What Does That Have to Do With Yelling?

Since May, I have wanted to write about my five year old’s birthday and how proud I am of his growth this year; how proud I am of him for wanting a cooking party even though he thought boys might make fun of him; how proud I am of him for his social progress making him ready for Kindergarten. But I decided that had nothing to do with yelling so I haven’t written about it.

Since June, I have wanted to write about how exciting it is that my almost seven year old can really, truly read; how incredible it is that he figures out new, long, complicated words; how frustrating it is that I can no longer spell or write out secret notes to my husband! But I decided that had nothing to do with yelling, so I haven’t written about it.

Since early July, I have wanted to write about my struggles with my weight and how I need to get back on Weight Watchers, how I need to get exercising again, how I need to drink less, eh hem, alcohol at night. But I decided that had nothing to do with yelling so I haven’t written about it.

Since last week, I have wanted to write about how I took my four year old to camp and was most certain he wouldn’t last an hour; how I was most certain his major social anxiety would eat him alive; how my anxiety over his potential anxiety was eating me alive before he even went; how he went and loved every minute of it and asked to go another week. But I decided that had nothing to do with yelling, so I haven’t written about it.

And since this past weekend, I have wanted to write about my ambivalence that my “baby” was turning two; my sadness that this was my first 2nd birthday party without a newborn in the house; my realization that this was my last “baby” party. But I decided that had nothing to do with yelling so I haven’t written about it.

Oh, I have wanted to write about this or that, that or this. I have wanted to write about positive things and not so positive things but for some reason or another, I decided that the subject was “off topic” and “not relevant to yelling” and therefore not worth writing about.

It donned on me two nights ago though, as I sat staring at my computer typing and deleting, typing and deleting, that it is ALL relevant to yelling. The good, the bad, it is all more than relevant.

My happiness over my 5-year-old’s personal growth this year? It has filled tough days with huge smiles. It has taken what would have been disastrous at home battles into small tantrums. It has made my  “am I failing as a mother” concern and the “does he need more help” concern and the “do we need to hold him back a year concern” all disappear, lifting a huge source of stress of my shoulders. Oh my son’s incredible progress has made me lighter, happier and therefore less likely to yell at not just him, but also everyone.

My son learning to read? It has had the same effect at my 5-year-old son “growing up” a bit. It has filled me with wonder, pride, happiness and awe all which put me in a good mood and make it way easier to not yell. At the end of the day when I am just ready to bark at my 7 year old “just get in bed now, I’m tired!” before I can even do so, he pulls out a book and says “it’s time to read” and my bark disappears. I then can’t wait for the next 10 minutes of listening to him sound out en-cy-clo-ped-ia and other long words in his chapter books. Yelling becomes the farthest thing from my mind.

My struggles with my weight? It means I start each day feeling frustrated and guilty and angry with myself. It means before the kids even come in to say hello I have already put on a pair of shorts that are too snug for my liking…right along with a bad attitude and shortness that is also not to my liking. I know my weight shouldn’t impact my outward attitude and behavior, but it does. When I feel “fat” I feel physically and emotionally disgusted most moments of the day. I feel impatient with myself (why can’t you just start eating healthier already?!) and that impatience and frustration just seeps out into my interactions with my kids. Oh how, my weight struggles are indeed a trigger for yelling (and yes, oh how I know they “shouldn’t” be.)

And my four-year-old going to camp successfully, like really, really successfully? It meant for two weeks I started each day busting with excitement and anticipation of what he would have to tell me four hours later. It meant that in the middle of the day I got a huge burst of joy when he came bouncing out of camp with the biggest, sh*t eating grin ever and talking a mile a minute, all about is day and how “rific” it was. Oh the joy brought me so up that those days it was easy to not yell (and not just because he was at camp for so long but because I was on a “mommy-happiness-high” all afternoon!)

My sadness over being done having children? It leaves me down a little when I see a sweet baby and I get a pang of sadness. That sadness sticks for a bit and takes me to a place where I am not present with my four beautiful boys making me snappier if they talk to me at that precise moment. Does the sadness last more than a minute or two? No. But if I am interrupted during that brief time of sadness, I do find that I am apt to snap (or want to yell, WHAT?!!!!)

Yes, the more worried I am, the more frustrated I am, the sadder I am, the more apt I am to yell. It is that simple.

And yes, the happier I am, the more joyful I am, the more relaxed I am, and the less I am apt to yell. It is that simple.

I have learned that at the end of the day, all emotions, good or bad, are related to my ability to yell less and love more. As I write that, it seems so obvious and straightforward, it’s kind of like, duh! But in reality, while it is simple on paper, it isn’t in reality. It isn’t simple and straightforward (or possible) to always do the things that make me feel happy and relaxed, just like it isn’t simple and straightforward (or possible) to always avoid the things that make me feel worried and sad.

But what is simple and straightforward is the awareness that trying to fill up on what makes me happy (laughing with my kids, running in the rain, reminiscing with my husband, taking pictures, writing on my blog, talking with girlfriends, walking on the beach) and trying to process and acknowledge what makes me sad are BOTH very important. Letting all my emotions matter is important. Writing about all my emotions is important. It might not always be easy to fill up on happiness and handle the things that aren’t so happy, but it is important to just keep on trying to do both so that I can yell less and love more. It is that simple.

And on that note, I am back to watching a very cheesy Hallmark movie. It is totally filling me up with happiness galore!

Learning to Let Go

So, I kind of hold onto any tangible thing associated with a good memory that I can…and I kind of always have! In fact I think I can trace it back to age 10. Around then, I received a corkboard from my parents and I immediately started covering it with every single memento possible.

Just one section of a very full bulletin board! I think those plastic roses are from a corsage my mom made me for my Tea Party themed 7th Birthday Party!

Just one section of a very full bulletin board! I think those plastic roses are from a corsage my mom made me for my Tea Party themed 7th Birthday Party!

Glittery “kiss” sticker from a boy named David that I received in 4th grade? Check. Pin up of Christian Slater? Check. Picture of me holding my first driving ticket? Check. Love letter from my first boyfriend in high school? Check, oh check! Oh yes, any small thing I could save I saved to help me savor my favorite memories, to help me savor what made me happy, what made me smile, what made me laugh, to help me savor all that was wonderful in my life.

