105 days without yelling, 250 to go!
Dear Long Days, Short Years,
This one is for you! Yup, more than half the time my yelling has nothing to do with my kids but everything to do with myself. I think that is what makes it so hard – to not yell means to admit that I need to deal with myself too! Ugh, you mean I have to take responsibility for my behavior and not always blame the kids?!
Thanks for reading,
The Orange Rhino
I almost kissed day 105 goodbye today. Just like that. No advance warning really. The kids weren’t on my nerves. The day was going fineish. All of a sudden I almost SCREAMED at them.
Why? Were they yelling? Nope. Were they hurting each other? Nope. Were they picking on each other? Nope. (Not at this point at least). They were just being kids – running around outside knocking bamboo shoots down in the backyard and slamming the kitchen door as they came in and out with their wet muddy boots excited to tell me they were “saving” the swing set from the overgrown bamboo.
Truly, they really weren’t on my nerves. I actually found their teamwork to “saw” down the bamboo very cute and their dedication to the “very urgent matter” adorable.
And then the phone rang. It was my husband calling to remind me to pay bills.
As soon as I hung up the phone, the kitchen door slammed again as three pair of squeaky boots sloshed across the kitchen to go save the swing set. Door slam, enter anger. My blood started boiling. I put the baby down and started walking rather briskly and loudly to open the aforementioned slammed door to yell at my boys.
My mouth opened and just as my non-orange rhino voice got ready to scream “ENOUGH ALREADY. CLOSE THE FRIGGIN’ DOOR. YOU ARE EITHER IN OR YOU’RE OUT. AND GET READY TO HELP ME CLEAN THE FLOOR!” this “cute little orange rhino” with four birds popped into my head and said to me:
“Don’t do it. Don’t yell! You are not really mad at the kids. You are just overwhelmed and frustrated because well crap, you don’t feel like paying the bills and checking the budget, it’s just one more thing to do today and double crap you can’t seem to get anything done today and triple crap, you just don’t want to do it in the first place. Oh, and don’t forget you are just extra on edge because #4 has been in your arms crying for 30 minutes. Straight. ”
Well, that “cute little orange rhino” was right. I wasn’t annoyed at the kids. I was just so frustrated at that moment that my patience and tolerance (one in the same?) went from decent to virtually non-existent. My anger had nothing to do with my boys. Nothing. Was the door slamming loud and obnoxious? Yes. Was the floor going to be a pain to clean, for the third time that day? Yes. But did those two things really matter? Did they really make me so mad that I wanted to yell? Nope. I was just in a twit and easily agitated.
As a matter of fact, I’ve found much more often than not that when I suddenly feel like I want to yell that it has nothing to do with the kids but that it has to do with me. That one of my personal triggers has been set off.
Today’s winning trigger? Having too much to do. It gets me in a twit every time. Without fail. About once a day. On a good day. Every day the “cute little orange rhino” comes and has a talk with me reminding me I am not angry at the kids, that I am just in a twit, that I just have to admit that one of my personal triggers has been set off. The little orange rhino (ok, me) then mentally goes through my list of triggers that I outlined weeks ago until I realize AHA! That is why I am twitting. That is why I want to yell. It really isn’t my kids making me want to scream! It’s blah, blah blah…
It’s hard to admit sometimes that I am the problem and not my kids. But what is EASY is now that I have taken the time to list MY triggers, it is EASY to identify them and EASIER (emphasis on the -ER) to stop them from setting off a full force volcanic eruption.
So there you have it. That is how I stop one of my personal triggers from going off – I talk to myself, in my head and out loud! I simply acknowledge the real trigger and then I actually say it out loud. “I am not mad at the kids, I am just overwhelmed by having too much to do.” Or “I am not mad at #4 I just wish I could understand him better.” Or “I am not mad at my kids I am just tired from going out last night and um, drinking too much wine with my girlfriends.”
There is something “magical” about saying it out loud, about hearing myself admit why I am really angry/annoyed/twitting, why it isn’t the kid’s fault. I wish I could say why it works, but I can’t. I can just say that it does.I *think* because it stops me in my tracks, forces me to refocus my attention AWAY from my kids and back onto problem solving. Onto finding an alternative to yelling, like stomping my feet, splashing cold water on my face or any other silly distraction that hits me at the moment. And sometimes, no alternative is needed. Just hearing myself say out loud that I am not mad at my kids IS the alternative to yelling!
Now if my kids are legitimately the source of my anger (oh say like tonight, when #2 looked #3 squarely in the eyes and then pinched him for no reason), then I have an entirely different method of handling. I’ll save that for another rainy day….