Anger Happens…Yells Happen.

I can count on one hand the number of major, blow out, yelling fights my husband and I have had in our entire twelve-year relationship. That number? Two.

Our first fight was about six months in when he told me he didn’t want to go out that night but ended up going out in New York City with our friends, while I was stranded in New Jersey with no friends. That fight became even more awesome when I threw the cell phone into the empty car seat next to me and forgot to press, “end.” He heard every single nasty word that I yelled at him.  Obviously that inspired him to come hang out with me immediately and not stay out later…not!

Our second blow out fight was on the three-hour drive to my hometown to meet the Minister for our wedding. I felt like I was doing all the work for the wedding and that he just didn’t care. The discussion became quite heated and I threatened to take my ring off and throw it out the window and into the woods. He encouraged me and actually opened the window. This story makes us both laugh now, but then, not so much!

Why so few blow up fights you ask?  Well, my husband and I talk “so much” when something bothers us and we communicate our feelings “so well” when we were unhappy that we don’t need to fight because we always work on things before they got out of control. Yes, yes that is most certainly we don’t fight – we are such great communicators! Right. As if! Oh how I wish this was the truth; but it is not.

Do the dishes

Thanks for doing the dishes babe. I totally appreciate it but see that machine right next to your foot? That’s a dishwasher. Can you put the dishes in there too? Will only take a second and will make me super happy!

Sure we talk “so much” and “so well” about small things bothering us like dirty bowls in the sink (really, sweet husband, the dishwasher is right there) and socks and shoes left out (really, dear wife, the closet is a few steps away.) But the big stuff? The big stuff like “Dear husband, I wish you would acknowledge how hard I work to raise the kids because I feel unappreciated” and “Dear wife, I wish you didn’t put all your energy into the kids because I wish you would put more energy into us.” Yeah that stuff – that really hard stuff to admit and talk about because it has the high potential to hurt feelings and lead to a fight? Well, we don’t talk about these tough feelings “so much” or “so well.” In fact, we both actively avoid communicating them as much as possible because neither one of us wants to engage in a massive, uncomfortable yelling battle.

While it is “great” that we don’t fight and have only really yelled at each other twice, the fact that we don’t talk about the uncomfortable stuff and avoid it is not so great. In fact, it really is a disservice to our marriage and our family. We know this – we know that not talking about the hard stuff makes us both grow resentment and unhappiness. We know that not talking about the hard stuff makes us nastier to each other and shorter with the kids. And we know that we don’t want this dynamic any more so we have been actively trying to change it. And I think, fingers crossed, that Sunday night we might have had a breakthrough!

This what went down.

I shared something that really bothered me.
He replied in a way that he felt was really awesome.
I replied using my louder tone of voice that it was less than awesome and that it in fact really angered me.
He replied using his louder tone of voice,

“See, there you go. You get angry and change your tone anytime we talk about hard stuff which is why I don’t want to talk about these things with you.”

My response (after taking a HUGE deep breath thanks to my Orange Rhino training):
“Anger happens.”

I continued on with a more calm tone,

 “Babe, I will get angry at you. You will say things that hurt me. You will say things that anger me. And I will do the same right back at you. I might even yell. But not talking because we are afraid of anger and yelling at each other isn’t working. We can try our hardest to say things in the right way to avoid a huge, angry fight but we won’t always succeed. So yeah, anger will happen. Yells will happen. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is what we do after. What matters is that we apologize if we hurt each other’s feelings. What matters is that we don’t walk away but try to understand what ticked the other person off so much so we can try to work on it. What matters is that we forgive and move forward so that we can keep having the conversation and learn from it so that we do better next time.”

The craziest thing happened next; his anger subsided, my anger subsided and we talked “so much” and “so well” about the tough stuff. It felt fantastic and productive! It really is amazing what you can accomplish when you have a calm and civil conversation and keep anger and yelling out of it!

