questions until I figure out what is really bothering me. I always know I have hit the real issue at hand when my stomach (or is it body or mind, I don’t know) goes, “Aha! This feels right.” I no longer feel the need to question myself.

Well, that feeling just happened.

Do you know what I am not doing, or rather haven’t done lately from my “Taking Care of Me List,” the list that keeps me from being in a place where I want to yell, yell, yell?

I haven’t relaxed. I haven’t stopped. I haven’t breathed. I haven’t slowed down. I haven’t done anything for me. I haven’t taken care of me and that is ESSENTIAL to my being in a calm place so that yelling isn’t a desire (okay, or at least the natural desire!)

And do you know what else I haven’t done?

I haven’t connected with my boys, like really, really connected, laughed, and just hung out with my boys.

There are real good reasons I haven’t done the above two things. Life has been tough these last few weeks, for my boys and me. Nothing major, just a little more tough than usual. Tough on our schedules, tough on our mental states, tough on our ability to enjoy downtime – both together and apart.

And do you know what else is tough?

Breaking this pattern and getting to bed earlier than early so I am extra rested so that I have the mental clarity and strength tomorrow to push myself to take me time and extra kid time; to push myself to slow down so that I can keep up. We both need it. Rather, all five, no six (husband included, mustn’t forget him). But I am going to break this pattern because not only do I want to kiss this current funk goodbye so that I can enjoy the water fights in the perfect spring days even more, but also because I know where these funks lead me. And let me tell you, it’s not to Orange Rhino Land where I yell less and love more, but it’s more like to grey(ish) rhino land where I get way to close to charging with my words and then go to bed feeling guilty that I wasn’t the parent I wanted to be that day.

The good news? I am already on the way to breaking the pattern because I finally identified the issues and can create a plan to work on them. Knowing is half the battle, right?! Oh, and more good news?

Tip 5Taking care of me doesn’t have to be a thirty-minute break – it can be as simple as 5 minutes sitting in the sun with my eyes closed pretending that I am at the beach just listening to the ocean.  Yep, totally doing that tomorrow and totally asking my husband if I can slip out to get some orange toe nails vis-à-vis a pedicure this weekend. Doesn’t hurt to ask, right?!

Nope, never hurts to ask. Shoot, all the asking of myself, got me to a better place already!

* * * *

Want to learn about other strategies and tips I now use to keep me from yelling? Check out my book, “Yell Less, Love MoreHow The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too!” due out October 1st! Find it at your favorite book store and pre-order it today so you are one of the first to have it in the fall!

4 Lessons From Not Yelling That Helped Me With Life in General

Today is my second son’s sixth birthday.  And like every one of my past sons’ birthdays, I woke up so excited to run into his room and give him a big hug and sing happy birthday. I also woke up hoping, with every single finger and toe crossed, that the day would run more smoothly than usual so that my son and I could share an extra special, peaceful day together free of fighting amongst brothers. And I woke up knowing that I needed to adjust my expectations for a great day down a notch or two because I was just setting myself up for disappointment and frustration and therefore yelling!

You see birthdays in our house are tough, tough, tough! The three non-birthday boys get all sorts of jealous and “it’s just not fair” tantrums happen hourly, if not more often. On top of that, when there aren’t tantrums, all four boys are super hyper because that is just what happens to my boys on any special occasions. It is our experience, after years of research that “Holiday Hyper” + Tantrums = One heck of a disastrous day.

By 8:11 am this morning, we were already on our way to disastrous land. The birthday boy even seemed more sullen than usual; I am certain all the fighting to get the first piece of breakfast cake (yep!) and the begging to share his new LEGO got to him. How couldn’t it? So when daddy called this morning to say, “Happy Birthday” to the birthday boy, I broke down in tears before handing the phone over.

“How’s the morning go?” my husband innocently asked.

Darth Vader“ARGH! #1 can’t keep his hands to himself and keeps punching Darth Vader. #3 has been screaming that he hates birthdays since he got out of bed. The best line being, ‘See I hate birthday parties because my cake falls over.’ Quality. And #4 didn’t nap yesterday and his brothers woke him up way too early so his crankiness is out of control. And to be honest, I have just had enough of parenting! It is so hard and I feel like I am sucking at it and that’s why the mornings have been so rough. I love our boys but they are a handful. A handful. And I just, well, wanted #2’s birthday to start off on a great note, you know?!” I sobbed to him all in one fellow swoop, not even stopping to take one breath.

