Some days, I don’t know how to parent…and it makes me want to scream!

168 days of not yelling, 197 days of loving more to go!

Dear Self,

I yelled at my kids because I could (read here).
I yelled at my kids because I was tired.
I yelled at my kids because they annoyed me (read here).
I yelled at my kids because I didn’t know what else to do.

Because nothing else was working.

Because I have never been a parent before. Because even though I have 4 kids, each child is different. Parenting each child is a new experience. An exhilarating yet exhausting experience that is new territory every day. And no matter how many years I have been a parent, or how many parenting books I have read, or how many parenting anecdotes I have heard, or how many days I have been without yelling, SOMETIMES I AM AT A LOSS. And I don’t know how to handle the situation.

And I just want to scream because it feels like the logical next step. It feels like the right move when patience, understanding, determination, intelligence all have failed. Because if all the positive attempts haven’t stopped behavior that deserves discipline, then the only other option is negative reinforcement, right? To yell so loud that my son bursts into tears and forgets about tormenting his brother and me and instead focuses on how I am tormenting him with my awful words and actions.

Rationally, I know that screaming is not the logical next step.

I know that I have to keep at the patience, understanding, and determination to not yell. I know that I can’t give in and scream even if I want to.

Because it won’t work. It will just make matters worse across the board.

But oh how the FRUSTRATION of feeling lost as a parent taunts my rational thinking.

The feeling like an incompetent parent for not being able to reign in some of my son’s horrific behavior.  The feeling like a mean parent for wanting to scream so loud and so long that it scares the sh*t out of my son. The feeling like I am the only parent with this problem.

And that frustration, the frustration of simply NOT KNOWING how the f*** to handle some situations, coupled with my son’s frustrating behavior is enough to make me want to scream at everyone (and maybe do something else besides screaming).

Being a parent is hard. Every day I am learning something new about my son’s individual personalities and how best to relate to them. How best to “manage” their meltdowns. How best to love them. It is exhausting. And when I am at my emotional worst – when all my triggers are in full force – and when my kids are at their emotional worst – when all their individual “areas of improvement” are in desperate need of improvement! – it is even more exhausting.

And it is hard.

Hard. Hard. Hard. Today, I wanted to do more than scream. I wanted to cry. Because I felt so stupid that I couldn’t find a solution. So embarrassed by my kid’s behavior even though no one but me had the honor of witnessing it.  So defeated.

Defeated that 168 days of not yelling hasn’t made my sons perfect angels. Did I really expect that not yelling would make them perfect? NO. Because it won’t. Will it make me feel better about myself as a mom? Yes. Will it make them feel better about me as their mom? Yes. Will they still be kids who sometimes don’t listen and challenge me? YES. It will still happen. Just less.

As I sit here writing outside on my porch while the rain pours down I realize “sh*t, I really shouldn’t feel defeated. Because while today was the perfect storm of all kids AND mom being at their worst, the storms are happening a lot less. A LOT less. And when they do happen, they are one sided. I am NOT yelling back and the storms are shorter.

So I can sit here and feel crappy that I don’t know how to parent in all situations (which I am). That I don’t know how to reign in my kid’s bad behavior sometimes (which I don’t). That I have bad thoughts beyond screaming (which I do). That I am STILL LEARNING and am not a perfect mom (which I always will be doing and never will be…. )

OR I can sit here and say “sh*t, there are let’s say 9 things I want to improve as a mom. And before when I was yelling, the number was 10. I am making progress. I might have not disciplined perfectly today, I might not have known what the h*ll to do, but I tried my hardest, and I didn’t yell. And that counts for something.”

Right?? Please tell me it counts for something.

Because I am feeling such guilt for not being able to properly handle some behavior at home today with #1 and #2. I am feeling like shoot, maybe I should have just yelled. That would have worked. Kind of, but not really. No, not really at all. Come on, Orange Rhino, you know yelling Just. Ain’t. Worth it. In the short term. Or the long term. Don’t give in to it because you don’t know what else to do (just because you’re getting your a*ss kicked by life and by the kids)! Be patient. Ask for help. You have the people to ask. You know that the behavior will improve. You know that not yelling is already helping the behavior to lessen. You know that you both are making progress.

You are making progress. And no one can argue with progress, even if there is more progress to be made.

Yourself, The Orange Rhino

Did you yell today? Are you feeling crappy about it? Maybe like me you made more progress today than you realized…until now. Any progress is progress….


