How to Yell Less This Holiday Season


(c) The Orange Rhino

At 12:30 today, my 12-day Christmas vacation with my entire family begins. I must admit, I am equal parts excited and equal parts nervous. Oh how excited I am to see my kids smile on Christmas morning, to hear them squeal with joy when they see what Santa left, to feel them all snuggled up next to me as we watch movies together and just lounge around without a care in the world. And oh how excited I am to have my husband around as a second hand to help out, to not have to drive to appointment after appointment, to not have to jump out of bed for fearing of running late. Yes, there is much to look forward and I can feel the excitement growing in my belly.

But of course I can also feel the nerves, the nerves that know that Christmas break is a hard time for me to “Yell Less and Love More.” There are just too many personal triggers that get all fired up!

Like being around too many people without any alone time.
Like eating too many sweets and junk food and eh hem, drinking too much wine.
Like seeing too many things that need to be cleaned up and organized.
Like hearing endless tantrums because my kiddos are overtired and overstimulated.
Like feeling disappointed that Christmas, the most magical day of the year came and went so quickly. Too quickly.

Ugh, and these are just the holiday triggers! Shoot, these are just some of my holiday triggers! Oh how I am nervous that I will not enjoy my holiday vacation as much as I hope because I will be so busy fighting off these “seasonal” triggers on top of all my other normal ones! Ha! It’s a good thing that a super simple, super inspiring, super helpful acronym about Yelling Less came to me as I flew back from Los Angeles a few weeks ago. Ya ready?

I plan to “Yell Less and Love More” this holiday vacation, to embrace all the joy of the season, all the joy that my children bring me, all the joy I feel from being with my family, by simply finding J.O.Y! Yep, it is as simple as that! I am going to,

J. Jot down all my known triggers that appeared during past holidays.
O. Observe my notes to find both trends and which triggers are the most “popular.”
Y. Yell Less by creating a plan to manage said popular triggers when they arise.

J.O.Y.Simple, inspiring and helpful, right?! I know, simple is a bit of an understatement. Taking the time to write down triggers (when and why I yell) and observing notes isn’t necessarily a simple task; it actually can take a lot of focus, thought and time. That said it is a straightforward task that leads to straightforward and useful answers. Once I know my triggers, I can create a plan to manage them. And once I have a plan to manage them, I can act on said plan. And once I act on said plan, I can start to change, I can start to Yell Less and Love More; I can start to find more JOY-full moments in the day and enJOY said moments more! And when you give a dog a donut…. Oh wait, wrong example.

But speaking of donuts, this is how I am currently embracing J.O.Y. so that when 12:31 hits later today, I am less nervous and more excited! Here are my

Top 5 Holiday Triggers and Solutions
Too many people and not enough alone time
Action: Create a secret signal with my husband that means “I need a quiet breather now or else I will explode.” Encourage him to do the same. Go to the “bathroom” as soon as everyone sits down to a meal. Kidding. Kind of?!

Trigger: Eating crappy food (eh hem, Chex Mix for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!)
Action: Prioritize exercise; do not skip just because it is vacation! Explain to husband and family that the best gift for me is time to exercise, that it makes me a more pleasant and present person to be around! And try to drink as much water and as little wine as possible. Ha!

Trigger: Being overwhelmed by new gifts and the immense need to organize
Action: Give one laundry basket to each person to collect gifts; have each person bring basket up to room at the end of the day. Tell myself over and over and over again that, “It will all get cleaned up. Focus on the joy that grew as the mess grew.”

Trigger: Endless tantrums
Action: Find empathy. This is easy. I remember crying as a kid because my brother got better toys. I remember falling into heaps of tears at bedtime because the day was over. I remember stuffing my face with candy while decorating the gingerbread house. I remember sneaking downstairs after bedtime on Christmas Eve to catch Santa. I remember all of this leading to lots and lots of lots of meltdowns. I plan to manage this trigger by remembering that my kids are doing just what I did and that this week isn’t just hard for me, but for them too!

Trigger: Feeling disappointed that a great day is over (and that maybe I missed out?)
Action: Look at pictures from the day and share fun memories from the day out loud! When I relive a moment that was wonderful, the disappointment fades as the realization that it was great and that I really was present grows.

And when all else fails, I will just ask for a hug from my kiddos or just give them one as hugs from my kiddos have the most magical way of bringing me immense joy. Are you ready to Yell Less and Love More this holiday? Here are two free downloads to help you get started! Click on the image for the trigger tracking sheet and trigger action plan!

