15 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution to Stop Yelling at Your Kids

Orange Rhino YellingYou all know that in January 2012, I promised my four boys, then ages five and under, that I would go 365 days straight without yelling. I had just been caught yelling at them by the handyman and the disappointment in myself that I had become a yelling mom, a mom I so never thought I would be, coupled with the sheer embarrassment, pushed me to finally admit that enough was enough and that I needed to change.

After numerous starts and re-starts, I finally met my goal on February 6th, 2013 and well, I just kept going, and going. The upsides to not yelling, like less temper tantrums, tears (both my kids and mine,) and berating myself, along with more listening, enjoyable bedtimes, and laughter (just to name a few) made all the hard work so worth it that I had no desire to pull back my efforts! I have only had a few slip ups since that February day, but with new health concerns for my three year old, new parenting challenges and new personal struggles, I am finding that the increased level of stress is making it much harder, like, much, much harder, to respond calmly instead of yelling.

So, when December 31st rolled around, instead of sitting down to make a list of any new resolutions, I decided to make a list of reminders for how I could continue to succeed at my old resolution of not yelling at my kids. I hope my list helps you out as well because I know I am not the only parent struggling with this resolution!

Preventative Measures to Keep Yells From Growing in the First Place

  • Schedule a scream if you wake up on the wrong side of the bed or get a stressful phone call. Letting out a big ‘ole yell outside, in the garage, or into the closet relieves tension instantly and gets you to a less grumpy place.
  • My mom told me to rest because I needed to. Of course I said I didn't need to. I ended up not getting up for 2 hours. Mom was right - I needed the break! Loved this moment!

    My mom told me to rest because I needed to. Of course I said I didn’t need to. I ended up not getting up for 2 hours. Mom was right – I needed the break! Loved this moment!

    Take care of yourself. Prioritize sleep, exercise, me-time, and connecting with friends so that you are in a better place to combat personal things that can push you to yell like: hunger, exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed and experiencing any tough feeling of parenthood like loneliness or not-good-enough-ness.

  • Surround yourself with orange by sticking orange Post-It notes in oh-so-popular yelling areas and by wearing orange clothes so that everywhere you go you are reminded of your promise to be an Orange Rhino and not yell. That and well, orange gives off a warm and energizing vibe, a vibe desperately needed to keep yells away!
  • Laugh, talk and cuddle with the kids whenever you can because when you are all connected and regularly enjoying each other’s company, you all behave better! Seriously. Joyful moments breed joyful attitudes, remember that!

Tips to Stop a Growing Yell When Preventative Measures Don’t Cut it.

  • 279637_10150723865045004_5947675_oRe-tape newborn pictures that have fallen down off bedroom doors so that when naptime is a struggle or when some darling child needs one thousand and one cups of water to fall asleep, you are reminded how fragile your child was, and always will be, so that you are inspired to proceed with gentle and not harsh words.
  • Exercise to get your body, instead of your mouth, moving! Drop and do a push-up so you don’t yell a put down! Do jumping jacks so that you stop feeling so jumpy and irritated! Let the endorphins released from exercising (stretching included) bring you to a happier place.
  • Start vacuuming, scrubbing the floor, or wiping down counters to get the similar calm-down effect as exercise. Added bonuses? Also get a cleaner house, more sculpted arms and if vacuuming, a noise to drown of the yelling of the kids which you know can be a major trigger!
  • Say, “I love you sooooo much” so that the blatantreminder of how strongly you feel about one of your munchkins dampens the desire to yell. Saying “I love you” is like an elixir to stop yells, especially when it is said over and over again which lets be honest, will be necessary sometimes!
  • 72224_10150308214670004_6138642_nStare at a favorite picture in the room of you and the kiddo driving you nutso so that you focus on the positive memory you shared and not the current negative one you are experiencing. In other words, zone out for a minute so you don’t blow up for 10 minutes! Remember, if no picture can be found, staring at an inspirational quote or personal mantra also helps get you re-centered. One favorite mantra: “I can do this. I will not yell.”
  • Splash cold water on your face to cool down. Or put your head in the freezer, whichever. You know you can get hot when a yell starts to grow which can make you get irritated. And if you get irritated, then you will probably want to yell even more! And if you want to yell even more well…then literally cooling down is a lifesaver. Note: If you are in the car, open the window and put your head out like a dog. Just watch out for passing cars of course! Ha!
  • Find perspective by saying you are grateful for whatever annoying thing happened. For example, “I am grateful my son spilled his milk all over the floor because it meant he was trying to learn how to do it himself.” Or “I am grateful my son spilled his milk and not my coffee. That would have been a disaster.”
  • Sing out emotions or just sing for the heck of it because even though you have an awful voice, it gets attention! Plus, singing, “I am so angry I could yellll,” makes you laugh both at yourself at your kids (in a good way, of course) because their, “mom is a wicked awful singer” expressions are priceless.

Alternatives to Yelling When All Else Fails and a Yell is Inevitable.

  • Turn the yell into garbledegook (I am not sure that is even a word, but that is the entire point.) When a yell is literally on the way out and you are too late, jumble all the words and sounds up so that you sound ridiculous. This will not only stop the kids in their tracks, but it will also make us all laugh which is an instant mood changer. Likewise, talking like a robot or as if you have marshmallows in your mouth, also work.
  • Stress Ball 2Squeeze the nearest squeezable thing (and no, this definitely does not include kids!) Think Play-Doh, kitchen towel, cereal box, pillow, jacket, steering wheel, or seat of a chair. What also works is putting your hands in your back pockets and squeezing (the pockets that is, not your butt!)
  • Just let out a primal scream, but leave all words out. The reality is that sometimes it does feel good to scream; it just doesn’t feel good to yell negative sentiments at others. So if a yell is most definitely coming out, let it out but just save the words and aim it away from the kids. (P.S. I always follow this up with an, “I’m sorry I lost my cool.”)

And last but definitely not the least, the most important of all ways to ensure that you don’t slip into your old yelling habits, should you slip up–rather, when you do because you might be an Orange Rhino but you are still human–make sure to immediately forgive yourself. Remaining mad at yourself will just make you grumpy, angry, and disappointed which are three surefire ways to make it even hard to keep yourself from yelling when the next tough moment arises.

YLLMcrop2For 85 more ideas on how to stop yelling at your kids, and for a detailed step by step guide to further help and inspire you, check out my new book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can Too!” available in all major bookstores and online here.

How to Yell Less This Holiday Season


(c) The Orange Rhino

At 12:30 today, my 12-day Christmas vacation with my entire family begins. I must admit, I am equal parts excited and equal parts nervous. Oh how excited I am to see my kids smile on Christmas morning, to hear them squeal with joy when they see what Santa left, to feel them all snuggled up next to me as we watch movies together and just lounge around without a care in the world. And oh how excited I am to have my husband around as a second hand to help out, to not have to drive to appointment after appointment, to not have to jump out of bed for fearing of running late. Yes, there is much to look forward and I can feel the excitement growing in my belly.

But of course I can also feel the nerves, the nerves that know that Christmas break is a hard time for me to “Yell Less and Love More.” There are just too many personal triggers that get all fired up!

Like being around too many people without any alone time.
Like eating too many sweets and junk food and eh hem, drinking too much wine.
Like seeing too many things that need to be cleaned up and organized.
Like hearing endless tantrums because my kiddos are overtired and overstimulated.
Like feeling disappointed that Christmas, the most magical day of the year came and went so quickly. Too quickly.

Ugh, and these are just the holiday triggers! Shoot, these are just some of my holiday triggers! Oh how I am nervous that I will not enjoy my holiday vacation as much as I hope because I will be so busy fighting off these “seasonal” triggers on top of all my other normal ones! Ha! It’s a good thing that a super simple, super inspiring, super helpful acronym about Yelling Less came to me as I flew back from Los Angeles a few weeks ago. Ya ready?

