My husband’s honest opinion

335 days without yelling, 30 days of loving more to go!

Note: My husband wrote the following unbeknownst to me. I didn’t ask him to write it,  he just surprised me with it on our wedding anniversary as a nod to my upcoming 1 year anniversary of not yelling. I was floored and touched and so many other wonderful feelings too! I hope his insight into the impact of the challenge touches your hearts as well. And babe (that would be my husband) I can’t say thank you enough for this kind, loving gesture.


Dear Faithful Orange Rhino Readers,

This is a message from the Green Turtle (aka: The Orange Rhino’s Husband).  I am writing because the 1st year of the Orange Rhino challenge is coming to an end and I need your help to commemorate the year.  I could write endlessly about the positive effects of the Orange Rhino Challenge, however, I’m told these posts are best when kept short and sweet…and that my wife is incapable of the short part! So I’ll be brief for her. To that end…. The Orange Rhino Challenge has had a profound impact on many lives….

1) Our Household is different and better place because of the no yelling decree.   My incredible wife has not yelled (seriously).  I’ve taken the challenge more times than I can count.   Sadly, I haven’t gone more than 30 days without yelling.  Let’s face it, not yelling is HARD.   However, because of our commitment to replace ANGER and YELLING with LOVE and UNDERSTANDING the OR+GT household is a better, happier, more positive, place.

2) Our marriage is better.  Let’s face it, marriage is HARD.  However, because we created an environment of love and understanding we’ve also created an environment of COMMUNICATION, RESPECT and PATIENCE.   I can’t speak for anyone else, but replacing the negatives with the positives is wonder natural elixir.  The past 330+ days have been some of the best days of our marriage (honeymoon aside).

3) Your lives are better.   I don’t profess to know many members of the Orange Rhino Community.   However, on occasion, my wife shares a story about someone who has taken the challenge and has remarked about the positive improvements to their lives.   To me, that’s what the Orange Rhino Challenge is all about.  It’s not only about not yelling.  It’s about taking the best things in our lives (Spouse, Children, Friends, Love) and embracing these wonderful gifts.  It’s about not taking the EASY road and reverting to anger.  It’s about making a COMMITMENT to be a better person, to be a better parent, to be a better friend and a be a better spouse.  Many of you have embraced this challenge and stories & anecdotes indicate you’re happy you did it.

So, in conclusion, I am a proud member of the Orange Rhino Community and I am an incredibly proud husband of the woman who challenged all of us to replace ANGER with LOVE.

As this year comes to an end, I would like to do something to celebrate the success of the Orange Rhino and I  NEED YOUR HELP.  I am making a craft project of pictures, anecdotes and quotes from the past year.  If you have a something you want to share in celebration of the Orange Rhino Challenge would you send it to me?  I can be reached at     


The Green Turtle

Changing our Family Tree

255 days without yelling, 110 days of loving more to go!

Dear Leaves,

I love you because I love watching you change to brilliant colors, I love racing to catch you falling from the sky, I love kicking you up in the air and giggling as you fall on me. Yes leaves, I love you and I love the fall. You make me feel like a kid all over. But more so, you make me STOP and enjoy the moment. Well this guest post by Jessica, also about a tree (albeit a different one) had a similar impact. It made me STOP and think about what I am teaching my kids. It made me stop and enjoy the moment – because it really was a quite thoughtful post. So thanks to both of you!

The Orange Rhino

To all readers, enjoy. And remember, share some love with our guest blogger. It takes courage to share!


Changing our Family Tree by Jessica Smith

Oftentimes as parents we overhear our kids in their conversations and play and think to ourselves, “Ah, how cute.  They sound just like me.”  The other day that happened, but my response was not, “How cute”, but “Crap!  Rebecca sounds just like me.”

It started because she was irritated with her brother and sister.  She is 8 to their 4 and 2.  Most of the time they all get along, but as she gets older and they get into her things more and more her tolerance level for them has decreased.

Her books are HER books.  Her toys are HER toys.  Her hair accessories are HER hair accessories.  There is no room for sharing because she doesn’t want the younger two to break her older girl things.  Which I get, she is older and owns things that the smaller two just aren’t ready for.  What I don’t like is how she talks to them about it.