And it really is amazing that it took me this long to say this speech in this situation because I have been telling myself it in regards to The Orange Rhino Challenge for two years! The whole “apologize, forgive, learn about the anger to do better” is EXACTLY the lesson I learned within my first few weeks of The Orange Rhino Challenge.

Right out of the gate, I went 8ish days not yelling.
Then I yelled.
Then I apologized and accepted an apology.
Then I stopped and tried to figure out why I yelled in the first place, what drove me to get so angry so quickly, how did I keep anger at bay in the first eight days?

Luckily for me, I yelled every day for the next few days so I gathered lots of answers as to why I yelled (my hunger, my p.m.s, my lack of sleep, kids lack of listening, kids level of noise, kids lack of sleep and so on and on and on!) and how I didn’t yell. And luckily for my boys, this also meant that I figured out how to move forward more calmly and without yelling for 520 days.

Yes, I went 520 days without yelling.
And then I yelled because I was…get this…angry at my husband!
Again, anger happens. Yells happen.
But it is what happens after that matters more.

Look, even though I am The Orange Rhino, I am still human! And so is my husband for that matter! We will both have good days that make it easy to keep our anger and “yells” in check; we will both have bad days that make it near impossible to keep our anger and “yells” in check and one or the other will inevitably slip out. And when those bad days happen between us, we have to do what we did Sunday night: apologize, forgive, and learn about what drove the anger and yelling so we can move forward and continue to keep anger and yelling out of it and to well, let more love in.

And when the bad day is all on me and I slip up and let a yell out at my boys (it will happen; it has happened!) I will also do the same. I will apologize, push myself to figure out what pushed me to yell and then take that new knowledge to keep progressing forward while leaving anger behind more often and letting love in much more often.

Logo with R copy



Curious to learn more about how I discovered what pushed me to yell and how I taught myself to calm down and go from wanting to scream to talking calmly? Check out my book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too!” due out this September. You can pre-order it here. 


What we SHOULD SAY to All Moms

By now I am guessing that you have seen the article on Huffington Post about what not to say to stay-at-home moms and the inspired equivalent piece, what not to say to working moms. You have also probably seen the “What Not to Say to Formula Feeding Moms” post…and the “What Not to Say to Moms of Special Needs Children” post…and the “What Not to Say to Single Moms” post. The list of these types of posts seems to go on and on; it is almost as if there is one for every type of mom out there! I know this only because my Facebook feed is often filled with mom friends sharing whichever post they most identify with and passionately support.

And as I pondered writing my own “what not to say” post, I couldn’t help but to think: why are these posts so popular and why do they garner such passionate responses like “amen,” “yes!” and “finally?” At first blush, I would say the obvious: that we have all been on the receiving end of less than appreciative statements and want to make sure that those statements are never, ever said again. While I totally believe this reason to be true (eh hem, did I mention I don’t have one, but numerous “what not to say” posts that I want to write?), I also think that there is another underlying reason.

think we all rally around these types of posts because what we really want is to be supported, encouraged and understood more often. I know that for me, I get all riled up and rearing to go not only because of what negative sentiment has been said, but also because of what positive sentiment is not being said (at least, not being said enough.)

Okay, so maybe not every mom feels this way, but I know I do. On the days when I am most passionate about what not to say to me it is because I am putting every ounce of energy and every bit of my heart and soul into being the best mom that I can be and all I really want and need to hear is, “You are doing a good job!” or “You made the right decision.” I just want a little positive reassurance; the last thing I want to hear or read is any form of negative commentary, whether it is direct or indirect.

I might be alone in this desire to hear more positive and supportive statements, but I have a strong hunch I am not. So perhaps instead of focusing on what not to say to moms, we could focus on what to say to moms? Lets start supporting each other more by saying at least some of the following things to all moms.