The Vicious, and I mean vicious, Cycle

166 days without yelling, 199 days of loving more to go!

Dear #1,

You and I are caught in a battle that needs to end. We’re both in bad moods and we’re bringing each other down. We are spiraling downwards fast as fast can be and we are starting to affect everyone around us. I am writing this post as my way of reminding myself about my commitment to parent with more warmth and composure, two words that I would not exactly use to describe me lately. Sure, I haven’t been yelling at you. But I have not been the mom I know I can be either, the mom that I know YOU NEED in order to help you out of your bad mood. When I see you today after camp I am going to swoop you up and give you a big hug and tell you I love you a thousand times. I am going to hold you until you feel settled. Until you feel safe that we won’t be in a car accident again. Until you feel secure that you aren’t dying anytime soon. Until you feel comfort knowing that even if the babysitter is leaving, mommy isn’t going anywhere. Until you feel more love than you have felt from me these last few days. Because I love you. And you deserve my love, not my wrath…

big hugs and kisses,
mommy orange rhino


It’s a vicious cycle that my son and I get stuck in. When we are BOTH stressed and anxious, sometimes for the same reasons, sometimes not, we quickly get stuck being impatient, rude and quite frankly, annoying towards each other. My son starts acting out: hitting ME more, yelling at ME more, crying more, listening less, smiling less. I start acting out too: snapping more, saying no more, listening less, engaging less, smiling less. In the beginning of the vicious cycle, I try my hardest to stay calm, patient, loving and understanding. I try not to take his actions personally. I try to help him in the ways I have learned how. But the problem is, my stress counteracts all my efforts. Because my stress scares him. It makes him worry even more.

And I can’t hide my stress. According to my husband, I’ve always had a bad poker face. This week has been no different. In fact, it’s been exceptionally bad.

I can’t hide my fear that I too will die and leave my kids without a mom. I can’t hide my anger that I had to fire the babysitter at the worst possible time. I can’t hide my frustration that with everything going on I also have to deal with a car accident AND with three angry and sad kids that daddy went back to work after an extended vacation.

And I can’t hide my frustration with my son that his meltdowns are back, tenfold.

I am trying. I am really, really trying. Trust me, I am. Because I know that all my fears and frustrations are written on my face and THAT is actually making my son feel worse. It is making him more anxious, more stressed. My behavior is making him act out more.

Which of course adds a whole new level of stress to my day. Because when he acts out from stress and fear, it is HARD to stop. The meltdowns are enormous. They are physical. And sometimes they are scary. And when they get this bad, my son needs me to be calm, and patient, and loving. He needs me to be all the things I am incapable of being at that moment because I have my own issues.

And because his behavior is making me feel worse. Because like my behavior is stressing him out, his behavior is stressing me out.

So we play this little game. Who can drive the other person nuts faster? We each keep acting stressed and making each other worse. And worse. And worse. It ain’t pretty.

And it’s a pain in the a*s. Because it is exhausting, physically and mentally. Why can’t he pull it together? Why can’t I pull it together? Darnit, I didn’t sleep again last night. Darnit, he didn’t sleep either. Crap, now we are both tired and even MORE overwhelmed and persnickety.

Last Thursday I FINALLY snapped out of it. I finally put an end to the game.

I was REALLY close to yelling at him. Really really close. I had had it with the screaming and the kicking and the throwing pillows. I had had it with feeling like I was the only parent to have a child act like this. I had had it with feeling embarrassed by his behavior. I had had enough of ALL OF IT. I had had it with my week. With the stress. I had had it with him. I was done being patient. I was done being The Orange Rhino.

I walked away as a toy was thrown at me and went to seek solace in The Orange Rhino facebook page.

I looked at the computer screen. And I saw 44, no 45, no 48, no 60 new people had found my page and started following along. I was immediately reminded of my promise to my boys, to all of you and I stopped dead in my tracks. Seriously.

I looked at him and said, “#1, what is wrong? Why are you so angry? Why are you throwing things at me?”

He burst into tears.

“I am angry that the babysitter is leaving. Why doesn’t she love me?”

I held him in my arms so tight and rocked his almost 6 year old body like a baby. He crumpled into my lap and arms and sat and cried and cried and cried. Those tears kicked me in the ass. Those tears reminded me that when in a vicious cycle with him, he NEEDS ME. I AM THE ONE RESPONSIBLE FOR ENDING the cycle. I am the adult. I am the one who, no matter how hard it is, needs to find the strength and patience to give my son what he needs to “snap out of it.” I am the one who needs to stop and ask, what is going on?

