thank you for staying with me all these years,
But lets face it – it isn’t that easy. Holidays are complicated and stressful for so many reasons creating moments that are anything but a Hallmark movie.
But lets face it – it isn’t that easy. Holidays are complicated and stressful for so many reasons creating moments that are anything but a Hallmark movie.
Unfortunately, before I started my Orange Rhino Challenge to go 365 days straight without yelling at my four boys, then ages five and under, the “Not-so-Great” Thanksgiving of 2010 happened. Oh how I wish that I decided to teach myself to “Yell Less, Love More” before that turkey day for then this story wouldn’t still be stuck in my memory because it wouldn’t have happened in the first place! Nope, all the lessons I learned on my 520 days straight of not yelling would have come in to place and prevented me from ruining that Thanksgiving with my relentless yelling. Sigh. Oh well. Here’s how it went down, literally.
* * * * *
I don’t like turkey.
Or cranberry sauce.
Or any of the foods that one typically serves on Thanksgiving for that matter.
Except well, for the white stuff: bread, butter, mashed potatoes, and more butter! But I love Thanksgiving Day. I love making a big, roaring fire and then cuddling up with my boys to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I love “oohing and ahhing” over all the floats together and sharing stories with my boys about when I was a kid and couldn’t wait to watch the Parade. I love sitting down to eat and first having cranberry juice with rainbow sherbet and telling my boys that this is a tradition passed down from my great-grandmother.
Oh, there is just so much to love on Thanksgiving Day.
And yet, I hated Thanksgiving 2010 because I ruined it.
I ruined it by yelling, big-time. Over a picture. A freakin’ picture. Seriously?! Yes, seriously. As soon as the parade wrapped up, I deemed that it was therefore the perfect time for the annual “Let’s watch Mom jump up and down and act like a clown to make us smile” holiday card photo shoot. Yes, of course, trying to get James, Edward, and Andrew, then ages, four, three, and one, to sit still and cooperate—after they had just been sitting peacefully and quietly for an hour and just wanted to run outside and play—was the perfect time to ask them to sit still, again. And smile. And keep their hands to themselves. And try to be patient with my constant requests for, “Just one more picture, please?” I knew at the time that I was pushing my luck, given the circumstances and their ages, but yet I still pushed.
As expected, given my picture-taking history, my boys whined when I told them it was picture time. As I geared up to corral them into the living room (and to start offering bribes galore), Andrew took off as usual and ran into—of all rooms—the living room. He jumped onto the couch, laughing hysterically as he crashed into the pillows. James and Edward of course followed suit and all three boys started laughing and tickling each other and having a grand old time. So much so that, when I shouted, “Hey, look at me!” they didn’t realize I had just taken a picture. It was, and still is, one of my favorite pictures in the entire world. The happiness. The love. The joy. The smiles. It melted my heart.
So you think I would have stopped right then, right?
No more pictures needed, right?!
I wanted to make sure that I had the best picture. The perfect picture. I wanted to see if I could do better, even though I felt I had just been delivered a miracle. I got greedy, really, really greedy, and I asked, “One more picture, please?” They acquiesced for a few minutes, but understandably soon grew tired of my never-ending demands to sit still and smile. They had behaved wonderfully and cooperatively for so long; now they were done. They had reached their limit and started squirming, whining, pinching each other, and refusing to cooperate. So I started yelling. And I didn’t stop. I didn’t stop because I so badly wanted the perfect picture and I thought that yelling would force them to behave.
“Sit still!” I barked.
“Just one more! Be good!” I whined.
“WHY CAN’T YOU JUST DO THIS FOR ME?!” I yelled.
And my famous, or rather infamous, Thanksgiving 2010 line:
“It’s Thanksgiving, for cripe’s sake! I would be so grateful for just one good picture. PLEASE! Just smile!” I screamed.
The more I yelled, the more they cried. The more they cried, the worse the pictures were, so the more I yelled. Finally, I gave up and said ever so shamefully and nastily, “That’s it! I have had it. All I wanted was a picture. Thanks for nothing.”
