About The Orange Rhino

"Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can Too!" is available now! Part parenting book, part parenting memoir, my book shares a 30-day guide to Yell Less, complete with 100 alternatives to yelling, simple, daily steps to follow, honest stories to inspire and real, hands on tools to use. You will laugh and cry, but most of all feel understood, less alone, and hopeful that you too can change! Find all locations "Yell Less, Love More" is sold here: www.TheOrangeRhino.com/the-book/

Why The Orange Rhino Has Been Silent

Dear All,

I have received so many wonderful emails wondering if all is all right as I have been ridiculously silent both on Facebook and on my Blog. Some of you have asked if I am pregnant. Nope, I am not! Some of you have asked if I am busy writing another book. Nope, I am not (but if I were…do tell what you would want it to be about!) And some of you have asked if I am simply done with being The Orange Rhino. Nope, I am not.

What I am doing, however, is surviving, just getting through each day.

The last five, well seven really, months have been an incredible emotional roller coaster ride for me – all leading up to today. If you recall, my baby, Mac (who is actually a big kid as he tells me and not a baby, but whatever, he is my baby in my mind!) had an absolutely horrific seizure in September. This wasn’t his first, but it was his first in one and a half years (we thought they were gone), and it was his first where he didn’t talk for two hours after (I truly thought I had lost him) and it was his first that impacted him longer than the seizure period (he started stuttering two weeks after and hasn’t really stopped, although speech therapy is helping.)

Little did I know that that seizure would mark the beginning of a long period of mommy feeling worried, sad, scared, and out right exhausted. You see, once that seizure ended, Mac had high fevers every two to three weeks and since high fevers seemed to be the cause of his seizures, every two to three weeks I was on high, high alert praying that he didn’t have another seizure, praying that he didn’t temporarily stop speaking again; praying that he speech wouldn’t worsen even more; praying that we wouldn’t be taking another ride in the ambulance to the Emergency Room. Luckily, he didn’t have another seizure…until November 6th.

But two days before that seizure, I was given yet another reason to worry.

My mommy gut said, “Enough is enough with these very frequent high fevers. Mac just can’t seem to get better and that isn’t right.” My doctor agreed and we did blood work. I have not once received a call from a doctor post blood work – until that day. I knew when my doctor called I needed to be concerned, and I was right. She walked me through the few items that concerned her and then taking my limited knowledge of the medical world I said,

“Do we need to be worried about Cancer?”

She replied, “Well, yes, it is on my mind. But it is the third item on my mind. The first is an autoimmune disease, the second is just bad luck, and then comes Cancer. But I really think it is an autoimmune disease.”

Needless to say, that didn’t comfort my husband or me so in addition to seeing a Rheumatologist for the autoimmune concerns, we also decided with our Pediatrician to get an ultrasound done to work to rule out Cancer. Fun times.

Are you still with me?! So many dates and facts. It all leads somewhere, I promise! Can you see why I am so exhausted?! So that was all on November 4th. November 5th we saw the Rheumatologist who ordered more blood work and who shared that she felt Mac might have Lupus, but most likely had Periodic Fever Syndrome. Mac’s brother Andrew had this so this wouldn’t be a surprise. That said, I point blank said to her,

“I have been through Periodic Fever. This truly doesn’t seem like it. I am telling you, something else is up and given that fevers cause his seizures, I really want to stop them.”

She agreed and said that in addition to her testing, that it was time to go back to the Neurologist. Well seeing as the pediatrician had said the same, and that Mac had a seizure the next day, I made the appointment stat (don’t ask why the delay, that’s another story!) Fast forward a few days. The neurologist ordered a brain MRI (to rule out a brain tumor given his seizures, the stuttering, and the blood work), a three-day seizure test, and a genetic test to see if he was in the early stages of pediatric epilepsy.

Now I will uber fast forward to all the results, the last of which we got a week before Christmas. It was a LONG six weeks mind you and all while I was supposed to be focused on my first book. I obviously wanted to do nothing else but get my son healthy but I will admit, I was and still am devastated at the timing as it was a lifelong dream to publish a book and it was so difficult to enjoy the time. (Don’t hate me for saying that; you know me, I am brutally honest.)

I did, however, temporarily enjoy the test results.

The genetic test came back negative. No epilepsy. Sweet.
The ultrasound came back negative. No cancer. Sweet.
The brain MRI came back negative. No tumor. Sweet.
The blood work came back negative. No lupus. Sweet.