Some might have called this a fleeting childhood hobby. But it wasn’t. As I headed off to college without my board, I started saving mementos in shoeboxes. As I graduated college, I continued saving mementos in shoeboxes but this time the boxes weren’t titled by year, they were simply title “Love Letters from my boyfriend” which soon became “Special Memories with ‘my man.’” Then of course I married my man and a shoebox wouldn’t hold all the memories from our wedding weekend so I took my parents trunk they had when they first married and filled it. I filled it with our “welcome to the hotel bag,” my bachelorette veil, my rehearsal dinner bouquet, my wedding day slippers, my “Bride-to-be” sweatshirt, our wedding favor and the newspaper from that day. Oh yes, I filled it with everything I could stuff in there because I didn’t want to let go; because I wanted to savor it all as long as I could and I feared I would somehow forget a detail.

I hadn't open this trunk until I took this picture. As promised, it brought my immense happiness.

I hadn’t open this trunk until I took this picture. As promised, it brought my immense happiness.

I locked the trunk back in 2004 and I haven’t opened it since. I haven’t needed to. Just knowing it is there brings me safety, brings me happiness and memories and besides, I have been busy filling four new mini-trunks with mementos from my boys’ lives. From first ultrasound pictures to hospital bracelets, birth announcements to birthday cards, birthday invitations to pre-school graduation invitations, first drawings to first writing samples, I have filled my son’s memory boxes with anything I thought they might want to see when older. Who am I kidding; I have filled their boxes because anytime I have something to add to them and I need to open them, I am filled with such incredible happiness and pride and gratitude and love that I can’t imagine NOT saving such things. Oh I just want to savor it all over and over again because despite the tough moments I share with my boys, there are many more incredible moments. So much so that a mini-trunk doesn’t do it all justice, but it is something. It is something to hold on to.

Just like my bulletin board doesn’t do justice to all the wonderful memories of my childhood…but it’s something. Fortunately for me, my parents never tossed it when I officially moved out. Instead they wrapped it up when they sold our house and it is now is in my attic, on top of my box of Barbie dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids and my box of “Little House on the Prairie Books” that I saved “in case” I had a girl. I pass my board, my visual timeline of my crushes and my interests, my childhood turned what I thought was adulthood (at the age of 18!,) every time I have to get to a box of hand me down clothes, a box of college photo albums, a box of childhood toys I want to share with my boys, or a box of achievements from my working days. And just like my wedding trunk and my son’s memory boxes, whenever I see my board, I think “oh I am so glad I held onto it.” I never once think, “Oh I should just toss it and let go of the memories.”

Why? Why don’t I doubt holding onto such things that I have had so long? Why do I ignore my husband when he tells me it is time to perhaps let go of some of the boxes in the attic (eh hem the box of wedding magazines and books from my era of I am going to be a wedding planner)? Because holding onto these mementos brings me happiness, immense happiness and brings me up and who wants to let go of a good thing?! The mementos that didn’t bring me up: breakup letters from my high school boyfriend, clothes from when I was overweight, letters of rejection from college and job offers, those I readily let go of because they bring me down. I know holding on to them will just make me upset if I have to see them again.

Which begs the question, then why oh why do I struggle to let go of mental memories that bring me down and not up? Just because these mental memories don’t have a tangible item to be tossed, does that mean they don’t deserve to be tossed or can’t be? Of course they deserve it…of course they should be because holding on to them doesn’t do me much good!

In fact, I have learned that holding onto “bad” memories does me no good. Good memories? Oh lots of good, hold on and savor away Orange Rhino. Bad memories, toss them away Orange Rhino, toss them away and let go! I know many people have said that holding on to “bad” memories does no good; I know this is not an original statement and yet, I didn’t really embrace it until I started The Orange Rhino Challenge.

When I began looking at why I yell and I started tracking my triggers I learned VERY quickly that my inability to let go of “bad memories,” bad experiences, bad conversations, bad weigh-ins on the scale, bad interaction with my kids, and most notably bad yells was at the top of the list. Oh I so quickly realized that my inability to let go so often pushed me to yell.

My inability to let go kept me pre-occupied. My inability to let go kept me thinking about my “bad” situation instead of focusing on the present moment and making it count. My inability to let go made me snappier and less present and wasted a lot of my time. My inability to let go consumed me way more than I ever wished. So I started practicing letting go of things that bothered me. I started saying over and over and over again “Let it go. You can’t change what happened. Don’t focus on the negative. Move on.” And I over and over and over again forced myself to engage in a happy action when I found myself not letting go; I looked at baby pictures with my boys or I started a dance party. And I over and over and over again made myself stop talking about the “bad” memory. I stopped indulging my mind in the conversation and stopped calling friends to relive the frustrating moment. Did I make an initial call? Sure. But I practiced letting go and not dwelling by over talking.

Was it easy to learn to let go? Um, NO.

It wasn’t even close to easy. It still isn’t easy, but it is easier.

The other morning I woke up to see all the people that had read my “I Yelled At My Boys” post and I immediately felt disappointment and sadness again that I had indeed yelled. My heart filled with crappy feelings and anger at myself over my “bad memory.” It didn’t think of all the good memories stored in my brain to bring me happiness, gratitude and determination when I was down – the comments from all of you, the flowers from my family and friends on my 365th day, the random emails and gifts from all of you. Nope, I immediately went to bad memory lane.

So, I read my post again and inhaled it. “Orange Rhino. You wrote about letting go. You know you have learned to. You know letting go has been one of your favorite lessons learned. LET GO. LET GO of the disappointment. LET GO of the sadness.” And then I inhaled all the supportive comments from everyone and I locked them away in my memory bank to never be let go of, to be held on to as tightly I have held on to the fake rose I got in 3rd grade that made me feel loved and special and brought me so much joy that day.

And I let go.

Oh, I have learned to let go and I have gained so much in return. 

I Yelled At My Boys.

520 days of loving more, yelling less

I have a confession.

On Friday July 12, 2013, after 520 days of The Orange Rhino Challenge, my public promise to not yell at my boys, I yelled. Big Time.

