Why I (used to) yell at my kids.

141 days without yelling, 224 days of loving more to go!

Dear Exercise,

Last night my dear hubby made me want to scream. We had just returned from taking #2 to a Doctor’s appointment and I left the office nervous and my husband left feeling anything but. Which is not a shocker.  We respond in complete opposite manners to medical diagnoses and this ALWAYS leads to a fight. But last night instead of picking a fight and quickly becoming resentful of the situation, I got up, politely excused myself and turned away before I lost it. I turned to you and WOW. The. Best. Workout. In. Weeks. Hello stress relief!!! An added bonus? Working out cleared my brain (thank you!) and opened it up to a profoundish  thought, ya ready?

Why is it that my husband infuriated me beyond words last night and I didn’t yell yet when my kids used to infuriate me I immediately yelled?

Hmmmm,
The Orange Rhino

*

Why is it that I find all the will power in the world to not yell at my husband,
yet I barely used to think twice about yelling at my kids?

Why is it that in 11 years of knowing my husband I have only yelled at him a handful of times,
yet in my 6 years of parenting I used to yell on average at least 11 times a week?

Why is it that I almost always stay calm when “talking” to my husband
yet with my kids I used to go from calm to yelling in 5 minutes flat?

Why is it that I when my conversations with my husband aren’t going anywhere but downhill, I can find the strength to walk away, yet when the same happened with my kids, I started yelling and kept yelling?

Why is it that I have the ability to decipher which fights with my husband to let slide, which ones just aren’t worth the battle, yet with my kids I felt every fight is worth it? That every fight I needed to be right, I need to assert my opinion, I needed them to hear what I say and agree and follow it?

Is it because my husband is 36ish and my kids are under 6?
Is it because I am with my husband only on the weekends but I am with my kids all day long?
Is it because I am a newbie at parenting and don’t know any better?

Or is it because I know that my husband has the power to yell back at me, that my yelling isn’t a one way street? That if he wanted he could make me feel small, wrong, and awful inside? That as an adult he has the knowledge and ability to say things that would make me feel worse than how I felt before the fight? That he can bring me to tears?

Yes. I think this is the REAL reason.

I hate to say it but I do think I yell less at my husband not because of his age or the amount of time we spend together but because I know that if I yell at him, he can return the favor. And it wouldn’t be pretty. Sure having young kids who are still learning to listen, to control their behavior, will bring out the desire to yell a lot more than when dealing with a so-called “mature adult”…but at the end of the day I know that if I yell at my husband I’ll end in tears and I don’t want to end up in tears! But if I yell at my kids, I won’t be in tears, they would be. Because at their current age, they can’t yell back at me in the same way my husband can. Sure they can continue to not listen, continue to misbehave, continue to drive me nuts, but they can’t yell at me in the way that would really, truly hurt my feelings.

At the end of the day if I yell at my husband there is an immediate consequence, an immediate attack at me, my argument, my confidence which serves as a great motivator not to yell. Because yelling hurts. But, if I yell at my kids the consequence is delayed, the guilt, the disappointment in myself, it all comes later and even then it usually isn’t on the same level of crappiness as I feel when being yelled at.

At the end of the day, I yelled at my kids because I could. Because I felt that the consequences weren’t “that bad.”  Because they couldn’t yell back.

But I know firsthand that being yelled at sucks. Sucks sucks sucks. It makes me feel small. It makes me cower. It makes me feel embarrassed, unworthy. And I hate it. I hate being yelled at. There are no other words to describe how I feel about being yelled at. It is that simple. So I do everything I can to keep from yelling at my husband, or any adult for that matter because I don’t want to get what I give. I walk away until I can speak “nicer”, I stay calm, I decide to let some things slide. I don’t yell at adults. Period.

So if I know how much it sucks to be yelled at it, and I fight my hardest to not engage in yelling battles, why did I yell at my kids for so long?

Again, because they couldn’t yell back at me.

Eeeech. I REALLY don’t like the sound of that.

But it’s the truth.

And I am really glad that I have started to change the truth. That my truth now is that I don’t yell at my kids. I am glad that the so called manageable consequences grew and grew and became unmanageable, unacceptable to me and forced me to change. Because I love my kids. And I don’t want them to feel how I have felt ever again.

IMPORTANT NOTE: My husband and I do truly rarely scream at each other. I am fortunate for that. My experiences of being yelled at are from my entire life: from friends, family, teachers, strangers, etc…. I just used my husband as an example tonight because our “fight” is what got me thinking.  

My son made me cry…

140 days without yelling, 225 days of loving more to go!

Dear #3,

Oh I love you so. A few weeks back I wrote about a time when I snapped at you (read here), when I felt frustrated with you because you couldn’t use your words. I wrote about wanting to hear the words “I love you” come from your mouth, unprompted. I wrote about how much I love you, how much I am going to keep trying to be patient with you so that I can help you get over your speech delay.

And well, the effort is paying off. It is SO paying off. You still haven’t told me you loved me. But today you said something else, something equally if not more powerful and it made me cry.

We were driving in the car talking about Safari Animals and the following conversation unfolded:

Mommy:             Okay boys what other animals are Safari Animals?
#1:                      Lions, tigers, cheetahs!
#2:                      Um, giraffe?
#1:                      And RHINO, don’t forget Rhinos!
#3:                      Yeah. Rhinos’.  Orange Rhinos. They can’t Yell. Yelling not nice. Mommy is Orange Rhino.

Mommy (tears in both eyes, smiling from ear to ear, grinning so large it almost hurt. Grinning because he spoke an almost full sentence AND because he showed that he comprehended what the Orange Rhino is all about. He gets it people. HE GETS IT!):
That’s right Kiddo! Way to go!

