12 ways not yelling has helped my Marriage

234 days without yelling, 131 days of loving more to go!

Dear Green Turtle, a.k.a. my husband, as named by our boys,

The Green Turtle..with four spots, one for each boy!

I know sometimes I blog too much and hang out with you too little. I know sometimes I check Facebook too much instead of checking in with you. I know I talk a lot about me, The Orange Rhino, instead of us, The Orange Rhino + The Green Turtle. I hope you have noticed that I have tried to find a better balance; that I have tried to hold your hand at night more instead of the “keyboard’s”. I also hope you noticed that while I am not a perfect wife that I do think I am becoming a little bit of a better wife as a result of all this blogging, as a result of taking on this Challenge.

You see, last night I was writing as normal. Somehow I ended up talking marriage, a topic I have been asked to write about but which I have mostly avoided. But last night I opened up that can of worms and tonight I can’t help but delve in deeper even though I HATE worms! I have spent so much time feeling like a crappy wife, feeling like you deserve better than me. When I realized last night that I was becoming a less “crappy” wife, well, it made me stop and think. It made me think that yeah, I talk about The Orange Rhino blog too much and yeah it can be a time suck BUT it is good for me and it is good for us. Because it is making me a better parent and a better spouse. So when you are tired of my Orange Rhino talk, just try to remember that it isn’t just benefiting our kids, it is also benefiting me and US.

How you ask? You like bullet points so here are 12 ways The Orange Rhino Challenge is benefiting US:

1. I’ve learned that feeling disconnected from you makes me cranky (and sad) and apt to yell so now… I actively make us have date nights at home during the week to keep us connected not just because I don’t want to yell but also because I want to keep our marriage strong

2. I’ve learned that not yelling at our kids makes me more positive about them so now…I share more positive stories with you and we share more laughs (read here)

3. I’ve learned that if I feel bad about my body that I am prone to yell so now…I exercise more,  eat healthier and am generally happier and turns out I also snap at you (and the kids) much less (read here)

4. I’ve learned that I need sleep to be a more pleasant and controlled person so now…I go to bed earlier and as a result don’t start the day yelling at you to make the bed because I am more rested and reasonable

5. I’ve learned that I expect a lot from the kids and you and that my expectations of to-do’s was too high so now…I just do certain things on my own because really, I can do it and it isn’t a big deal for you to do it and nagging you just made us fight (like making the bed and wiping the toothpaste off the counter!) (read here) 

6. I’ve learned that keeping bad feelings in doesn’t do me any good, that it just makes me snap-happy and yelling-tempted so now…I actually talk to you if I am upset instead of keeping a grudge and spiraling us towards a dark place (read here)

7. I’ve learned that letting the kids know the days plans and changes keeps our fights down so now…I also do the same with you because neither of us like surprises, or fights

8. I’ve learned that yelling at the kids just makes them shut down and shut me out so now…I try to not yell at you because you do the same(understandably)

9. I’ve learned ruminating and ruminating on things I can’t change makes me uber grouchy, uber un-present and uber prone to yell so now…I try my hardest to let go of things more often, especially when I am with you so I can enjoy our time together (read here)

10. I’ve learned that a dirty cluttered kitchen counter makes me feel suffocated (read here) and set up to yell at anyone who left anything behind so now…I clean the counter every night for 5 minutes and I KNOW that makes you super happy

11. I’ve learned that I need to ask for help that I can’t be superwoman or I’ll crack so now…I ask you for help when I need it instead of beings pissed at you that I do everything

12. I’ve learned that it is easy to make excuses (read here) and not do something hard for fear of not knowing how. I’ve learned that it takes determination and commitment. I’ve learned it is possible to build a bridge, to overcome a challenge. I’ve learned that I made a lot of excuses about why I couldn’t stop yelling AND that I’ve made a lot of excuses for why marriage is hard. I’ve learned that I can’t say “we have 4 kids and that’s why it’s hard to stay connected and have fun like we used to” because that is an excuse so now…SO NOW I AM COMMITTING to toss that excuse aside and put just as much energy into us and our connection as I did the day we met.

xoxo,
The Orange Rhino

An unexpected ending…

233 days of not yelling, 132 days of loving more to go!