I plan to “Yell Less and Love More” this holiday vacation, to embrace all the joy of the season, all the joy that my children bring me, all the joy I feel from being with my family, by simply finding J.O.Y! Yep, it is as simple as that! I am going to,

J. Jot down all my known triggers that appeared during past holidays.
O. Observe my notes to find both trends and which triggers are the most “popular.”
Y. Yell Less by creating a plan to manage said popular triggers when they arise.

J.O.Y.Simple, inspiring and helpful, right?! I know, simple is a bit of an understatement. Taking the time to write down triggers (when and why I yell) and observing notes isn’t necessarily a simple task; it actually can take a lot of focus, thought and time. That said it is a straightforward task that leads to straightforward and useful answers. Once I know my triggers, I can create a plan to manage them. And once I have a plan to manage them, I can act on said plan. And once I act on said plan, I can start to change, I can start to Yell Less and Love More; I can start to find more JOY-full moments in the day and enJOY said moments more! And when you give a dog a donut…. Oh wait, wrong example.

But speaking of donuts, this is how I am currently embracing J.O.Y. so that when 12:31 hits later today, I am less nervous and more excited! Here are my

Top 5 Holiday Triggers and Solutions
Too many people and not enough alone time
Action: Create a secret signal with my husband that means “I need a quiet breather now or else I will explode.” Encourage him to do the same. Go to the “bathroom” as soon as everyone sits down to a meal. Kidding. Kind of?!

Trigger: Eating crappy food (eh hem, Chex Mix for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!)
Action: Prioritize exercise; do not skip just because it is vacation! Explain to husband and family that the best gift for me is time to exercise, that it makes me a more pleasant and present person to be around! And try to drink as much water and as little wine as possible. Ha!

Trigger: Being overwhelmed by new gifts and the immense need to organize
Action: Give one laundry basket to each person to collect gifts; have each person bring basket up to room at the end of the day. Tell myself over and over and over again that, “It will all get cleaned up. Focus on the joy that grew as the mess grew.”

Trigger: Endless tantrums
Action: Find empathy. This is easy. I remember crying as a kid because my brother got better toys. I remember falling into heaps of tears at bedtime because the day was over. I remember stuffing my face with candy while decorating the gingerbread house. I remember sneaking downstairs after bedtime on Christmas Eve to catch Santa. I remember all of this leading to lots and lots of lots of meltdowns. I plan to manage this trigger by remembering that my kids are doing just what I did and that this week isn’t just hard for me, but for them too!

Trigger: Feeling disappointed that a great day is over (and that maybe I missed out?)
Action: Look at pictures from the day and share fun memories from the day out loud! When I relive a moment that was wonderful, the disappointment fades as the realization that it was great and that I really was present grows.

And when all else fails, I will just ask for a hug from my kiddos or just give them one as hugs from my kiddos have the most magical way of bringing me immense joy. Are you ready to Yell Less and Love More this holiday? Here are two free downloads to help you get started! Click on the image for the trigger tracking sheet and trigger action plan!

Orange Rhino Trigger Tracking Sheet jpgOrange Rhino Trigger Action Plan jpg

Happy tracking and enJOY having more JOYfull days with your family as you wrap up 2014! And no joyfull is not a typo, totally intended as yelling less has made my days much more full of joy!


YLLM1Learn more about tracking triggers and creating a plan for all different types of triggers in my new book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too!” It’s a 30-day guide complete with 100 alternatives to yelling, simple steps to follow and honest stories to inspire you on your own journey to yell less. Prepare yourself: it isn’t just a parenting guide, it is also a parenting memoir with stories that you will probably relate to and will most definitely make you both laugh and cry! 


The Orange Rhino’s Top 100 Alternatives to Yelling

So, learning to stop yelling can be, um, how shall I put it…difficult? And boring. And serious. And just all around blech. So when I started The Orange Rhino Challenge I decided that in order to help me stay on task and not give up on the difficult challenge, that I would to have fun with learning to yell less and love more. Here are the top 100 Alternatives that I created and tried on my journey; some are outright wacky, some are just funny, and some are plain fun. But I have found that in the heat of the moment, they all work because they do one or more of the following: help me calm down, get my kids attention, turn my negative thoughts into nicer thoughts, or make us all laugh and chill out. I say keep trying them out until you find one, or two, or hopefully ten or more, that really work for you. And remember, have fun with it!

During my Orange Rhino Challenge I used…
– Fun Alternatives
– I’ll look like a fool Alternatives
– I’ll be considered a bad parent Alternatives
– Preventative Alternatives (surround yourself with reminders) 
– You’ll think I’m Cheesy Alternatives
– Serious/Expected Alternatives 

Fun Alternatives:
1.  Run around the house  (adrenaline boost)
2.  Start talking jibberish  (makes kids laugh & stop pummeling each other)
3.  Start blowing bubbles  (reminds me of childhood & that I should CHILL OUT)
3 Fridge4.  Get the camera  (forces me to see behavior wasn’t so bad)
5.  Laugh. Even if you don’t want to.  (laughter is good for the soul)
6.  Bang arms on chest like a gorilla  (a good release and a great entertainment for kids)
7.  Put hand in front of mouth and pretend to “toot” a horn  (great attention getter)
8.  Do Jump and Jacks  (releases positive chemicals or something like that!)
9.  Do push ups  (see above)
10.  Start clapping & go until kids have stopped annoying behavior (a good release)
11.  Start drumming on table/counter until rage is gone  (a REALLY good release)
12.  Start the Hokey Pokey  (silliness can snap anyone out of it)
13.  Start a Dance Party  (adrenaline + fun, what’s not to love?)
14.  Sing. I especially like “La la la, la la, la LAAAAA”  (it’s unexpected which works wonders)
15.  Pretend to have Laryngitis  (silence also works wonders)
16.  Play hide ‘n seek. You hide. They seek. For a LONG time.  (fun game can snap anyone out of it)
17.  Put funny glasses on and “look” through their eyes  (they laugh, you find empathy) 
18.  Give a High Five  (The “slap” slaps you out desire to yell as does the touch of their sweet hands)
19.  Try to do a somersault (makes you laugh and maybe even pee your pants. Oh, but not me. As if).
20.  Speak in a Robot voice (makes kids stop and look at you and wonder, who is she?!)
21.  Start Playing with the kids (makes you realize how fun it is to be a kid!)
Tip 1422.  Grab children and hug them (it just feels good all over for everyone!)
23.  Start doing “crab walks” (entertaining and exercise releases good chemicals or something like that!)
24.  Spray silly string (a fun diverter)
25.  Bang a pot or pan (releases anger & starts a music party)
26.  Start running in place (adrenaline boost )
27.  Tickle child you want to yell at (laughter does the body good, more good than milk!)
28.  Pretend you are hurt and need Dr. so and so, insert kids name (kids come running)
29.  Go read favorite page of 50 Shades of Grey (did I just write that?! Next subject. Blush. Blush.)
30.  Whistle. Loudly. (helps you focus on breathing and annoys kids so they re-focus on you!)
31.  Hum. Even louder than whistle (annoys kids & gets them to  stop behavior and tell you to stop!)
32.  Pop some orange M&M’s into mouth (chocolate is a great mood changer)!
33.  Eat a carrot or an apple. Just something hard and crunchy (crunch out stress!)
34.  Eat frozen grapes & pretend for a second kids are sleeping & the grapes are wine (okay, it’s a stretch but reaching into freezer snapped me out of my moods!)

turned funny 5

That would be my husband because he created this alternative and we both love it! Thanks hon!