Yes, I, The Orange Rhino, yelled at my four boys.

There was no question if it was maybe just a snap or an emergency yell. Oh no, it was a full on, blood curling, yelling tirade complete with four children bawling and one mommy who just couldn’t stop herself.  And it was topped off with my feeling guilty, disappointed, and sad beyond belief.  And oh, oh how the look in the eight teary eyes staring at me proved that my boys shared my sadness and also felt anger, confusion, and fear.

“Mommy! You’re so mean. You’re back to day Zero on your Challenge!” screamed my almost seven year old.

“Too loud!!!!!” cried by almost four year old, the one closest to my rant, as he covered his ears and shook with fear.

“Ma Ma. Ma Ma,” sobbed my two year old who up until that moment, had never ever heard me yell.

“Why are you ye…lll…ing at us Mommy? We ddd…idn’t do an..y…thing! We got in the car like you asked!” my five year old tried to say between sobs.

He was right. Oh was he right. My boys had done absolutely, positively, nothing wrong. My yell was completely unnecessary, completely hurtful, and completely my own doing. I took my own sadness, fear and anger out on them, period. Blech.

You see my marriage boulder, which had truly started getting smaller, grew back a teensy weensy little bit that Friday morning and for some reason, I couldn’t handle it. As a result, everything bothered me.

The boys talking in normal voices? Too loud.
The boys asking me for some water? Too demanding.
The boys rough housing and laughing? Too much what, too much being kids?
The boys not getting ready for the pool when I asked? Too much what, not listening when I mumbled my request under my breath so quietly no one could hear it?

I felt my anger bubbling up and my sweaty hands, racing heart, shorter and sharper voice told me that I was flirting with losing it; that I was in desperate need of getting in control. So I tried. I tried so very hard to get in control of my personal stress by pulling out some of my Orange Rhino tricks. I talked to myself “hey Orange Rhino, you are not mad at the kids, you are frustrated with your situation right now.” I got a glass of cold water and physically tried to cool down and slow my breathing down. I talked to myself some more: “You can do this, you will get through this, just hang on, you don’t want to yell.” And I talked to my kids. “Boys, mommy is having a tough morning. I am feeling a little grouchy. Can you stop running around and help me get ready for the pool fast so we can go have fun and relax?”

It worked. For like 5 minutes.

For 5 minutes I found calm amidst the crazy, I found warmth amidst my anger, I found determination amidst my desire to just quit and scream. The boys stood in line for lotion, grabbed their towels, put their shoes on and got in the car. Yes! I went in the house to get my bag and came back to find kids not buckled in as requested.

And I lost it. In my loudest voice ever (or maybe it felt so loud because it had been 520 days since I heard it?) I screamed,

“WHAT ON EARTH DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?! WHY ARE YOU NOT BUCKLED IN? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? CAN’T YOU JUST LISTEN FOR ONCE!”

Seriously? I mean really just writing that, I feel ridiculous and ashamed. After everything they had JUST done to be helpful and wonderful I lost it because they didn’t do one of five things I had asked them? Was that necessary? Or even nice? No! But then again, I didn’t yell because they didn’t put their seatbelts on,

I yelled because of my own pain that was screaming to get out.

I yelled because, well, because I am human and sometimes despite best intentions, hard work, and a heart full of more love than ever, mistakes happen.

People slip up. I slipped up. I knew I would one day. I knew that even though I call myself an “Orange Rhino” I am still human. The only thing I didn’t know was, how would I react when I finally yelled? Would I react in a pre-Orange Rhino manner and let shame, guilt, and disappointment send me into a vicious cycle of self-disgust and negative thinking, making a one-time yell turn into a problem again? Or would I react in a new way, a way reflective of 520 days of personal growth?

Well, the most wonderful surprise happened as soon as my boy’s two minutes of crying and rightfully deserved yelling at me ended and heard my truly heartfelt apology. I didn’t turn into my old, pre-Orange Rhino self! Instead, so much of what I have learned and embraced the last 520 days came to life.

After I yelled, I immediately forgave myself and forced myself to think of what I had accomplished, not what I had “ruined.” This is an accomplishment in itself, a huge one! I have learned during this Challenge that in order to yell less I need to let go of negative thoughts, I need to be kinder to myself, and I need to focus on the positive as much as I can. After I yelled, my brain, clearly re-wired from 520 days of practice, actually focused on how I went 520 Days without yelling! That’s 1 year and 155 days. Or a little under a year and a half. Or a heck of a lot more than I ever, ever imagined. Before The Orange Rhino Challenge, I never would have forgiven myself or even stopped and written a positive post like this one. Nope. I would have dwelled about how I let everyone down and been negative until the cows came home.

After I yelled, I promptly took responsibility for my actions, reminded myself that sometimes “it’s me, not them,” and owned up to my mistake. Before The Orange Rhino Challenge, I would have just assumed that the kids were “at fault” and then justified my yelling with “well, my kids didn’t listen.” I never would have wondered and accepted that perhaps I was part of the problem.

After I yelled, I found perspective and realized that “hey I might not have been able to keep myself at the grumpy stage, but at least I was aware of my grumpiness and tried to control it.” Before The Orange Rhino Challenge, I wouldn’t have even realized my physical yelling symptoms or that grumpiness was a sign that a yell was coming and that I needed to stop and quickly find a way to calm down.

After I yelled, I very quickly said, “okay Orange Rhino, what do you need to do to take care of yourself? You clearly aren’t taking care of you and managing your stress and um, you need to!” Before The Orange Rhino Challenge, I wouldn’t have acknowledged for a second that taking care of me is important and I never in a thousand years would have known how to take care of me or tried to even make it happen!

And after I yelled, despite how painful it was in that particular moment to see in my sons’ eyes the fear and sadness resulting from my behavior, I actually felt a bit grateful. Yes, I felt grateful that I yelled because my response to this situation not only showed me just how much I have grown and changed for the better during this Challenge, but also how much I have learned.

I have learned that learning to yell less has taught me more than just that. It has taught me how to bring forgiveness, perspective, positive thinking, accountability, and so much more to all the relationships in my life and all the situations in my life making me a happier person all around.