#3:                          Yeah, Mommy is an Orange Rhino. You can’t yell mommy but you pick your nose.

Oh sweetheart, I don’t pick my nose, your brother is the one who does but YEAH for you. A full sentence! YEAH for us. We are both making progress. And I love you. And I love that you can now call out “Orange Rhino” to me just like your brothers when I get cranky. And I love that you are trying so hard. And mostly I love that I was losing faith this week. I was feeling disappointed in your progress, feeling like you would never catch up to your peers and feeling nervous that your speech delay would someday be a real problem for you.

And yet here you are, proving me wrong. Showing me that you are progressing on so many levels. Picking me UP.

And I couldn’t be happier. You made me want to scream from the top of the minivan with joy!

I love you kiddo,
xoxo,
Mommy Orange Rhino

*

I am amazed that hearing the phrase “Mommy is an Orange Rhino” filled me with such emotion. That it brought tears to my eyes. Who would have ever thunk it? I thought “I love you” or “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Mother’s Day” would have been the phrases to put me over. And they still might be. But Orange Rhino?

Really?

I think what did me in was realizing that he can now verbally be a part of something that the rest of our family (minus the little munchkin of course) has been sharing and doing together for 140 days. That he is now that much closer to being able to talk and engage with us more easily and more frequently. That he seems to really get how important The Orange Rhino is to me. That HE,  my son, picked me up. That he taught me to keep believing, to not give up, that progress does happen that I just have to be patient.

Every day is a new day. Every day he adds more words. He is working so hard, I need to focus on that. I need to believe that his language is developing instead of feeling disappointed that the process is slow.

Because the progress is there – I just need to look for it.

Does that last line resonate with anyone? Feeling like you are still yelling and making no progress? Or that progress is slow? Share your thoughts in the comments or in Facebook. Maybe you are making progress too? 

The Day I Almost Yelled…

138 days without yelling, 227 days of loving more to go!

Dear Orange Rhino Blog Counter,

It is 7:47 pm on Saturday June 23, 2012, also known as 47 minutes past bedtime on the day I almost yelled. I should have known the minute I woke up that it was going to be one of those days and that I should just stay in bed. You know, one of those days when everything bothers me. Where everything makes me want to yell ENOUGH, KNOCK IT OFF, LEAVE ME ALONE!! When every moment I think I pull it together, for good, and then bam, a trigger is set off. Yeah, I had one of those days. And oh was it not fun! I’m just glad it is over and that I didn’t yell. And not because that meant I didn’t have to re-set you to 0 but because I love my kids too much to take out my issues on them. Yes, I have issues. Just because I have “stopped” yelling doesn’t mean I don’t have other areas to work on!

Let’s keep ticking towards 365, shall we?
The Orange Rhino

*

Let’s review the day.

Teething, cranky, crying baby? Check.
Constipated, crying toddler? Check.
Over tired, mischievous 4 year old? Check.
Out-of-sync without school schedule, worried about Kindergarten, not listening 5 year old? Check.

And that is just the kids.

Not feeling well mommy? Oh Check, check, check.
Very tired mommy despite 4 nights of “good” sleep? Check.
Preoccupied and scared mommy because of not feeling well and having drs. appointments ahead? Check.
Overwhelmed mommy at the site of 4 moving boxes from a year ago to unpack? Check.
Moody mommy due to baby almost turning one and being in denial that this is our last baby? Check.

Have I covered all my triggers that make me want to scream? Um no. There is one big one. One that really put me over, that really put me on edge and barely able to keep it together. And guess what, it had NOTHING I repeat NOTHING to do with my kid’s behavior. Or my husband’s actions. IT had everything to do WITH ME and my insecurities.

When I feel insecure, when I feel socially nervous, when I feel less than everyone around me, I become, well a b*tch to everyone close to me. And everything bothers me, everything makes me want to SCREAM!!! And that is exactly what happened this afternoon.

We took the kids to the local pool in town. As is, going to pools with 4 kids under 6 years makes me nervous. Understandably. A pool and young kids is gosh darn hard work, it’s exhausting, and it’s nerve wracking. But alas I knew it was important to my kiddos so I told my nerves to take a hike and we went to the pool anyway.

WELL I forgot how I get when I am (1) nervous about my kids safety and (2) nervous about fitting in. Yup, you read that right. Fitting in, or lack thereof. It’s one of my BIGGEST TRIGGERS.  I have never ever in my life felt like I have fit in. I have always felt like an outsider. The third wheel (in fact, I pretty much always have been the third wheel). And if I wasn’t the third wheel, I have felt like the outcast because of how I look (physically), how I dress (lack of style), what age I am (yup, every situation I am in I am at least 5 years younger than everyone and yup everyone points that out to me), and my current stage in life being different than those around me (single, then married, working, then stay at home mom to 1 child, then 4). It is a very rare occasion that I “fit” into the social environment that surrounds me.

And it is so hard for me. Because really, who likes to feel like an outcast, to feel like they don’t belong? I don’t. And well, I have felt that way for as long as I can remember. I know so much of this feeling is me and not reality. And trust me I KNOW I need to work on it. Especially after today. Because today it impacted how I react to my kiddos, it impacted the experiences I can create for them.

One step onto the pool deck and all my feelings of inadequacies hit me in the face and I became tense and short. Everywhere I looked where thin, fit, beautiful moms. With well behaved children (my 2 year old was screaming. Loudly.) Everywhere I looked were groups of people, of friends, having fun together. We were there alone. No one said hi to us. Nor should they have, but still, I felt out of place. I felt weird. I felt like an outcast.

And when I feel this way, I get REALLY anxious and snippy and unpleasant. Add this to my already existing nerves about managing 4 kids at a pool… and well all I wanted to do was cuddle up under a beach towel and hide or yell at anything that annoyed me (which when I am overly anxious is EVERYTHING.)