Then #3 hit #4, #1 told me we had 2 minutes to get to school or he’d miss his field trip, and I had to get #2 on the phone real quick, and well, I just felt like I was going to explode! Miraculously (actually, I think the good cry helped me chill), I got everyone where they needed to be and I headed to work out to get some much-needed “me-time.”

A minute before I entered my class, I received this email from husband,

Tip 8“Babe, don’t let life get you down. Our kids are a handful, but usually a handful of joy and fun. You have a lot of reasons to be proud of how you parent the boys so focus on that. Take a moment, smell the roses and enjoy what you accomplished six years ago: not sneezing, laughing, or talking before the doctor told you that you could so #2 didn’t come flying out onto the floor! You created our son and he is awesome. Be proud of that.”

He was right. Our kids are a handful – full of whining, not listening, arguing, and being royal pains in the butts at precisely the wrong moment. But they are also, and more so, a handful of joy – full of love, tenderness, empathy, joy, hope, laughter, and total awesomeness.

I loved my husband’s take on my statement, “our boys are a handful.” It brought me some much-needed perspective and helped me re-frame how I approached the rest of the day, which as a result was much, much more enjoyable.

This “insight” and realizing the “Power of Perspective” was the first of four insights that both surprised and inspired me today. I shouldn’t have been surprised by any of them though; they are old ones that I learned on The Orange Rhino Challenge. One of the best unexpected benefits I discovered in taking The Orange Rhino Challenge is that many of the tricks and revelations I learned to keep me from yelling, also help to enhancing my life in other non-yelling situations. Sweet!

Here are three other key insights I learned on my journey to yell less that popped up in my life today in non-yelling situations.

1. Keep practicing and staying on course; results will come.
I have been working my butt off (ha, literally, oh wait, I am not working my butt off, that’s the problem) to try and lose some extra weight gained during my foot injury. Well, I have been working at it since January. January folks. Nothing has changed and doctors confirmed there is no medical issue. The conclusion? I just have to get my metabolism alive again. So, I am trying my hardest and greatly discouraged and just wanting to quit my efforts. Why bother, right? I asked my always motivational exercise instructor today, “What should I do? Do you have any advice? I just want to quit. I am doing all this extra work and nothing!” Her response: “Just stay the course. Keep going no matter what. All the work is working you just don’t see the results yet. But you will. It will all just click. Whatever you do, don’t quit.”

Such solid advice and exactly what I learned on The Orange Rhino Challenge. In the beginning I felt like I was getting nowhere…fast. But all the good and bad moments were teaching me and preparing me to succeed. So to you: keep practicing not yelling, it will click. Repeat, it WILL click. And to me: keep working out, it will click. Got that? No quitting young lady!!!

2. Go one moment at a time; keep expectations in check.
I totally cried my eyes out to my therapist today (yes, I have one and no, I am not ashamed) that I just wanted a full good day with my kids because lately all the days have been ROUGH. Her response, “May I suggest you adjust your expectations a bit? Perhaps instead of wanting a full good day, you just aim for a good moment, then a few more, then maybe a day will come.” Well, I practically spit out my coffee at that point. I paid her to hear what I write EVERYDAY to all of you and what I tell myself daily in regards to yelling?! LOL. She was so right.

So I say to you: aim for one good moment of not yelling. When you have that, then aim for more, and then more. Good moments attract more good moments and eventually they all add up to a full day. And to me: aim for one good moment with your sons. Enjoy that like mad. More will grow from that joy.

3. Be nice to yourself; positive thoughts attract more positive.
After my oldest son’s bedtime “it’s not my birthday and life is so unfair and my brother has better LEGO’s than me” tantrum to end all tantrums (which by the way he did totally naked making it hard to take him seriously), I decided to sit in his room with him for thirty minutes past bedtime and help him with his LEGOs. It was the best moment (see, moment not day) with him all day. Until he said, “I am such a loser. I can’t keep my LEGO creations together like my brother.” My heart sank. So young to be talking to himself like that. My reply? “Honey, you are not a loser. Don’t be mean to yourself. Love yourself. You deserve it.”