I have learned that that mistakes are okay, that not being perfect is okay, and that trying my hardest and still charging forward to yell less even when I have had a “bad” moment, is way more than okay, it’s courageous and crucial. Because learning to yell less isn’t just a 365 day Challenge for me, it’s a lifestyle change and I am certain over the next however many years my boys are my sons, I will slip up and yell again, and I will need to charge forward, again.

I have learned that at the heart of The Orange Rhino Challenge is not just clocking days that are yell free but collecting more loving moments. Any moment that I don’t yell is a win and all the loving moments add up – that is what matters.

Yelling Less Loving More

And most importantly, I have learned again just how much yelling scares my kids, how awful it makes me feel, and no matter how hard it might be at times, I want more than ever to continue to be an Orange Rhino because it is changing me and my relationships in a heck of a lot more ways I ever imagined.

* * * * *

P.S. I was fine posting this until now. Now I am nervous that I will have disappointed you all. Please don’t let that be the case.

If you liked this post, you might also like these posts:
“Bottled Up Emotions Do Me No Good”
“(Sometimes) Marriage Makes Me Want to Yell”
“Choosing Perfectly Imperfect Moments”
“I Didn’t Rock Motherhood Today”

You might also like my new book due out in October, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too!” Part parenting guide, part memoir, I include a 30-day guide with key revelations, actions, and tips to help you on your own journey. You can pre-order it now to make sure you are one of the first to receive it by clicking here. 

Was Yelling at me Really Necessary?

You all know that I have never made a mistake in my life, right? And that I am perfect?

Nope, I have never put red socks in with my husband’s white undershirts, dying them pink.
Nope, I have never accused one child of doing something when it was another, causing a major uproar in the house.
Nope, I have never hit the garage when pulling in, not even twice, or three times, turning my blue bumper a nice shade of white.
Nope, I have never bumped into a stranger, spilling his coffee all over him.
Nope, I have never forgotten to pack my son’s lunch, leaving him “starving” at school.

See, I am perfect. I never make mistakes.

HA! Who are we kidding? I make mistakes all the time; then normally I apologize and make it right. Today I made a mistake. It was an innocent one. But guess what? I have never been more embarrassed or publicly shamed by such an innocent mistake. And I have never been less willing to apologize and make it right. Why? Because when I made said mistake, I was yelled at.

It all started with a left turn. My boys have been going to the same camp for four years now. Every summer I always forget on the first day that pick-up is different than drop off and that I can’t make a left turn into the driveway but that I have to park on the street and wait, patiently in line. The head counselor always reminds me and I graciously back up and go to the line. I have no problem with waiting in line; I have no desire to cut the line. And I have no desire to intentionally forget the “rule” but you know, these things happen.

People forget simple things.
I forget simple things.
I make mistakes. I am human after all.

So today when I pulled up instead of walking as I had the past two days, and I saw that the driveway was empty, I completely forgot the rule to go to the street. I just assumed I was the first one there and that it was okay to turn in. WELL, I was SO wrong. The head counselor stopped me and politely reminded me of the rule. My response?

“Oh goodness. I totally forgot and it looked empty so I figured it was okay. I will back up and go get in line. Sorry!”

The response was “No, you are already here, just pull up and wait for the kids to come out.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want to cause trouble.” I said, again, always the first to make amends if I make a mistake.

“Yes.”

So, I followed his direction. I pulled up. Well, if looks could kill.

Four, maybe five other of the camp leaders and the security guards looked at me.  Then they all started talking to each other. Thanks to my ridiculous hearing, I could hear it all.

“Who does she think she is? Why is she cutting the line? What is she doing?”

At this point ALL the other parents who had been waiting in line were lined up behind me, car windows down waiting to ask for his/her child. Obviously, now was the perfect point to announce publicly to everyone that I made a mistake.

The security guard, with the MEGAPHONE, said:

“HEY LADY in the blue minivan. You can’t cut the line. You need to drive around like everyone else and wait like everyone else. It’s a really simple rule.” He then motioned with his hand where I should go, as if I wasn’t going to listen to him.

Ouch. There was nothing nice, understanding or polite about it.

I didn’t like being yelled at. Nope, never have, never will.
I felt shamed.
Humiliated.
Accused.
I felt pissed off to say the least.
I had made a simple mistake; there was no need to yell at me. None, whatsoever. Mistakes happen. Mistakes Happen!

I parked my car and walked in. I had to pass the mega-phone-mega-not-nice gentleman and my first instinct was to apologize, because again, that is what I do when I make mistakes. But I couldn’t find it in me. Nope. All I wanted to say was,

“You know, that wasn’t necessary. I made a simple mistake. There was no need to yell at me in front of everyone.”

The fact of the matter was that yelling at me wasn’t necessary. At all. And the fact of the matter was that his yelling at made me too angry to be polite; too ashamed to be polite; too frustrated to be polite. So I walked right past him, got my son and left. I didn’t even make eye contact. It seems I couldn’t “forget his yell” and that “forgetting a rule” caused me to “forget my manners” as well and be the bigger person.

And that is when it hit me. Recently on vacation, when my son whipped me with his frog lovey, I said to him,

“#1, you know you don’t do that. I reminded you yesterday.”

His response?

“I forgot mommy. Sometimes I just forget what I am supposed to do to be right. To be good. It is hard you know.”

I will not lie. At that moment, I brushed off his answer with an “uh huh” and I really felt like he was b.s.’ing me. I thought to myself,

“#1, that is a lie. You didn’t forget, you just chose to do it and ignore what I had told you before.”

But today, oh today I realized I perhaps made a mistake.  Today I realized, maybe he did just forget. I just forgot a rule today. I forget lots of things, even to-do’s I write down on paper an hour prior. There is so much I want to remember to do: remember to thank my husband for all his hard work for the family, remember to catch my kids doing good instead of catching them doing bad, remember to call my friends and check in regularly instead of letting too much time pass, remember to give my kids a hug and kiss each night before bed even when I am rushing to get to me-time.

Yes, there are a lot of important things to remember. And of course there are a lot of little things to remember too: buy more diapers, pick up medicine at the pharmacy, sign permission slip for school, arrange playdates. The list of things to remember goes on and on and on.

