6 days of “Staycationing”, 422 days of loving more!
Dear Orange Rhinos,
Here is the 2nd guest post this week while I “staycation.” You all know I love music and how much it has helped me conquer the whole yelling thing. I of course thought I was the only one who found music so helpful. When fellow Orange Rhino Dianne Hibbs wrote this post and sent it to me I felt normal and inspired, both of which are always nice feelings! Dianne just finished her first 30 days of The Orange Rhino Challenge. Enjoy this honest post about how she started, how she made it, and how she feels now!
Hope you are all having a good week and thanks Dianne!
The Orange Rhino
Hi, fellow Orange Rhinos! I am honored to be a guest blogger during T.O.R.’s well- earned staycation. I want to tell you how music has helped me with the Challenge. But first, please allow me to tell you how I got here.
I am a nice person. By nearly all accounts. I am compassionate and I generally like people and try to see the best in them. I have reasonably good manners. Which is why it came as a bit of a surprise to me when I realized I was a yelling mom. It was shocking to hear my rational, mild-mannered husband saying to me one day, “I just don’t see how you can yell at a 16-month old like that.” And my shrill shriek reply, “Put your head between this door and that door jamb and let him slam it on you like he just slammed it on me and you will see exactly how!”
That’s the earliest specific memory I have of it, and that’s an extreme incident, of course, but it grew from there and I saw myself becoming an everyday yelling mom. With all my heart, I wished I wasn’t. And I’ve been working on it diligently for years now with some successes and some failures. To be clear, I am a good mom. I love my kids to the moon and back and they know it. I’ve cared for, nurtured and encouraged them; celebrated their joys and introduced them to new ones; held them; dreamt with them; taught them and delighted in them. Sadly, I also yelled at them. Loudly and often. And not just when they slammed my head in a door.
Some say, “Oh, everyone yells at their kids!” I don’t disagree. But I was way past my comfort level and unsure how to turn it around.
So, I joined the Orange Rhino Challenge. We were asked to write on the password- protected part of the website about the time when we realized the yelling was something that had to change. I wrote about a day when my children (6 and 3) and I were looking at their baby books. The older one said, “Mommy, when I was little, did we have troubles?” We talked more, but I already knew what he meant. I could see the wheels turning in his smart little head as he tried to pinpoint when all this ugliness began. It broke my heart. Later, I decided,
“This is IT. He and his little sister may not remember when the yelling began, but they will remember what happens from here on out. And it will shape them. And it will define how they see me. It’s not too late to change, but it is TIME. NOW.”
In my quest to become a non-yeller, I’ve found music to be a great ally. Children’s music, in particular, has saved many a day for me and my children. You know that saying? “Music has charms to soothe the savage beast?” When my kids were younger, we found Susie Tallman’s Lullabies for Sleepy Eyes to be ethereal and soothing. (Full disclosure: Susie is my friend and I love her music so much that I started working about an hour a week for her, keeping up her Facebook page and writing posts on her blog.)
Many people play lullabies to soothe babies, of course, but I found it extremely helpful for the stressed, anxious, over stimulated, tired “beast” mom: Me. Other children’s music we tried was sometimes plinky, tinny, and agitating to me. I would play it to entertain and benefit the kids, but I found myself more irritated and ready to snap at them when it was on. When we listened to smooth and steady lullabies, played on real instruments by true musicians, the kids were happy and I was more calm. I started playing more lively music for fun family times together (still seeking out only better quality stuff, from Susie and other artists, after learning my lesson from the plinky) and would switch back to lullabies when I felt the volcano about to erupt, or after it already had. Even now, I still put on something classical as an act of prevention if we are about to start, say, a papier mâché project.
I believe good music of any style can be a great distraction, a positive outlet for our energy, a soother in tense moments, a way to bring the family together, and a source of inspiration as we work toward less yelling or even – gasp! – no yelling. I find that the kids are more engaged with the children’s music and my daughter will even complain, “Ugh! Dat’s gwown-up music!” when she gets in my car if I have the radio on.
When I began the challenge, I was very hopeful I would make it to the goal of no yelling, but I was only a little confident. As I read the incredibly honest and touching input from some of the 800+ parents participating along with me and the amazingly helpful insights and tips from T.O.R. herself, I felt my confidence rising. An important part of the process was identifying triggers that seem to lead to yelling (hint: often having very little, if anything, to do with the kids’ actual behavior) and learning how to eliminate them, modify them, or accept them. Each day that I made it to evening yell-free, I marveled. The support from the group and our leader enabled me to do what I had not done in all my previous attempts to have a calmer, happier home. At this writing, I am proud to say that I have actually made it 30 days in a row without yelling at my kids! (I yelled on day 31. Sigh. But 30 in a row is still fantastic!)
It’s an ongoing process, and sometimes I will slip. But I’m feeling liberated and wonderful. My husband and kids are thrilled and we’ve celebrated a great deal. What I’d done before had helped, but this site came exactly when I was ready for it and has been very important in making my non-yelling dream a reality.
Along the way, in each bit of progress, music has been important, too. Whether we are singing and laughing to Bare Naked Ladies’ Snack Time, dancing to our favorite Sesame Street music videos, or relaxing with Mozart, music guides us where we want to go. After a challenging morning recently, my daughter and I were listening to Ziggy Marley’s Family Time. He does a duet on that one with Paul Simon called “Walk Tall.” As we sang along, “Walk tall, walk tall . . . even if you fall, get up!” I realized the music was giving me a boost to keep up the hard work. “Nothing is ever gonna keep me down,” Ziggy and Paul sang, “I jump over hurdles, I’ll come around. And if at first I don’t succeed, I’m gonna try it again ‘til I get what I need.” The words resonated. And the irresistible rhythm and melody reminded me how much more fun it is to sing than to yell.
I salute you all as you take on this challenge. Tone down the yelling. Turn up the music! I wish you joy in your journey.
P.S. My son asked if he could share a message, too. Here it is: Hakuna Matata! (The Orange Rhino bets you’ll be singing that all night now…and hopefully tomorrow too instead of yelling!)
Dianne Hibbs writes about sharing music with children on the Susie Tallman & Friends blog www.susietallman.com and Facebook page www.facebook.com/susietallmanandfriends and hopes you will visit her there for free music samples, tips, giveaways and more.