When my son is in a bad mood, rightfully or wrongfully, I need to keep on loving him. When my son is struggling, I need to be an Orange Rhino. I need to find warmth and composure. I need to be patient and calm. I need to be understanding.

When my son and I are in a vicisious cycle of bringing each other down, I have two choices: make it worse or make it better. I finally made it better. It took me days to realize this, it took me days to GROW UP and realize my son needed me. But at least I finally did. And not just because it kept me from yelling, but because it allowed me to love my son more. And really, that is all he needed. To be loved more.

“Every day is a struggle. A good one.”

163 days without yelling, 202 days of loving more to go! 

Dear Orange Rhinos,

Today I came MUCH to close to yelling. Why? Were my kids awful? Nope. Were they annoying? Yes. More so than usual, I say with as much love as possible? Nope. Then why? Why was today so hard? Because mama is toast. I am beyond tired. So tonight, I am off to bed. Normally I would go to bed disappointed in myself for not posting on a Thursday night but not tonight. Why? Because I share this great guest post with you.

Below is a BRUTALLY honest, brutally courageous post all the way from Denmark. I asked Frederrike to write for me because her commitment to The Orange Rhino Challenge is amazing and inspiring. She writes from the heart and says the hard things. Please, have a read and share your comments on Facebook so she can read them immediately! Being honest is hard enough – being honest and having to share it in another language? Even harder. So please, show your support. And thank you Frederrike!!!


Dear Rhinos,

It all started about a month ago. I googled the internet. I don’t remember what I googled, I just googled. One click led to another and suddenly I came across an Orange Rhino. It were like looking in a mirror, and besides the fact that I’ve tried to do something about my yelling for as long as I’ve had children without achieving anything, I just knew that the time was right. It’s now or never, as the song goes.

I announced it on my blog. I told the world (or at least a bunch of people in Denmark) that from this day and a year forward I wouldn’t yell (and of course all the years after this one) I don’t know why, or what the Orange Rhino did for me that day a month ago, but somehow the time was right and I was ready.

For far too long I’ve been looking at my boys, while I yelled at them, and seen the fear in their eyes as they looked back at me, crying. That day a month ago I felt so bad afterwards, left with the feeling that I might as well have been hitting them. Something inside me went to pieces, and I just knew that if I didn’t change my behavior, then one day (soon) I wouldn’t be able to fix it. Ever. One of the biggest fears in my life (besides loosing another child) is that my boys one day, when they are big enough, will turn to me and say: “Goodbye mom” and I never will see them again.

For not only did I yell a lot at them, I also placed a lot of guilt and shame in them. Somehow it was the other downside of yelling. First me roaring at them, then me telling them that they are all wrong. They are 6,5 and 2,5 years old. Nothing they do is wrong in a way that ever will defend my destructive behavior towards them.

Every day is a struggle. A good one, I may add. But never the less a struggle. Every day I have to make a choice between yelling or not. Every day I have to make a choice to be a better mom for my boys. Shortly after I challenged myself I bought a lovely little boy with rhino-helmet and angels wings. Him looks at me every day, standing on my desk at work, and reminds me that when the work is finished, I can pick up 2 amazing kids from nursery and school, and they are mine.

In a short time I have achieved much by not yelling. I feel better about myself and I think that I have become roomier towards my children. I leave them space to be boys, with all the noise and mess. So besides the obvious change, it also leaves me with mental surplus to deal with others issues: do some exercise, regulate my weight and being a woman for my husband.


Info: Frederikke 39 years old. Married to Ulrik. Together we have 3 children. Cirkeline (girl) was born 14th August 2004 and died 24th August 2004 due to HLHS. Gustav (boy) born 30th September 2005 and Harald (boy) born 24th November 2009.

The Car Accident & The Orange Rhino

162 days of not yelling, 203 days of loving more to go!