And the same goes for my son. Except for him, remembering all the big stuff and the little stuff is harder because he is younger with less experience. If I can’t remember a simple rule, and I don’t like getting yelled at for making a mistake, why would my son? Why should I not believe him when he said that he simply forgot? I am certain there are times when he does legitimately forget “the rules” because his mind is overflowing with things to remember. And I am certain that other times he is truly full of bologna and didn’t forget a thing at all.

Either way, today just proved to me yet again that yelling at my son for simple mistakes or forgetting something won’t do either of us any good. Yelling won’t inspire him to genuinely apologize and yelling won’t keep his mind open to remember the lesson about whipping me. When I got yelled at today, I shut down. I didn’t want to be nice back. I didn’t really hear every word he said, I didn’t fully listen. Nope, instead I focused on how crappy I was feeling in the moment. Yelling didn’t make me want to follow the rule better next time; it just pushed me to want to break it again for spite or at least do something nasty. (Mature right? I know. Like I said, I am not perfect.)

But seriously, above all else, today proved to me that of all the things I need to remember, one of the top ones is definitely to work hard to remember is to yell less and love more. Oh, and I need to remember that if I make a “mistake” by snapping too much or being shorter than I like, not to yell at myself. It really does no good.

Saying “Quiet!” without Yelling “QUIET!”

Dear Orange Rhinos,

As to be expected, I am always looking for new alternatives to yelling. Always. And then I received this email from Orange Rhino Shannon and I fell in love with the alternative. You see, my boys are all in to “top secret codes.” My oldest son has a top secret word he says to me when he just needs space and doesn’t know how to cope. Needless to say, after two long days at camp he has been saying “Darth Vader!” a lot! And all my boys obviously say “Orange Rhino!” to me when I am close to yelling and can’t cope! Secret words work great in our house, truly. They help us to communicate and help each other all while having a little fun too. But sometimes, they are said a little too loudly and all the screaming gets to me. Sometimes, I need an alternative that is fun but also calming and quieting.

Enter Shannon. Check our her blogpost below that she originally shared on her own blog.  Make sure to read all the way to the end. There is a surprise at the end that I just love that she made for all of us after I asked! Thanks Shannon for sharing!

* * * * *

I, like all mothers, am not perfect.  I sometimes let my toddler skip her veggies at dinner, she eats more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than I would like, and when I am tired, frustrated, running late…I have a tendency to yell.

In the back of my mind I know I am yelling because of my issues, not my toddlers, but I raise my voice anyway.  This usually just ends up causing my daughter to cry, not do what I wanted anyway and me feeling bad for raising my voice at her.  Not once has my yelling got my toddler to put on her shoes, stop playing with her food,  or whatever it was that moment that I found so offensive.  That realization (with the help of theOrange Rhino) led me to reevaluate my parenting.

In her blog, the Orange Rhino gives many ideas on how to stop yelling and communicate better, and I loved a lot of them and have even started yelling at my toilet when I have had enough at her suggestion LOL.  It was reading the list of suggestions, that I had the AHA moment, that I already had the tools needed to yell less and love more.

When my daughter, or life pushes my buttons, I turn off my voice and turn on my hands (and no that doesn’t mean I spank her lol). My using sign language to communicate during tense moments does multiple positive things.  Since I am no longer using my voice, my daughter must turn and look at me, she can’t ignore me as easily.  She has to focus on my hands, so this usually diffuses a tantrum, and even if she is in the middle of a tantrum, she can still be understood through sign.  I know I can never understand what a toddler is trying to say through screams or sobs.

Because I am yelling less, my daughter is yelling less.

I am modeling good behavior on how to properly deal with anger and frustration.  Hopefully she grows up to learn to communicate through feelings and not yell or hit or even worse, bottle them up.  When something upsets her, she now comes up to me and signs “I angry!”  This opens up a dialogue for us that can continue in either english or ASL (which ever she chooses to go with), and we communicate through what her feelings are and why she is feeling them.

Thanks to Sign Language and the Orange Rhino I am learning to become a calmer and quieter mother, and I am seeing a calmer and quieter toddler.

* * * * *

Given our top secret behavior at home, I immediately asked Shannon a few signs to use to complement our family secret codes. I knew my little “spies” would eat ’em up. I must admit – people have suggested to me before to use sign language with my son with a speech delay. I am not sure why I was hesitant about the idea and ignored the suggestion, but I did. I am so glad that NOW I am not ignoring the idea but using it. When my sons scream at me, I respond “quiet” with my hands and not my mouth.

I had been trying for months to not engaged engage in a conversation with them until they have spoken to me in a quiet voice. Before Shannon’s video (which by the way, she made all on her own for us, woot!) I would talk to them and get more and more frustrated telling them to use a nice voice. “Please talk to me nicely.” “#2, I asked you to talk to me nicely.” “#2 use your quiet voice. PLEASE.” Oh, hearing myself repeat myself drove me bonkers. Okay, it still does on some days. But now, now that communicate silently and I don’t hear the broken record, I maintain calm much easier.

It is working beautifully.

Truly.

You learn something new every day, don’t you? And for the record, how cool is “Orange Rhino” in sign language? As Shannon first started to do It, I actually immediately thought of the “Peace” sign. I don’t know why, just did. Coincidence? I think not!

Yelling Less, Loving More is PeaceFULL.

To find Shannon’s original post, go here: http://shootingstarsigners.com/becoming-a-better-mother/

To see another video full of some of my other alternatives, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uS4_A2LEiU0

NEW! Private Orange Rhino Forum for Discussing Yelling

Okay, what am I so excited to share tonight?
Am I pregnant? Nope.
Did I win a million dollars? Nope.

Do I have a new Orange Rhino resource to share with you that meets lots of needs people have shared and that I think has the potential to be outright incredibly awesome? Yes! Yes! Yes!

* * * * *

There was a time when I thought I was the only parent who yelled at her kids.

There was a time when I feared even bringing up the subject with friends for concern of embarrassment and judgment.

There was a time when I felt lost, alone, confused and frustrated at to what to do, at how to change, at who to seek help from.

There was a time when I accepted that I would just be a yeller for life and maybe someday I would change magically.