James, Edward, and Andrew then promptly ran out of the room, crying to Daddy and the grandmas. James screamed, “Mommy’s a meany.” Edward sobbed, “I don’t like her.” Andrew just cried and cried, clearly scared by how loud and nasty my voice had gotten. And I went to the bathroom and also cried and cried, feeling all the same thoughts as my kids. I pouted the rest of the day as I felt so mortified and ashamed that I had screamed at my young children for behaving well; ashamed that I had unnecessarily taken my own problem with perfection out on them.
I couldn’t look any of the other adults in the eye for the rest of the day. I felt so sad that my need for the perfect picture pushed me to lose it so horrifically. My guilt and shame then kept me from enjoying the holiday. Thanksgiving is one of the days where I often feel nothing but love, and yet, that year, that year I couldn’t feel it because I had yelled to the point where all I felt was hatred for myself.
The sad thing is, that Thanksgiving wasn’t the only time I felt such anger at myself for yelling at my kids over trying to get a picture. Nope, it had happened many times before. And while I sit here wanting to write that it’s all just because I am a perfectionist and seek perfection in everything I do, that’s a partial cop-out. It goes deeper than that.
Yes, yes, I seek the perfect picture of all my boys looking at the camera, smiling flawlessly and not picking their noses. But it’s not just because I am a perfectionist; it’s also because I am insecure. Oftentimes in life, I seek comfort, confidence, and reassurance that I am living a happy, good life, that I am doing good at this parenting thing, that I have happy children. And well, whenever I feel that way, I find that looking at pictures soothes my insecurities and proves to me that I am doing okay.
If I feel frustrated and down and overwhelmed by the challenges of parenting, I can look at that “perfect” picture and look straight into those gorgeous twinkling eyes and remember that it is all worth it, that my kids are happy and it’s worth the work. If I find myself feeling sad that life is passing by too fast, my kids are growing up too fast, and I feel I have missed out, I can look at that “perfect” picture and remember: no, I didn’t miss it, I was right there and it was wonderful. And if I feel stressed about life in general, then looking at pictures of my family having fun, enjoying a special vacation, enjoying a special holiday, enjoying each other helps soothe my negative mood and move me to a more positive, grateful, happy, and definitely less stressed place.
Pictures bring me comfort by helping me feel secure in this world, and rightfully or wrongfully, I rely on them for this. That is the real reason I push for perfect pictures. I don’t refrain from yelling at my kids during picture time because I want the most beautiful picture ever; it’s because I am afraid that if I don’t get that picture, then I won’t have something to look at when I need it most. I yell at them because of me, because of my insecurities, not because of them and their inability to sit still longer than children their age should.
The Orange Rhino Challenge and all the trigger digging I did helped me to see the real reason I yelled. And by default, it helped me let go and chill out during picture time. Now when I find myself struggling to not yell at my kids when I desperately want a picture, I say to myself,
“Hey, just relax. You’ll get what you get. Don’t push it or you won’t get a thing expect crying kids, an upset you, and therefore a bad picture and a more upset you. It’s not worth it! (Yelling doesn’t work, it just makes things worse!) Remember, it’s not them you are frustrated with; it’s you. They are doing fine, you are causing the stress. Chill out. Just chill out. Remember, the goal isn’t the perfect picture. It’s enjoying the moment. Don’t ruin it by yelling.”
I can happily say that I now enjoy those special moments in my life even more than before because my plight for perfection and my instinct to yell aren’t dampening them. Do I still struggle and have to push myself to let go of perfection at times? Yes. Do I still struggle and have to push myself to “Yell Less, Love More” during trying times? Yes. I am the Orange Rhino, but I am not perfect! But I struggle a lot less and for that I will jump up and down, act like a clown, and do all sorts of crazy things to make me smile and feel good about my progress. Because of all the things I have learned on my Orange Rhino Challenge to Yell Less + L.O.V.E. More, one most definitely is this: the goal is not about perfection; it’s about progress.