Dear Toyota CRV-

Do you see that red sign with 8 sides and the letters S.T.O.P? It’s called a stop sign. You are supposed to, get this, STOP at it. That means to put your breaks on, come to a complete stop where your car doesn’t move. Then you look to see if there is enough space for you to go. If there is, and only if there is, THEN can you make the left turn onto the road that I was driving on. Of course, you didn’t stop. And of course there wasn’t enough room and so I had no choice but to honk and then hit you head on. With two kids in the back seat. Lucky for ALL of us, we weren’t hurt. Lucky for all of us, there were no other cars behind either one of us at that moment. Lucky for all of us, it could have been a lot worse. 10 seconds later, it would have been a different story. But I am still mad at you for not stopping. You scared the crap out of me and my sons who tell me they are “still shaking mommy.” And P.S. I have a lot to do this week as is. Tracking down the police report which proves you are at fault, then getting an estimate, a rental car that holds 4 car seats and then getting the car fixed is the last thing I needed. Harumph. Like I said, next time you see a STOP sign do what it says. STOP.

The Toyota Minivan driven by the rather annoyed Orange Rhino


Ahhh, I feel much better getting that off of my chest. UGH though, what a gigantic pain in the arse! All that aside, I have been working on being more grateful and focusing on the positive. I’ve read in lots of places that being grateful helps with daily happiness. Not that I am not happy. I am. But sometimes the stress of the daily grind gets to me and I um, you know, have the urge to yell.

So tonight, I am going to practice gratitude and while I am at it, share some pretty funny moments from yesterday. Kids can say the darnedest things at the best moments!

Tonight I am grateful for:

1) My kids and I being safe. Really could have been A LOT worse.

2) #2 saying the following to me in front of the other driver: “Mommy, was she a crazy bad driver, is that why she hit us?” Love that it was immediately her fault (which it was) and that he accused her of being a bad driver (which she was).

3) #1 asking the police officer if the other driver was okay. This melted my heart.

4) The police officer, while looking in my car and seeing 4 carseats, immediately asking, “Where are the other 2 kids, and the baby? Are they okay?” When I said they were home with a babysitter he said “Wow, you really are lucky.” And then “WOW. 4 kids. 4 carseats. WOW. That is crazy.” Thank you officer for pointing out the obvious. How about you apply your knowledge to the accident at hand?

5) #1 and #2 being so gosh darn well behaved as we sat at the side of the road in 100 degree weather for 30 minutes with no water. They found sticks and stones and dirt and worms and were as happy as can be. Thank you boys!

6) #2 giving me a hug and gently wiping away my tears when I started bawling. “Mommy, why the tears on your face?” “Oh sweetie, because mommy is so overwhelmed this week with so much on her mind and I don’t want to deal with this too and well, mommy was scared. But we’re okay now.” “Oh, okay, I love you.”

7) #1 saying the following as we get in the car to go home: “You know mom, if daddy had been driving and this happened he would have said…Dammit! That shitty driver! You didn’t swear or yell mommy. WAY TO GO!” Still laughing at this one. Mostly because 160+ days ago I would have screamed something A LOT worse.

Ah, yesterday afternoon stunk. But I really am grateful for how it turned out. The car has some bumps and bruises but my boys made me smile and laugh. And to be honest, I am proud that I didn’t snap or yell at them as we sat in the dirt, them playing, me quietly crying. I held it together under stress – both at the moment of impact and the moments after. I’ve come along way these last 160 ish days. A long way. It’s been one heck of a drive but totally worth it. And I ain’t stopping now! 

Any moment I don’t yell…

160 days of not yelling, 205 days to go
160 days of not yelling, 205 days of loving more to go! 

Dear “Yeah, yeah, yeah I’ll get to it when I have more time mentality,”

You are a pain in the a*s. Sure at the moment when I turn to you and employ you, you are a life saver. You make my to-do list seem smaller. But the thing is time passes. And I still use you for the same things over and over again. And guess what? Those things never get done. Sure some of those things don’t need to get done and so it’s cool. But the other things, they either need to get done or are important enough that they just keep nagging and nagging and nagging until they are done. Tonight’s post is one of those nagging things. So tonight I say, take a hike “yeah yeah yeah I’ll get it done mentality!” I’m going to write a post I’ve thought about for oh, four weeks or more. It won’t be perfect. It won’t be edited. It won’t be everything I want it to be. But it will be written. And off my mind.

See ya!
The Orange Rhino


Loving More.

160 days of not yelling. 205 days of LOVING MORE to go.

Did anyone notice that change on the blog? On my Facebook posts a few weeks back? That I stopped writing 160 days of not yelling, 205 to go? That I changed the counter on the right to also say days of LOVING MORE to go? Don’t worry, I am not offended if you didn’t! I had huge, gigantic plans to write about it. The change that is. And then life got in the way of my blogging plans these last 6 weeks. And so the “yeah, yeah, yeah I’ll get to it mentality” took over and I never told you all about the change.