“I look like a Fool” Alternatives:
35.  Yell into a Closet  (clothes don’t have feelings)
36.  Yell into a Kitchen Cabinet  (cereal boxes don’t have feelings either)
37 . Open up the freezer and put head in (it cools me down & makes kids laugh)
38.  Raise two hands in air (gets kids attention & warns that I’m about to blow)
39.  Go to the bathroom and scream into the toilet, then flush it away  (um symbolic?)
40.  Shake body, arms and legs  (like The Wiggles, Shake shake Shake your silly’s out)
41.  Get on back and put legs and arms in the air and howl like a Dog  (yes, I did this)

“I’ll be considered a bad parent” Alternatives:
42.  Put the TV on for longer than normally feels okay at really bad moments  (sometimes TV is better
than yelling, right?)
43.  Have ice cream sundaes together  (fun family activity makes me want to have fun, not yell)
44.  Start the day with Orange Yogurt  (A very small food coloring goes a long way)
45.  Sit down and “watch” the circus (gain perspective and laughter)
46.  Put ear buds in and listen to Radio! (ah, my kind of “noise”!)
47.  Close your eyes & put head in hands in disbelief. Nope I have NEVER done this either.
48.  Open a window and breathe in fresh air (kids laugh, what is she doing? Is she a dog?!)
49.  Close eyes and picture yourself on a beach, with a daiquiri in hand  (takes you to your happy place)
50.  Keep orange gum/tic tacs in purse (chewing /sucking sounds drown out whining!)

Preventive Alternatives (surround yourself with reminders that you don’t want to yell):
51.  Put orange post it notes all over the house ESPECIALLY where one is apt to yell
52.  Dress your kids in orange (a totally in your face reminder)
53.  Post pictures of kids in problem areas (forces you to fall in love all over again)
54.  Buy orange napkins and keep in the kitchen
55.  Buy (or receive for Mother’s Day!) orange kitchen towels
56.  Wear more orange (necklace, clothes)

I need all the reminders I can get!!!

I need all the reminders I can get!!!

57.  Paint your nails orange (reminds you every morning to be warm and composed)
58.  Print out Orange Rhino Logo, attach popsicle sticks and have Kids hold it up when crankiness starts
59.  Get kids involved! Have them yell “ORANGE RHINO!!!” when they sense eruption coming!
60.  Wear an orange hair elastic around wrist
61.  Place orange flowers in a vase in kitchen
62.  Serve Orange Foods/Drinks  (oranges, peaches, cheese, Cheez its, carrots)
63.  Drink from an Orange Straw (simply reminds you of the color orange, feelings of warmth!)
64.  Light a candle at known bad times, um, bed time? (Relaxes your mood)
65.  Use aromatherapy lotion on hands…instead of slamming a door in frustration (massage is relaxing) 
66.  Say “I love you. I love you. I love you.”  (Hard to yell when you realize you love someone).
67.  Think things could be worse (yes he’s on table, but he isn’t swinging from the chandelier. Yet.)
68.  Grab play-doh or silly putty and squeeze (don’t forget to stop squeezing)
69.  Drink a glass of water (forces you to take a breath. Or two.)
70.  Splash cold water on your face (snaps you right out of bad mood)
71.  Put a warm wash cloth on your neck (ah…relaxation)
72.  Text a friend announcing you’re going to lose it  (hopefully he/she will say “don’t!!)
73.  Set up phone calendar to notify you every 30 min to not yell.  (annoying but helpful)
74.  Stare at something in room that you love.  (finding happy moments erases anger)
75.  Ask your child WHY are you crying?  (the response will make you give a hug instead)
76.  Ask your child WHY are you doing that?  (the response will make you go, duh)
77. Tell yourself “I won’t yell. I won’t yell.”  (Tricks you into believing you won’t!)
78.  Put a finger over mouth in shhh position (creates physical barrier to yelling)
79.  Ring a bell like pre-school teachers (casts a magical spell on kids)
80.  Look at this cheat sheet! (gives you ideas or makes you laugh?!)
81.  If help is around, tag out. (gives you a well-deserved break!) 
82.  Go through yelling motions but don’t let voice out (shocks kids and yourself that you didn’t yell, releases endorphins from pride!)
83.  Go to www.facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino  and yell at me (that’s what the page is for!)

“You’ll think I am cheesy” Alternatives:
84.  Say out loud “Serenity Now.”
85.  Say out loud “They are just kids and I love them.”
86.  Say out loud “It’s Gonna be a GREEEEAT day” (like the guy in Jerry Maguire)
87.  Call a family council meeting and have everyone sit criss- cross applesauce (forces kids to stop)
88.  Look at TV and pretend there is a hidden camera (fear of judgment works wonders)
89.  Smile (rumor has it if you fake it, you’ll feel it?)
90.  Cry. Yup cry. Show your kids you’re frustrated (brings out empathy from kiddos & new behavior)
91.  Say positive thoughts out loud (forces you to see good, not bad and forces desire to be kind)
92.  Pull out family photo album (takes everyone to a happy, smiley place)
93.  Tell your kids how you feel (gets love and concern and teaches them to express feelings!)

More Serious/Expected Alternatives:
94.  Count to 10. Or 100. Or 1000 until you calm down.  (forces one to regroup and get perspective)
95.  Walk away  (more opportunity to gain perspective)
96.  Take a deep breath  (if one is breathing, one can’t yell!)
97.  Whisper  (don’t know why this works, it just does!)
98.  Turn the Lights off  (the shocking factor stops kids in tracks and adds calmness)
99.  Keep a journal and write why you want to scream  (paper is a great listener)
Stress Ball 2100.  Grab your hands together and squeeze (a great release)

* * * * *
“Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids– and How You Can Too!” is The Orange Rhino’s (a.k.a. Sheila McCraith’s) parenting memoir and guide from her year long journey to stop yelling. It shares more alternatives like these as well as manageable actions and inspirational personal stories to help you on your own journey to yell less and love more. It is due out October 2014 but can be pre-ordered now to get the best price. Order here.

How I Stop Myself From Yelling Unnecessarily at My Kids

I am in a funk.
And I am fairly certain that I have no clue whatsoever as to why I am in said funk.
And I am more than fairly certain that said funk is making it woefully difficult to not yell.

Like, really, really difficult.

Because I am in a mood. I am present, but not. I am happy, but not. I am sad, but not. I am around and here and “doing” what I need to be “doing” but I feel this little I don’t know what “it” is, nagging at me, leaving me feeling just off. And again, really wanting to yell

…at all the noise (I swear my almost three year old, who just “found” his voice is louder than his older three brothers…combined!)

…at all the clutter (hello, end of the year school papers!)

…at all the whining that comes from water fights (yes, dear son, if you squirt your brother he will get you back, twofold.)

…at all the not listening that comes with spring fever/end of the year fever. (Okay, it is mostly coming from the fact that I am in a funk and not communicating as effectively as I can.) Tip 19

…at all the lost shoes that are needed to get out of the door on time but have disappeared into the great outdoors during water fights

…and well, at my kids, totally unnecessarily.

When I figured this funk had started settling in, my first thought was (and advance warning to the men for this statement), “well of course it is! It’s that time of month!” But then that time of month didn’t happen and I realized my count was off and well, that I couldn’t blame my crankiness on the calendar. Blech. Bummer. That is such an easy thing to blame and a readily acceptable one. It comes. It goes. Funk be gone; yelling less and loving more becomes easier again just like that!

No lie, I was totally bummed to not have the “calendar” as my scapegoat especially since my funk was growing and growing and with it my desire to yell. My husband ever so innocently and lovingly said to me this past weekend, “Babe, what’s up? You are crankier and snappier and more distant with all of us. What’s going on?” I roared back, okay, not roared but really snapped back in a rather annoyed way,

“Get off my back! If I knew, I would fix it and wouldn’t be as cranky! Besides, I am well aware I am cranky and I am working on it. I don’t exactly like being this way you know. It’s not fun!”

And that was the truth. All of it–not just the not liking being cranky (who does, right?!) but also that I was working on it. Because I am. Every. Single. Day. Here is how my new “Orange Rhino” mind is operating right now at any given tense moment to help me figure life out so that I get on a less cranky path.

* * * * *

Me: I just “oopsie-snapped” at kids.
Orange Rhino Mind (ORM): Why did you do that? Did they deserve it?

