The secrets of an “I’ve NEVER yelled parent”

214 days without yelling, 152 days of loving more to go!

Dear Katie,

Can you please explain to me in simple terms how it is that you are not a yeller? I know people like you really do exist and I am so curious to know what you secret is? Do you have magical powers that keep your voice from raising? Have you practiced lots and lots? Are your kids perfect? Please DO TELL!

xoxo,
The Orange Rhino

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I’m not really a yeller.

I’ve never really been a yeller.

Every once in a while I yell, but not often. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly have a temper, and I do let things get to me, but for some reason I am not a yeller. (Please note, I do also take antidepressants and have anxiety medication to use when necessary, so those two things do give me a bit of an advantage in the keeping cool department.)

As far as I remember, my parents never yelled at us (until junior high at least); and it’s not like we didn’t ask for it. I’m told I was just like my eldest son is now – a limit tester, a patience trier, an independent nobody-tells-me-what-to-do-er, a talker-backer, but a sweet kid. So I know karma has it’s hand in my experience as a parent, and I am getting my dose of fresh child. Did I mention he just turned 3? I also have a 6 month old who wants attention ALL THE TIME. Dividing my self between two kids who want undivided attention all the time, and a family owned in-home business is stressful.

My nerves get frayed.

You know when it feels like every nerve in your body has been rubbed to the point of agitation and you are just itching to get out of your skin? That type of feeling.

I feel it when my 3 year old is asking me for the 30th time “Whats that? What does it do?”, or telling me he can’t eat the third meal I’ve made for him (to order), or he’s screaming at the top of his lungs because my 6 month old won’t stop crying.

I feel it when my 6 month old is screeching, arching his back and kicking because he’s so over tired that he doesn’t want to be held – but he wants to go to sleep – (we just sleep trained to fix this situation).

I feel it when I’ve finally gotten him to go down and am ever-so-gently putting him down in his crib and the cat walks into the nursery and meows – waking him back up. I feel it when I’ve finally gotten him to latch and start breastfeeding, and someone or something in the house makes a loud noise, startling or distracting him enough to pull off and make me have to start the whole process over again.

Needless to say, I do have the stress, and thus the desire to yell.

But I don’t.

Instead I breathe.

Deeply.

I learned how to meditate back in high school, my gym teacher/lacrosse coach taught us. It’s something I’ve taken with me through life and keep coming back to. I’ve had anxiety my whole life and this tool is really helpful. Putting it into practice when I started doing yoga was a challenge, but I do think that practice helps me stay cool as a parent. Yoga teaches you to stay in the moment, to focus on your breath through each movement and pose. To continue focusing on your breath and continuing to breathe even when you are in a really difficult spot and your muscles are shaking, you’re sweating, and you just want to quit.

Afterall, the pose will be over soon.

So when I’m at my wits end, and everyone (both kids) are in my face, I call on what I’ve learned in meditation and yoga;

continue to breathe deeply, focus on that breath (block out the cries/yelling), internalize your attention, and it will be over soon.

I’m not as avid a yogi as I used to be (thanks to the kids), but I do have a few videos I use at home that are great: Sara Ivenhoe’s Yoga on the Edge (http://www.yoganation.com/) a three part series that has sunrise, noon and sunset workout and Tot Yoga (http://totyoga.com/) one my 3 year old and I do. He likes watching the kids on the TV and he copies the poses. Even if he doesn’t last more than 10 minutes, it provides a nice quiet background and a chance to breathe.

The other thing that helps me, my mother taught me back in high school when I was battling with depression and everything seemed to piss me off. She told me you have to choose your battles.

My husband and I have recently realized that we fighting too many battles with our 3 year old. It would be nice if he picked up all of his toys all the time, ate everything we put in front of him, and did whatever we said, but what kind of adult would he grow up to be? He needs to fight his battles, push for separation from his parents, and develop into his own person. In order for us to allow him to do that, we need to let him rebel, and back down sometimes; and other times, when it REALLY matters, we need to stand our ground. We are starting to determine what is a negotiable and what is a non-negotiable (i.e. you do have to sit with us at mealtime, but we’re not going to force you to eat everything on your plate).

We are calling it “Hakuna Matata”- you know, “No worries”? The Lion King is his favorite movie right now so we hear the song a lot. Translated to our current situation; don’t worry about everything (is he cleaning up, eating healthy all the time, doing what we tell him all the time, etc…) The more we push, the more he pushes back; and the fights aren’t worth it all the time. So we choose our battles. It makes mealtime a HELL of a lot more relaxing, and thus eliminates a situation in which both of us are tempted to yell.

If all else fails, I am watching both kids, everyone is pissy and misbehaving, it’s a full moon and I’m about to crack – we take a walk. I strap both kids into the stroller and I walk. I breathe while I walk – in and out with each stride. Enjoy the fresh air and the warm sun and work the tension out of my muscles.

And I enjoy the peace and quiet, in between every “Mummy, what’s that? What does that do?”

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