135 days without yelling, 230 days of loving more to go!
Dear Captain Obvious,
Where the hell have you been? I have only been a parent for 5 and ¾ years (not ½ as I am often reminded!) If you had just shown up in my life a few years ago I could have avoided a lot of unnecessary yelling. Like, a lot of it. Anywho, I am grateful you at least showed up recently and pointed out the error of my ways to me. Pretty sure my kiddos are grateful too – your lessons have kept me from screaming.
The Orange Rhino
I have learned a lot over these last 130+ days of not yelling. And it has understandably taken a lot of hard work: a lot of soul searching for why I really yell and then a lot of patience, energy, self control and creative problem solving to keep me from yelling. So it is kind of funny to me that in all of this hard work that I have been doing that I completely MISSED some OBVIOUS answers to certain situations that daily drove me to want to scream.
I mean really.
These answers were so obvious that I am almost embarrassed to share them.
SCENARIO 1: The Pillow Fight
My boys like to take the pillows off the couches in the family room and make forts, swimming pools, spaceships, etc…. For a while, I was okay with this. Lots of benefits: creative play, quiet time for me, brotherly time for them, problem solving skills development when fort crashed, role playing (life guard, swimmer) the list goes on and on. And then one day I tripped on a pillow and went flying across the room ever so NOT gracefully and so now, I am not okay with the pillow situation. The pillows (or the kids?) daily seem to piss me off.
Inevitably the pillows end up on the floor at the precise moment that I need to walk across the room to get to the couch to feed the baby. And I can’t get to said couch, the couch which has no cushions on it to allow me to sit comfortably, because of the pillow obstacle course. If I am not the one tripping on the pillows then someone else does and usually goes into the corner of the coffee table because anyplace else would make my life too easy. And if my darling boys aren’t tripping on the pillows then they are fighting over them – fighting about who is going to pick up the heavy one and put it away, fighting over who ruined the fort in the first place, fighting over who started with the most pillows.
In short, these pillows became the vain of my existence. So we created a new family rule: the big pillows stay on couch, the little ones can come off. Yet every day, at least twice, I still have to remind the boys to put the big pillows back and when I did, it took all the energy in the world to remind them nicely of the rule, of the compromise, instead of yelling. It took all the energy, and I mean all the energy, in the world to not scream. Why these pillows drive me nuts I don’t know. I mean really, pillows people, I am talking about pillows!!!
But they do. They make me want to scream. And oh have they made me want to scream in the past too, this isn’t just a new thing. I think one point I *might have* picked one up and thrown it across the room while saying something along the lines of “get these friggin’ pillows off the floor now before I trip again!” (Shhh…please don’t tell anyone I threw something!)
So one day two weeks ago a light bulb went off.
All this not yelling has taught me to find the real source of the problem, to find the trigger that makes me want to yell. Well in this situation it was pretty bloomin’ clear. It wasn’t some deep, insightful, answer. The problem was the blooming pillows! The answer to not yelling over the pillows? REMOVE THE PILLOWS from the couch you dumb as*!
So I did (well, at least the big ones, they were the biggest pain in the a*s) for an entire week. See?
Oh the kids b*tched and moaned (along with my husband who was greatly inconvenienced as lots of big sporting games were on TV, sorry babe) but it was worth it.
The pillows returned and not once have we had a discussion about it. Not once.
It only took me how many years to figure this novel idea out?
And how about this scenario: The Shoe Fight.
#3 and I were late to speech therapy one day last week. I stood still, impatiently tapping my foot and asking him to hurry up as he struggled to put his shoes on. My impatience grew and grew and I could feel the yell rapidly approaching my mouth.
Then the light bulb went off again.
HELP him put his shoes on. Don’t just sit back and be annoyed and be late! Help him!
I mean really, I couldn’t figure that one out? How many times have we been lately because I watched my kids struggle to get ready and didn’t help them? Yes they need to learn to do their shoes, to put on jackets, to buckle up but STILL there is always room to help and to guide.
Sometimes the solution to not yelling is all about me and my “deep, intangible” triggers. It is about my personal issues and struggles and moodiness and it requires my finding the self control to remind myself that I am not mad at the kids, that I am just pre-occupied.
Sometimes the solution to not yelling is all about empathy and understanding why my kids are acting the way they are, why they are struggling, and LOVING THEM anyways and HELPING them instead of yelling at them.
And sometimes, well sometimes, the solution to not yelling is fortunately as simple as can be. It’s about removing the TANGIBLE TRIGGER, it’s about removing the damn pillows (or tossing the sippy cup that always spills, or donating the shoes that are too hard to Velcro).
Sometimes the solution to not yelling is SO OBVIOUS that it is SCREAMING at me.
What is the one Tangible Trigger in your life that you could remove today and immediately eliminate one typical-yelling situation?