Me: No. I’m just cranky.
ORM: Why are you cranky?

Me: I don’t know. Leave me alone!
ORM: No, I won’t stop pushing you because you know that if you don’t figure out what is silently eating at you, your crankiness will grow, it will be come a trigger and you’ll yell and you don’t want that.

Me: Okay fine. I’ll think about it but really, I’ve been thinking about it for days now and I just can’t figure out what is eating at me.
ORM: Okay, let’s go through the list of things you know you need to do for you to be in a good place. You know, the basics you learned on your Orange Rhino Challenge that need to be taken care of so you are best apt to not yell. Ready? Are you tired?

Me: No. I am actually sleeping better lately. (Side bar: We’ve been sleeping on my husband’s bed from high school. It’s what, 20 years old? Got a new mattress. Oh. My. Gosh. Get a new mattress today people! Life changer! I wake up rested and don’t have to stretch my “getting old joints” to move!)

ORM: Is it lack of exercise?
Me: Nope. Not that either. I have a new exercise regime going and I feel great.

ORM: Are you hanging out with friends, you know, socializing and laughing and connecting with adults?
Me: Yeah, more than usual.

ORM: Are you stressed?
Me: Yes. No doubt. But I know that, it isn’t nagging at me. And it’s good stress.

ORM: So what the heck is your problem then girl?! What’s driving the funk? (Okay, it doesn’t say that. I say that.)
Me: I don’t know but I have to – and really want to – figure it out because I know it is driving me closer and closer to yelling.

* * * * *

As I sit here writing this, I fina-friggin-ly feel like I have clarity. Yee-haw!

I learned on The Orange Rhino Challenge that when I find myself wanting to yell unnecessarily at the kids way more than usual, that I need to stop “blaming” them as the reason I want to yell, but instead point the blaming finger at myself. When I get to that point, I do what I wrote above. I drill and drill and drill myself with “Why?” questions until I figure out what is really bothering me. I always know I have hit the real issue at hand when my stomach (or is it body or mind, I don’t know) goes, “Aha! This feels right.” I no longer feel the need to question myself.

Well, that feeling just happened.

Do you know what I am not doing, or rather haven’t done lately from my “Taking Care of Me List,” the list that keeps me from being in a place where I want to yell, yell, yell?

I haven’t relaxed. I haven’t stopped. I haven’t breathed. I haven’t slowed down. I haven’t done anything for me. I haven’t taken care of me and that is ESSENTIAL to my being in a calm place so that yelling isn’t a desire (okay, or at least the natural desire!)

And do you know what else I haven’t done?

I haven’t connected with my boys, like really, really connected, laughed, and just hung out with my boys.

There are real good reasons I haven’t done the above two things. Life has been tough these last few weeks, for my boys and me. Nothing major, just a little more tough than usual. Tough on our schedules, tough on our mental states, tough on our ability to enjoy downtime – both together and apart.

And do you know what else is tough?

Breaking this pattern and getting to bed earlier than early so I am extra rested so that I have the mental clarity and strength tomorrow to push myself to take me time and extra kid time; to push myself to slow down so that I can keep up. We both need it. Rather, all five, no six (husband included, mustn’t forget him). But I am going to break this pattern because not only do I want to kiss this current funk goodbye so that I can enjoy the water fights in the perfect spring days even more, but also because I know where these funks lead me. And let me tell you, it’s not to Orange Rhino Land where I yell less and love more, but it’s more like to grey(ish) rhino land where I get way to close to charging with my words and then go to bed feeling guilty that I wasn’t the parent I wanted to be that day.

The good news? I am already on the way to breaking the pattern because I finally identified the issues and can create a plan to work on them. Knowing is half the battle, right?! Oh, and more good news?

Tip 5Taking care of me doesn’t have to be a thirty-minute break – it can be as simple as 5 minutes sitting in the sun with my eyes closed pretending that I am at the beach just listening to the ocean.  Yep, totally doing that tomorrow and totally asking my husband if I can slip out to get some orange toe nails vis-à-vis a pedicure this weekend. Doesn’t hurt to ask, right?!

Nope, never hurts to ask. Shoot, all the asking of myself, got me to a better place already!

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Want to learn about other strategies and tips I now use to keep me from yelling? Check out my book, “Yell Less, Love MoreHow The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too!” due out October 1st! Find it at your favorite book store and pre-order it today so you are one of the first to have it in the fall!

4 Lessons From Not Yelling That Helped Me With Life in General

Today is my second son’s sixth birthday.  And like every one of my past sons’ birthdays, I woke up so excited to run into his room and give him a big hug and sing happy birthday. I also woke up hoping, with every single finger and toe crossed, that the day would run more smoothly than usual so that my son and I could share an extra special, peaceful day together free of fighting amongst brothers. And I woke up knowing that I needed to adjust my expectations for a great day down a notch or two because I was just setting myself up for disappointment and frustration and therefore yelling!

You see birthdays in our house are tough, tough, tough! The three non-birthday boys get all sorts of jealous and “it’s just not fair” tantrums happen hourly, if not more often. On top of that, when there aren’t tantrums, all four boys are super hyper because that is just what happens to my boys on any special occasions. It is our experience, after years of research that “Holiday Hyper” + Tantrums = One heck of a disastrous day.

By 8:11 am this morning, we were already on our way to disastrous land. The birthday boy even seemed more sullen than usual; I am certain all the fighting to get the first piece of breakfast cake (yep!) and the begging to share his new LEGO got to him. How couldn’t it? So when daddy called this morning to say, “Happy Birthday” to the birthday boy, I broke down in tears before handing the phone over.

“How’s the morning go?” my husband innocently asked.

Darth Vader“ARGH! #1 can’t keep his hands to himself and keeps punching Darth Vader. #3 has been screaming that he hates birthdays since he got out of bed. The best line being, ‘See I hate birthday parties because my cake falls over.’ Quality. And #4 didn’t nap yesterday and his brothers woke him up way too early so his crankiness is out of control. And to be honest, I have just had enough of parenting! It is so hard and I feel like I am sucking at it and that’s why the mornings have been so rough. I love our boys but they are a handful. A handful. And I just, well, wanted #2’s birthday to start off on a great note, you know?!” I sobbed to him all in one fellow swoop, not even stopping to take one breath.

Then #3 hit #4, #1 told me we had 2 minutes to get to school or he’d miss his field trip, and I had to get #2 on the phone real quick, and well, I just felt like I was going to explode! Miraculously (actually, I think the good cry helped me chill), I got everyone where they needed to be and I headed to work out to get some much-needed “me-time.”

A minute before I entered my class, I received this email from husband,

Tip 8“Babe, don’t let life get you down. Our kids are a handful, but usually a handful of joy and fun. You have a lot of reasons to be proud of how you parent the boys so focus on that. Take a moment, smell the roses and enjoy what you accomplished six years ago: not sneezing, laughing, or talking before the doctor told you that you could so #2 didn’t come flying out onto the floor! You created our son and he is awesome. Be proud of that.”

He was right. Our kids are a handful – full of whining, not listening, arguing, and being royal pains in the butts at precisely the wrong moment. But they are also, and more so, a handful of joy – full of love, tenderness, empathy, joy, hope, laughter, and total awesomeness.

I loved my husband’s take on my statement, “our boys are a handful.” It brought me some much-needed perspective and helped me re-frame how I approached the rest of the day, which as a result was much, much more enjoyable.

This “insight” and realizing the “Power of Perspective” was the first of four insights that both surprised and inspired me today. I shouldn’t have been surprised by any of them though; they are old ones that I learned on The Orange Rhino Challenge. One of the best unexpected benefits I discovered in taking The Orange Rhino Challenge is that many of the tricks and revelations I learned to keep me from yelling, also help to enhancing my life in other non-yelling situations. Sweet!

Here are three other key insights I learned on my journey to yell less that popped up in my life today in non-yelling situations.