And then the irony kicked me in the butt, you know, the one that won’t shrink come hell or high water. “Don’t be mean to yourself?” Hello, I am mean to myself HOURLY and it does me no good, in fact, it makes me feel crappier which makes me get closer and closer to yelling for no reason. I guess I should take my own advice. Especially since on The Orange Rhino Challenge I learned that positive thoughts attract positive thoughts and positive results. So I say to you: Tell yourself you can change. Forgive yourself if you yelled. Be proud of your non-yelling moment. Catch your children being good so they show more good behavior and you want to yell less. And I say to me, “Just be nice to yourself already! Love yourself more!”

All these thoughts in one day. Well, and that I have yet to figure out how to make a Yoda birthday cake! And on that note, I’ll leave you with some Master Yoda wisdom that applies to The Orange Rhino Challenge.

Luke: “I can’t believe it.”
Yoda: “That is why you fail.”

Believe that you can learn to yell less, and yell less and love more you will!
(Sorry, totally couldn’t resist!)

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Curious to know what other Orange Rhino Revelations I learned when I stopped yelling that have enhanced my life in general?! Check out my new book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling and How You Can Too!” It is a 30-day guide, each day containing a personal story, top revelations, suggested actions to try on your own journey and then three tips to try instead of yelling. I personally love the revelations piece as they are kind of like the cliff notes version! This way, on days when you want to read but only have a spare minute, you can just read the revelations. Pre-order my book by clicking here (turns out pre-ordering saves you money!) 

Go Fly a Kite.

A few months after my fourth son was born, my in-laws came to visit so that I could get “some” sleep and my other sons could get some much-needed one-on-one attention. As always, Grandma Catherine and Grandpa Richard brought a car full of activities for the boys. There were supplies for a teddy bear picnic, books from their travels out West, toys that used to be Daddy’s and last but certainly not the least, there were three brightly colored kites shaped liked parrots.

“Oooh! Oooh! Take out the kites Grandma, take out the kites!” they squealed.

Even though my oldest was five at the time, for whatever reason, my boys had yet to fly a kite.  As Grandma and Grandpa started unwrapping the kites, my boys’ eyes widened and widened until I swore they were going to pop right out of their sweet, little heads.

“You know boys, Grandpa used to fly lots of kites with your daddy when he was just your size. He’s an expert kite flyer. He knows all the tricks,” said my mother-in-law lovingly. She put her hands on Grandpa’s shoulders and gently turned him towards the front lawn. Placing the kite strings in his hands, and showing a mix of both hope and worry, she said, “Here Richard take the strings and show the boys how to fly a kite.”

Her worry stemmed from the fact that my father-in-law had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few months prior to that visit and everyday talked less and got more easily confused. Some days he remembered how to do basic things, other days not so much. We always hoped his memory would work though because we all desperately wanted to create as many “interactive” memories as we could before well, before we couldn’t. My father-in-law took the strings and started to walk forward, my boys following in a perfect little (miraculous) straight line.

There was just the perfect amount of wind that day; not so much the kite got swept away and not so little that it just kept nose-diving to the ground. With few words spoken, Grandpa successfully (phew) taught the boys to fly their kites. As they ran around the yard laughing and squealing, their parrots watching from above, Grandpa stood next to me watching with the biggest, grin ever. He spoke not a word to me, but he need not have. His proud and joyful smile said it all.

That moment was everything that kite-flying should be: beautiful, joyful, peaceful.

Not one or two days later, as I brought the recycling out to the garage, my feet got all tangled in the tails of the kites and I became so frustrated that I picked the kites up and threw them into the recycling bin, along with everything else. “ARGH! I knew we didn’t have room for these things; they are just more hassle than they are worth,” I said grumpily and rather “Grinch” like. The next day, my boys asked for their kites because they wanted to fly them one last time with Grandpa before he and Grandma drove home.

“Where are the kites?” they excitedly asked me.

“Oh, I don’t know. They must have gotten lost?” I said, feeling really crappy inside as I saw the sadness take over their eyes. “I’m sorry, guys. Why don’t you have another teddy bear picnic with Grandma and Grandpa?” My answer and I were total disappointments. Sigh. Luckily for me, this story hadn’t crossed my mind once until a few weeks ago.

While shopping at the toy store one day, my boys had spotted some huge parrot kites and insisted I buy them. Being the more relaxed, “yes, let’s go fly a kite today and forget the to-do list” person that The Orange Rhino Challenge helped me to become, I joyfully bought them and we immediately hit the park because the wind really was quite perfect. I am so grateful that I said, “yes” that moment for the afternoon of kite flying was one of the most incredible afternoons I had had with my boys in a while.