Well hiding wasn’t an option and yelling at my son for screaming wasn’t an option (nor would it help). Yelling at my kids for pulling at my swim suit wasn’t an option (nor was it necessary). Yelling at my son for having to go the bathroom AGAIN wasn’t an option (nor was it nice). Yelling at my husband for making us go to the pool wasn’t an option (besides, it wasn’t his fault, I agreed to go). Yelling at the world that I felt uncomfortable, that I just wanted to go home where I didn’t feel all eyes watching me wasn’t an option.

The only option I had was to get over my trigger. The only option I had was to find the strength to keep it together. And I found it in my kids. I found it in their laughter as they splashed each other and then worked together to soak me.

I survived the hour of what felt like torture and I came home and managed to slowly come out of my shell. Somehow I became pleasant again and lost the desire to unnecessarily yell at everyone for everything. Oh wait, not somehow. I know how.

I posted on The Orange Rhino Challenge facebook page the following:

“Posting here so I do not yell.
Today has been a hard day.
It seems every single trigger has been set off. At least once.
Trying my hardest people.
Trying my hardest.”

And guess what? The second I pressed “post” I felt better. I felt my desire to yell drift away. Just writing the words “So I do not yell” and “Trying my hardest” reminded me of my goal and to keep on trying, no matter how anxious and preoccupied I still felt. And then a few of you chimed in, in support and I really felt better. And I made it through the day. And the day became “The Day I Almost Yelled…but Didn’t!” Phew.

A Novel Idea

135 days without yelling, 230 days of loving more to go!

Dear Captain Obvious,

Where the hell have you been? I have only been a parent for 5 and ¾ years (not ½ as I am often reminded!) If you had just shown up in my life a few years ago I could have avoided a lot of unnecessary yelling. Like, a lot of it. Anywho, I am grateful you at least showed up recently and pointed out the error of my ways to me. Pretty sure my kiddos are grateful too – your lessons have kept me from screaming.

Cheers,
The Orange Rhino

*

I have learned a lot over these last 130+ days of not yelling. And it has understandably taken a lot of hard work: a lot of soul searching for why I really yell and then a lot of patience, energy, self control and creative problem solving to keep me from yelling. So it is kind of funny to me that in all of this hard work that I have been doing that I completely MISSED some OBVIOUS answers to certain situations that daily drove me to want to scream.

I mean really.

These answers were so obvious that I am almost embarrassed to share them.

Ya ready?

SCENARIO 1: The Pillow Fight

My boys like to take the pillows off the couches in the family room and make forts, swimming pools, spaceships, etc…. For a while, I was okay with this. Lots of benefits: creative play, quiet time for me, brotherly time for them, problem solving skills development when fort crashed, role playing (life guard, swimmer) the list goes on and on. And then one day I tripped on a pillow and went flying across the room ever so NOT gracefully and so now, I am not okay with the pillow situation. The pillows (or the kids?) daily seem to piss me off.

Inevitably the pillows end up on the floor at the precise moment that I need to walk across the room to get to the couch to feed the baby. And I can’t get to said couch, the couch which has no cushions on it to allow me to sit comfortably, because of the pillow obstacle course.  If I am not the one tripping on the pillows then someone else does and usually goes into the corner of the coffee table because anyplace else would make my life too easy. And if my darling boys aren’t tripping on the pillows then they are fighting over them – fighting about who is going to pick up the heavy one and put it away, fighting over who ruined the fort in the first place, fighting over who started with the most pillows.

In short, these pillows became the vain of my existence. So we created a new family rule: the big pillows stay on couch, the little ones can come off. Yet every day, at least twice, I still have to remind the boys to put the big pillows back and when I did, it took all the energy in the world to remind them nicely of the rule, of the compromise, instead of yelling. It took all the energy, and I mean all the energy, in the world to not scream. Why these pillows drive me nuts I don’t know. I mean really, pillows people, I am talking about pillows!!!

But they do. They make me want to scream. And oh have they made me want to scream in the past too, this isn’t just a new thing. I think one point I *might have* picked one up and thrown it across the room while saying something along the lines of “get these friggin’ pillows off the floor now before I trip again!” (Shhh…please don’t tell anyone I threw something!)

So one day two weeks ago a light bulb went off.

DUH.

All this not yelling has taught me to find the real source of the problem, to find the trigger that makes me want to yell. Well in this situation it was pretty bloomin’ clear. It wasn’t some deep, insightful, answer. The problem was the blooming pillows! The answer to not yelling over the pillows? REMOVE THE PILLOWS from the couch you dumb as*!

So I did (well, at least the big ones, they were the biggest pain in the a*s) for an entire week. See?

The truth? Nobody noticed that the pillows were gone. No downside to removing pillows...only upside.

Oh the kids b*tched and moaned (along with my husband who was greatly inconvenienced as lots of big sporting games were on TV, sorry babe) but it was worth it.

The pillows returned and not once have we had a discussion about it. Not once.

It only took me how many years to figure this novel idea out?

And how about this scenario: The Shoe Fight.

#3 and I were late to speech therapy one day last week. I stood still, impatiently tapping my foot and asking him to hurry up as he struggled to put his shoes on. My impatience grew and grew and I could feel the yell rapidly approaching my mouth.

Then the light bulb went off again.

DUH.

HELP him put his shoes on. Don’t just sit back and be annoyed and be late! Help him!

I mean really, I couldn’t figure that one out? How many times have we been lately because I watched my kids struggle to get ready and didn’t help them? Yes they need to learn to do their shoes, to put on jackets, to buckle up but STILL there is always room to help and to guide.

Sometimes the solution to not yelling is all about me and my “deep, intangible” triggers. It is about my personal issues and struggles and moodiness and it requires my finding the self control to remind myself that I am not mad at the kids, that I am just pre-occupied.