So the other day, I heard her with her teeth grinding together mutter, “Don’t touch my stuff.”  She said it as calm as possible but with as much malice as her 8 year old self could muster.  She was angry but trying not to sound angry.  Just. Like. Me.

I don’t mind when the kids emulate my good habits.  But when I hear them doing something that I don’t like about myself I cringe.  I feel terrible and guilty that I have been teaching them the wrong way to act.  That is when I realize how important it is for me to continue changing how I interact with the kids.

I have been in the process of becoming a less angry and therefore a less yelling parent over the past 3 ½ years.  I went into therapy because I didn’t like how I was handling my young kids.  I found myself really angry and short with them constantly and scaring them sometimes with my anger.  So I have worked through the things that trigger that anger and I have learned how to handle myself when I do find anger bubbling to the surface.

I know it is unrealistic for me to never yell ( agreed!), and I applaud the Orange Rhino for her efforts in NEVER yelling.  But I don’t need to make myself feel any guiltier than I already do for my parenting failures (agreed!), so when I find myself yelling I apologize.  Always.   Everytime.  Without fail.  Even if the kids deserved to be yelled at, I still apologize.  I am trying to separate my anger from their behavior.  I want them to see that while it is not OK to yell, if you do, there is always the grace to do better.

That is how I get through these challenging parenting years.  I know I am going to yell.  I know I am going to feel guilty for yelling, and I know how my yelling affects the kids.  Through my changes to my personal life, the kids are in turn learning how to handle that anger instead of bottling it up inside and then having it explode when they can’t keep it in any longer.  This is something I couldn’t do when I became a parent.

So, after the incident with Rebecca, my first response was to yell at her.  I stopped myself, called her over and asked what she was feeling and how she thought she could have handled it differently.  I got the typical responses like, “They shouldn’t touch my stuff.”  But it was a good opportunity to discuss what we CAN do when we are frustrated and what to do when we yell instead of working through the problem.

Things are changing in our house.  For every bad trait I hear replayed by my kids I will hear awesome ones like, “I am sorry for yelling (or hitting, scratching, etc.)  These will often come unprovoked by me and that makes me feel like the work I have been doing for myself is trickling down and changing our family tree.

I encourage all of you parents out there who feel guilty about the yelling to just start showing your kids how grace works.  That we mess up as parents, but we can always ask for forgiveness and understanding.  Then just take a step back and see how that seed grows in your kids’ lives.

“I feel so deflated…I yelled at my kids”

250 days without yelling, 115 days of loving more to go!

Dear Cathy,

You wrote the following on the Facebook wall tonight. I started to respond but I started writing a novel so alas, my response is tonight’s post!

I feel like I need to purge/confess/atone … I screamed, I yelled … BIG TIME. Now I feel so deflated … and sad :0( I’m promising myself and the monkeys to be better. I feel like I need some guidance or encouragement, just something. I feel like I start over everyday … but so be it, I’ll take it one day at a time and re-commit to this pledge everyday if that’s what it takes.

I am so sorry I am just getting this and couldn’t reply IMMEDIATELY and bring you a bottle of wine and yummy chocolate cake with extra icing. But alas, I couldn’t. So grab a fork, pull up a chair, pour a glass of wine for yourself and pretend to dig into this cake with me. No cutting slices, lets just eat it as is!

Oh, I have so much to say!

First off, thank you for sharing your struggles with us. For trusting us with your feelings. That is gutsy and amazing.

Second, know that I, and I am sure your husband, and kids and the fellow Orange Rhinos all agree that trying to change the habit of yelling is pretty impressive. So many people yell at their kids big time and don’t care. But you do. You care enough to make a change. And that is absolutely AWESOME.

According to Al Batt (I have no idea who he is, but I love what he said):
It is easy to sit up and take notice.
What is difficult is getting up and taking action.

It takes courage to take on such a big challenge. It takes commitment. It takes love. And you have all three. So please don’t feel deflated. Feel proud that you are trying so hard. Feel proud that every day you get up and show up to be a mom, one of the hardest challenges. Feel proud that every day, despite perhaps yelling the day prior, you keep trying.