1. Keep practicing and staying on course; results will come.
I have been working my butt off (ha, literally, oh wait, I am not working my butt off, that’s the problem) to try and lose some extra weight gained during my foot injury. Well, I have been working at it since January. January folks. Nothing has changed and doctors confirmed there is no medical issue. The conclusion? I just have to get my metabolism alive again. So, I am trying my hardest and greatly discouraged and just wanting to quit my efforts. Why bother, right? I asked my always motivational exercise instructor today, “What should I do? Do you have any advice? I just want to quit. I am doing all this extra work and nothing!” Her response: “Just stay the course. Keep going no matter what. All the work is working you just don’t see the results yet. But you will. It will all just click. Whatever you do, don’t quit.”

Such solid advice and exactly what I learned on The Orange Rhino Challenge. In the beginning I felt like I was getting nowhere…fast. But all the good and bad moments were teaching me and preparing me to succeed. So to you: keep practicing not yelling, it will click. Repeat, it WILL click. And to me: keep working out, it will click. Got that? No quitting young lady!!!

2. Go one moment at a time; keep expectations in check.
I totally cried my eyes out to my therapist today (yes, I have one and no, I am not ashamed) that I just wanted a full good day with my kids because lately all the days have been ROUGH. Her response, “May I suggest you adjust your expectations a bit? Perhaps instead of wanting a full good day, you just aim for a good moment, then a few more, then maybe a day will come.” Well, I practically spit out my coffee at that point. I paid her to hear what I write EVERYDAY to all of you and what I tell myself daily in regards to yelling?! LOL. She was so right.

So I say to you: aim for one good moment of not yelling. When you have that, then aim for more, and then more. Good moments attract more good moments and eventually they all add up to a full day. And to me: aim for one good moment with your sons. Enjoy that like mad. More will grow from that joy.

3. Be nice to yourself; positive thoughts attract more positive.
After my oldest son’s bedtime “it’s not my birthday and life is so unfair and my brother has better LEGO’s than me” tantrum to end all tantrums (which by the way he did totally naked making it hard to take him seriously), I decided to sit in his room with him for thirty minutes past bedtime and help him with his LEGOs. It was the best moment (see, moment not day) with him all day. Until he said, “I am such a loser. I can’t keep my LEGO creations together like my brother.” My heart sank. So young to be talking to himself like that. My reply? “Honey, you are not a loser. Don’t be mean to yourself. Love yourself. You deserve it.”

And then the irony kicked me in the butt, you know, the one that won’t shrink come hell or high water. “Don’t be mean to yourself?” Hello, I am mean to myself HOURLY and it does me no good, in fact, it makes me feel crappier which makes me get closer and closer to yelling for no reason. I guess I should take my own advice. Especially since on The Orange Rhino Challenge I learned that positive thoughts attract positive thoughts and positive results. So I say to you: Tell yourself you can change. Forgive yourself if you yelled. Be proud of your non-yelling moment. Catch your children being good so they show more good behavior and you want to yell less. And I say to me, “Just be nice to yourself already! Love yourself more!”

All these thoughts in one day. Well, and that I have yet to figure out how to make a Yoda birthday cake! And on that note, I’ll leave you with some Master Yoda wisdom that applies to The Orange Rhino Challenge.

Luke: “I can’t believe it.”
Yoda: “That is why you fail.”

Believe that you can learn to yell less, and yell less and love more you will!
(Sorry, totally couldn’t resist!)

* * * * *
Final Cover copyCurious to know what other Orange Rhino Revelations I learned when I stopped yelling that have enhanced my life in general?! Check out my new book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling and How You Can Too!” It is a 30-day guide, each day containing a personal story, top revelations, suggested actions to try on your own journey and then three tips to try instead of yelling. I personally love the revelations piece as they are kind of like the cliff notes version! This way, on days when you want to read but only have a spare minute, you can just read the revelations. Pre-order my book by clicking here (turns out pre-ordering saves you money!) 

15 Ways to Not Yell When Noise Triggers You

{sometimes} Noise Makes Me Yell at My Kids.
This post I wrote last week, well, it struck a really big chord with a lot of you. It seems that I am so not the only who struggles to stay calm and quiet when overwhelmed by both loud noises (kids arguing, argh!) and annoying noises (lip smacking while slurping cereal, double argh!) So, I thought I would share with you all how I handle this trigger that constantly screams in my ear, “Neener neener neener, you’re gonna explode!”

Here are my top 15 Ways to Not Yell When Noise is a Trigger, grouped into three levels, depending on severity of the noise!

Cool faceWhen I am feeling Cool and not close to yelling…I aim to keep it that way by doing these preventative measures.

  • Use a quieter voice throughout the day.
    I quickly learned on my journey that the quieter and calmer I am, the quieter and calmer the kids are! The challenge? I don’t naturally have a quiet voice! It is actually loud and intimidating (or so I’ve been told.) So I have actively had to teach myself to change my tone, which has been hard, but worth it! My new tone has definitely lowered the loud, gonna-put-me-close-to-the-edge, if not over it, outbursts!
  • Walk to closer to my kids so they can hear me without my loud voice.
    One day I “yelled” down to my boys to come up for dinner. They all starting “yelling back;” in other words, they matched my voice level. 5 people at that level made me batty!!! At that point I started trying not to “yell” (use a loud voice to get attention) to my kids when they are outside to come in or to “yell” come up from the basement because doing so just creates an immediate upswing in the noise level in the house, which means an immediate upswing in my chances of losing it! (Let’s face it though; this one is hard to execute! I can be lazy and not want to walk the extra 10 steps to use a quieter voice!)
  • Practice with my boys how to take turns talking.
    For real. Sometimes I feel like a schoolteacher, as I ask my boys to raise their hands, but it is a necessity with so many munchkins who are still learning patience! I also remind them that don’t yell at school or talk out of turn which means they are capable of doing the same at home!
  • Prioritize Sleep and Minimize Caffeine.
    Ugh. I can’t stand this preventative measure but without it, noise, all kinds, just gets to me faster and more furiously. Less sleep, more caffeine = more edge, less calm. More sleep, less caffeine = more loving, less yelling. It’s that simple and yet so stinkin’ hard!!

Warm FaceWhen things are Warming up and my desire to yell is growing…I pull out some of my creative alternatives to yelling to block out the noise or help me to relax (or both.)

  • Wear earmuffs or put my fingers in ears.
    Yes, I am for real. And yes, my brown furry ones make me look like Princess Leia (which my boys think is so cool) but they block out the noise and help me stay calm. I also put my fingers in my ears if I feel I am agitated and pre-disposed to be extra on edge. This not only helps with the noise level, but it is also a superb signal to my boys that they need to quiet down or mom’s going to go apeshit.
  • Turn on my favorite music.
    Okay, this is a tricky one. I like to put music on to calm me down when noise starts getting to me. Sometimes, I put it on loud to drown them out my boys if they are the source of the noise (awesome in the car) or sometimes I just put on a favorite song to sing along to so I find noise I like (Journey, “Don’t Stop Believin’). The challenge though, is that this can backfire! If my boys are loud because they are in an over stimulated state, the noise can agitate them even more and push them to really start yelling. I tread carefully with this one. Sometimes I read the situation right, sometimes not so much.
  • State the problem.
    My boys are at the stage right now where they still think I am cool and want to hang out with me (and on me.) So, when their noise is just too much, I simply state that I need it to quiet down or I’ll being take a mommy break. This works like a charm. And if it doesn’t, leaving the kitchen to sit on the stairs does!
  • Light a candle and pretend I’m at a quiet spa.
    Ahh, the silence of a spa. I’ve only been a few times, but it was bliss. I now have a few candles strategically situated in areas where I find I get stressed by noise (oh kitchen, why doth you create such noise?) and I light them (especially my orange one!) when I need serenity, like now!
  • Run the faucet to drown out the noise.
    You know why I love the shower? Because it’s quiet. All I hear is running water. Nothing else. I can’t stay in the shower all day; that thing called wicked cold water that comes when all the hot is gone gets to me. So instead I turn the kitchen sink or bathroom sink on for a quick bit to drown out the noise. This sometimes leads to the boys wanting a water fight, which is a mess BUT it does get them to take the noise outside! Speaking of which…
  • Ask them to take the show on the road.
    A lot of the parenting tidbits I got from hours waiting in OB/GYN offices went in one ear and out the other (pregnancy brain + sleep deprivation + overwhelmed with info!) But this tip: “Tell kids to take the show on the road when too loud” stuck and I use it often. It encourages them to keep having fun making noise, just in a different room.
  • Join the circus.
    Okay, I guess I kind of already have and I am kind of already the ringmaster, but I try to stay out of the chaos as much as I can. That said; sometimes when I can’t escape it I just join it. This way I get to let off some steam and connect with my kiddos, which generally leads them to more readily quiet down when I’ve run out of steam and ask for more quiet.