But I wanted to. Because to me, it’s a BIG important change. And my post last night reminded me about it. So tonight, I write about the change. Or at least I’ll try to.

Every time I wrote my days remaining, 205 to go, it felt like an annoying task. A burden.  An unachieveable objective. Totally un-inspiring. What is inspiring though is the thought of Loving my boys MORE. I am often shocked, why I do not know, that my favorite posts all have the same conclusion. That at the heart of this challenge, that what the Orange Rhino Challenge is really all about is love. And loving my boys more.

After I wrote last night’s post I laughed to myself. Actually, no, after I pressed publish I thought “oh sh*t” why did I share that? I seem like such an over achiever talking about wanting to love my kids more. And what the heck does that mean anyways? Did I not love them before the challenge? Of course I loved them before The Orange Rhino Challenge. It’s just that I didn’t always show it and I especially didn’t show my love to my boys in the moments when I used to yell, I mean really yell. Those moments were full of such anger and meanness that they could make my sons question my love. Truly.

So when I say I want to love my sons more what I mean is I want those moments of anger and meanness to be gone and instead replaced with the unconditional love I spoke of yesterday. I have loved my boys since before I even held them. And I love them more than I ever could imagine. And yet, as silly as it sounds, I know I have the capacity to love them even more. Because the opportunity to get rid of those truly ugly yelling moments exists – and I can replace it with more patience, love, and understanding if not forgiveness.

Any moment that I don’t yell, I choose love. I choose to put aside all the negative feelings I have at that moment and instead dig deep to find the feelings of love that I have for my child. Oddly enough, when I stop and look for love when all I feel is anger – whether I look for it in my child’s sweet face, or in a picture in the house, or in a mental image of my son building with legos instead of dumping them – I actually start to feel better. I start to love again, to love more, at that moment and the anger subsides. Corny? Yes. But does it work? Yes yes yes.

So the bottom line in all my rambling tonight is this: Any moment that I don’t yell, I love my child more. So whether it is 365 days, 36 days, 3 days or just one moment when I don’t yell, I have loved my child more and that is inspiring to me.

My 5  and 3/4 year old said to me today:

“Mom, how many more days to you have to go?”

“200 or something.”

“WOW. That’s a lot. You should have picked a smaller number. A smaller challenge. You’re silly.”

Yeah, maybe so. But I want to love you more kiddo, I can love you more, I will love you more….

I want to love my boys more…

159 days without yelling, 206 days of loving more to go!

Dear Readers,

I have no idea if this post makes sense. I had a funeral today and my eyes are so sore and tired from crying all day and my heart is so heavy with sadness for my friend that I am not sure what I wrote. All I am sure of is that I needed to write tonight. Because in some really twisted way, the funeral I attended today only emphasized the important of this challenge for me.

The Orange Rhino


I had to watch a very close friend bury his mom today.

He already lost his father about thirteen years ago.

He just had his first daughter three weeks ago.

Unfortunately his mother entered the hospital and a coma shortly thereafter and was never able to meet her only grandchild.The whole situation pains me so. I’ve been carrying around a huge weight of sadness since this Thursday when I first heard the news. Knowing that someone so close and dear to me is suffering just breaks my heart.

And yet, since Thursday, I’ve been short and b*tchy with my four kids, with four people so close and dear to me. Here I am feeling so sad about my friend’s loss of his mom and yet I am being a mean mom to my kids. Why? Why is it that we are short with the ones we love? I don’t know why but I do know this. Just admitting it – admitting that these last few days I have been short because I am overwhelmed with grief – has at least kept me from yelling at the things so undeserving (oh like shoes being left by door for me to trip on, wake up calls at 4 am, food being flung.)

But still, even though I haven’t yelled, I hate it that instead of reaching out to my kids for the love I so desperately needed these last few days, I shut down and was short and distant. Because that is the antithesis of what I wanted. I have cried so much the last few days because my friend and his mom were so incredibly close and that is what I want for my sons and me.  I don’t want to be short and distant to them. I want to be incredibly close to them.

My friend cared for his mom so deeply and was such an amazing son. Ever since his dad died he looked after his mom with a sense of love, commitment, responsibility and honor that never ceased to amaze me.  He cared for her in a way I can only hope my sons bestow upon me. I want for my boys and I the same strong, loving relationship my friend had with his mom…and yet here I spent the last few days doing anything but building that relationship. (Unless days on end of “acceptable” snapping by Orange Rhino standards counts?!)