Orange Rhino Trigger Tracking Sheet jpgOrange Rhino Trigger Action Plan jpg

Happy tracking and enJOY having more JOYfull days with your family as you wrap up 2014! And no joyfull is not a typo, totally intended as yelling less has made my days much more full of joy!


YLLM1Learn more about tracking triggers and creating a plan for all different types of triggers in my new book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too!” It’s a 30-day guide complete with 100 alternatives to yelling, simple steps to follow and honest stories to inspire you on your own journey to yell less. Prepare yourself: it isn’t just a parenting guide, it is also a parenting memoir with stories that you will probably relate to and will most definitely make you both laugh and cry! 


Yell Less by Saying “No” More

I wrote this article for Empowering Parents earlier this fall when I felt a huge desire to say “yes” to every volunteer opportunity that came my way. I have learned from my journey to Yell Less and Love More though that saying “no” really is okay and a great way to say “yes” to a more calm me and household! I share this today because the idea totally applies to the Holiday Season and the inevitable pull to do perhaps more than one needs to or should! Enjoy…

10703595_10152767635452177_5860047255170585397_n-2 Read here: Yell Less by Saying No More  


The Thanksgiving I Yelled at my Kids.

Unfortunately, before I started my Orange Rhino Challenge to go 365 days straight without yelling at my four boys, then ages five and under, the “Not-so-Great” Thanksgiving of 2010 happened. Oh how I wish that I decided to teach myself to “Yell Less, Love More” before that turkey day for then this story wouldn’t still be stuck in my memory because it wouldn’t have happened in the first place! Nope, all the lessons I learned on my 520 days straight of not yelling would have come in to place and prevented me from ruining that Thanksgiving with my relentless yelling. Sigh. Oh well. Here’s how it went down, literally.

* * * * *

I don’t like turkey.
Or cranberry sauce.
Or any of the foods that one typically serves on Thanksgiving for that matter.

Except well, for the white stuff: bread, butter, mashed potatoes, and more butter! But I love Thanksgiving Day. I love making a big, roaring fire and then cuddling up with my boys to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I love “oohing and ahhing” over all the floats together and sharing stories with my boys about when I was a kid and couldn’t wait to watch the Parade. I love sitting down to eat and first having cranberry juice with rainbow sherbet and telling my boys that this is a tradition passed down from my great-grandmother.

Oh, there is just so much to love on Thanksgiving Day.
And yet, I hated Thanksgiving 2010 because I ruined it.

I ruined it by yelling, big-time. Over a picture. A freakin’ picture. Seriously?! Yes, seriously. As soon as the parade wrapped up, I deemed that it was therefore the perfect time for the annual “Let’s watch Mom jump up and down and act like a clown to make us smile” holiday card photo shoot. Yes, of course, trying to get James, Edward, and Andrew, then ages, four, three, and one, to sit still and cooperate—after they had just been sitting peacefully and quietly for an hour and just wanted to run outside and play—was the perfect time to ask them to sit still, again. And smile. And keep their hands to themselves. And try to be patient with my constant requests for, “Just one more picture, please?” I knew at the time that I was pushing my luck, given the circumstances and their ages, but yet I still pushed.

As expected, given my picture-taking history, my boys whined when I told them it was picture time. As I geared up to corral them into the living room (and to start offering bribes galore), Andrew took off as usual and ran into—of all rooms—the living room. He jumped onto the couch, laughing hysterically as he crashed into the pillows. James and Edward of course followed suit and all three boys started laughing and tickling each other and having a grand old time. So much so that, when I shouted, “Hey, look at me!” they didn’t realize I had just taken a picture. It was, and still is, one of my favorite pictures in the entire world. The happiness. The love. The joy. The smiles. It melted my heart.

So you think I would have stopped right then, right?
No more pictures needed, right?!

Who needs the "perfect" picture when priceless pictures like this exist?!

Who needs the “perfect” picture when priceless pictures like this exist?!

I wanted to make sure that I had the best picture. The perfect picture. I wanted to see if I could do better, even though I felt I had just been delivered a miracle. I got greedy, really, really greedy, and I asked, “One more picture, please?” They acquiesced for a few minutes, but understandably soon grew tired of my never-ending demands to sit still and smile. They had behaved wonderfully and cooperatively for so long; now they were done. They had reached their limit and started squirming, whining, pinching each other, and refusing to cooperate. So I started yelling. And I didn’t stop. I didn’t stop because I so badly wanted the perfect picture and I thought that yelling would force them to behave.

“Sit still!” I barked.
“Just one more! Be good!” I whined.
And my famous, or rather infamous, Thanksgiving 2010 line:

“It’s Thanksgiving, for cripe’s sake! I would be so grateful for just one good picture. PLEASE! Just smile!” I screamed.