Hot FaceWhen I am too Hot to handle (and not in a good way) and yells are at the tip of my tongue…I have three go-to strategies.

  • Take deep breaths.
    I can’t stand taking deep breaths. I just can’t. In fact, when my mom tells me too, I practically explode! But, I learned on my Orange Rhino Challenge that they actually work. Three big deep belly breaths help me chill out so I can try some of the cool/warm approaches.
  • Walk away.
    This is totally a traditional alternative, but it also totally works. Does the noise sometime follow me? Eh hem, do the kids sometimes follow me and open the door to the bathroom? Yes. But I just keep trying until I find my peace. The good news is that if the noise bothering me isn’t from the kids, I can literally walk away from it (like the constant buzzing of a Hex bug stuck in some small place that we can’t figure out! Oh. My. Gosh. Totally Annoying. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!)And lastly, my favorite,
  • Let the yell out into a freezer, or any inanimate object. I can keep myself from yelling all I want when noise triggers me, but sometimes I just have to let my annoyance out with a yell. So I do it somewhere safe, like the freezer, a cabinet, the car, the garage, the closet or the bathroom. Once calm, I try the “warm ways” and then hopefully, the “cool ways.”

Block out NoiseThese are just 15 of the things I try to do to manage my noise trigger. I hope at least a few of them help you if you struggle with this same trigger. If not, just admitting to yourself that noise is a trigger, and a real one, is a huge step towards kicking its ass and managing it. All you need to do next is practice different alternatives until you find what works best to “block out the noise so you can block out the desire to yell.”

* * * * *
Find a list of my Top 10 Triggers and How I Manage them, as well as simple steps to help you learn to yell less, in my new book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids, and How You Can Too!” You can pre-order it here. 



How to “Save” the Yells

So supposedly May 1st of every year is “National Save the Rhino Day.” I did a little Googling to see if this was indeed true, and wouldn’t you know, it is! (Which is great because it is an important cause!) The exact origin of the day is under question (lots of different opinions) but they all seem to agree on one core goal: to use the day to spread awareness about how Rhinos are greatly endangered. Which got me thinking…

What would a “National Save The ORANGE Rhino Day” be about? What would the goal be? Let’s see. First off, I have deemed Orange Rhinos to be: determined and energetic people who choose not to charge with words, but instead choose to remain calm, loving, and warm when provoked or triggered. (Gray rhinos are naturally calm animals that charge when provoked. Add the color orange which symbolizes warmth and positive energy and voila, The Orange Rhino.)

So saving Orange Rhinos would be about spreading awareness that one can become an Orange Rhino; it would be about protecting the hope so that people don’t stop (or don’t even start) to try and change their yelling behavior, but instead keep on trying to yell less and love more. It would be about keeping The Orange Rhino Community not just alive, but also growing by spreading a few key messages to help people be Orange Rhinos. The messages might read (and would obviously be surrounded by some wicked cool graphics by someone besides myself)…

Save the yells for… your closet, or any other inanimate object; they don’t have feelings, kids do!
My first few weeks of learning to not yell were tough and not just because yelling was my go to, but also because I had no real game plan on how to physically make myself not yell! One day I felt a yell coming and without thinking I turned and yelled into my closet. It was liberating! I let the yell out – just not at my kids! After a few days of yelling into my closet –  and many other inanimate objects like the kitchen cupboards, the freezer, the toilet, the car – I realized that (a) I felt ridiculous and didn’t want to keep that up and (b) that if I could control myself enough to turn and yell, I could then control myself enough to turn away, yell and let out just an “AHHH” instead of mean words. And if I could do that, I could turn and not let out anything at all! And if I could do that, well, then I would eventually not have to turn away at all, but I could control myself while still keeping eye contact with my kiddos. This was a big “aha!” and a very useful tool to help me officially start kicking yelling to the curb.
YellIntoYourCloset (2)






Save the yells for… when you really need them…in emergencies!
When I used to yell often, instead of actually getting my kids attention, it became harder to get my kids attention! They were just so used to the raised voice in certain situations that it was like in Charlie Brown cartoons – all my kids heard was, “wah, wah, wah!” So when I was at my most frequent yelling phase, when emergencies really hit – needing my boys to stop and not run into the street, needing the phone to call daddy urgently, needing my boys to not talk so that I could hear Grandma on the phone – well, when those moments hit and I really wanted my kids attention and so I yelled, they ignored me. Now, however, oh one the biggest and bestest benefits of not yelling is that when it is a true legitimate emergency – #2 cracking head open and needing an ambulance, #4 having a seizure and needing emergency medicines and an ambulance, a stranger at the door who started walking around the house – if I raise my voice, my kids get it. I get through. They don’t hear “wah, wah, wah,” they hear, “Mommy needs help now. I need to listen.” Just knowing that the less I yell unnecessarily means the more powerful my voice is when I really, really, really need it to helps me save those yucky yells from coming out.

Save the yells for… when you really want them…in good times!
It feels awesome to let out a big “YAHOOO!” when I get good news, when a son achieves a milestone, when we achieve something together like making the absolutely perfect paper airplane. And it feels even more awesome when I have my voice and the energy to do so because I haven’t been yelling so much that I feel so physically and emotionally beat down that I can’t let out a good ‘ole fashioned scream for joy. When I used to yell, ugh, it just made me feel so crappy at times that it was hard to see the joy right in front of me at the moment. I much prefer to keep all my loud, obnoxious yells for fun times (like when the Red Sox beat the New York Yankees, eh hem, or when my son poops in the potty instead of on the carpet…again.)

Save the yells for… when you schedule them!
All of the above said, but, let’s face it, sometimes, a primal scream is just what is needed to release the stress, the hurt, the anger, the sadness, the whatever yuck one feels. I learned that if I hold it together too long and don’t release the yuck, I will just explode vis-à-vis yelling…at my kids or my husband. So now sometimes I schedule that explosion (a tip from a fellow Orange Rhino, and I love it!) I say to my kids, “hey, lets run around the park screaming and having fun!” Needless to say they LOVE it and I do to. It’s great to not yell, and it’s great to bond and have fun with my boys…and to do something I used to love doing as a kid. It is so freeing! Added bonus – it gets my boys’ yells out of their systems before they explode and trigger me to want to yell even more!

Save the yells for a friend…someone who will really listen and respond positively.
Okay, kind of joking here, mostly not. I learned that when I yelled at my kids, they didn’t really respond in a supportive manner. They didn’t really respond how I wanted. They didn’t really get that I was yelling because I was (fill in the blank)…frustrated, overwhelmed, sad, stressed, pms’ing. Friends, friends, however do. If I call a friend and just start venting, she gets it. And she listens. And she responds. And it is a positive exchange that moves me forward, not backwards. Yelling at my boys always moved be WAY backwards and often made the situation worse.