Sometimes the solution to not yelling is all about empathy and understanding why my kids are acting the way they are, why they are struggling, and LOVING THEM anyways and HELPING them instead of yelling at them.

And sometimes, well sometimes, the solution to not yelling is fortunately as simple as can be. It’s about removing the TANGIBLE TRIGGER, it’s about removing the damn pillows (or tossing the sippy cup that always spills, or donating the shoes that are too hard to Velcro).

Sometimes the solution to not yelling is SO OBVIOUS that it is SCREAMING at me.

What is the one Tangible Trigger in your life that you could remove today and immediately eliminate one typical-yelling situation?

A World without Clutter

132 days without yelling, 233 days of loving more to go!

Dear Kitchen,

Oh how I love you when you are clean, when you are clutter free! When the only things by the sink are hand soap and dish soap. When the bread is in the bread drawer. When the kids school work is hung on the wall instead of in a pile waiting to be hung up.  When the craft supplies are in their cabinet AND in their proper container. When the day’s mail is in the mail basket. When the backpacks are hanging on their hooks. You get the idea. I love you when your counters have nothing on them but what belongs. Don’t feel bad, I like you well enough on the other days, but when you are truly clutter free? Oh you make my heart sing!!!

xoxo and PLEASE stay clutter free,
The Orange Rhino

*

I wrote the above blurb last week when I was torn between wanting to blog and wanting to organize, wanting to clean. I obviously chose cleaning since this never got posted! I started writing but quickly realized that my desire to blog as a means of staying yell-free was counterproductive because with a disorganized closet taunting me daily, it was just a matter of days before I lost it. If I didn’t clean, if I didn’t get the majority of my world clutter free soon, l would scream. I mean really scream. And not just at the air. I would scream at my kids.

I know it sounds silly to most. Even my dear husband doesn’t get it. My mom doesn’t get it. But the site of clutter literally makes me unhinged. I go berserk. Okay, maybe that is a bit extreme but at times clutter does make me feel overwhelmed. I start breathing heavy, I start getting antsy, I start feeling impatient. And inevitably if a “clutter attack” hits, I start snapping at my kids for no reason. And when a really bad “clutter attack” hits, like in the past, oh do I scream bloody murder.

I still vividly remember walking into the kitchen one morning not too long before the Orange Rhino Challenge and seeing piles of sh*t f all over the kitchen counter and the family room. Everywhere my eyes turned loose papers taunted me, primary colored toys taunted me, shoes taunted me. They all said “neener neener neener, we’re out of place, don’t you hate it….”(um, Yes!)

My son then innocently and ever so sweetly said “Mommy?” and I roared, I mean ROARED back at him “What do you want?!!” Understandably, he burst into tears.

“I just wanted to say good morning and give you a hug.”

Well, who was the pile of sh*t now?

Moi.

I looked at my husband. Tears in my eyes. “Honey. Everywhere I turn is sh*t to be put away. It is never ending. I know I am supposed to let it go but I can’t. It reminds me of ALL I have to do and yet never get to. It reminds me of how chaotic my day is, how I am never caught up. It drives me nuts!!!”

“It’s okay,” he reassured me but really, it wasn’t. I wanted to scream some more. I wanted to grab garbage bags and fill them with all the piles of paper and out of place toys and then head to the dump.

But what I really wanted that morning, and EVERY MORNING, was not just a clean counter, but some order. Clean counters bring me calm. Clean closets bring me calm. Clean bedrooms bring me calm. Because they represent order. And right now with 4 boys under 5, I hardly have real order and I crave it. It keeps me grounded. It keeps me sane.

Ever since I made my resolution to spend a mere 5 to 10 minutes a night to pick up my clutter piles last week, I have felt that calm. And it. is. Awesome. Fabulous. Beyond amazing. Every morning when the boys and I come downstairs into the organized kitchen, I smile. I might be surrounded by four ravenous and screaming boys demanding milk and cereal and this and that, but my counters are clutter free and it brings me peace. And it keeps me from yelling and snapping. Seriously.

How do I know?

Because this past Saturday we had a wedding and I didn’t have 10 minutes to pick up before heading out. Then on Sunday we went away for Father’s Day and I still didn’t pick up. And this morning, once I finally unloaded all our stuff from yesterday and started to clean up I realized all the sh*t that had accumulated.

And I immediately became grumpy. I looked around and saw a world of “to-do”s of “to-put-aways” and I felt overwhelmed and inevitably I snapped. An acceptable snap per my rules, but still.

So today we have cleaned. And I feel better. And tonight I will get back to my resolution of just 5 to 10 minutes of picking up to stay on top of the problem. Why? Because it keeps me sane. It keeps me from yelling.

Every little bit counts. Such a cliché, and of course, so true. Every little bit of cleaning up keeps me that much more calm. And every little bit of more calm keeps me not yelling. And every little moment of not yelling, well, is a HUGE win.

Motivated Mom.

127 days down, 238 days of loving more to go!

Dear Orange Rhinos,

It is a little weird for me to write and ask you to do something, but alas, I am. Read the first part and then read the second part…it is all about YOU….

WE, yes we even if it just says Orange Rhino that is all encompassing in my book, have been nominated for an award!

A Motivated Mom Award!

This is what I believe is the first of MANY of our chances to Toot OUR horn about our community. I have BIG and I mean BIG plans and dreams and hopes for us, all of us. Please VOTE FOR US, for the Orange Rhino, in the Motivated Mom Awards. This Award isn’t for me, it is for us. We are all Motivated Moms (and dads). We are all motivated to try and change our yelling ways, to be the parent we want to be for our children. And we are all trying in our own way. We are ALL truly a part of this nomination. Period.