So what was I left with? Lots of negatives, which was a positive, but still no answer.

Mac continued to have high fevers frequently but also developed hives and a concerning rash, both of which still come and go, mostly when he is sick. An allergist (also an immune system specialist and infectious disease specialist) ruled out allergies (yes, we got to see another doctor as the rash concerned both our pediatrician and rheumatologist who are working together phenomenally) and confirmed that his immune system had no apparent problems. He also confirmed that his last few months health wise were concerning but that all of Mac’s doctors had been very thorough in their work. I guess that was re-assuring, but again, I was left with no answers as to why Mac was so frequently getting sick!

That was February, about six weeks ago. While I still had no answers, Mac hadn’t had another seizure and his fevers were getting shorter and lower so I felt rest assured that he had just had bad luck getting sick this season. HA! Why should this mama start really okay with things?! A few weeks later I discovered that Mac’s back was covered in small, pin point bruises and that his legs were equally covered in bruises.

The pediatrician took one look and sent us for blood work stat. He normally isn’t worried but seeing as he called me the next morning at 7am to see if I had gone for blood work yet, I knew he was as worried as I was that internally bleeding or something was going on (I knew that type of bruising can be a sign of a blood disease as I was told to watch for it.) The good news: nothing major causing the bruising. Phew. The bad news? Mac’s white blood count was low. AGAIN. You see, a few weeks prior during his now standard blood work, his count appeared low, but barely. So we all ignored it. But this time it was much lower. Enter new potential diagnosis: Cyclic Neutropenia.

This is when white blood cells (which fight infection) drop every three weeks leaving one quite susceptible to getting sick. Now this, this would make a boatload of sense! We were told to check blood work again in three weeks. If the numbers went up, voila! most likely an accurate diagnosis. If they went down, well, add cancer to the mix again.

Three weeks passed last Thursday. I was a mess all day. Scared, scared, scared. I tried to write to you all then but couldn’t. I tried to write the night the results came back, but couldn’t. You see, the numbers dropped, again. Mac’s white blood cells have been dropping dramatically for almost two months now. My pediatrician confirmed what I knew weeks ago and had asked, but had been told, “not yet, not yet. We all still think periodic fever syndrome is probably the result and time will tell. If things change, then it will be hematologist time.” Well, things changed and it was hematologist time!

I cried when I called the office to make an appointment because you see, the hematologist is also an oncologist and calling a place where the phone answers, “The… Pediatric Oncology Department” is heart wrenching. Not a call I liked making one bit especially since I was told to get in ASAP. I spoke with the doctor who still feels that Cyclic Neutropenia is likely the cause but still, until I know that, I am surviving, getting through each day as best as I can until I know my worried mind and heart can rest.

We go to the doctor today.

It has been a long four days waiting for the appointment. I just want to know the next steps. I just want Mac to be healthy. I just want to stop worrying. I just want to hear it has all been bad luck. I just want to hear that all my fears, while well founded, have been proved wrong.

So this my dear friends is where I have been: worrying about one of the loves of my life. I have also been worrying greatly about another son who is struggling greatly. Getting through each day with him without losing my cool and with finding as much patience, empathy, love and forgiveness, truly leaves me with no energy left come the time all the boys are asleep. That said, at least I have enough energy to get through the days and giving my boys all that they need while they are awake. Being productive at night, doing the things I so long to do (eh hem, writing!) can wait. My boys are my priority. I know you all understand this and would equally tell me to not worry about not being present, but it’s important for me that you all know I haven’t left you, but that I am here, doing my best to be an Orange Rhino despite all the stress that life has thrown me.

Doing my best to do all of which an Orange Rhino must do to move forward: go one step, one moment at a time; find perspective; take care of myself so I can take care of others (hello sleep!); talk myself through tough moments; and laugh and connect with my boys as I can.

Stomp forward Orange Rhinos…stomp forward!

 

The Orange Rhino Has Touched My Sons’ Hearts

Seeing as Saturday is Valentine’s Day and all, I thought I would hop on and share these two adorable stories from the last 24 hours.

First, this morning my 5 year old had to take his last dose of nasty medicine for his lung/chest/whatever you want to call it infection. The deal is he gets a cookie if he does so without spitting it out. Nope, I am so not over bribing when medicine is involved :) Anywho, he picked a chocolate chip cookie with M&M’s in it. He took his medicine like a champ, then chomped away on his prized cookie, also like a champ. As I frantically tried to pack 3 lunches and became lost in the “blech it is so late are we gonna make it on time” madness that school morning’s bring, this sweet little boy wandered back over to me.