Save the yells for your sanity… so you feel calmer and the calmness spreads.
I readily admit that before The Orange Rhino Challenge I wouldn’t have described myself as calm, per say. But now, now I would. Okay, at least more than I would before. When I am calm, when calm oozes out of my actions and my voice, it spreads. Calmness is contagious. My kids respond infinitely better when I am calm; they listen better, they respond better, they act kinder, they are well, just calmer! Which makes me calmer, which makes their brothers calmer, which makes me calmer. Calmness spreads and keeps yells away. When I am agitated, however, well, that spreads too – but it invites yells to come and hang out for hours, if not days!  I remind myself of this nugget, of the power of calm, when I want to yell and wouldn’t you know, it helps me find calm!

Save the yells for yourself…put the anger where it belongs!
This is another kidding, mostly not poster idea. I am not talking about literally looking in the mirror and screaming at yourself. Nah. That is just cruel and would make matters worse! But I am talking about pointing the finger at yourself – and not your kids – when you know the source of your anger is something in your life and not because of the kids’ behavior. When I know “it’s not you, it’s me” is driving my desire to yell, I stop and say to myself, “Hey lady, you don’t want to yell at the kids because they won’t clean up, you want to yell because you have too much to do and are frustrated that you overfilled your plate again!” Re-directing the anger to the right spot works wonders in saving yells from happening!

And when you can’t save the yells – borrow forgiveness, borrow patience, and borrow love for yourself and save yourself from unnecessary guilt and self-ridicule. Parenting is not about perfection; it’s about progress. It’s about yelling less; it’s about saving the yells one moment, one yell at a time. And the only way to do that, the only way to keep The Orange Rhino community alive and growing, is if we all forgive ourselves, find patience with ourselves, and love ourselves when we a yell slips out. Not all yells will be saved – celebrate when they are and celebrate when you don’t quit on a hard day, but try again.

So now this post has me thinking…maybe a “National Save The Orange Rhino Day” should happen?!  (And please, please, please know that this post is by no means knocking the importance of the real day, because that too is very important!)

* * * * *
I talk more in-depth about these “messages” I rely on to save myself from yelling my book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can too!” which is due out this September! You can pre-order it now though by clicking here!

Happy Days!

460 days of loving more, 30 days year two!

Even though I don’t have a math degree and I am not a statistician, I can say with 100% certainty (or is it accuracy? whatever,) that the days I feel happy are the days that yelling less is easier. Like infinitely easier. The direct correlation is undisputable, and that my friends, is one reason why I write the deep, dark, ugly, sometimes over-the-top emotional posts. Because when I write those posts, like the “Am I Good Enough” and “It’s Not You It’s Me” I find myself working through some of the ugly feelings that keep me from being happy. Or said another way, those posts help me to let go of the ugly feelings just a little bit so that I can yell less and love more.

I know I have been writing a lot of “those posts” lately. Part of me wants to apologize for not being uplifting and positive. Part of me wants to explain why I write them (wait, I just did.) And part of me, no all of me, wants to say thank you for letting me write those posts. All of me wants to say thank you for letting me be real and honest. All of me wants to say thank you for not judging me but for offering support and often times, understanding. Those ugly posts are difficult to write, difficult to share, and difficult to publish because I fear how they will be received. But I need to write them; I need to process the yuck in my life to get to the yummy.

You all know that Friday night I finally (can I get an halleluiah?!) wrote a post after a long dry spell driven by fear and well, overwhelmedness of too many yucky feelings! How do I choose just one to write about? LOL. But I did it. And guess what? Acknowledging the yuckiness, talking (or writing as the case may be) did indeed help me to feel lighter and therefore happier. I am so grateful I finally wrote that post Friday night because the next morning we headed out as a family for a 36-hour change of scenery. I needed to leave some baggage at home in order to enjoy the excursion and survive the stress of being away because well, taking the kids away from their routine always starts off exhilarating and always ends up exhausting.

Naps – missed. Bedtimes – missed. Restaurant manners when operating sans sleep – oh totally missed. Enjoying the few good moments stuck in between lots of moments of stress? So not missed. But would I have missed out on some of those good moments if I hadn’t written that post? Would I have been even closer to yelling in the really tough moments (um, two kids screaming over a fork at a restaurant with all eye balls on me?) if I hadn’t written the post? I say yes. Again, talking about the yuck and trying to figure it out is hard but it takes some weight off which really helps me to be in a better place and better able to take in some really awesome moments with my boys. So again, thank you for letting me write those posts; thank you for giving me a place to share; thank you for helping me enjoy some moments this past weekend like…

…when #1 ran up to me screaming “Mommy, mommy, I finally have a loose tooth! See, see!” He has been desperate to have a loose tooth forever. Forever! He was so excited; I was so excited! We wiggled it back and forth together. His finger first, then he said, “mommy you try, but be gentle!” Then we talked about the tooth fairy and how much he thought he was getting. Um, he was wrong when he thought $500 was the going rate, way wrong, but it was so precious!


…when #3 cuddled under his hotel sheets, rolled over and looked at me and with all seriousness in the world said “mama, I might fart under the sheets while you are next to me ‘cuz I have a ‘lil tummy ache, is that okay?” Okay, so it was kind of gross, but I loved that he was asking permission and that his eyes showed that he was greatly concerned. I was also grateful he was asking me and not my husband because he would have informed him that that is called a dutch oven!


…when #2 ran to our newly planted lilac tree with me when we got home and discovered it had bloomed. I got the scissors and cut some branches off and before I could even tell him about when I was a little girl and I cut lilac branches in my backyard with my mommy and how I looked forward to it every year he said, “Oh mommy, will the lilacs bloom every year? Can we do this every year, like a tradition?” That made my day. Made me day. I love traditions and I love that I have passed on that love to my kiddos.


…when #4 said “Happy Day!” to me after all his brother’s screamed out Happy Mother’s Day to me this morning. This little munchkin has just started talking these last few weeks and that in itself is the greatest gift ever. With his seizures and an apparent speech delay, my mind has been a nervous wreck (those two combined generally mean larger problems yet to be diagnosed.) But now, he is starting to talk and it is beautiful. I am so glad I wasn’t grumpy and could enjoy hearing him say “Happy Day.”

Yes, “Happy Day.” Today, and yesterday, despite their challenges (which were plentiful!) I would call happy days. And happy days make it easier to also call them yell free days. I know writing about the yuck, helps me get have those days, so again, thank you.

I hope tomorrow you have a “Happy Day” and a yell less day too.

Note: I am fairly certain this post isn’t coherent and doesn’t say what I want it to say. But I wanted to just get it out there; to help myself get back in the practice of writing. In case it wasn’t clear, my points were (1) thank you and (2) yucky stuff happens and can keep me from being happy (or feeling good) and can be a real trigger for yelling. Finding a way to release some of those yucky emotions is important to me on my journey to yell less.

The Orange Rhino Game

376 days of loving more!
Here is an oldie that I swear by. In the early days my boys loved playing “The Orange Rhino” game and it helped me many a time. Still does! 

Originally Published February 2, 2012
Day 1, Take 6 (sigh)

Dear #1, #2, #3, and #4 (husband too I guess!)

I know that sometimes, well okay much more than I and you, would like, that I yell too much and too loudly. I always feel so guilty afterwards and ashamed…because I love you so. So I’ve decided to change. I’m going to work really, really, really hard to stop yelling altogether but I’m going to need your help. Ok? Can you do that? Can you help me?


Mommy Orange Rhino


As a start to feel the desire to yell at my cantankerous 2 year old I stop myself. Why am I yelling? Because I am tired. Because his whining is obnoxious. Because I am frustrated my husband is working and it’s a Sunday a day I look forward to help from him. Because my 5 year old wouldn’t leave me along for 10  minutes to do something I wanted. (So selfish of me, I know). I’m yelling because as wonderful as they are, my lovely children can be really tiring. But they can also be really wonderful. And honest.

“So #1, how am I doing with not yelling?”

“Terrible. Absolutely terrible. You just yelled at me the other day. And the other minute.”