We all ran around together for at least an hour, laughing and smiling as we successfully got the kites up and learned how to make them do all sorts of tricks. Seeing their faces light up when they did it on their own, hearing them scream,  “Mommy, LOOK! LOOK! Look how high my kite is,” and “Mommy, I do it! I do it!” and “Mommy, this is soooo much fun!” just melted my heart.Fly a kite I was so incredibly present and focused at that moment that I readily absorbed every single belly laugh and squeal. In fact, I had such fun that afternoon that according to my husband, I told him not once, not twice, but three times in the same night how much fun I had that day flying the kites with the boys. I guess I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm and joy; it was just that awesome of an afternoon.

So kites, and the awesome memories they bring, were still on my mind when two days later I learned that my father-in-law’s Alzheimer’s had gotten so bad that it was time for him to go into a nursing home. That night, when the kids were in bed and I finally had enough peace and quiet to really process the news, to no surprise the memory of my boys learning how to fly a kite from their Grandpa hit me hard, really, really hard. Did I remember the joy they had shared with Grandpa during that visit? Oh, yes.

But do you know what I remembered even more?

The fact that during that visit my uptight, irrational, and impulsive tendencies triggered me to throw out my boys’ kites, depriving them of one more precious kite flying memory with their Grandpa. This memory stung and then crushed my heart to pieces as I suddenly realized that the kite flying memory was literally the last major “interactive” moment my kids shared with their Grandpa Richard. After Grandpa and Grandma drove away that day, things went down fast, really, really fast, and all that Grandpa could do on future visits was sit next to my boys as they cuddled with him and talked to him, desperately seeking a smile, laugh or conversation; a smile, laugh and conversation that never came.

Yes, the last smile, laugh and conversation my boys shared with Grandpa was the day he taught them to fly kites. And while that interaction was absolutely wonderful, because of me, I kept it from being even greater. And while I am so very, very thankful that they do have that memory to hold onto, that we all have that memory to hold onto, that night I felt such immense guilt about “depriving” my kids of one more memory with Grandpa that I crumbled down to the bathroom floor in a big pile of tears.

Thankfully, somewhere between my sobbing and my self-ridiculing that I am too uptight and too easily frustrated, I had a moment of much needed clarity.

“You can’t get every moment ‘right’; it is impossible and it’s okay.” I thought to myself. “It’s okay that you ‘missed’ creating one moment, because the boys had a great moment before and had many snuggly, albeit different, moments after with Grandpa. The good memories with their Grandpa far outweigh the missed moments and that’s what matters. You are going to miss opportunities to create good moments in the future, for all sorts of different reasons. Don’t worry about those moments; instead put your energy into grabbing the moments that you can and be as present as you can to make those moments so kick-ass that the ‘missed’ ones get pushed so far down in your mind that they don’t even register.”

And then, in this deep, heavy moment, I actually smiled. I smiled because I realized that the “new” revelations I had just had weren’t new at all, but instead were just a version of what I had been writing to fellow Orange Rhinos for a while. I frequently write to discouraged Orange Rhinos, “Yells will happen. But one yell doesn’t discredit all the other moments you didn’t yell.  The goal is more loving moments; to have the number of moments where you don’t yell to be greater than when you do so that the good moments take over the bad ones.” And I write, “The goal isn’t to be perfect at every moment. It is to do the best that you can at any given moment and to then forgive yourself for moments you aren’t so proud of.”

I smiled because once again, something I learned on The Challenge didn’t just apply to yelling situations, but also to greater life situations.

I smiled because thankfully, these old/new revelations helped me forgive myself for throwing out the kites years prior and filled me with an inspiring new life mantra:

We had so much fun flying kites that on Mother's Day we got our parrot kites out and flew them again. And again. And again.

We had so much fun flying kites that on Mother’s Day we got our parrot kites out and flew them again. And again. And again.

“Just go fly a kite and get carried away in that moment instead of held down by a moment missed.”






Learn more about the many ways The Orange Rhino Challenge enhanced my life – and how much it changed me – in my book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids.” Part memoir, part parenting guide, my book takes you on my journey to stop yelling while leading you on your own. Each day shares a personal story from my experience, top revelations (i.e. the cliff notes for those busy days when there is little time to read!), suggested actions for the day and 3 tips to yell less. Pre-order “Yell Less, Love More” today by clicking here.