And I am making progress, I am yelling less and loving more, and that is what matters to me more than perfection.
This story is from my book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can Too!” Part parenting guide, part memoir, part journal, her book takes you on a 30-day journey full of honest stories, alternatives to yelling and steps to follow so that you too can Yell Less. Find more about my book here: www.TheOrangeRhino.com/the-book and join The Orange Rhino Revolution at www.Facebook.com/TheOrangeRhino
(Here is Part 1 from November 10 if you missed it!)
Part of ensuring that I am more likely to respond with a warm voice instead of a harsh yell is to ensure that I do not carry a lot of sh*t around with me. Like my dog Hope, I am freer and happier when I let that sh*t go. So it is important to me, as I fully re-engage here in The Orange Rhino community that I fully share why I started disappearing in 2015. Today is the day because I have had enough of carrying it around for seven years.
But first, I am an organized person and feel the need to just put a quick timeline in place for perspective.
2012: The Orange Rhino Challenge to not yell for 365 days starts and this community is born!
2013: I celebrate one year not yelling in February; five months later in July, I yell.
2014: “Yell Less, Love More” comes out – along with lovely support from you all and negative not-so-support from those who don’t know my style or my blog or my background.
2015: I start disappearing.
2016: I really disappear.
2017 – 2018: I really want to come back…but just can’t find the ability to do so.
2019 – 2021: I really, REALLY, want to come back, I tell myself, but still can’t find my way. Something was holding me back, keeping me from the key board. I know that part of the reason was that if I dared to write, I would write about 2016 and I wasn’t ready to fully acknowledge that year of my life. I couldn’t. Just couldn’t.
2022: I finally start to realize through years of therapy and self-reflection, that The Orange Rhino, while a positive place that I want to be, also started carrying some real negative memories and has some real negative ties to it. It almost became a slightly traumatic place for me as it triggered some of my little traumas in life and has ties to something that happened in 2016.
September 2022: The Orange Rhino returns.
November 2022: I announce the upcoming release of my audio version of my book. Which is exciting and scary as hell based on what happened in 2014/2015. But I also see it as a gift from the universe. I learned in April 2022 that it might happen. I was shocked. My book hasn’t been selling as much because well duh, I haven’t kept the community going for seven years! Why now? The answer basically was, why not? My publishing company has a new approach for creating audio books and somehow, lucky me, Yell Less and Love More was chosen.
For seven years at this point, I have been wanting to get back to The Orange Rhino. Seven years of wanting to do something, but not. Seven years of fear and regret. Seven years of not being able to find the strength to show up, not being able to find the courage to overcome the negative memories. Oh, so many negative memories embedded in The Orange Rhino.
And then, voila! A true, honest to goodness gift from the Universe.
A second chance. Repeat. A. Second. Chance.
A chance to come back as The Orange Rhino.
A chance to come back and face my history and no longer let it suck my energy out.
A chance to come back and take control over how The Orange Rhino story goes.
A chance to come back and no longer regret how my book release went in 2014, no longer regret dropping the ball and the community after the book released, because, I now have…
A better chance to keep the energy going after this audiobook release because I am now better equipped to do so emotionally.
Oh, and lest I forget, I also have…
A chance to come back and keep growing as a person, keep learning how to not let negative comments get to me, keep learning how to remember the positive, keep learning how to love myself more so I can yell less at my kids.
A chance to come back to an amazing, supportive community.
AND a chance to really get back to not yelling so much.
I have always believed in second chances. And I am grateful for this one. This second chance has given me the strength – it has forced me to acknowledge the last seven years and move forward from them.
Halleluiah because these last seven years – while many, many wonderful things have happened – they have also held me back. Or did they? Perhaps they didn’t hold me back, but allowed me to stand still, get some roots down and grow?