“Here mommy. I saved the last bite of the cookie for you because it has an orange M&M. You know, Orange Rhino.”

Heart. Melt. Love this kiddo! (And let’s be honest, I equally loved having a cookie at seven in the morning!)

Now lets go back another 12 or so hours to two nights before my older sons’ school Valentine’s Day parties. The following conversation ensued:

Me: “So boys, what do you want to put with your cards that is not candy as I totally forgot that candy wasn’t allowed?”

(Now mind you, it was a MIRACLE that it was 2 days before and I had bought cards, bought candy, and knew where both were. In fact, this year I bought supplies weeks in advance. Of course, as it turned out I bought inappropriate supplies but whatever. I bought supplies that were already done, as in pre-made cards from CVS instead of cutting out hearts and making Valentine’s. This is a huge thing for me. A huge, gigantic step for Sheila-kind. I love making Valentine’s and think not one ill thought of anyone who does. But this year, I just didn’t have the time or energy to indulge my creative gene and needed to let go of my perfect ideal of Valentine’s Day cards and get ‘help’ by buying them. So I did and I was uber proud of myself.)

James, 2nd grade: “What about bouncing balls?”
Me: “Um, I don’t think so. I can’t imagine many other parents would appreciate that gesture as I know bouncy balls drive me bonkers!”

Edward, 1st grade: “Well then how about Orange Rhino balls? You know the ones I see you squeezing all the time that kind of bounce?” (Hahahaha!)
Me: “Clever solution sweetie but I don’t have enough. What about tattoos guys? You like those?”

James: “Yes, how about The Orange Rhino Tattoos’s? You know, love more, all that stuff. It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day which is about love.”
Edward: “YES! Perfect!”
Me: “Brilliant! I love it! Orange Rhino Tattoos it is. Now lets find your cards and attach them.”

So as luck would have it, somehow, I had Edward’s but James’ were totally missing, as in not in the box I put them in the night before. What the ?!?! Man, all my planning went out the window. Uber disappointment. Back up plan: go to CVS today and buy more. Well that utterly failed. So I promised myself I would go to Staples, get some envelopes for the Tattoos and make it simple. Well wouldn’t ya know. I forgot to go to Staples today so come 6:00 tonight when I realized I (1) didn’t go to Staples and (2) didn’t have Valentine’s for James to work on I panicked. Not James though. We’ll make them. Right. Because I have the supplies on hand?!

“Alright James. Lets go raid my office and see what stuff I have to make your cards that can also hold Tattoos!” And voila, this is what we found! Tags to print so no extra cutting involved: WIN! Backs with ribbons on as ties already: WIN! Instant Orange Rhino Love More Valentine’s Day cards made. And I am not gonna lie, this was the best “mistake” ever as I am in love with the fact that my boys wanted to do an Orange Rhino something-or-other for Valentine’s Day because of the symbolism! Total win! They get the put about what not yelling achieves: loving more!!! (And I am not gonna lie, I love that James sat and designed the card with me – totally something I love to do!!)

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So there you have it. Not all “mess-ups” are mess-ups. Sometimes they are just opportunities to be discovered. Eh hem, like the moment you yelled and thought it was a screw up. Nah, just a chance to learn what triggered you and then plan how to fix it.

And on that note, off to bed as this Orange Rhino is tuckered out :)

Happy Almost Valentine’s Day

The Orange Rhino Challenge App!

I know how cruddy it feels to classify oneself as a “parent who yells way too much” and I just don’t want you to feel that anymore because I know how great it feels to call oneself an “Orange Rhino Parent!” This is why I created all sorts of different tools to help you out on your journey to “Yell Less” like The Orange Rhino CommunityThe Orange Rhino store…The Orange Rhino Book, “Yell Less, Love More”…and now (drum roll please) The (new and improved) Orange Rhino Challenge App! I am super psyched about the App as it is a great complement to my book and it helps you do all the things that helped me stop yelling like…

Testing out all sorts of silly and unique ways to stay calm,
Talking positively to myself,
Tracking my progress visually,
Writing down when and why I yelled to determine my triggers,
Creating a plan for said triggers, and
Getting friends to support me in staying to said plan.

Oh, and did I mention it is free?! Yep, it is! It is only for iPhones right now but when we get enough interest and positive feedback, I will look into raising funds to create an Android version. Until then…here are some key screen shots of the App along with directions on how to best use the App.