The more I yelled, the more they cried. The more they cried, the worse the pictures were, so the more I yelled. Finally, I gave up and said ever so shamefully and nastily, “That’s it! I have had it. All I wanted was a picture. Thanks for nothing.”

James, Edward, and Andrew then promptly ran out of the room, crying to Daddy and the grandmas. James screamed, “Mommy’s a meany.” Edward sobbed, “I don’t like her.” Andrew just cried and cried, clearly scared by how loud and nasty my voice had gotten. And I went to the bathroom and also cried and cried, feeling all the same thoughts as my kids. I pouted the rest of the day as I felt so mortified and ashamed that I had screamed at my young children for behaving well; ashamed that I had unnecessarily taken my own problem with perfection out on them.

I couldn’t look any of the other adults in the eye for the rest of the day. I felt so sad that my need for the perfect picture pushed me to lose it so horrifically. My guilt and shame then kept me from enjoying the holiday. Thanksgiving is one of the days where I often feel nothing but love, and yet, that year, that year I couldn’t feel it because I had yelled to the point where all I felt was hatred for myself.

The sad thing is, that Thanksgiving wasn’t the only time I felt such anger at myself for yelling at my kids over trying to get a picture. Nope, it had happened many times before. And while I sit here wanting to write that it’s all just because I am a perfectionist and seek perfection in everything I do, that’s a partial cop-out. It goes deeper than that.

Yes, yes, I seek the perfect picture of all my boys looking at the camera, smiling flawlessly and not picking their noses. But it’s not just because I am a perfectionist; it’s also because I am insecure. Oftentimes in life, I seek comfort, confidence, and reassurance that I am living a happy, good life, that I am doing good at this parenting thing, that I have happy children. And well, whenever I feel that way, I find that looking at pictures soothes my insecurities and proves to me that I am doing okay.

If I feel frustrated and down and overwhelmed by the challenges of parenting, I can look at that “perfect” picture and look straight into those gorgeous twinkling eyes and remember that it is all worth it, that my kids are happy and it’s worth the work. If I find myself feeling sad that life is passing by too fast, my kids are growing up too fast, and I feel I have missed out, I can look at that “perfect” picture and remember: no, I didn’t miss it, I was right there and it was wonderful. And if I feel stressed about life in general, then looking at pictures of my family having fun, enjoying a special vacation, enjoying a special holiday, enjoying each other helps soothe my negative mood and move me to a more positive, grateful, happy, and definitely less stressed place.

Pictures bring me comfort by helping me feel secure in this world, and rightfully or wrongfully, I rely on them for this. That is the real reason I push for perfect pictures. I don’t refrain from yelling at my kids during picture time because I want the most beautiful picture ever; it’s because I am afraid that if I don’t get that picture, then I won’t have something to look at when I need it most. I yell at them because of me, because of my insecurities, not because of them and their inability to sit still longer than children their age should.

The Orange Rhino Challenge and all the trigger digging I did helped me to see the real reason I yelled. And by default, it helped me let go and chill out during picture time. Now when I find myself struggling to not yell at my kids when I desperately want a picture, I say to myself,

Thanksgiving Quote“Hey, just relax. You’ll get what you get. Don’t push it or you won’t get a thing expect crying kids, an upset you, and therefore a bad picture and a more upset you. It’s not worth it! (Yelling doesn’t work, it just makes things worse!) Remember, it’s not them you are frustrated with; it’s you. They are doing fine, you are causing the stress. Chill out. Just chill out. Remember, the goal isn’t the perfect picture. It’s enjoying the moment. Don’t ruin it by yelling.”

I can happily say that I now enjoy those special moments in my life even more than before because my plight for perfection and my instinct to yell aren’t dampening them. Do I still struggle and have to push myself to let go of perfection at times? Yes. Do I still struggle and have to push myself to “Yell Less, Love More” during trying times? Yes. I am the Orange Rhino, but I am not perfect! But I struggle a lot less and for that I will jump up and down, act like a clown, and do all sorts of crazy things to make me smile and feel good about my progress. Because of all the things I have learned on my Orange Rhino Challenge to Yell Less + L.O.V.E. More, one most definitely is this: the goal is not about perfection; it’s about progress.

And I am making progress, I am yelling less and loving more, and that is what matters to me more than perfection.

YLLMcrop2This story is from my newly released book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids­–and How You Can Too!” Part parenting guide, part memoir, part journal, her book takes you on a 30-day journey full of honest stories, alternatives to yelling and steps to follow so that you too can Yell Less. Find more about my book here: and join The Orange Rhino Revolution at