Which leaves me with another tip to yell less: change the narrative! Note I didn’t say ignore the negative. See the negative. Feel it. Allow it to be real. And then as soon as you are ready (which might not be immediately and that is okay!), change it so that it doesn’t change your mood and your ability to respond warmly when triggered.
These last seven years have been cruddy…AND incredible.
These last seven years I didn’t move forward as I hoped in some areas…but I learned a lot staying still that will propel me forward now.
These last seven years I yelled more than I liked…but I also taught my kids a lot about forgiveness to others and ourselves. I taught them about how being imperfect is okay. I taught them about how my yelling isn’t because of them, but me. I taught them that while yelling isn’t okay, it does happen and what happens afterwards is super important.
And, I taught them, am teaching them, that it is never too late to do something. It is never too late to change. To go after a goal. To try again. To keep trying. I am teaching them to be determined. I am teaching them to be warm and calm to THEMSELVES when provoked by others.
In other words, I am teaching them to be Orange Rhinos, and isn’t that ultimately the goal?!
Thanks for reading and being here, Part 2 is coming. It turns out I have too much too say hahahaha.
Here’s to telling yourself a positive narrative today, about yourself, your life, your children, and your childrens’ behaviors! (A narrative switch for today. Switch “my child isn’t listening or behaving” to “My child is having a hard time listening and ‘behaving,’ there must be a reason, something is making it hard.” Then work together to figure it out and if you can’t, work together to lighten the mood – laugh, play, sing, dance, watch the dog go to the bathroom and trot away, whatever works!
“Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids – and How You Can Too!” available where you buy books! Audiobook coming in January 2023.
Wanted to share my personal goal for the week as it is perfectly relevant here. My goal: Not to Give Up. Or with a more positive spin: Just keep going. Keep doing what I’m doing. I am not seeing/feeling progress in a few areas of my life where I am really working hard and I can’t help but think, why work so hard if it isn’t working? Why? Because of my why, that’s why! Okay, way too many why’s so how about some how’s…How am I going to keep myself going and not giving up?
I am going to remind myself of my big why I am after the goal in the first place (personal health to prevent illness, personal growth so I can show up better for myself and my kids, and more.)
I am going to remind myself that change takes time. That small steps add up to big gains. That sometimes progress isn’t seen even when it’s there.
I am going to remind myself that giving up gets me nowhere, but staying on the path gets me somewhere even if that somewhere is right where I am but STILL on the path.
Starting now. Ugh, harder than I thought lol. Not giving up I have been waking up at 5:30 consecutively for three weeks now which is a HUGE change for me and a mini-goal that is allowing me to goal after the other goals so I can achieve change.
If you feel like giving up today on yelling less – or any other personal goal because guess what, those goals and achieving them will help you feel less by default – remember what you have done so far. (Here’s a hint: having a goal and knowing what you want is a great step…admitting struggling and getting support is another…trying again is another…there are so many options here!)
(Audio version included!)
Y’all. Yesterday…yesterday was a crap day. Within ten minutes of waking up, I felt a storm coming. I am not talking about a weather storm (although I do always feel those comin’ in my knees….) Nope, I am talking about a cranky mood storm where I just feel off and can’t precisely figure out why so I end up snapping more and sometimes even yelling more than I like. I felt agitated. I couldn’t focus and when I could I wasn’t productive. I felt exhausted but knew I wasn’t tired. I didn’t have a pep in my step even though I had done the things that normally give me energy.
Although I didn’t know what the heck was going on with me, I knew for certain that if I didn’t get ahead of this storm and prevent it from happening (or at least tame it a bit), that it would end up hitting right around 5:00 when all four kids come home hungry, and overwhelmed with exhaustion and school work. And I knew for certain that my personal cranky mood would most likely spread to the boys (moods, good and bad, are contagious!) and that we would then go from a personal storm to a total, utter sh*t storm. This doesn’t even consider what moods they would be bringing home!