According to Winston Churchill (I totally know who he is!)
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

So according to him, and I am in total agreement, you are succeeding even if it doesn’t feel like it. I know, easy for me to say right? But I believe it. You wrote on the Orange Rhino facebook page tonight because you want to succeed. That tells me you will. Because you have the enthusiasm and the dedication to figure it out. And by the way, I have a hunch you are already yelling less than you did before and that IS A SUCCESS big time.

Please be assured that it took me numerous tries to figure out the whole not yelling thing. Collectively 30 days I believe with starts and stops. Oh how I wish I was writing during those days so that you could read how you are NOT alone. But I didn’t because I was nervous about what I would write; what people would think. Again, you totally exposed yourself tonight and that is more than I could do 280 days ago. Pretty amazing.

Anyway, I share the following with you in hopes that it helps.

1) FORGET 365 DAYS. I wrote a whole post about that here: Forget 365. In a nut shell, I am an all or nothing addictive personality. If I didn’t set such a crazy goal for myself I would have cheated lots and the cheating would have led me right back to not caring. But I learned quickly that it ISN’T about going 365 days straight. It is about having MORE LOVING MOMENTS period. Yell less, love more. So read this post and find a goal that motivates you but doesn’t stress you. Pick a goal you know you can succeed at and nail it, ie. not yelling at bath time. Then build on up from that.

2) If I didn’t post on FB every time I wanted to yell, if I didn’t text a friend when I wanted to yell, if I didn’t have my kids say Orange Rhino to me when I got cranky, if I did none of these things, I wouldn’t be here today. Tell a friend, tell all of us about your commitment and every night Toot your Rhino Horn. I know people hate that but accountability works. These little things help. So please, use me. This is why I created the page – not just to get support for me, but to give support.

3) Keep a diary. I know, sounds 7th grade. But seriously. For a few days write down all the times you yell, what the kids are doing, what you were doing, how you were feeling, how they were feeling. You’ll start to notice a trend of triggers. Triggers that are easy to work on (quick wins) and triggers that take more time. Take it one trigger at a time. Keep asking yourself why? why am I yelling? Acknowledging my triggers helped kicked me into shape. I’m yelling because I mad at my husband, not my kids. I’m yelling because I just got on the scale and I gained weight, not because I am annoyed my kids can’t get dressed on time. Saying it out loud puts it all in perspective.

Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them; but do not let them master you.  Let them teach you patience, sweetness, insight.
~ Helen Keller 

4) Tell yourself it’s okay. Tell yourself that you are making progress. And that every moment you try is a step forward.

5) Know that you are NOT ALONE. That we are all here because we are all struggling. And that I can always be a phone call away to tell you it’s okay. To remind you that you are amazing and that you have courage and commitment a lot of people lack. Seriously. If you need me, email me and I’ll call you as soon as I can.

The Orange Rhino

I am Totally That Mom

246 days of not yelling, 119 days of loving more to go!

Dear I am Totally That Mom,

I am Totally That Mom inspired by you! Thank you for the guest post below; for writing so honestly and eloquently what I feel but couldn’t express. Last weekish when you wrote on your blog about your desire to become a non-yelling mom, about your decision to change, just like that, you showed a “go get ‘em attitude” that completely inspired me.


After reading tonight’s post, I felt equally inspired, more so actually. So thank you. I might be on Day 246ish of not yelling but I still need inspiration to keep me going day in and day out, I still need help staying focused, I still need help being the change I want to see in the world (one of my favorite sayings by the way). When I am feeling lost, I will turn to this post.

Thank you,

The Orange Rhino


Recently, I wrote this, about my desire to stop yelling (

I felt strong. I felt capable. I was making a decision. It was hard, but I could do it.

Today, I feel like crap. The last few days have been hard. While I am not yelling like I once was, I have yelled. I have yelled unapologetically. I have started my way back down the slippery playground slide into my old ways. Old ways (okay they are not that old) that do not help me and that do not help my kids.

In those moments, when the kids’ volume is set on super-high-let’s-damage-mom’s-hearing and the dishes, clutter, and laundry are threatening to EAT me, my body goes into survival mode. Make. it. stop. MAKE IT STOP. Make it all stop. I can’t think of anything else besides a fierce, intense, primal need to make the world go black. I need quiet, darkness, and calm. I need a sensory deprivation chamber. And yet it’s not there, and I can’t run to find it. Fight or flight. Flight’s not an option and so I fight.