So lets vote for us, lets Toot our own Rhino Horn about our efforts!

Please click on the link below and then scroll down until you find The Orange Rhino and click the thumbs up to vote.

http://enlistmoms.com/motivated-mom-awards/motivated-mom-awards-nominees/the-connector-mom/

Please also share the link with your friends, your family, your babysitter, your pre-school teacher whoever. Tell them YOU ARE nominated because of YOUR hardwork to be a better parent.

I myself am late in totally sharing this news for so many reasons. But I share it now proudly. Please take a moment to vote – not just for us but also in support of the Orange Rhino who nominated us. She took her time to do so and I want her to know what an awesome mom and person she is by our community rocking the vote!

A thousand thanks,
The Orange Rhino

*

Dear EnlistMoms.Com and my friend who knows who she is,

I wanted to thank you. Thank you for helping me to realize the beauty of the blogging world, the Facebook world, the social media world. If you asked me 137 days ago or so what I thought of these worlds, well let’s just say I wouldn’t have had much of an opinion. Because I avoided them like the plague. I didn’t get them. I didn’t understand why someone would want to be a part of such a world. I didn’t get blogging. I was IGNORANT and ignorance is not always bliss. In some weird twist of fate, yes fate, it donned on me to BLOG about The Orange Rhino Challenge and to attempt to create an online Facebook Community to support me in my endeavor. The result?

I’ve met some pretty gosh darn amazing people that I never would have met otherwise.

Strangers who support me. Strangers who support each other. Strangers who became fellow Orange Rhinos and friends. These Orange Rhinos, and by that I mean every single person that reads anything I write or tweet or Facebook post, inspire me, they inspire me with their interest, their dedication, their honesty, their enthusiasm. These Orange Rhinos keep me going – they keep ME connected to my cause, to my challenge. So it is ironic that I have been nominated as a “Connector Mom…the blogger who put the social in social media and is not afraid to over-share” because the reality is that my fellow Orange Rhinos are the real connectors. They are the ones making it happen!

My fellow Orange Rhino’s unwavering support and willingness to comment on my blogs or post on our Facebook page is what motivates me to be fearless and willing to over-share (and that has just begun, I have lots more over-sharing planned for the future, kind of along the lines of way TMI!) It is their commitment to OUR community that keeps us all connected – the daily sharing on Facebook of good days and bad, the nightly sharing on Facebook by tooting of their rhino horns for not yelling that day or just for trying, the all the time sharing of new ideas for not yelling and “you can do it” rallies!

It is the connected Orange Rhino community that keeps me motivated to not yell, to keep blogging, on days when I want to quit because the truth is, I have grown quite fond of our community. It’s a nice place to be :)

I think what I love most about our Community is that all the Orange Rhinos are different, yet the same. We have people from Denmark, Columbia, New Zealand, New York, Nebraska, South Carolina and South Africa reading. We have people with 0 kids up to 5 kids. We have male and female readers. We have 22 year old readers and 56 year old readers. And without getting political (because I try to avoid that like the plague too) we have parents from all sides of hot/controversial parenting topics. But the bottom line?! Despite all our difference we have one thing in common. One thing that keeps us ALL connected. Well the few things actually….

We all love our kiddos.
We all want to be the best parent that we can be.
And well, we’re all good people. Because we respect each other, we help each other and we learn from each other. There is nothing but loving more in the Orange Rhino Community and in this day and age, that is truly hard to come by.

It is an honor to be part of such a community, to be connected to so many of these “good people,” people who I never would have met if it weren’t for the beautiful world of Social Media.

So thank you for making me stop and think about what it means to be a “Connector Mom” because it made me realize just how much my opinion of the Social Media world has changed, and truthfully (gasp) how grateful I am for it. I wouldn’t be on Day 127 of not yelling if it weren’t for social media; I wouldn’t be on Day 127 if I weren’t connected to my fellow Orange Rhinos.

Warmest Regards,
The Orange Rhino

Procrastination Hurts.

126 days without yelling, 239 days of loving more to go!

Dear Doctor,

Do you remember those symptoms I had back in January ish? The ones that led to all sorts of scary tests all that yielded no real result? Well they are back. They get worse every day that passes. They are to the point where I can’t enjoy some basic things with my children. They are to the point where I am scared. Scared to make an appointment to see you. So I am procrastinating which of course only makes matters worse. It doesn’t make the symptoms go away. It just adds more worry to my mind and creates a huge, growing, nagging item on my to-do list. If I could just find the courage to call you I could add some major improvement to my day and not to mention more quality time with my kids. Literally and figuratively. Literally I wouldn’t want to throw up when I swing with them and figuratively because when I have a nagging to-do I am often so preoccupied that I snap. A lot. So what am I waiting for??

I don’t know,
The Orange Rhino

*
So, what am I waiting for? I am waiting for the symptoms to just go away on their own and at the same time I am waiting for them to get really bad so that I have no choice but to make an appointment.  I am waiting for my stubbornness to go away. Shoot, I am waiting for the excuses to go away!

You see, I know that my doctor’s appointment, the one that I am avoiding successfully, is going to result in one or two things: something wrong or something that requires therapy, ie. more scheduled appointments and more time away from my kids.  But I can’t avoid it anymore. My procrastination party is over as my husband spent three days with me and witnessed the symptoms left and right. And he is worried. So sh*t when I return to the doctors I will go.

And what will I say?

That my eyes hurt. That I get dizzy easily. That I am afraid of escalators because I fear I will fall. That I can’t pick my boys up and spin them around even once because then I can’t stand up for half an hour. That I can’t rock my baby to sleep at night because it makes me dizzy. That I can’t make eye contact because it hurts. That I can’t stare into my baby’s eyes when I sing to him because it hurts. That I can’t read because it hurts.