And then The Orange Rhino Challenge was born.

And I found support, knowledge and new friends and I realized that I could actually change and didn’t have to wait for a magical moment!

In short, I found a really wonderful community, a community that has grown to 27,000+ people all sharing the same desire to learn to yell less and love more. It. Is. Awesome. And powerful. And helpful in ways I never imagined.

And I want to make The Community even more awesome.

Many of you have repeatedly asked about ways to communicate privately. You have shared that you are ready to talk about your desire to stop yelling but that you don’t want your mom or co-workers to know. I get it. I really get it. Admitting that one wants to stop yelling is hard; having other people know is harder.

Many of you have repeatedly asked questions about specific triggers and how I handle them. You have asked about how I told my kids and their responses. You have asked if my spouse is involved. Oh, you have asked many wonderful questions and great dialogue has started, dialogue that is useful for many, many more people out there. Dialogue that I want people to people able to search for and find.

Many of you have shared so bravely that you don’t have accountability partners, that you have no one to support you. Oh support is so important – both by friends and family afar, but also close. I have dreamed of a way to bring local Orange Rhinos together so that you can meet and talk about your challenges. You have also shared bravely that you love the Community but want to connect directly with people with similar dynamics, whether it be having children with SPD, having military spouses, or having teenagers so that you can get specific yelling less advice that hits home for you even more.

And many of you have asked me, why do I keep the blog? Why keep doing this if I have achieved my goal. My answer is twofold: (1) This is a lifestyle change. (2) I want to reach more people. I want people to go to be with less guilt and more love and pride in their hearts from yelling less. I want to help people.

So I have taken all these questions and come up with a really exciting way to meet them. Tonight I introduce:

 “THE ORANGE RHINO CHALLENGE COMMUNITY!”

It can be found at:
www.TheOrangeRhino.com/community

This community is officially a Forum (remember, I am technologically inept. This is my first forum ever but I am really excited about the prospects!)

T.O.R.C.C. is a forum just like many other popular parenting forums out there. You create a name/password, login, and post a question. Other members will answer and you can start a discussion. It works very similar to posting comments on the blogs. The benefits are:

1)    It is private! Only logged-in members can read it!

2)    You can search for questions/threads/topics directly related to your needs!
(Think of it as an online Encyclopedia for yelling at kids trigger management! Bedtime a problem? Search for bedtime discussions. Getting out of the door on time makes you yell? Ask how other Orange Rhinos handle it.)

3)    You can find people in your area to become accountability partners.
(Think of it like a really cool online support group for yelling, one that is non judgmental, informative and fun. Live in Seattle, Washington? Post that and find other Orange Rhinos. You can even message people directly on this site! INITIALLY, there will be only 2 boards/groups. One general and one for the latest 30 Day Challenge Group. Once we get momentum, I will set up regional groups, ie. London, Northwest USA, Texas, Sydney Australia, etc… so people can meet people even more easily!)

4)    It allows me an easier way to interact with you all! I plan on spending one night a week hosting a “Forum Get together” of sorts where I take questions and reply. Benefit? Everyone can see the answers and you can go back and find them easily in the future!

I am really excited about this new place for everyone to connect and support each other. I hope that The Community helps you to find more support, new accountability partners, and people with the same triggers and challenges as you.

QUESTIONS:
1) Is this one big Orange Rhino Community or will there be more specific boards? 
Right now, yes. As mentioned above, there are 2 boards/groups to start: General and 30 Day Challenge. The General one is to get our momentum growing; the 30 Day is for all of those who just finished the 30 Day Challenge. Once we have a pretty good number of questions and members going in the General board, I will add specific boards like: London, Texas USA, Triggers, Military Families, Families of Kids with SPD, etc…. In order to get to that point, we need lots of activity so please, spread the word! Our strength lies in numbers – anyone who posts hopes for an answer and if initially we are all spread out on different boards when we are small, we limit the potential for responses!

2) I would like a specific area board for my already existing group? How can I get this?
Email me at theorangerhinocommunity@gmail.com requesting such a group. When a large number of requests come in, I will look into it!

3) I have general questions about how this works?
Email me at theorangerhinocommunity@gmail.com

So what are you waiting for…go join the conversation now and find even more support to help you on your journey to yell less and love more! When you check it out, make sure to read the code of conduct! I want this community to be awesome, and that means acting awesome :)
www.theorangerhino.com/community 

 

 

 

When Things Don’t Go As Planned

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…

BANG!

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.

I Didn’t Rock Motherhood Today.

This is not the post I intended to write tonight. Nope, not at all.

I thought that I would sit down, surrounded by peace and quiet of four boys sleeping and the lingering smell of the beach woven in my hair and write about one of the many huge insights I had while away on vacation.

But I can’t.

Because as I sit here, surrounded by peace and quiet on the outside, but filled with anything but peace and quiet on the inside, I don’t feel calm enough to write eloquently and insightfully.

Nope, not at all.

I feel anxious. Nope, that isn’t the right word.
I feel frustrated. That is getting closer.
Disappointed.
Guilty. Lots and lots of guilt going on. Did I mention I feel guilty?
Angry.
Confused.
Oh, now we are getting close. Like really close.
You see, today I didn’t rock the motherhood thing. At all. 

Sunglasses and hats like these are meant to be rocked. And are so being rocked by my boys. But what about motherhood? Does it need to be rocked or just worn?

Nope, not at all.

I went to bed last night knowing that the first day post vacation would be brutal. I woke up knowing that that one week of no kids sleeping well would have finally caught up to them and that when combined with daddy going back to work and therapy appointments coming back on the schedule it would make for a very challenging day at the very least. And it day. WHOA DID IT.

There was fighting and yelling and whining and demanding. “I want more TV like on vacation!” “I want ice cream tonight like we did every afternoon at the beach.” “I don’t want to swim in a pool, I want to go to the ocean.” And my favorite line “I don’t want to pick up my toys. I didn’t have to last week.” (Eh hem, because you can’t pick up the beach and it was your only toy!)

But honestly, all the challenging behavior from my boys is not what made the day hard. I knew it would be hard to keep the peace today. I prepared myself mentally for it and so whenever things got bumpy I said to myself, “it’s the first day back from vacation. It is always like this. It will be okay.”