I have big dreams. I have high expectations. Some would say I put too much pressure on myself; I do too much. They say give yourself a break, no parents are perfect. They say what you want isn’t realistic, life is messy. They say the kids will get older and it will get easier, just hang on.

All of those things are true in some way or another. But I don’t want to be perfect, and I don’t want to hide until my kids are older. Life is messy. To be honest, I love life’s messiness. It’s in some of life’s messy moments that I have laughed the hardest and smiled the biggest. In others, I have cried the hardest. I can’t feel or experience any of life’s messiness, in all its beauty and intensity, when I am in fight or flight mode. When I am in fight or flight mode, I can’t breathe. Life isn’t messy then, it’s mean.

And so today, I re-focus. I re-read the words I wrote two weeks ago. I breathe. I do handstands. (I know this isn’t for everyone, but I swear it is the single most effective thing in helping my body believe it’s not being attacked by saber tooth tigers, small boys, or dishes). I sit with my coffee, and I write. I breathe in the fresh fall air (that’s a tad too brisk to be sitting on the porch) and I marvel at the beauty in my backyard. I notice the bottle of glue sitting on the table next the kids ever growing pile of drying crafts. I notice a few marshmallow roasting forks and some empty cups outside on the patio by the fire pit leftover from an evening with friends. And I hear the boys inside getting louder as they are immersed in imaginative play that might involve tying each other up or practicing their long jump from the arm of couch over whatever other furniture may be in the way. It’s messy, but it’s beautiful.

I think about what I want for my family. I want them to know unconditional love. I want them to know that their home is a safe place when the world is scary. I want them to know the value in peaceful communication. I want them to know that we don’t use our bodies or our words for hurting. I want them to know and understand true respect for other beings – not just the version that means shutting up and listening to big people. That won’t serve them in life, but them knowing the inherent value in every living being will serve them and the world. I want them to thrive in life’s messiness – the good, the bad, the ugly, and the awesome.

So I need to be the change I want to see in the world, my world, and the big big world. Yes it’s hard, but it’s also real. These last few days are a just a part of the journey. It’s messy and beautiful. This week my goal is to live it all, feel it all (even if that’s sometimes from behind the locked bathroom door, it’s better than losing it), and not let myself slip into fight or flight where not only does the yelling start but all the beautiful mess fades into the background.

Next week on my blog, I’ll look at what’s working and what’s not, but for now I needed to remind myself why I was doing this.

For more of “I am Totally That Mom’s” posts, go to

Would you like to write a guest post? Please email me at I would love to have one featured writer a week. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be real and a pleasure for you to write! 


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

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

Dear Katie,

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

The Orange Rhino


I’m not really a yeller.

I’ve never really been a yeller.

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

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

My nerves get frayed.

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

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

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

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

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

But I don’t.

Instead I breathe.


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

Afterall, the pose will be over soon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Being a better Mother

71 days down, 294 to go!

Dear Orange Rhinos,

Here is the 2nd guest blog this week as I continue my “staycation” with my family. I thank my dear friend who has been a supporter of The Orange Rhino Challenge since day 1 for taking time out of her very busy schedule to write for us. And I thank her for her honesty – both about herself and about what the Orange Rhino Community means to her. Enjoy. I know I did,


The Orange Rhino


The Orange Rhino was a bit surprised (editor’s note: FLABERGASTED more like it!) when I asked if I could be one of her guest posters.  She said, “But you don’t yell, right?” and this is correct.  I am not much of a yeller at all.  This is for purely selfish reasons; I am averse to loud noises and generally dislike drama.   And yet, I read every post of hers, click on every Facebook status update, and read every single one of her readers’ comments.  Why? Because I love my children, and I really love hearing the words of other parents who are doing their best to be better parents.  We’ve all got issues, and while yelling may not be one of mine, I still have plenty of areas in which I could improve my parenting.