HOME PAGE
Goal Complete– Daily Inspirational Quote
– Visual Goal Tracker: Set your own goal in the Goals page and select whether or not you want the graph to appear. The graph will always show your most recently achieved goal in the center (1 day included!) so that you constantly remember that you CAN indeed Yell Less because you have already done so! Also, once you successfully achieve your goal, The App will ask you if you want to go onto the next goal!
– Personal Mantra: Type in your own mantra that speaks to you and motivates you! Change it as frequently as you wish.
– Access to Settings: Three horizontal lines under the Rhino will take you to settings page where you can select daily tips, set an alarm, back date last yell.

 

 

 

Daily Tips      New Goal!


JOURNAL

Journal– Traditional Journal:
“Write” out all your frustrations so that you don’t let the frustration out vis-a-vis a yell. Enter as many as you wish each day. Scroll through them to identify any patterns, also known as triggers. Tap on the arrow on right to make an entry.
– Trigger Tracking Journal:
Enter all triggers as you identify them as well as a potential solution. Make sure to tap on save afterwards to save changes!

 

 

 

 

 

Journal Entry   Trigger


THE LATEST
– Stay in touch with my latest insights, stories, and tips by getting up-to-date posts from my Facebook page, Twitter Feed, and blog


SUPPORT

Support– Get in touch immediately with your support network! Add up to five names from your phone’s contact list to your support list. When you want to yell, text or call them and get instant support!
– Connect with other Orange Rhinos by heading over to The Orange Rhino Community. Ask questions on how to handle a specific trigger. Ask for extra support. Read other posts and find hope that you can yell less and peace from knowing you are not alone! Find Orange Rhinos like you going through similar struggles.

 

 

 

 

 

GOALS
Set Goal – Personalize your journey by picking the best goal for you. Make sure to select “Set Goal” to save your preferred goal.

– Determine how you want to monitor your success. Do you want just the days counter to appear or also a progress chart?
– Decide your rules for The Challenge. If you want to go a set number of days straight without yelling but you yelled, reset the counter…but don’t reset your determination or belief that you can do this!

 

 

 

 

SETTINGS
Daily Tips– Daily Tips: Set a specific time (say, first thing in the morning?) to receive daily tips pushed out as notifications on your phone. Make sure to select “Set Time” to save your tip time.
– Backdate Last Yell: Capture every day you haven’t yelled by updating the date your Challenge successfully started.
– Set Custom Alarm: Set an alarm to go off at tough known moments with an Orange Rhino inspirational sound and a short message of support for yourself. (Note: You will not see a list of all of your saved alarms and at this point you can not upload your own sound…maybe in the future!)

 

 

 

 

photo 4   Backdate Yell
Please note: This screen shot of daily tips is old – you actually get tips, i.e. do pushups and not quotes! 

Daily Alarm   Short Alarm Message   Days of Alarm

To set alarms follow these steps in this specific order! (1) Tap on the “+” (2) Tap on Random Sound, select sound, press done (3) Type in short message (4) select “Repeat Options” to select all Days the alarm should go off (5) Select time (6) Tap “done.”

So there you have it – the basic layout and functionality of The Orange Rhino Challenge App! Just like parenting, my goal here wasn’t perfection, but rather progress and I continue to progress further developing this App and others. I hope you enjoy using The App as much as I enjoy looking at the screen shots and dream of using it (eh hem, I am an Android person!) You can download the app on iTunes

Happy Downloading!

“Yell Less, Love More” 30-Day Challenge Book Club Starts January 12th!

12When I started The Orange Rhino Challenge in 2012, I felt excited to change yet equally (more so?) ashamed that I had to change. As such, even though I very much wanted to share about my Challenge and knew that I needed to in order to get the support I knew I needed to succeed, I still hesitated to tell people. I would get the courage to tell someone or to post a new blog entry and then BAM! I would feel a pit in my stomach. Fear would take over and either my mouth or fingers would pause as my brain started freaking out! What would be said when I shared that I promised my boys that I would go 365 days straight without yelling at them? Would I be ridiculed? Laughed at? Questioned? Lectured? Or, what would be said when I wrote about a personal experience with yelling, would my capability as a mother be examined? Would I be insulted? Humiliated even more?