And what will she say? I don’t know. My guess is that I’ll go to the eye doctor again, then the neurologist again and then maybe and Ear Nose Throat doctor or maybe Occupational Therapy. In my gut I am sure it is not a brain tumor (as they thought back in January) and it is not that I need glasses (they tested my eyes in January) but that I need Occupational Therapy. I say this with semi confidence because my sons go to OT and their wonderful OT is always talking about dizziness and this and that. So I have self diagnosed myself as needing to work on my core and my vestibular system. Just like #1.

But guess what? My self diagnosis isn’t enough. I need to get to the doctor because what if I am wrong? And forget right versus wrong. I need to get to the doctor because I can’t enjoy some basic things with my boys that I love to do and that scares me and makes me sad. I sit here uncertain of what is wrong with me but certain of one thing:

Procrastination does no one good. In fact right now, it hurts. Literally.

What is the worst that can happen if I go to the doctor??

Nothing. There is only upside. They find something wrong, then we fix it. They find nothing wrong, then I can sleep easier.

I know there are boat loads of clichés and motivational sayings about procrastinating and I am hesitant to share them here. But at the same time I am finding that I could afford to read some, to make me pick up the phone. But instead I found some numbers that will do the job.

December 2006
July 2008
November 2009
July 2011

Those are the birth months and years of my sons. Oops, just realized I need to add another one.

December 10th.

That would be my husband’s birthday.

I am going to call the doctor because of my kids. Because of my husband. Because I love them and they deserve me to be at my best.

(Note: I wrote this Friday night at the airport. Then I called the doctor and scheduled an appointment for Monday and I missed it. Oops. And I have yet to re-schedule. I share this post tonight so that I can get myself motivated to call tomorrow. The more and more I casually hear stories about changing habits the more I learn about the importance of sharing your goal with others because it creates accountability. The way I see it by posting this I have a chance of 200 people Facebooking me to see if I made an appointment, so I had better! Anyone see the parallel to The Orange Rhino Challenge?! And the other ones? My husband read this and suggested not posting it; he said it was too much about me and not enough about yelling. But I disagree. I’ve taken all the bold lines and put them together. Have a read. It’s Parallel Paradise.)

(My yelling) gets worse every day that passes.  (It’s) to the point where I can’t enjoy some basic things with my children. So I am procrastinating which of course only makes matters worse (I feel crappier about my yelling so I yell more). It doesn’t make the symptoms go away. It just adds more worry to my mind and creates a huge, growing, nagging item on my to-do list. If I could just find the courage to (stop yelling) I could add some major improvement to my day and not to mention more quality time with my kids (because) when I have a nagging to-do I am often so preoccupied that I snap. So what am I waiting for??

I am waiting for the symptoms to just go away on their own (ie. the kids to just start behaving) and at the same time I am waiting for them to get really bad so that I have no choice but to make an appointment (ie. waiting for an epiphany). I am waiting for my stubbornness to go away. Shoot, I am waiting for the excuses to go away (ie. I won’t succeed, It will be too hard, It’s not worth it, I don’t yell that much!)

But I can’t avoid it (my yelling “problem”) anymore.

I need to (stop yelling) because I can’t enjoy some basic things with my boys that I love to do and that scares me and makes me sad. I sit here uncertain of what is wrong with me (why I can’t stop yelling) but certain of one thing:

Procrastination does no one good (it just makes me anxious and ready to snap or yell at anyone in my way). In fact right now, it hurts. Literally. (Yelling hurts).

What is the worst that can happen
(if I try to stop yelling?)

Nothing. There is only upside. (I, you? can try for one day and find that at least 1 moment, maybe more, you chose not to yell and you didn’t! You learn that you can not yell. Major upside.)

I am going to (stop yelling) because of my kids. Because of my husband. Because I love them and they deserve me to be at my best.

So I ask you, what are the numbers that will make you stop procrastinating about that 1 thing that is nagging you? What are the numbers that will get you to try to stop yelling? To try The Orange Rhino Challenge?

 

 

 

Change was needed.

125 days of  not yelling, 240 days of loving more to go! 

Dear Gretchen,

I hope you feel honored. Of all the books I could read on my mini-vacation, including 50 shades of whatever it is called, I chose your book, The Happiness Project. Now mind you, I haven’t read a book in probably 4 years except for the What to Expect when you are Expecting and What to Expect the First Year. And mind you, I don’t like reading books (reading is hard for me.) So truly, for me to pick up a real book and read it is a miracle. But given that many of my wonderful blog readers had suggested I read your book, I couldn’t say no. I am glad I listened to them.

You see, in reading your book I started thinking. Which is NEVER a good thing. I mean it is, but it isn’t. Because it means I think of ways to improve (excellent, if executed). But it also means I create new work, new to-do’s for which is the last thing I need. This time though, my thinking turned towards what I affectionately call my silly Orange Rhino Challenge. And even though yes, my mind is now full of new ideas on how to succeed at the Challenge, it is all good. All good. Because the new work impacts my kids and that makes it all worth it.

Somewhere around page 15 I paused and thought “hmmm…I *have* unlocked the key to not yelling at my kids. I think. But what I need to unlock now is how to keep from getting grumpy so that I don’t have to work so hard to not yell in the first place.” To be clear, it’s not that I am an unhappy person it’s just that sometimes I let certain things get me, I let certain things take up space in my mind and it is then very hard to stay focused on being present and loving with my kiddos. Because all I really want to do is yell “LEAVE ME the F ALONE!” I want to stop letting these things get to me – I need to make some changes so that I can be successful at this challenge in the long term!

Anyway, you got me thinking and I am grateful (and I am pretty sure my husband is too, he just won’t admit it).

Cheers,
The Orange Rhino

*
I went away.