I get inspired by being a part of the Orange Rhino Community… this is a hard task that all of you have taken on, and I respect each one of you for the attempt- even if it is only day three for you.  Anyhow, on to the “meat” of my post:

I struggled for years to get pregnant the first time, so when I became a Mommy seven years ago, I was in total bliss.  My daughter was my entire universe from the moment she was placed in my arms.  When I found out that I was expecting again shortly after her first birthday, I was extremely surprised and delighted that it had happened again without medical intervention, but I had these secret nagging worries that I would never, ever be able to love my second child as much as I loved my first.

There just didn’t seem to be enough space in my emotional landscape for that.

When an early ultrasound revealed that I was in fact expecting my second AND THIRD children (fraternal twins,) that nagging worry turned into a not-so-silent panic.  As my belly grew larger and larger (I kid you not, it was an EPIC belly- 54″ diameter just before I delivered,) I felt that I owed my oldest an apology for what was about to happen to our neat little mother/daughter bubble that we had been living in… and I mourned the loss of that bubble with a vengeance. (Editor’s note: glad I am not the only one who ever felt that!)

But time marches on, and before I knew it, I was a mother of three children under the age of 2.  Harumph.  I’d love to write about what those early days were like, how I came to terms with the new reality, and how I slowly but surely bonded with the twins and watched my love expand to fit all three kids… but anyone who has had newborn twins will tell you that there is a blur effect that takes place, blocking out all but the occasional snapshot of the first six months.  So, I have no idea how it happened, but I know that by the time the twins were old enough to sit up on their own, my emotional landscape had grown to accommodate the tremendous love that I felt for all three of my children.  Every storm cloud has a silver lining, and as I sit here thinking about how soul-crushingly hard those early days were, I have to admit (now that they are in the past,) that it was the best thing that could have happened to us as a family.

My children are best friends and wonderful playmates for each other.

As a parent of a 7 year old and two 5 year olds, my life is less concerned with the logistics than it was in the early days; the children eat, sleep, dress themselves, eliminate waste, and amuse themselves more or less without a great deal of effort on my part.  However, now that they are older, I have had to up my parenting game significantly…. because now, they are PEOPLE: each one unique, each one with thoughts and hopes and dreams and fears and circumstances that they need to deal with as they move through life.

And I am their guide.

The awareness that how I handle things in life is the main example that they will learn from as they mature is nearly paralyzing- because I am deeply flawed.  I have a short fuse, I am rigid and easily annoyed, I am bossy and a know-it-all, and sometimes, my sense of humor is unkind.  What if they end up flawed like me???

So.  While I may not have an issue with yelling, the Orange Rhino Community is my place to remind myself that I want to be a better person, so that I can be a better mother.  As the Orange Rhino has pointed out numerous times, knowing your triggers is a good place to start, so I attempt on a daily basis to recall those elements that make me struggle (stress, not enough rest, and relationships…to name a few,) and I do my best to be intentional about how I handle those challenges- because my children are watching me, and they deserve my very best effort.


“I want to be a better person, so that I can be a better mother….and I do my best…because my children….deserve my very best effort.”  This is certainly a sentiment I can relate to, in fact it was the main driver behind starting The Orange Rhino Challenge. My children deserve my best effort. Period. And while I can only do so much, as long as I have given this whole parenting gig my best effort, as long as I have TRIED, then I know I won’t have any regrets. Even if I am not perfect. Notice how my friend uses better, not perfect? That’s perfectly put. It’s not about being perfect. It is simply about trying our best. Doing what we can.

And I can tell you, my friend is doing a pretty bang up good job. Both as a mom, and as a friend. Thank you for being my friend AND for writing.

The Look of Fear Had to Stop

69 days down, 296 to go!

Dear Orange Rhinos,

I am on a “Staycation” this week and have two great guest blogs for you to read. When I first looked for volunteers, Darlene from MommyBabySpot, immediately offered up. Given her enthusiasm for the challenge and her honesty, I really looked forward to her post and was not disappointed.

Happy reading,
The Orange Rhino


About a month ago, I discovered a shocking fact: I have a yelling problem. This isn’t something I’ve had all my life, rather the opposite actually. I’ve always been the first one to attempt to remain calm and talk through a difficult situation. But, my soon-to-be 3 year-old son combined with my 5 month old son and a rather stressful life has served to undermine my calm collectedness. It had been brewing and getting worse for about 7 or 8 months and finally reached a head.