But after sharing about my Challenge a handful of times, I quickly realized that my fears were unfounded. Thankfully, the judgment never really came! Sure I received an occasional questioning eye and a fake encouraging response, but for the most part, I received nothing short of positive, enthusiastic, and genuine support. This gave me the confidence to more readily share my “dark secret” and about my journey. As a result, I created an even larger group of people supporting me, keeping me accountable, and ultimately helping me to succeed as an Orange Rhino who went 520 days straight without yelling!

Could I have succeeded without having to share my “dark secret” and without having to risk feeling more ashamed than I already did? Sure. We can all do things alone. But as Betty Ford so perfectly put, and as I so wonderfully experienced, “You can make it, but it’s easier if you don’t have to do it alone.” CURLY BRACKETS TOI want your journey to “Yell Less, Love More” to be easier for you too! I want you to succeed on your own Orange Rhino Challenge so that you yell less at yourself for being a bad parent, but instead experience what I have: enjoying my life more and finally feeling better about myself as a person and as a parent. Now, I obviously can’t make your journey easier by magically making all of your triggers go away and magically making your kids listen to you the first time, but I can make it easier by guaranteeing you a loving, understanding, non-judgmental, “hands-on-I-tried-this-and-it-worked-give-it-a-try” support! Enter the “Yell Less, Love More 30-Day Challenge Book Club!” Starting January 12th, I will lead a private, online virtual book club via The Orange Rhino Challenge community (www.TheOrangeRhino.com/community). I have chosen this format because the community boards make it easy for you to:

  1. Connect and communicate with others
  2. Track your past entires
  3. Go back to days that really inspired you – or that you want to participate in
  4. Search for specific topics related to yelling (think online yelling encyclopedia)
  5. Privately post questions and receive nonjudgmental advice and loving support

Every day in the “Yell Less, Love More Book Club” you will enjoy the above benefits and:

  • Read posts by others that make you feel less alone and more hopeful
  • Find other Orange Rhinos that share the same yelling challenges as you, giving you more personalized information/stories to help you on your journey
  • Build the necessary support network to succeed at learning to yell less – a support network that will continue after the Challenge is over
  • And much more I am sure!

Every day in the “Yell Less, Love More Book Club” I will:

  • Share additional thoughts to support that day’s theme
  • Encourage connection (which really will help you succeed and not quit!) by posting discussion points
  • Respond to as many of you as I can, either on the board or privately via email
  • Post bonus inspirational quotes (time pending!)

How can you join? As all book clubs go, I will lead the days’ discussions based on the content in the book. So, understandably, you need the book to participate! My sincere hope is that the combination of the book content and the enhanced support and conversation on the community will truly help make your journey to “Yell Less, Love More” both easier and enjoyable! Ready to start your journey?

  • Email me your proof of purchase (pre-order or regular order, picture of book, receipt, online confirmation) at YellLessLoveMore@gmail.com. If you remember, title the email Book Club so I can easily find it! If you don’t have the book yet, you can order it at any site listed here: www.TheOrangeRhino.com/the-book
  • E-BOOKS count!!
  • I will reply with a temporary code for you to use to login into the Private Community (it might take a day or two!) You will then create your own password and change your login name if you wish. Every day, at least once, I will add a new post to the Community. Check in throughout the day for my posts as well as comments from others!
  • The club will officially start January 12th and end on….February 14th, Valentine’s Day, the day of love!  Yes, this was totally planned! To allow people to catch up throughout the challenge, but also keep people focused, I will not post every day.
  • IF you did the last Book Club, then you do not need to send proof of purchase, just an email so that I can add you to the new forum (you will still have access to the old ones.)
  • You can start reading the book now if you want – or wait to read with us so you are at the same spot as others. If it were me, I would read the Introduction and then just flip through the rest to get a feel for the layout of the book and some of the questions.

I am really excited to do another online 30-Day Challenge as the past ones and the last book club brought people together, spread hope, and created change. Get ready to “Yell Less, Love More!” Note: If you have already participated in one of my 30-Day Challenges, this will be different as the content and approach in the book are different. And well, now I actually have a real book where you can easily keep track of actions, take notes, and get printouts without having to print them out!

15 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution to Stop Yelling at Your Kids

Orange Rhino YellingYou all know that in January 2012, I promised my four boys, then ages five and under, that I would go 365 days straight without yelling. I had just been caught yelling at them by the handyman and the disappointment in myself that I had become a yelling mom, a mom I so never thought I would be, coupled with the sheer embarrassment, pushed me to finally admit that enough was enough and that I needed to change.