1. You are doing a great job. I don’t know one mom that wouldn’t LOVE to hear this. Because lets face it, who hasn’t ever felt like they were doing a crappy job? Or that they were totally failing at this thing called motherhood? Who hasn’t felt that their mommy friends were better moms? I am pretty sure we have all been there and in those moments, especially those moments, we need to be told we are doing a great job. Even when we are struggling, we are showing up and doing our best and that deserves credit.

Terrific Two2. I admire you. I know I admire every mother I know – each for different reasons. I learn so much from all the moms around me; especially those that have different strengths and perspectives than me. Sure I am a little jealous too at times, but in those moments I tell the mom how much I admire her. Again, who doesn’t need or want to hear that? You never know how much a compliment might help another person get through a tough moment, a tough day, or a really tough patch of parenting.

3. It’s hard, isn’t it? Don’t you just want to run and hide some days? I know I have but I have been afraid to admit it. Motherhood can feel so lonely at times. When someone said this simple phrase to me, I finally breathed and felt understood and not alone. And when someone said this to me in line as we waited for coffee and I balanced two kids on my hips and felt two tugging loudly on my legs, I felt supported and not judged. It was a beautiful thing and kept me sane enough to not yell at my kids to “get off of me!”

4. Here, let me help you. Yes, I confess I am not good at taking help but whenever someone offers to hold the door as I push a double stroller through with one more kid on my back and one holding my hand, I’m grateful. I often am too proud (foolish?) to ask for help, even when I need it, so when someone blatantly helps, it’s wonderful.

5. Do you need a friend, someone to listen, or perhaps a tissue? I clearly remember when I walked into a store frazzled beyond frazzled with tears in my eyes. I had fought with my husband and was trying to still keep calm with the kids. As I wiped a tear from my eye as I tried to nicely answer every, single, one of my son’s questions, someone gently tapped me on the shoulder and offered me a tissue. Did I want to tell this stranger how awful my morning had been, how hard everything felt sometimes? No. But it was so nice to know that someone cared.

6. We are all in this together. We have all had good days, bad days, totally terrific days and beyond horrific days. But that’s the point. We ALL have had those days, no matter what kind of mom we classify ourselves to be.

At the end of the day, ALL moms are working hard regardless if they are a stay at home mom, working mom, single mom, mom of boys, mom of girls, mom of quadruplets, or mom of a special needs child. Parenting is hard. Period. It is hard for all of us. We all need and deserve support and positive reinforcement. We all need and deserve to hear the above statements. And if we all start saying the right stuff to each other, those bad days that we all experience won’t feel so awful. And who wouldn’t love that? I know I would.

Not Seizing Opportunities to Cease Yelling

I am sure you have all read at least one, if not more, articles based on the recent study about the negative impacts yelling has on children. I know I have! Understandably, everyone I know who knows about my blog has sent them to me!

I am always grateful at first to be sent these articles. I like knowing what is being said about a subject so near and dear to my heart and I love knowing that people in big places like The Wall Street Journal are talking about such a taboo subject making it a more popular topic at playgroups, adult get-togethers, and water cooler chats. In my eyes, the more people that talk about yelling and the study, the increased chances that people will (a) feel comfortable sharing their desire to yell less, (b) find out that they are not alone (the most horrific feeling), and (c) finally get the support they have craved to make a change. Sure these chats might reveal that there are some naysayers out there who think the study is bogus or don’t care about yelling but my gut tells me that they are the minority. So yeah, I am grateful to writers who published these articles and started some necessary conversations about yelling.

Eventually though, my gratitude and idealism about the power of these articles takes a back seat and I feel frustration. In my opinion, while the tone and content of these articles is well intended as sharing useful information, they often create shame and guilt for the reader instead of compassion, understanding and necessary guidance and support to change. My frustration quickly settles though as my brain gets all excited and hopeful that I could share my experience and let people know that they are human, that yelling happens but that if they want to change, not only is it possible, but there is a community ready and waiting to support them. With every yelling article that is sent to me lately, my mind kicks into “seize the opportunity to spread hope and support while the subject is hot” mode.