My name is Darlene and I am a yell-oholic.

My oldest, Avery, has been the one who has witnessed this transformation of his chill Mommy. So what happened? It’s not just that I have a toddler and a baby, but there’s much more to it. I feel I need to give a brief overview of the past 12 months or so of my life so you can see why I’ve snapped (this is by no means a “look how awesome I am” list, just a bit of background):

  • I am a 28 year-old single mom and a stay-at-home mom (I don’t get many breaks)
  • I moved a pregnant me and toddler back into my parents’ basement (still living there) after fleeing a bad relationship
  • I gave birth in November to Ranger
  • I finished my BA in December (I wore Ranger the last 3 weeks of classes) – it took me 10 years to finish but I did it! *pats self on back*
  • I am working towards my ICEA childbirth educator certification as well as my breastfeeding counselor certification
  • I am trying to start a childbirth education business, blog and youtube channel
  • I try to help as much as I can with my developmentally disabled brother
  • I feel huge amounts of guilt for not giving Avery and Ranger the attention they need and deserve as I try to get back on my feet and start this business

So, as you may have surmised from the above list, I’ve been a little stressed lately. Poor Avery has been adjusting to all of the things I’m trying to accomplish, a baby brother and trying his best to be a happy 2 year-old and in the process severely pushing my buttons. It wasn’t his fault I didn’t have time to focus on him like I used to. It wasn’t his fault that he has the energy of a two-year-old and is trying any way possible to get Mom’s attention. Yelling was not helping!

I realized one day, while trying desperately to put Ranger down for a nap and shut Avery up, that I was turning into one of those mothers I never wanted to be. Avery was screaming back at me, I was furiously telling him to just be quiet, the baby was crying because Mom was suddenly a banshee…and then I just stopped. I put the baby down, walked over to Avery and gave him a big hug and told him how very sorry I was and that I would try hard to get back to being a good Mommy and showing him how much I love him.

He must have understood because he got quiet and we both just hugged for a minute.

I had no idea how I was going to pull that promise off, but I knew I had to. I want both of my sons to be happy and I realized I was making everyone miserable (including my parents). I didn’t want Ranger to see me as this yelling woman carrying him around and I didn’t want Avery to fear me.

I hated seeing that fear and dread in his eyes along with that need for my love and attention.

Soon after this incident, I was working on my blog (or maybe Facebook page) and came across The Orange Rhino. I read her posts, read what she was about and breathed a sigh of relief. I wasn’t alone! There were other moms struggling with the same thing I was and wanting to stop. I signed up immediately. I’ve taken on the entire 365 day challenge.

It’s been HARD!

I haven’t been yelling that long but it’s still not an easy habit to break. Yelling stopped everyone in their tracks and got things accomplished…sorta. It also broke down my boys and destroyed our relationship.

I am currently at 5 days with no yelling and I feel great. It’s taken me about 2 weeks or so to get here, but I haven’t yelled since Good Friday and this is the longest I’ve been able to go. I have noticed that when I have yelled recently, it’s become something that is over quickly instead of the tirades I used to go on. I’ll yell one word just to get Avery’s attention, but I’ve even stopped doing that lately.

I’m already noticing a change in my relationship with Avery. I’m more loving towards him (I had gotten to the point of not enjoying our time together) and he’s more responsive and happier. Ranger seems happier too, more laid back and not as quick to have a total melt down. I feel better about my parenting and like I’m more in control of the situations. I’ve even gotten back into setting aside time twice a day to totally focus on Avery and do some sort of activity with him as well as giving him quiet him-and-mommy reading time before bed.

Yelling has been replaced with the question: “Is what you are doing a good idea?” Maybe Avery’s a bit young to really ‘get’ that question, but it makes him stop and I help him decide that he needs to stop and redirect his energy. I’ve also started telling him to look at me when I’m explaining something or asking him to stop his unacceptable behavior. This helps me feel like he’s listening and I can also read him better and adjust my message to suit his understanding and mood.