My friend shared some words today about his mom that made me really think. Well, and that made me really cry too. He said something along the lines of:

“It all boils down to this. My mom loved me unconditionally. Every time I had a question or a problem, I went to her and she told me she loved me and that she was proud of me. Even in her last days I asked her if I ever disappointed her. She couldn’t speak but she shook her head no and gave me a look that said, “are you nuts?!”

Listening to my friend speak, I thought of three things. One, my friend’s mom raised a great son and she’d be proud of him today, two of the immense sadness he must be feeling and three, I would be honored, no blessed? if my sons ever speak of me the way my friend spoke of his mom. I would be honored and blessed if my sons love me an eighth as much as my friend loved his mom.

You know, I struggled this week to answer the simple question: Why do I want to stop yelling at my kids. Really, the answers are so clear to me now. It’s because I love my kids and like my friend and his mom, I want them to come to me with every question and problem, even if they have failed, because they know I will love them unconditionally.

And why else do I want to stop yelling at my kids? Because while I love my kids, I know I can love them more. I want to love them more. And every time I yelled at them, I mean really yelled, screamed, went ballistic type yell, I chipped away at that love, I didn’t add to it. Instead I slowly chipped away at the potential for the unconditional love to grow. I chipped away at the opportunity for my boys to come to me without fear whenever a problem arises.

I am sure my friend and his mom had moments where one or both of them yelled. And I know that realistically a yell will come out of my mouth at some point in my many years as a mom. But that isn’t going to keep me from trying my hardest to love my kids more – with more respect, more patience, more grace, more empathy. Because loving my kids more will only teach them to love me more. Loving my kids more will only help our relationship grow stronger. Someday my boys will be speaking about me from a podium. And when that day comes, I want them to be able to speak of the same unconditional love my friend shared today. And I can only imagine that not yelling (or even yelling less) is one step towards that.  And it’s a worth step worth taking because let me tell you – watching my friend speak today, sensing the love he felt for his mom? It was powerful. Beyond powerful.

Inner Turmoil

154 days without yelling, 211 days of loving more to go!

Dear J.F.,

Thank you for all your constant support and motivation. You have words of wisdom that always lift me up and get me back on track when I want to quit this challenge. The best part? You were a total stranger to me. Until now…. Thank you also for taking the time to write a little something for my blog. As I expected, this week after my staycation has me overwhelmed and behind schedule. ON EVERYTHING. I want to get back into blogging full swing but it is nearly impossible. So I gratefully share below some of your thoughts on the challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed reading what you wrote below – because it made me realize I AM NOT ALONE. That my feelings aren’t ridiculous. They don’t make me ridiculous. If anything, they make me normal. They make all us reading this, perhaps all of us able to identify with at least 1, if not more of your points, feel normal….

many thank you’s,
The Orange Rhino


Written by J.F. Please show your support for her with Facebook love and/or comments!

Dear Orange Rhino,

As I follower of your blog I would like to say:

Thank you for helping me be a better mom. Thank you for letting me try again when I fail. Thank you for giving me the motivation not to quit.

I never used to yell at anyone. Then I became a mom. By the time my boys were 4, 3 and 1, I began to yell at them, when no one else was around. I was overtired, stressed, surrounded by clutter and mess, feeling fat, and feeling isolated from adults (I was a stay-at-home mom). I felt helpless, and my life didn’t seem to belong to me anymore. All this seemed to trigger the yeller in me to come out. And when I yelled, I wasn’t just yelling. I was yelling with great inner turmoil. I was emotionally upset when I yelled. That’s what made it so awful.

I think that’s why it was so hard to just stop. All of those emotions were always bubbling up. But I kept trying to stop, because I love my kids. I don’t want my kids to fear me. I want them to grow up feeling safe, secure, and loved, and have happy memories of their childhood. I want them be able to deal with life when they get upset. When they fight and misbehave I always tell them, “You don’t have to yell or hit. Just use your words.” I want to do that too, and be a good example to them. I don’t need to yell. I can just use my words.

Thankfully, I stumbled on the Orange Rhino Challenge. Wow! Discovering that I wasn’t alone helped me immensely. I didn’t have to be embarrassed to talk about my yelling problem with others. Reading the blogs got me really thinking much more about why I yell. It’s given me insight. It helped me to discover some of the things that set me off, so I can stop them before they start. It helped me find other ways to react when I want to yell at my kids. Tooting my Rhino horn and posting my progress has made me accountable to someone other than my kids for my behavior.