After numerous starts and re-starts, I finally met my goal on February 6th, 2013 and well, I just kept going, and going. The upsides to not yelling, like less temper tantrums, tears (both my kids and mine,) and berating myself, along with more listening, enjoyable bedtimes, and laughter (just to name a few) made all the hard work so worth it that I had no desire to pull back my efforts! I have only had a few slip ups since that February day, but with new health concerns for my three year old, new parenting challenges and new personal struggles, I am finding that the increased level of stress is making it much harder, like, much, much harder, to respond calmly instead of yelling.

So, when December 31st rolled around, instead of sitting down to make a list of any new resolutions, I decided to make a list of reminders for how I could continue to succeed at my old resolution of not yelling at my kids. I hope my list helps you out as well because I know I am not the only parent struggling with this resolution!

Preventative Measures to Keep Yells From Growing in the First Place

  • Schedule a scream if you wake up on the wrong side of the bed or get a stressful phone call. Letting out a big ‘ole yell outside, in the garage, or into the closet relieves tension instantly and gets you to a less grumpy place.
  • My mom told me to rest because I needed to. Of course I said I didn't need to. I ended up not getting up for 2 hours. Mom was right - I needed the break! Loved this moment!

    My mom told me to rest because I needed to. Of course I said I didn’t need to. I ended up not getting up for 2 hours. Mom was right – I needed the break! Loved this moment!

    Take care of yourself. Prioritize sleep, exercise, me-time, and connecting with friends so that you are in a better place to combat personal things that can push you to yell like: hunger, exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed and experiencing any tough feeling of parenthood like loneliness or not-good-enough-ness.

  • Surround yourself with orange by sticking orange Post-It notes in oh-so-popular yelling areas and by wearing orange clothes so that everywhere you go you are reminded of your promise to be an Orange Rhino and not yell. That and well, orange gives off a warm and energizing vibe, a vibe desperately needed to keep yells away!
  • Laugh, talk and cuddle with the kids whenever you can because when you are all connected and regularly enjoying each other’s company, you all behave better! Seriously. Joyful moments breed joyful attitudes, remember that!

Tips to Stop a Growing Yell When Preventative Measures Don’t Cut it.

  • 279637_10150723865045004_5947675_oRe-tape newborn pictures that have fallen down off bedroom doors so that when naptime is a struggle or when some darling child needs one thousand and one cups of water to fall asleep, you are reminded how fragile your child was, and always will be, so that you are inspired to proceed with gentle and not harsh words.
  • Exercise to get your body, instead of your mouth, moving! Drop and do a push-up so you don’t yell a put down! Do jumping jacks so that you stop feeling so jumpy and irritated! Let the endorphins released from exercising (stretching included) bring you to a happier place.
  • Start vacuuming, scrubbing the floor, or wiping down counters to get the similar calm-down effect as exercise. Added bonuses? Also get a cleaner house, more sculpted arms and if vacuuming, a noise to drown of the yelling of the kids which you know can be a major trigger!
  • Say, “I love you sooooo much” so that the blatantreminder of how strongly you feel about one of your munchkins dampens the desire to yell. Saying “I love you” is like an elixir to stop yells, especially when it is said over and over again which lets be honest, will be necessary sometimes!
  • 72224_10150308214670004_6138642_nStare at a favorite picture in the room of you and the kiddo driving you nutso so that you focus on the positive memory you shared and not the current negative one you are experiencing. In other words, zone out for a minute so you don’t blow up for 10 minutes! Remember, if no picture can be found, staring at an inspirational quote or personal mantra also helps get you re-centered. One favorite mantra: “I can do this. I will not yell.”
  • Splash cold water on your face to cool down. Or put your head in the freezer, whichever. You know you can get hot when a yell starts to grow which can make you get irritated. And if you get irritated, then you will probably want to yell even more! And if you want to yell even more well…then literally cooling down is a lifesaver. Note: If you are in the car, open the window and put your head out like a dog. Just watch out for passing cars of course! Ha!
  • Find perspective by saying you are grateful for whatever annoying thing happened. For example, “I am grateful my son spilled his milk all over the floor because it meant he was trying to learn how to do it himself.” Or “I am grateful my son spilled his milk and not my coffee. That would have been a disaster.”
  • Sing out emotions or just sing for the heck of it because even though you have an awful voice, it gets attention! Plus, singing, “I am so angry I could yellll,” makes you laugh both at yourself at your kids (in a good way, of course) because their, “mom is a wicked awful singer” expressions are priceless.