I read a book.

It made me think.

It made me think of all the things in my life that make me grumpy, that set me up to snap.

Like clutter.

Like feeling fat.

Like resenting my husband.

Like mama guilt.

Like being tired.

Like not doing the things that make me happy.

Like feeling that I am losing friends, left and right.

Like feeling that time is going by and I am not enjoying it enough…because of all the above things.

So I made some resolutions. Some resolutions focused on changing the areas of my life that need tweaking so that I can be less trigger-happy and more mama-happy!

And I am sticking to them…because I know that they make me a happier person and therefore a better mom and therefore less apt to yell.I am still shocked that I thought starting The Orange Rhino Challenge would JUST be about learning to be more patient, more tolerable. But really, it is about so much more. I never thought I would be doing so much soul searching in order to succeed at this challenge.

Anywho, I share my resolutions with you all to keep me accountable.

1) CLUTTER: Every night I WILL take the 5-10 minutes to put away the clutter because clutter makes me claustrophobic and antsy.

2) WEIGHT: I WILL start Weight Watchers again. I WILL exercise 4 times a week. Because it is important to me, no matter what I say.

3) MARRIAGE: I WILL start communicating with my husband when I am upset instead of holding it in and feeling the resentment grow. And grow. And grow. Because I love my husband and I want our marriage to last a lifetime.

4) MAMA GUILT: I WILL move my computer away from the family area so that I spend more time with my kids and stop feeling crappy that I checked People.com every 30 minutes instead of hanging with my little people.

5) TIRED: I WILL go to bed by 10:00 5 nights a week. Because the truth is if I don’t get 8 hours of sleep I am a beast. 7 will have to do.

6) HOBBIES: I WILL look at pictures 1 night a week because it makes me happy, it makes me smile, it makes me grateful.

7) FRIENDS: I WILL email one friend a night that I don’t see daily

8) PRESENT: I WILL start vocalizing when I am happy and loving a moment to force myself to enjoy it.

No time like the Present! Right now I am happy because the clutter is cleared and well, I met each resolution today. Added bonus: I didn’t yell.

Which reminds me of one more major resolution:

9) ORANGE RHINO: I WILL not yell. I WILL not quit even though I will want to. Often.  Because like it or not, this Challenge is making so many aspects of my life, and my family’s life better.

Re-entry into Mommyland

124 days down, 241 to go!

Dear Vacation sans kids,

You were great. I miss you. But I missed my boys more. And I am glad to be home. Even if re-entry into Mommyland was brutal (ie, so challenging that I almost kissed 123 days bye-bye.) Who knew that 4 boys could make 3 days of feeling calm disappear so quickly?

See you soon I hope,
The Orange Rhino

*

I was gone from my darling four boys for 64 hours.

It took about 12 hours for me to feel relaxed, to feel like I was on vacation, to not look at my watch to see if it was someone’s nap time or if it was time to get ready for dinner.

It took a mere 5 hours of the boys being awake the morning after my late night return for all the stress and exhaustion that had seeped away to re-enter my body.  At FULL force.

WHAM!

Welcome home mommy! Mommy I need you to wipe my butt. Mommy I need water. Mommy he touched my face. Mommy I don’t know what I want so I am going to whine. Mommy my teeth are coming in so I am going to cry. A lot. Mommy, mommy, mommy!!!

Where were the I love you’s? The I miss you’s? The hugs and kisses? Oh I got them. Big time. And that was the greatest moment EVER.

But it only lasted for minutes. Minutes I say. And than BAM. It was time to be mommy again. No more kicking my feet up having deep conversations with my hubby over a strawberry daiquiri. No more taking a two hour nap. No more sleeping in, until, get this 6:30 am. GASP. Nope. It was time to be Mommy again. I was back in Mommyland where one doesn’t just love their kids but has to also care for them, a wonderful yet hard at times, task.

Don’t get me wrong. I was THRILLED to be home. I AM thrilled to be home. Gosh, I missed my boys so much. Every time I called and spoke to them I wanted to go home to hear their laugh, to watch them make silly faces, to get their hugs. But being away was good for ALL of us. It was good for my boys and me – we never get a real break, I think this made us appreciate each other more. It was good for my husband and me – we needed some connecting time, big time. All in all it was a great escape, hard to be away, but worthwhile. I truly chilled out for the first time in oh, 24 months or so?

As I re-entered Mommyland I promised myself that I would keep my “vacation” mindset on. That I would not let the stress of parenting suck me in right away. That I would at least wait a day, hopefully more before I became a twit about clutter, things to do for the kids, things to do for me, doctors appointments to make.

Wishful thinking. 1 day? As if.

I don’t know what put me over the edge. What made my “vacation self” disappear. All I know is that one moment I was calm and next minute, Holy Sh*t!! I wanted to scream at everyone! At everything that moved. Everyone wanted me. Everyone was yelling. I was tired and to make matters “worse,” darnit, I couldn’t yell and that one piece was kicking my a*s.

And that is when I remembered how I felt when I started The Orange Rhino Challenge. OVERWHELMED. Exhausted. Infuriated. It. Is. HARD. Hard. Hard not to yell. Just being away for three days of peace and quiet made my home life feel like someonewas taking a hammer to my head. All the chaos. All the yelling. All the needs pounding me left and right. It is A LOT to take in. And not being able to yell to stop the pounding? It is blooming hard work. And so is parenting. I guess I had kind of forgotten that while I was away. And coming back to it all made me want to scream “JUST BACK OFF! Give mommy one second to breathe. PLEASE!”

But I didn’t.

Instead all day long I had silent conversations with myself.

“Don’t yell, you don’t want to yell.”
“Don’t yell, you aren’t mad at the kids, you are just tired.”
“Don’t yell, you are just stressed because of the laundry that awaits and the bag to unpack.”
“Don’t yell, it is just cookie crumbs.”

