222 days without yelling, 143 days of loving more to go!
I love you. No really, I do. Whenever I don’t want to do something hard, something that makes me uncomfortable or do something that I fear I will fail, I search for you and hold on tight. You entice me with your promise of comfort. But the thing is, sometimes I have to let go of you in order to move forward. Please don’t hate me when I do. And more so, PLEASE don’t try to woo me back. It takes a lot of work to move on from you.
The Orange Rhino
219ish days or so ago I had to find the strength to kick 5 really good “why I can’t stop yelling at my kids” excuses to the curb. If I didn’t, I didn’t stand a chance of getting my Orange Rhino Challenge off the ground. So I had a heart to heart with myself and came up with lots of reasons why my excuses weren’t reasonable, why they didn’t stand ground, why they were weak and didn’t deserve to be holding me back from the mom I wanted to be. I was harsh with myself but I needed to be. It was time. ENOUGH ALREADY of complaining and not doing.
Even though I did successfully put the excuses behind me and started building a bridge towards becoming a non-yelling parent (LOVE for my kids really is a great motivator!), those excuses do still sneak up on me when I am really stressed, when I am extra tired and when the kids are extra difficult. They try so hard to woo me back when I am weak. Kind of like RIGHT NOW, making this the perfect time to remind myself of all the reasons why my excuses needed to take a hike in the first place and all the solutions I discovered so far to keeping them at bay.
My Excuse: I don’t know how else to stop behavior besides yelling
My Rebuttal (written as if I was talking to myself because well, that is what I did!): First, you have never tried REAL hard to stop yelling, you’ve never made it a priority, you’ve never invested time in finding alternatives so how do you know you don’t know how? And besides, you’ve never been a parent before; you are still learning the ins and outs. Parenting is a process and it is a different process with every child. You may not know how to parent without yelling TODAY but with practice and research and support you CAN figure out how. Besides you LOVE your boys. Changing this behavior IS important to you.
My Solution(s): Keep trying new alternatives until you find what clicks with each child. Keep reading parenting magazines for tips and tricks. Keep being open and honest with friends and The Orange Rhino Community and ask what works for them knowing that it may or may NOT work for your child. Keep BELIEVING that there is a way, keep BELIEVING in yourself that you can do this. Oh, and read these links for alternatives ideas for yelling.
My Excuse: I don’t want to ask for help, I am too embarrassed
My Rebuttal: Oh dearest Orange Rhino, get over yourself. You are NOT perfect and no matter what any mother says, she is not perfect either. We all have areas of improvement and we ALL could use help on something or other. It is OKAY to admit to a weakness. If you feel judged for admitting you need help then guess what? You don’t need that person in your inner circle.
My Solution(s): Keep blogging and finding support from The Orange Rhino Community and remembering that you are NOT alone in this challenge. Keep telling yourself that no one is perfect and it is OKAY not to be.
My Excuse: I know the problem will just fix itself, I will just become patient
My Rebuttal: You will not magically get it together, you will not magically become patient. You are NOT Tinkerbell with magic powers. Being a parent does take work, learning to be patient takes work. Learning to be patient IS possible. It is a process and it will take time but it IS possible.
My Solution(s): When seeking patience, look for perspective (it’s just spilled milk), remind yourself they are just kids and are still learning, take deep breaths, say out loud “I want to be patient,” or find humor. And above all else, take care of YOU so that you can be in a good place full of mental strength and physical strength so that you can’t get (that) worn down by all the trials that come with parenting. Keep exercising. Keep trying to get more sleep.
My Excuse: I don’t need to change, my yelling isn’t that bad
My Rebuttal: Let’s put aside formal research and therapists opinions on how yelling impacts children for a moment because we know they will say that yelling is bad. Period. What is your opinon? What was that you said? You feel bad and have major mama guilt when you yell? You want to change? Then it was that bad. Besides you know you weren’t yelling on an occasion. You were losing it, liked WICKED losing it, 1-2x a week and yelling once or twice a day. Yes you had yell free days every now and then but more often than not you went to bed feeling guilty about how you lost it. So yeah, your yelling was that bad…because it was bad enough to rent space in your head.
My Solution(s): Look at this blog post and this picture and remember that IS WHAT your kids looked like on occasion. Remind yourself that you don’t want to be your uncle. That you want to be a more loving parent. Remind yourself how GOOD you feel on moments when you don’t yell, how PROUD you feel, how much less guilty you feel, how much less crappy you feel about yourself. And when desperate ASK your kids these two questions: How do you feel when mommy yells? Which mommy do you like better, the yelling one or the Orange Rhino one?
My Excuse: I am too tired and don’t have the energy to be patient
My Rebuttal: You will always be tired. Even when the kids all sleep through the night, you will be up waiting at night for your kids to come home safely. Being tired kind of comes with the territory of having 4 kids. It is not going away. So you can’t lean on that as an excuse.
My Solution(s): Go to bed by 10 at least 5 nights a week. Keep exercising, keep trying to eat healthy. ACCEPT that tiredness comes with parenting and DON’T lean on that as a crutch to excuse behavior you don’t like!
My Excuse: I am too stressed and besides when the kids are older, they will be easier
My Rebuttals: You will always be stressed and not just because that is part of your personality! Every phase of having a child brings new challenges, new stresses. You can’t remove all the stress in your life, you can just try to improve how you respond to it!
My Solution(s): Make a list of my stresses and work on improving those I can and accepting those that I can’t.
Here’s the bottom line. I can make excuses like the best of them. That’s the easy part. The hard part is admitting that they are actually EXCUSES and not truths and that they are truly holding me back from something I really want. The even harder part for me? Letting go of the excuses, the security, and trying to move forward despite fears of failure, discomfort and challenge. But doing so brought me back to the easiest part: feeling good about the mom I am becoming.