Someday I would love to say I made it 365 days without yelling. In the mean time, I will take it day by day and try and set new records for myself. I will celebrate all my small victories along the way. Because it is a victory to make it through a day without yelling. I love my kids, and because of that, I will always keep trying.


And when I yelled, I wasn’t just yelling. I was yelling with great inner turmoil. I was emotionally upset when I yelled. That’s what made it so awful.
Um, you took the words right out of my head. Especially the inner turmoil bit.

I didn’t have to be embarrassed to talk about my yelling problem with others.
It is so hard to admit something that you are personally struggling with, right? Especially when you worry what other people will think? But when you do admit it, it is almost freeing and it is amazing all the support that exists. The support is always greater than the judgement I find….

Tooting my Rhino horn and posting my progress has made me accountable to someone other than my kids for my behavior.
I didn’t want to believe that posting progress would make a difference but it does. The days of staycating and not checking in were some of my worst on this challenge. Now that I am posting progress, I am more accountable. I have more motivation to not fail.

Because it is a victory to make it through a day without yelling.
Yes. Yes it is. Any moment for that matter is a victory. I know my goal is 365 days but honestly, any moment I don’t yell I already feel I have succeeded. Because I am making progress forwards…and so are you. Keep on being victorious please, you are an inspiration to me!


Don’t Yell, Take a Picture!

153 days without yelling, 212 days to go!

Dear Nikon Dsomething or other, a.ka., my camera,

Somewhere along this process I realized something really important:  sometimes when my boys act naughty, when they are bound and determined to piss me off, to get under my skin, to do anything humanly possible to annoy me and set me off, IT ISN’T INTENTIONAL.

They aren’t out to make me yell, they aren’t out to get me (even though trust me, it sure as h*ll feels like it) they are just out to have fun. To enjoy life. To experience life in the way they know how. Which at times, sure looks pretty gosh darn naughty (um filling the bathtub with not 1, not 2, but 3 bottles of bath soap from under the cabinet?) and feels like a big ‘ole nuisance (um, cleaning up an entire case of eggs dropped on the floor as an experiment?)

But these moments, while frustrating as all can be, are actually pretty darn awesome. They are picture perfect in an a*s backwards kind of way. Because they show my boys not just being kids, but being people. They show them being Creative. Joyful. Resourceful. Entertaining. The list goes on and on. Yes, these moments of naughtiness are sometimes actually nuggets of awesomeness. And when they are, I stop, grab the camera (that’s you!), and pray that they keep being “naughty” so that I can catch the picture. So that I can remember forever the horrifically wonderfully amusing behavior. Yes, sometimes I even encourage them to keep doing what they are doing (GASP!) instead of reprimanding them.

And I am okay with that. Because I have learned that lots of moments that appear to be yelling moments really aren’t. They might be call for gentle discipline and reminders not to do that again, but they don’t deserve yelling. Or shaming. Or scolding. They deserve to be remembered. And I am grateful that as more days pass I take more and more pictures with you of said “naughty” behavior and follow up with gentle teaching because really, not only does that feel better inside, but it feels great to be able to watch my kids enjoy life in a carefree way.  In a way I struggle with so much as an adult.

That is what I love about kids. It’s cliché but true. They live life with less inhibitors and it can be pretty amazing to witness and can be one of the best parts of parenting. If I remember to chill out and enjoy the view. If I remember to grab my camera and not my yelling voice!

It ain’t easy. But lot’s of the time it’s worth it. I mean just look at all these kiddos enjoying life, being people, just like you and me. Okay, well, like me. Look at all the wonderful, not naughty, moments captured by your friends of kids being…


Photo courtesy Beth T.










Photo courtesy Caryn B.









Photo courtesy Meghan T.











Photo courtesy Alison C.











Photo courtesy Becky









Photo courtesy Jenny F.








Photo courtesy Mary Rose S.








Photo Courtesy Darlene W.








Photo courtesy Eva L.











Photo courtesy An F.











Photo courtesy Robin J.










Photo courtesy The Orange Rhino's 4 year old...