Yeah, that’s pretty much an accurate summary.  I have no idea what has transpired since last week. Last week I went a whole 8 days. And I felt so good. So so good. To all you non-yellers out there, I know you are laughing thinking to yourself, 8 days is nothing. That is so easy. But to me, it was difficult. At first. That first day was EXHAUSTING. I remember coming up to bed after the day was over and saying to my husband:

“WOW I feel great from not yelling but darn, am I tired.”

It took every bone in my body to keep it together that first day. To find my inner pre-school teacher voice that speaks quietly and lovely and still gets respect and response. But somehow I did it. ALL WEEK LONG I did it. Every day I went without yelling I felt more invigorated and it got easier. And it felt so utterly amazing. I felt an energy I haven’t felt in years. I was bouncing of the walls with adrenaline and excitement.

I felt so powerful and in control which as a mom, is something I often DON’T feel. Ironically, I felt WAY more powerful and in control not yelling than yelling….

And yet, as my 5 year old pointed out just now, I am sucking at the whole not yelling thing. So we created a game to help mommy out.Anytime the boys sense that I am getting cranky and am about to lose it, they need to say ORANGE RHINO. It’s our little secret code. I love that they will help hold me accountable, because really they should. It’s not fair that I expect them to use indoor voices and talk to each other with respect and love when I don’t hold myself to the same standard.

As I write this I hear my husband ROARING at the three older boys…Now tears from one. Oh and now a  little voice “ORANGE RHINO daddy” ORANGE RHINO. So innocently my husband asks, what does that mean?  My 3 year old answers “It means you can’t yell at us. It’s not nice.” WOW. They actually listened to me. And better yet, they get it. Very cool.

So now we have our own secret game. I really hope it helps keep me in line. Really really hope it helps.

Mostly because I’m ready to give up. I’m totally overwhelmed by all the things in my life that I have pushed aside this week because I’ve wanted to write instead. The laundry. The piles of mess that scream  to be picked up. The doctors’ appointments I need to make. The closet organization that needs to happen. The list goes on and on. Everywhere I turn in the house there is something I need to do but just don’t want to. And what’s it been worth not doing it? Nothing. I still have yelled every day and haven’t been able to get back on the “good” streak. I keep telling myself that the sacrifices I am making today, this week, are nothing compared to the benefits that that will come from not yelling.

Uh oh, I’m getting all cranky and worked up.

Orange Rhino mommy, Orange Rhino!

How I L.O.V.E. My Kids When I Want to YELL!

373 days of loving more!

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Oh, there are so many different ways I love my boys, how can I even count them all?! I love how kind they are to someone who is sick. I love how determined and creative they are when making Lego structures or drawing a picture. I love how enthusiastic and proud they are when they tell their crazy stories. I love how they give me endless hugs and sloppy kisses. I love how my boys are mine and I am theirs.

This is the first time I made heart pancakes but how could I say no when my boys told me everything needed to be hearts today?

And oh, there are so many different ways I like to show them my love. I make pancakes shaped like hearts because they ask. I pick up extra Spiderman Band-Aids , just in case, even though we have boxes at home. I laugh at their knock-knock jokes that aren’t even jokes, especially the seventh time around. I hang their schoolwork up in the kitchen covering every bit of free wall space possible.

Yes, it is very easy to love my boys and it can be very easy to show them my love. But I’ll be honest. Despite all the love in my heart, of which there really is so much, and despite how easy it is to say “I love you!” there are moments when my first desire is to start yelling instead of start loving.

Like when a bedroom is completely torn apart because there is a missing lovey. Like when the kids feel the need to run around the house shrieking and “accidentally” hitting everything in their path. Like when they refuse to listen to me or be even the slightest bit cooperative just because. Like when they seem to tantrum and whine on and on and on for no real good reason (at least in my eyes.)

Like when… the truth is they are struggling and “acting out” for a really good reason and they need me to love them, not yell at them.

But oh, in those infuriating moments it can be so hard to find loving thoughts or loving words! But this Challenge forced me too. Early on I found myself listening more, observing more, verifying more and empathizing more. Yes, I started yelling less and giving more

Tip 22 copyL.isten

Wow. I have been readily putting these four words to work for months but only just realized last week what you get when you put them together. LOVE. Cool, right? Here is how I L.O.V.E. my boys when I really want to yell….

Listen (to their story before assuming)
How often do I hear trouble, see trouble, or smell trouble and assume my kids are doing something naughty intentionally before even asking what’s going on? Just yesterday my 4-year-old son opened the front door, left it open and ran out to the car. Of course his younger two brothers followed; totally unsafe. I was so nervous, I went to scream at him, but I stopped. LISTEN. “Why did you do that?” “Because you said to go get in the car mommy.” Right. I did. He was doing what I asked. I didn’t say “Hey we are going to get in the car; wait by the front door.” So glad I stopped and listened before yelling! I’ve realized this year that a lot of the time, when I listen, my kids have really logical and understandable explanations for behavior that doesn’t deserve yelling, but rather slight refining!

Observe (external factors that could be at play)
For months everyday I picked up my son from school it was like Groundhog day. He got in the car, would proceed to yell at me because he was “cranky” and then enter the house and start running around wild. One day I stopped, looked at the clock, thought about what time it was (lunch time) and what time he had been up from and put the two pieces together. He wasn’t acting out to annoy me; he was wiped and hungry, two triggers for him! Problem solved. I give him a snack in the car the next day. Night and day difference. Observing time, day (Thursdays are tough because Daddy has be gone for four days), temperature (my kids overheat easy), smells (they can’t stand mint), brothers behavior (is a younger brother in the way) and noise (they all hate the baby crying) are great ways for me to understand all my boys and their behaviors, before I yell unnecessarily.

Verify (that something is upsetting or overexciting them)
It drives me bonkers when my kids don’t listen, time and time again. ARGH!!! One day early in the challenge, when the not listening was really awful, behavior was at its worst, nothing worked, and I couldn’t yell, I pulled my son towards me and hugged him tight. I had a hunch something big was bothering him. I asked: “You seem really upset, is something going on?” His reply “Yes. I really miss daddy. I am just so angry I want to roar at everyone.” We both felt better understanding the real problem; a weight was lifted.

Another take on verify…I take what I’ve learned from listening and observing and share it with my son. “Wow, look at the time. You seem hungry and tired is that why you are having such a hard time.” His response: “YES!!! When is lunch time? I barely had time to finish my snack at school.” Or “Wow, you are so excited it’s Valentine’s Day and you are having a party at school, aren’t you?” “YES! I just can’t sit still I am so excited!”

Tip 16Empathize (put it all together and put myself in their shoes)
Gosh, there are so many times when I don’t want to be told to take a deep breath, where I don’t want to be told “you’re hungry that’s why you’re cranky” but instead I want to hear  “Wow. Sounds like you had a hard day. I’ve been there. It stinks.” Or “You’re hungry? When I’m hungry I’m a bear. Let’s find something to eat!” Empathy goes a long way for me…and my kids. I’ve spent a lot of time learning to be empathetic this year. Learning to think like a kid. It’s amazing what happens when I do; so much is clearer and so much of my anger and frustration disappear. I get them. I get the problem. And I no longer want to yell. I just want to focus on loving my boys to help them feel better.

My boys have been pushing my buttons lately – I’ve been stressed so they’ve been stressed. It is hard in the heat of the moment to remember to stop and listen, observe, verify and empathize. Honestly, though, the little L.O.V.E. mnemonic trick has helped me this past week. I hope it helps you too!

xoxo, Happy Valentine’s Day!
The Orange Rhino

* * * *
Final Cover copyLearn more about my L.O.V.E. technique and other tips I use to keep myself from yelling in my new parenting memoir, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling and How You Can Too!” My book is a 30-day guide with simple steps, 100 alternatives to yelling, and honest stories to inspire and lead you on your own journey to yell less. It hits shelves this fall but Pre-order it today to guarantee the best price! Order here