But, I have to admit…I haven’t only stopped yelling. Avery’s behavior had become alarming to me. So, along with not yelling I’ve also cracked down on Avery’s food and mine. I have cut out junk food and as much processed food as possible. So, no yelling and a healthy diet have already changed my relationship with my boys and the harmony of our little family.

Thanks Orange Rhino for the community and support to help me stop yelling and repair my family.


You’re most welcome! Thank you for your honesty and sharing with us. One of my favorite parts (besides the obvious how strong you are for leaving a bad relationship, how determined you were to get your BA, how courageous you are for wanting to change amidst such stress), was how you phrased what yelling and not yelling have done to your family. You wrote:

“…Yelling broke down my boys and destroyed our relationship.” Wow. Such a powerful statement, one that I think many of us can relate to, even if we don’t want to admit it.

You also wrote how in not yelling for just 5 days you’re more loving and your sons are happier. Wow. Another powerful statement, one that I think we all dream of. Being more loving and having happier children.

This no yelling thing is kind of cool, right?

“I try to Sing my Emotions”

42 days down, 323 to go!

Dear Alison,
Tonight’s post is for you. You were one of my first FB followers and you have inspired me along the way with your commitment and passion to change the habit of yelling at your kids. I have always been impressed with your honesty and your positive attitude. I often found myself thinking of you, and your will, whenever I was feeling like I wanted to quit, so thank you.

When you made it 10 days, I asked you a few questions and this is what you answered. As you re-embark on day 1 (or is it 2?) I thought it was the perfect time to share with you what you wrote. I hope it makes you smile. I know it made me smile, especially the part about singing your emotions instead of yelling them. And I know it will make others not only smile but also feel inspired. Thanks for sharing. And keep it up. ANY moment that you choose to not yell is a win in my book. So whether you make it 10 more days, 30, 60 or 365, I think you have already succeeded….

Cheers to YOU,
The Orange Rhino


1. Name (if you wish), # of kids, ages and gender
Alison Chan, 2 kids, Ethan 3.5 and Calvin 21 months

2. What drove you to do The Orange Rhino Challenge in the first place? Did you have an epiphany?

I was reading your blog that a friend had posted and immediately was drawn to the truth that you spoke. I gave it a try and on day 3 of going back to day 0, I realized I really needed to give this a serious try. Once I got to day 1 successfully, I realized that my 3-year-old also did not have a tantrum that day. After that I was hooked and committed to going a whole 365 days!

3. How has The Orange Rhino Challenge impacted you? Your family? 
I have had 13 days without yelling and feel fantastic. I am so much more patient with my kids and really now I realize that I used to get upset about the stupidest things. The biggest impact on our family is the pure and simple fact that Ethan has not had a tantrum in 13 days! Him and I talk about this and he really said that it is because I am talking to him differently. I love it!

4. What has been the hardest part about not yelling?
The hardest part about not yelling is that it is easy to revert to old habits. It is really hard at the beginning to change the way you speak. I realize now though that I even lost track of the number of days I have not yelled because it feels so normal to me to not yell now.

5. What is the best part about not yelling?
The best part about not yelling is that my kids have also stopped yelling. They now have so much more tolerance for each other and are starting to really share their feelings and emotions in a much more grownup way. It has been fabulous! I have enjoyed so much more of my time at home with them. I am a stay at home mom and I can honestly say, some days I would just wait for my husband to get home from work and just run out of the house because I was so frustrated some days when my oldest would have 4 or 5 30 min tantrums. I no longer have days at all like that any more and I am so happy to spend every minute with them. The tough moments we do have are much more manageable for all of us.

6. What is your one “Orange Rhino Revelation” about how to not yell that you would like to share with others? (ie, what works instead…singing, dancing, being silly?)

I always try to get silly and sing my emotions out instead of yell……this sounds so ridiculous, but it works for me.

7. Did you EVER think you would make it to Day 10? 
I never thought at day 0, I could make it to day 10, but now I am losing track of the number of days because it is getting so easy for me.

8. What is your new goal
My new goal is to get to day 60. After that, I think 365 days is totally possible!

Have you made it 10 days without yelling? Email me! I would love to hear from you and be inspired! The first 10 days are the hardest but most phenomenal feeling days. Reading what other people experienced during those 10 days reminds me what it is all about.

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