Alternatives to Yelling When All Else Fails and a Yell is Inevitable.

  • Turn the yell into garbledegook (I am not sure that is even a word, but that is the entire point.) When a yell is literally on the way out and you are too late, jumble all the words and sounds up so that you sound ridiculous. This will not only stop the kids in their tracks, but it will also make us all laugh which is an instant mood changer. Likewise, talking like a robot or as if you have marshmallows in your mouth, also work.
  • Stress Ball 2Squeeze the nearest squeezable thing (and no, this definitely does not include kids!) Think Play-Doh, kitchen towel, cereal box, pillow, jacket, steering wheel, or seat of a chair. What also works is putting your hands in your back pockets and squeezing (the pockets that is, not your butt!)
  • Just let out a primal scream, but leave all words out. The reality is that sometimes it does feel good to scream; it just doesn’t feel good to yell negative sentiments at others. So if a yell is most definitely coming out, let it out but just save the words and aim it away from the kids. (P.S. I always follow this up with an, “I’m sorry I lost my cool.”)

And last but definitely not the least, the most important of all ways to ensure that you don’t slip into your old yelling habits, should you slip up–rather, when you do because you might be an Orange Rhino but you are still human–make sure to immediately forgive yourself. Remaining mad at yourself will just make you grumpy, angry, and disappointed which are three surefire ways to make it even hard to keep yourself from yelling when the next tough moment arises.

YLLMcrop2For 85 more ideas on how to stop yelling at your kids, and for a detailed step by step guide to further help and inspire you, check out my new book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can Too!” available in all major bookstores and online here.

How to Yell Less This Holiday Season

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(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
Trigger:
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?!
Wrong.

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.
“WHY CAN’T YOU JUST DO THIS FOR ME?!” I yelled.
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: www.TheOrangeRhino.com/the-book and join The Orange Rhino Revolution at www.Facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino

{Sometimes} My S.P.D. Makes Me YELL at My Kids

Below is an excerpt from my book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can Too!” I post it here because it is an important story to share and not just because sharing it gives me more strength to cope, but also and more so because sharing it will hopefully help you gain insight into some of your kid’s (and maybe your) behaviors. My hope is that said insight will help you gain empathy for your child’s sensory-related behavior and therefore help you “Yell Less, Love More.” My other hope is that if you comment, you comment with kindness and not judgement.


I am going to let you in on a very personal struggle, one that I have only shared with a handful of people in my life because it is so embarrassing and frustrating that I have just hid it and ignored it for years. Oh, how I hoped that it would just magically disappear and that I would finally be free of the pain and shame I feel whenever the struggle rears its wicked ugly head, which is at least three or four times a day. But it never disappeared and once I started the Orange Rhino Challenge, I could no longer hide from it, or run from it. When I started tracking my triggers and gaining deeper awareness as to what made me explode, I discovered—or rather, was finally forced to admit—that this little struggle of mine wasn’t just real, but it was also a really big (like gargantuan) trigger. Yes, there was no ignoring the fact that if I wanted to stop yelling, I needed to start managing this struggle of mine STAT no matter how hard it was.

Ya’ ready for my struggle?

I have Sensory Processing Disorder, also know as S.P.D.

Um, what the heck does that mean, you ask?

Block out NoiseIt means that I have “sensory attacks,” brought on by any, or all, of my five senses being overloaded to the point where I can’t keep myself together and I go from calm(ish) to anything-but in a split second. It might come on from too much noise or too much chaos, or maybe I feel too hot or my clothes feel too tight or itchy, or maybe I taste a mushy food or smell a disgusting odor, or maybe it is a combination of all of the above that sends my body “under attack.” Sometimes the attacks come completely out of the blue; sometimes I sense they are coming. Either way, I respond in what feels to be a very irrational, very over-the-top way. It can take thirty minutes to an entire day to feel calm again and in control of my body (and it takes a lot longer to forget the embarrassment and disgrace I feel for losing it).

During a “sensory attack,” I literally feel the physical desire to lose it in a rather aggressive manner. I feel like the inside of my body is on fire, that my body is trying to burn my skin so that it can get out and escape. I feel like I want to run away at full speed and keep running until I cool down, until my heart stops beating so hard my chest hurts, until my skin stops itching so much that I want to tear it off, until the intensity that overwhelmed me stops. My body, my mind, and my soul want to flee the intense physical response and displeasure they feel from the sensory attack, but they can’t.