Dear Internet World, again,

My name is The Orange Rhino and I don’t yell at my kids (anymore). I stopped yelling at them 233 ish days ago and I have no intentions of turning back.

Every night (more or less) before I started The Orange Rhino Challenge my husband would come home and ask me how the day went. Was it good? Was it bad? Or it was it outright ugly? I just about never really wanted to engage in the conversation to be honest. Mostly because I knew the conversation would sadly go like this:

“The day was mostly good. #1 did this #2 did that #3 did this and #4 did that. But I yelled. I yelled more than I wanted today.” I would then annoyingly go on and on about my maternal guilt and personal disappointment and dwell on the bad part of the day instead of the good.

My husband would listen intently, and lovingly tell me, “It’s okay. Tomorrow is another day. You’ll do better. The boys know you love them. Hang in there.”

And then as he headed to change out of his work clothes I would stop, think and debate whether or not to tell him, to ADMIT to him, about the one really bad screaming fit I had that day; the one that mortified me. The one that I was so ashamed of that I didn’t even have the guts to tell my husband. My loss of self control, my being a mom I never wanted to be, and certainly not the mom my husband would want me to be. Because well sometimes it is too embarrassing (and scary?!) to admit to certain behaviors.  

But for the last 233 days I haven’t had to have that mental debate with myself. I haven’t even spent the night trying to avoid the “how was the day” question. I actually initiate the chat.

Instead of sitting at the kitchen counter looking pouty and beat up from the day as I recount to my husband the day’s DOWNS and some ups, I am often the one jumping in with, gasp, a little smile and pep in my voice, as I share the day’s UPS and few downs.

I no longer spend the entire night’s check-in focusing on me and my guilt, focusing on what the kids did wrong instead of “right.” Instead I now NATURALLY focus on the funny things the kids did, the sweet things, the seriously-are-you-kidding-me things. Sure, I share some frustrating things too, but even those I share with a different tone. The tone of anger is gone and has been replaced with concern or simple frustration. What a NICE CHANGE. What a nice, nice change. I honestly attribute this change to learning not to yell. Either that or there is something in the water I’ve been drinking!

No seriously, I know it sounds cheesy, and perhaps I am looking through rose colored glasses, but I really think this change in how I reflect upon my day is a result of not yelling.

In not yelling, I have less* to complain about in regards to my parenting.

In not yelling, I feel less* mama guilt which makes me feel lighter and happier which surprisingly, to me at least, makes me see, seek, and share joyful moments more than before.

In not yelling, I have learned that to keep my desire to yell at bay I need to let go more* often of the negative feelings towards my boys’ negative behavior which again surprisingly, at least to me, makes me feel lighter and happier and again makes me see, seek, and share joyful moments more than before.

In not yelling, life is less negative and more positive. Across the board.

My night time chats with my husband used to be a real downer and therefore a real waste of quality time with him. Now we actually connect over my daily download. We share laughs. We share “shakes of the heads” in agreement that wow, our life is a circus, a fun loving one, but still an outright circus. And we share moments of concern about our kids but even those are more positive moments. Because I am not pouty and focusing on me and my faults I am actually present and more open to the discussion about how we need to help our kids.

Our conversations used to always make me feel crappy afterwards.

Kind of like yelling.

Not yelling makes me feel more connected to my kids.

And I guess it makes me feel more connected to my husband too.

I used to go to bed, full of hope for a better day tomorrow and still full of guilt for how that day went down and full of fear that I’ll lose it again tomorrow. I used to go to bed mentally preoccupied and frustrated and disconnected to my husband because I wasted the night being moody.

Now more often than not I go to bed after laughing about some other memory from the day.

Yeah, I would say learning not to yell has been good for me. And my marriage.

My name is The Orange Rhino, and I will go 365 days straight without yelling at my kids because I am doing better, I still want to keep doing better, and because my kids AND my husband deserve better.

*Emphasis on less and more. I am not perfect. I still have my moments, rest assured. Like my boys, I am a work in progress! 

Free Hugs and Kisses

12 days down, 353 to go!