And that worked. That kept me from losing it. It gave me understanding and empathy and patience and therefore the strength to not yell.

But that only worked 5% of the day. The other 95% I found myself cranky at them when they were behaving just fine. I found myself snapping “hurry up” and “clean up” and “please, just eat” for no reason at all except that I was in a foul mood. I found myself using a shorter tone for no reason at all except that I was in a foul mood. I found myself showing less genuine interest than I liked in their enthusiastic stories for no reason at all except that I was…in a foul mood.

And I found myself bothered by their desire to talk to me and play with me for no reason at all…except that again, I was in a foul mood.

I didn’t like the foul mood; it smelled worse than the garbage truck that passed us on our morning walk. This mood of mine was making an already potentially challenging day of yelling less and loving more near impossible. This mood of mine had to go. I needed to find understanding and empathy of and for myself.

So I started doing what I always do when I accept that I am the issue; I go through my own mental checklist of what could be causing the mood:

Do I have PMS? Nope.

Am I tired? Potentially a little bit, but not enough to be a problem.

Do I need to exercise? Nope just went on a two mile walk pushing a double stroller while carrying one boy on my back.

Am I hungry? Potentially a little bit because I am not stuffing my face with ice cream and pizza and beer like vacation, but not enough to be a problem.

Do I need to ???

Am I ???

And here laid the problem today.  I couldn’t figure out WHY I was in such a foul mood. Normally, when I struggle and my mood is getting the best of me and is pushing me to yell unnecessarily, I stop and ask myself WHY? Why the mood? What is going on? I ask and I ask and I ask again until I feel my gut come to an AHA moment; a moment where I can so easily say, yup, that is why.

I couldn’t find that feeling today. Nope, not at all.

All I found were feelings of frustration with myself and disappointment in myself that I was so moody and couldn’t snap out of it.

And all I found were feelings of fear. Fear because I actually did know why the mood was off but I just didn’t want to be honest with myself. Fear because I knew my mood was off for two main reasons beyond my control. Two main reasons that I can’t change.

I let fear win today. Let me tell you, it would have been much easier to just admit to myself that these two things were bothering me so that I could name them, own them, and then create a plan to manage them, much as I did manage my fear about the day being a challenge. You see, I started the day naming the fear (overtired and sad babes will make for a wicked unbearable day), owning it (okay, the day is gonna be tough) and creating a plan to manage it (anytime boys are more challenging than usual, remind yourself it is the 1st day back from vacation.)

Naming a fear is hard but does help me to not yell.

Better yet…naming a TRIGGER is hard but most definitely helps me to not yell. Because once I have named it I can talk to myself clearly and confidently. I can tell myself the truth about what is bothering me. I can clearly and confidently place my anger where it belongs. While I am glad that I didn’t misplace my anger completely upon my boys today; while I am proud that I didn’t let it completely take hold of me, I am not glad that some of my anger slipped out in the form of utter crankiness with my boys.

And I am not glad that in not being honest with myself about my triggers, I misplaced a lot of anger at myself. Yes, I spent a lot of today being angry at myself for my mood and for not “knowing” what was wrong. This of course made me even more frustrated and shorter with my boys. Today might have been one of my worst days of impatience and “screw it I just want to yell for no reason” days since I started my Challenge. Today might have been, no probably was, the top day where my boys thought “ugh, she needs a vacation!”

Again, I didn’t rock motherhood today. And I feel like crap because of it.

But I am going to rock this next sentence: “I forgive myself. I am only human. I will have less than great days and it is okay. I don’t need to rock motherhood everyday or every moment for that matter. Rocking motherhood isn’t what it’s about. It’s about doing motherhood. It’s about showing up and trying and loving as best as I can. Tomorrow is a new day; a new chance. It’s all good. It is all good.”

How Motherhood Drove Me to Meditate

Last Day of Vacation!
If you are new to this blog, welcome! I am on a brief vacation and have collected several guest posts to share while I am taking a break. They are all from different parts of the world. Yes world. People are yelling less and loving more from Montana, United States to Ireland to Mexico to Australia and more. Pretty powerful if you ask me. We are ALL in this together. Have a fantastic week and if you ever feel alone, know that somewhere in the world, literally, there is an Orange Rhino awake working hard too. All my best for a great week…I’ll be back online around July 8th! 

This guest post by Carla of Massachusetts, United States really spoke to me for one reason and one reason alone. It is kind of an embarrassing one but hey, it’s the truth. I can’t take deep breaths. Nope. I have tried and tried. My OB tried to help me through four deliveries when the epidural only worked 50%. My husband tries weekly to help me. I try to help me learn to take deep breaths. It just doesn’t come natural to me. In fact, I hate it when someone tells me to take a deep breath. That said, I read this post and thought “you know what? I REALLY need to try. I really need to try HARDER to take deep breaths because there could be really upside.” Thank you Carla for inspiring me! After I read this I tried taking a deep breath…with my kids doing it with me. It was a great start and calmed me down a bit in the moment.

* * * * *

Several times each week, I sit down on a small maroon cushion in my daughters’ playroom and pay attention to my breathing for about twenty minutes. Every time my mind wanders, I try to come back to my breathing. Yep, I’m meditating.

Let’s be clear. I am not the meditating type. I talk fast and eat fast and few things give me as much of a thrill in life as checking tasks off my to-do list. I can’t be trusted with a TV or a pint of ice cream, and I’m not a fan of drum circles or patchouli.

I didn’t start meditating because I was searching for enlightenment or inner peace; my ambitions were more banal than that. I just wanted to stop yelling at my kids. I was never a yeller before I became a mother, but somehow the combination of fatigue and frustration resulted in me raising my voice far my often that I wanted to.

I felt terrible every time it happened—it’s just not how I wanted to treat my girls (ages 3 & 4.5). I would immediately apologize and we’d have a nice snuggle, but there are only so many times you can say you’re sorry without changing your behavior before your words become meaningless.

That was the last thing I wanted—literally—because if they wouldn’t listen to my words, then I would probably end up yelling even more.