I feel trapped and that’s because I am trapped, trapped at the mercy of the “sensory attack,” and all I can do once an attack has hit is to wait it out. And since I can’t flee the pain or the frustration, I fight. I fight my body by throwing things. I fight my body by crying. I have even fought my body by pulling my hair, by hitting my head. And I fight by yelling.

a text block-19I would love to write that my children have never witnessed one of my attacks, that they never saw me shove my dinner plate across the table and then refuse to eat because my Italian sausage was just the wrong texture at the wrong time. I would love to write that my boys never saw me tear a brand-new (and very fashionable and cool!) scarf off from around my neck and throw it in the garbage while yelling, “I hate clothes. Hate them, hate them, hate them! Nothing every feels right!” I would love to write that they never watched me go berserk when my husband turned on a sports radio show to catch “the big game” and all the scratchy noise of the poor reception made me start screaming at him uncontrollably to turn it off before I exploded. Yeah, I would love to say they have never witnessed any of the above, but that would be a lie.

And I would love, even more so, to write that my children were never the targets of one of my sensory attacks, but that would also be a lie. The bad news is that they have indeed been on the receiving end of one of my sensory moments, but the good news (okay, better than bad news) is that at least it was yelling and not worse. Oh, oh, how I have screamed bloody murder at them when my body just couldn’t handle another noise, no matter how discreet or unintentional.

I have yelled, “Back up now, or else!” when my kids innocently chewed popcorn near me, not next to me, but just near me, and with their mouths open so that I could hear every crunch.

I have yelled, “Be quiet NOW, it is just too much! I can’t stand it. I am going to leave!” when all my boys are talking at once and getting louder and louder so that they can each be heard over each other.

I have yelled, “Okay, enough of the hugging! I don’t want to be touched anymore! Get off of me!” Yeah, that was an awful thing to say, and worse, I have said it a lot.

And I have yelled at myself after the fact, “Get a grip! All you want is for your kids to be quiet and not overly playful because you can’t handle noise and chaos. Then why did you have kids?! And four of them?! All you do is constantly squash their joy and enthusiasm just because mommy can’t handle it. Seriously?” I have tried so hard my entire life to keep my S.P.D. under control and hidden. And when I became a mom, I did learn to control it better because there is nothing I wanted more than to love my kids and not unleash my wrath on them. And I did keep it under control many moments. But yes, there were moments that I didn’t, and those left me beyond humiliated, beyond discouraged, beyond heartbroken. What kind of example was I setting?!

But the good news, yes, the really good news, is that the Orange Rhino Challenge forced me to finally manage my S.P.D. My S.P.D. no longer causes me to Y.E.L.L.—yell exceptionally long and loud—because tracking my triggers increased my awareness and forced me to figure out how to manage this really big trigger.And luckily for me, at the same time that I became aware of and accepted my S.P.D. as a trigger, one of my sons started some occupational therapy for his own struggles with S.P.D. Everything he learned, everything he told me, and every exercise we did together to “help him” actually helped me learn how to manage my own S.P.D.

Tip #2I learned to do push-ups when I felt an attack coming on.

I learned to put earmuffs on when the noise overwhelmed me.

I learned to pull my fingers gently to calm down.

I learned to eat crunchy foods like apples to organize my mind when it felt fried.

I learned to take deep breaths, even though I hated to, big-time.

I learned to prioritize sleep because it is key to regulating my mood.

In fact, all these little tricks worked so well to help me cool down and prevent and put out sensory attacks that I decided to try them to help me cool down and prevent and put out yelling attacks as well. Well, wouldn’t you know … my S.P.D. tricks work great on Y.E.L.L. attacks too!

Looking back, learning to manage my S.P.D. has been a heck of a lot easier than I expected. Have I been able to make it completely disappear, as I have dreamed of for years? No, I am just the Orange Rhino, not a fairy godmother! But, but, in finally having a more complete awareness of the depth of the problem, I was able to start actually managing it to the point where it is no longer as major an issue, which let me tell you, is nothing short of awesome.Not only am I not yelling at my kids unnecessarily, but also I am much more able to model how to control emotions and calm down. This helps me sleep way better at night.


 YLLMcrop2“Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can Too!” is a 30-Day Guide complete with 100 Alternatives to Yelling, Simple Steps to Follow, and Honest Stories to Inspire you on your own journey. It is available for sale now at all favorite on-line retailers and in select stores. Click here to order from your favorite site.