Yeah, my kids are a lot of things: curious, playful, resourceful, experimental, determined, entertaining, creative, proud, inventive, driven, enthusiastic and out right ridiculous! And yeah, sometimes they are truly naughty and they make me want to yell. But more often than not, it’s not that they are that THAT naughty, it is just that I find their behavior annoying at the time because it is a nuisance to clean up, to manage, to fix. More often than not, they are just enjoying life. More often than not, they are pretty awesome. And I am glad this challenge has helped me to realize that – has helped me to see the good more so than the bad. Of course I wish I discovered that earlier. But hey, it is never too late. It is never too late.

Staycation is over…

Hello to my readers not on Facebook! I took a staycation the last week or so and unplugged from electronics and the like to enjoy some time with my family before my hubby went back to work after an extended vacation. Gotta love accruing weeks and weeks on end (although that did mean he went years and years without vacation.) Anywho, my apologies if you have emailed me and I have not responded. I am working on catching up now and will hopefully blog tonight. Until then…enjoy this picture and pretend you are on vacation somewhere tropical with a great drink with a cute umbrella in it. Cheers!

Last week’s post made me uncomfortable…

145 days without yelling, 220 days of loving more to go!

Dear Napoleon Hill,

You wrote:

“No man has a chance to enjoy permanent success until he begins to look in a mirror for the real cause of all his mistakes.”


I looked in the mirror last week and you are right. Looking in the mirror scared the sh*t out of me in a truly impactful and motivating way (read here, Why I used to yell at my kids). Realizing that I yelled at my kids because I could, because they couldn’t yell back at me made me beyond uncomfortable. I truly feel that looking in the mirror last week, while dreadful, will permanently lead me to remove yelling from my parenting style.

So thank you.

The Orange Rhino


Words can’t really say how uncomfortable I feel to have realized that I yelled at my kids because I could, because they don’t have the POWER to bring me down like an adult. Well, words could but the truth is I don’t want to see the words on paper. I don’t want to admit to the thoughts this realization conjured up it my head. Because they kind of scared me. No, not kind of. They DID scare me.

In fact, when I went  to find a picture on line to go with my post I couldn’t share what I found because what I saw frightened me. The pictures looked eerily familiar. It felt like I was looking in the mirror and it WAS ROUGH. It made me physically uncomfortable to see pictures of “mommy yelling at kids.” It looked like this:






And this…







Did I really used to be that person? Did I used to scream down at my kids, literally and figuratively, in a way that made them shutter, and cry, and cower from me? Did I used to yell at my kids for loud that they stopped looking at me? Oh, yes, I did. I was that person in the pictures.

I shuttered looking at the images. Literally. They kicked me in the a*s. Just two pictures brought back such powerful, bad memories of what I used to look like, how I used to feel. They brutally reminded me me that Yelling is scary. It’s ugly. It’s awful. It was me. I might not have been that person every day but I was that person enough to want to change, to want to stop experiencing the raw, gut-wrenching emotions of guilt, disappointment, sadness, and anger with myself for yelling at my kids so harshly at times.

And yet here I am 145+ days from feeling these emotions and I find myself slipping a bit, taking my “success” for granted, forgetting the depth of those emotions these pictures conjured up and how I didn’t want to feel them again. I am still not yelling, I am still abiding by my Orange Rhino Challenge rules, but every once and a while I have been close to breaking the rules. And I don’t like it. On occasion I have even found myself thinking oh I couldn’t have been THAT BAD of a yeller, right? What is one little yell here and there? Is this challenge REALLY necessary?

The answer is yes.
YES this challenge is really necessary for me.
YES I was that bad of a yeller.
YES every little yell counts.

Because for me and the way I operate, one yell leads to two which leads to three which eventually leads to the Raging, Lunatic, Level 7 scream which brings such fear – my kids fear in me and my fear in myself. While I have on occasion forgotten what it felt like to yell at my kids, I have never forgotten the fear I have of being honest, really, really, really honest, about the type of mom I am. Loving, yes? Unacceptably dreadful at times? YES. What had I become?? I wasn’t the loving, patient, soft spoken yet firm disciplinarian. I was a screaming mother and I never thought I would be a screaming mother. I never thought I would make my kids fear me.

And I also never thought that I could change. I never believed that I could learn to stop yelling at my kids. But I could. I have learned to not be the parent in those two pictures. And I truly hope that this lesson is permanent. It has to be. There is no other option.

P.S. I know it is kind of interesting that a comic-type picture can get to me so much. I  guess that just goes to show how bad my feelings were about yelling at my boys that such a picture could make me feel so awful again!