I had to find a way to make a change. I talked to my therapist about it, and she had some great thoughts about why I was yelling (I grew up with two yelling parents, for example). That’s useful to know, but it didn’t actually help me stop. I read all sorts of books and blog posts (including many here on The Orange Rhino!) with really great tips and tricks for how to yell less, but my problem was that by the time I remembered to take a deep breath or count to ten or give myself a time-out in the bathroom, the deed was already done.

What I found, time and again, was that I had plenty of ideas about what I should be doing instead of yelling, but in the heat of moment, I wasn’t doing any of it. Instead I was snapping at my daughters and then feeling horrible about it and then getting annoyed at the girls again because I was in a bad mood. It was a terrible cycle, and I needed to find a way out of it. I needed to find a way to create space—space in my brain, in my frustration, in my response to my daughters when they were making me completely insane even if they were just behaving in ways that are perfectly normal for toddlers and preschoolers.

As I continued reading and researching, it became clear to me that meditation was the answer. This was not the answer I wanted. I wanted some fast and easy trick that I could do and move on. Meditation is like exercise; you have to get your butt off the couch and do it on a regular basis if you want to see the benefits. I definitely didn’t want something else like that on my plate.

The good news is that when I do meditate (and I won’t lie to you – I don’t get to it every day), especially for a few days in a row, I definitely notice the benefits. I’m calmer and more patient with my girls, and significantly less likely to yell. In fact, when I have been meditating, I hardly yell at all.

Every time I sit on my meditation cushion and pay attention to my breathing, I’m learning to tolerate boredom and frustration (and trust me, there are few things as frustrating than sitting still for half an hour at a time when the rest of your family is still snoozing in bed and you’ve got a to-do list a mile long racing through your brain), which means I’m less likely to get frustrated with my daughters once they wake up. I’m learning to pay attention to the little things, which means I’m more likely to notice when my girls are just starting to get hungry or tired so I can take care of things before we end up in a three-way meltdown.

And so, most mornings I get up early, stumble downstairs with sleep in my eyes, and do my best to stay awake so I don’t fall over. I focus on my breathing, and then about 3 seconds later, my mind wanders. I find myself thinking about taking out the garbage or an ex-boyfriend from high school or a blog post I should be writing. I go back to my breathing, and four seconds later I’m wondering if my favorite color is bright blue or turquoise. And then I breathe again. It’s boring, it’s frustrating, and I feel ridiculous sitting there as the cat keeps nudging me to pay attention to her.

In the end, it’s all worth it, though, because I’m yelling less.

If you’d like to learn how to get started with mindfulness meditation, check out this great article on ZenHabits or spend some time on Mindful.org.

* * * * *

Carla Naumburg, PhD, is a mother, writer, and clinical social worker. She writes the Mindful Parenting blog for PsychCentral.com and is a contributing editor at Kveller.com. You can follow her writing on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

Memories of a Mummy

Day 6 of The Orange Rhino’s Vacation…
If you are new to this blog, welcome! I am on a brief vacation and have collected several guest posts to share while I am taking a break. They are all from different parts of the world. Yes world. People are yelling less and loving more from Montana, United States to Ireland to Mexico to Australia and more. Pretty powerful if you ask me. We are ALL in this together. Have a fantastic week and if you ever feel alone, know that somewhere in the world, literally, there is an Orange Rhino awake working hard too. All my best for a great week…I’ll be back online around July 8th

Am I the mom I expected myself to be? Am I the wife I expected myself to be? Am I the friend, the neighbor, the sister, the daughter I expected…expect myself to be? Oh, I can pretty much answer no to all of those questions. Yes, I hold high expectations of myself. Yes, that is most definitely a trigger for my yelling. Yes, I am adjusting my expectations. Yes, it is hard. Yes, I am not alone. K. from Wales, United Kingdom shares her experience about the same topic. She is so brutally honest it is beautiful. Have a read and then let us know, do you relate?

* * * * *

My main trigger has to be the constant adjustment and realisations of not being the mummy I expect myself to be, or the person I was before having children. 

Ultimately it’s the journey of finding my way that underlies my yelling.

I have two amazing girls aged 4 and 6 and love them to pieces. Before children I was an active person cramming as much into life as possible, with travelling, being in the military as a volunteer and also teaching children with Special Needs, with the patience of a Saint. My first pregnancy and birth did not only not go to plan or follow any of the suggested journey’s and outcomes in the books 😉 It turns out my body is not a good pregnant body, and after 2 C-sections and significant wear and tear on my back, I am no longer even half as active as I was. I have high expectations of what a good mum should be, but as I don’t live on the TV, with a huge family support network and children that comply with every demand, that’s been a bit of a wake up call.

I also for some reason seem to have misplaced my patience where my own children are concerned and have become this volatile mass of complexity that is slowly unraveling as I adjust and resolve my life plan step by step.

I have weekly physio on my back which is likely to continue for another year, so cumulatively with everything, I wont be going back to teaching, or the military and my life has had to adjust on a journey I never anticipated.

This process is my top trigger to yelling at my little treasures as I come to terms with finding personal fulfillment in different avenues. To manage, and find a path, I set up my own sewing business on Heritage Crafts. This fits around life as a mummy as going back to my original career is not really and option. But as its not as extreme as travelling in the Borneo jungle, or working in the field of Autism I battle with myself feeling worthy. I then grasp a magical moment with my girls, when they say they love me, or when I cuddle and slightly lift (don’t tell my physio) my youngest and she automatically rubs my back, or seeing them set up a teddy bears picnic in the garden and singing in Welsh. I am doing a good job, they are happy, they are singing and despite the constant battle I have not to yell at them because I am finding things a challenge, they make me worthy.

I know its me that needs to give me a break, and Operation Orange Rhino has been a life line. I think I’m only about 4 days in as I’ve had to re start so many times but I’m getting better and my girls are worth every second.

~ K. from Wales, United Kingdom

Grrrr! What is not to love?! Photo by K. of Wales, U.K.

“I know its me that needs to give me a break.” Um, I could have written that line myself. And I also could have written the line “finding fulfillment in different venues.” K has touched upon many thoughts I have dared not write about. Thank you K for sharing and giving me the nudge to address these thoughts more! And good luck to you!