The list could go on and on. Every second, okay maybe not every second, but maybe every 10 minutes? I was telling myself another reason not to yell. Between the literal noise outside my head, and the constant racket inside my head, I was ready to explode.

I got very close. Numerous times. And when that happened I just used my new catch phrase “Mommy is very frustrated. I do not want to yell. I do not want to start again. Please help me.” I am not sure it helped changed their behavior at the moment (I was TOO tired from sleeping on the couch to notice a thing!) but I do know it kept my behavior in line. Phew.

When I zonked into bed that night, more liked passed out, I was really perturbed. How could I miss these kids so much, how can I love them so much, and then within hours of being home I want to yell at them? Didn’t I become a more loving, peaceful, and empathetic person these last 120 days plus? What happened? Did the new me just vanish after 3 days of a break? Will it come back? WTF?

Thankfully, oh so thankfully, the answer is YES. The new me did NOT disappear. All my hard work was not lost. I have changed habits (I think) and this change will not go away. I just had a challenging day. IT HAPPENS. But after a good night’s sleep in my own bed, and a mental pep talk that I knew that the first day back would be brutal, I started Sunday on a much better note. How do I know? Well when I stepped out of bed onto a huge pile of Legos that someone had left behind at 5 am? I didn’t yell.

My Marriage Rut

120 days down, 245 to go!

Dear Husband,

Thank you for being my #1 supporter along with our boys on this little Orange Rhino endeavor.  Your unwavering support amazes me and I am quite grateful…especially since lately I know I haven’t been giving you the same love and support back. Since lately I know I have been prioritizing kids and myself and forgetting that you TOO are a priority. I know I don’t show it nearly as much as I should but I do love you with all my heart and you still are my one and only love. For so many reasons. But one good one is this little getaway we are on right now. You sensed that we were getting into that little “place” we go to every 15 to 18 months or so. The “place” where we are not as connected as we wish, as we need to be, the “place” where we just go along accepting things as is, not actively trying to make them better. The “place” where we stop communicating and start bickering. A lot. The “place” where our kids stop seeing loving parents but complacent, distant parents. The “place” where I start doubting us. I hate that “place.” I hate it when we fall into what I affectionately call “our little marriage rut.” While we both are great at seeing the red flags YOU are the one who excels at doing something about it. About taking action. About making sure we get away just the two of us to get back on track. And for that I am grateful. SO grateful. We desperately needed a jolt to get out of our rut and you made it happen. Thank you.

xoxo,
The Orange Rhino

*

Ruts. They suck. Whether it be a marriage rut, an I’m unhappy rut, an I’m not losing weight rut, or an I’m yelling too much rut, they suck. They suck because the negative feelings attract more negative feelings. They suck because to get out of said rut I need to admit I am in one, I need to admit that I have made a mistake, that I am frustrated, that something is wrong, or that is nothing is wrong per say but that changes need to happen.  They suck because as if admitting I am in a rut isn’t hard enough, I have to then find the courage, the strength and the commitment to get out of the rut. I have to find a way to WORK HARD despite all the oppressive forces against me encouraging me to stay complacent, to stay in the rut because even though it isn’t always a happy place it doesn’t require work per say.

But I know staying in a rut doesn’t lead to good things. And boy do I know that getting out of a rut is hard, hard, hard, pure and simple.

I am not great at acknowledging ruts until I am in so deep that I need a serious Epiphany to wake me the hell up. Strike that. I am great at acknowledging them. I am not great at getting out. Because it feels so overwhelming, so daunting. Because acknowledging the need for change is one thing, making change happen is a whole separate story.

Before I started The Orange Rhino Challenge I was totally in a parenting rut. I yelled way too much and I didn’t like it. There were red flags everywhere that change needed to happen, the kids individual behavior, their behavior towards each other, their response to me, their NOT responding to me. Oh were the red flags a waving that the yelling needed to go, that I was in a rut, but I didn’t know how to get out, I didn’t know how to change. So I kept yelling and that made me more annoyed so the rut grew and the amount I yelled grew. To this day I am grateful to Larry the contractor for giving me the jolt I needed to get out of my yelling rut.

And today I am grateful to my husband, the take-action-guru, for giving us the jolt we needed to get out of our current marriage “rut.” Because not only was it not good for us, it wasn’t good for the kids. Not just because they weren’t seeing positive role models in parents as a loving couple (loving parents, yes? loving couple, debatable) but because I was feeling such disconnect with my husband that at times during the day if my boys looked at me wrong while I was in lalaland thinking about rut-ville I oopsie snapped. For no reason. Well for real reason. Because I was feeling scared about the current state of my marriage. Not because I was mad at my boys. One of my worst triggers for snapping at my kids? Being stuck in a rut. In a marriage rut, a weight loss rut, an I am losing friends rut. Whatever rut it is that I am in at any given time makes me so mentally preoccupied that I snap at my kids. Not cool.

Look, ruts happen. Marriage is HARD work. Parenting is HARD work. But just because ruts happen doesn’t me I have to stay in one. I just need to remind myself that I am an Orange Rhino. That if I could find the strength and determination and COURAGE to get out of the 3.5 year yelling rut, that I can keeping finding that same strength and determination and courage to create change whenever I get in another rut. Whatever kind it is.

Note: I still continue to be amazed how my journey of learning not to yell is positively impacting all aspects of my life as a mom, a wife, a friend and more. Still considering taking the challenge but too daunted? Let this be your jolt. Did you feel that?! That was the Orange Rhino Horn gently poking you in the back, encouraging you to create change….

Note #2: I know I am supposed to be on vacation connecting with my husband. I am. He is the one who encouraged me to write.