Dear Midnight,

While it was all fun and games hanging out with you these last four nights so that I could “launch” my blog about Not Yelling, it came very close to being counterproductive. Whenever I hang with you, I am WIPED out the next day, the day after and the day after that. And when I am WIPED, I am so much more inclined to yell. And today was no different, actually it was worse. Because last night you introduced me to your friend 1 am and his friend tequila. I certainly haven’t flirted with them in over 15 years. Why I thought it necessary to do so to celebrate my birthday…when I never really drink…and when now I have 4 kids who get up at 6am is beyond me! But alas, I did.

And guess what, against all odds, I made it through today…with a raging headache, 20 hours of sleep collectively over the last four nights, and 4 cranky over-tired-because-of-baby-sitter-last-night children all WITHOUT yelling. I’m still in shock. But don’t get any ideas, just because today went well doesn’t mean we’ll be hanging out anytime soon. If I want to do well on this challenge, I need my sleep.  Speaking of, it’s 8:11.

Good night,

The Orange Rhino

*

Seriously, I’m in shock. Shock, shock, shock. I truly am a yeller. And yet here I am, having gone 12 days without yelling. I just can’t believe it. I truly didn’t think I had it in me. I kind of just assumed I was a Yeller, that it was ingrained in me, a behavior that I couldn’t change. But I am ecstatic to be wrong…this little chat from today is why:

Me:        “#1 (5 years old), so how is mommy doing now with the no yelling thing?”

#1:          “Great. You’re doing great mommy.”

Me:        “Who do you like more, Mommy or Mommy Orange Rhino?”

#1:          “Mommy Orange Rhino. She’s not mean. She doesn’t hurt my feelings and say not nice things.”

Me:        “Oh. Anything else?”

#1:          “Yeah. Mommy Orange Rhino is the bestest.”

He then gave me a huge hug and a kiss. I kid you not.

Wow.

Just thinking about that conversation again blows me away. I don’t know what has me more in shock – the unsolicited hug or the 12 days of not yelling. You see, my son is not one to offer up free hugs and kisses (he just doesn’t like all the physical contact). So for him to suddenly be giving me random hugs and kisses? Well, let’s just say that it made me cry then and its making me cry now.  That’s a pretty damn good sign that this silly project of mine is very well worth my effort. He is totally worth my effort. I’ve lost a lot of sleep and dropped the ball on a lot these last few weeks so I could get this Blog going. But guess what? A random hug from my son telling me I’m the bestest? Totally worth every lost hour of sleep.

Some change is happening in this household, something good.  I’m going to embrace it and keep finding all the strength I have to not yell. Even if it means sometimes (like tonight!) ignoring the dishes, the piles that need picking up, the bills that need paying, and everything else on my to-do list just so that I can go to bed early and get the rest I need to succeed in this challenge. But if I don’t get the sleep I need, because that is how life goes sometimes, at least now I know that even if I am exhausted, I CAN control my voice. I CAN not yell. It’s my choice.

After #1 told me I was the Bestest he disappeared. The house was too quiet. He came back find me and told me he had brushed his teeth. Oh? In the middle of the day? Without being asked? I didn’t say anything, I just waited.Then he looked up, looked me in the eyes and said:

“Mommy, I had 4 of daddy’s valentines chocolates you gave him. And I didn’t ask. But I did brush my teeth. And they were really good. Are you mad?”

Was I mad? Yeah, a little. Eating that many chocolates is generally not good for my son’s ability to stay calm 🙂 but how could I be mad since he told me and was so honest? And for the record, he was very hesitant to tell me. No problem telling me he brushed his teeth, but clearly very worried to tell me about the chocolates. It’s like he expected me to yell at him. Sigh. Can I really blame him?

BEFORE, I would have yelled at him and lectured him on not asking for permission and sugar isn’t good for you and blah, blah, blah. And he wouldn’t have heard a word I said. This time, when I talked to him about it, he actually listened.

Again, the theme of the day. Shock. I’m absolutely shocked.

And so, I’m still choosing to not yell. I’ll take hugs and kisses and honesty over yelling any day of the week.