And then, the excitement stops.
The feelings of gratitude turned frustrated turned inspired turn disappointed.
Yes, disappointed.

Lately it seems that every time I read one of these recent articles about yelling, I always end up feeling disappointed because while my heart would love nothing more than to seize the opportunity to write something in response to all these articles, my mind knows that right now I just have to say, “not now.” I know – I could write the response now instead of this post, but for me to write the article to my liking, I need more time and energy than I have right now. And so, much to my disappointment, I haven’t written a response.

I, Sheila McCraith, haven’t seized the opportunity. Let me tell you, this has been incredibly hard for me, like wicked, incredibly hard because saying no to an opportunity is just not in my DNA.

Seizing opportunities, however, well that is in my DNA. It is just what I do; it’s who I am and always have been. I kid you not; I have been an “over-seizer” since Elementary School! I love to tell (sell?) myself that, “Oh this opportunity will never come again” and “Oh the timing isn’t right but you just have to say yes,” and “Why would you pass this up?” I love to push myself to the limit, to see just how much I can do, how much I can pack into a day. I love to find five hundred and one reasons why I should seize the opportunity even though I know deep down inside that really, I should pass. And to be totally honest, I love to over-seize not only because it lets me do more of what I love but also because I feel good about myself from doing so much.

Yes, I love to over-seize.
But, I do not love to over-yell.
And apparently for me, over-seizing leads to over-yelling.

You see, when I became an Orange Rhino and promised my boys that I wouldn’t yell for a year, I forced myself to find out what triggered me to yell. How else can you solve a problem if you don’t know what is really causing it, right?! Well, wouldn’t you know, over-seizing was at the top of my list!

Over-seizing pulled my mind and body in a thousand different places at once leaving me stressed and unable to be in the one place I need to be to not yell – the calm place.


Coffee, anyone?! I am tired from over-seizing! I need to believe in myself that I can seize less!

Over-seizing physically tired me out by keeping me up into the late hours of the night trying to get it all done and then getting me up in the wee hours of the morning to finish what I didn’t get done.

Over-seizing mentally tired me out because I constantly thought, “Ugh, I am doing too much and yet do nothing as well as I would hope,” and constantly feeling, “I am just not a good mother…wife…friend.”

Over-seizing put me in such a tense and tired state that yelling simply became a natural go-to. I always knew that my tendency to over-seize would catch up to me one day and that I would need to manage the tendency better. And I always assumed that it would catch up to me just by physically wearing me out; one can only run on overdrive for so long! But I never, ever, expected that my tendency to over-seize would catch up to me and totally bite me in the ass not from exhaustion, but from the harsh realization that over-seizing was negatively impacting my relationship with my kiddos. And that is exactly what it was doing.

Since becoming aware two years ago that over-seizing led to over-yelling, I have actively tried to not over-seize opportunities, writing a response to the yelling study included. It is hard, so hard for me to go against a habit that I have cultivated for years and love to indulge. And yes, sometimes saying “no” leaves me feeling disappointed. But, but, I know that I must continue to actively work hard to say “no” more often and let more opportunities pass me by so that I can keep from yelling unnecessarily

But wait.  Wait.
Am I really letting opportunities pass me by?
Am I really not seizing opportunities in order to cease the yelling?
Yes and no.
Well shit, I think I have just had a thought that will negate this entire post, especially the title.

That thought? I am still seizing opportunities – the right ones, the ones that mean the most to me. I am seizing the opportunity to live a healthier life – both physically and emotionally. I am seizing the opportunity to enjoy more calm time with my kids. I am seizing the opportunity to laugh more with my family because I am more present, more relaxed. I am seizing moments filled with more love and less yelling.

So, I guess a more appropriate title for the post should be: Seizing the Right Opportunities to Cease the Yelling.

Yes, yes that is definitely more appropriate.

* * * * *

“Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too” will be released September 2014 but is now available for pre-order here.