Obviously, a total utter sh*t storm was not desired. I can tolerate an average one, that is just expected around here 😉 but a total utter sh*t storm? No thanks. They suck.
I tried everything I could to ease my crankiness.
I went for a walk (nature is very soothing for me.)
I drank cold water (helps the nervous system amongst other things.)
I listened to happy music (seriously, listen to happy songs and try not to sing along.
I talked to my therapist (perfect day to have that scheduled!)
I sat outside in the sun and imagined a favorite vacation this summer (distraction.)
I made another cup of coffee because I love the smell of it and I hadn’t fully enjoyed my morning cup (find joy wherever)…and I used my favorite minions mug because it brings back happy memories with my boys.
BUT NOTHING WORKED.
Not only did I not want a sh*t storm later, but I didn’t like how I felt and I had so much to do and not being productive was just making me feel worse.
So I went to my back-up bag of tricks to ease my crankiness. I sat down and tried to write. Often when I write, my thoughts kind of sort themselves out. Folks, even this didn’t work! So now I was two levels into my “how-to-uncranky-myself” handbook. Onto the back-up, back-up. I went for another walk to “clear my mind.” No podcasts. No music. No dog to slow me down. Just the sounds around me.
My mind kept telling me, “Sheila, your mood is driven by that damn scale you stepped on this morning! You are working so hard to get healthy (another post) and you aren’t getting any positive feedback from the scale or anywhere. Progress pictures? Not helping. Measurements? Nope. Better mood? Okay mostly but not today. Looser clothes? As freakin’ if.
I wanted to hang my hat on this explanation for my cranky mood so that I could move forward, but I still felt unsettled. And then it hit.
The lack of perceived progress with my weight wasn’t the real issue (although it sure as hell wasn’t helping). The weight of parenting was – I just hadn’t fully allowed myself to process all that was going on with back to school.
The first two weeks of school have been a doozy, as they always are. This year though, there is an added layer (or a thousand) of worry. So, while I wasn’t tired yesterday per say, my mind and body were exhausted. My pep was gone because it has been in over drive supporting my kids. I was agitated because well, I love my kids and there is so much I want to do for them/with them to support them and to help them grow into wonderful adults and yet given the strain of the first two weeks, I was starting to wonder if I was getting any of the parenting thing right! AND if I would ever get it right or even close? (Because folks, there is NO complete right way to parent.)
The scale yesterday frustrated me because it didn’t give me positive feedback despite my hard work. This led to self-doubt and the desire to say f*ck it I won’t try so hard. Funny, parenting can be the same. Kids don’t necessarily give you feedback that your hard work is working. There is no guarantee that if you do everything “right,” they will be okay. There are moments, for sure, but they are fleeting. But that doesn’t mean we stop trying. It just means that we have to keep the faith.
And that we have to keep watching our own storms brewin’ so that we can be at our best for them when their storms brew…and hit!
Despite me having this huge moment of clarity on my walk – I still felt cranky. (Normally I feel lighter after such moments; knowing what’s up brings me peace because then I know I can at least make a plan to work through it.)
So, I went to my back-up, back-up, back-up bag of trips and reminded myself,
“It’s all good. Somedays are just hard. Just do your best to get through the day. Go to bed early. Tomorrow brings a new day.”
And I forewarned my kiddos, “Guys – mom is wicked cranky. It has nothing to do with you. It’s just me. So, I am going to try really hard to not snap but if I do, please just remember it isn’t you.”
It took A LOT to get through the evening because my boys brought home a lot with them! I relied on my original bag of tricks quite frequently – I would pop outside and take breaks, I drank cold water and instead of envisioning a warm, relaxing vacation…I envisioned bedtime 😉
And I listened to my current, favorite uplifting song “Keep the Beat.” The lyrics couldn’t be more perfect…
“All I can do when the road bends…is lean into the curve…and
All I can do…when the tanks run dry…is see what’s in the reserve.”
Orange Rhinos, somedays your reserve will be more full than others. But you always have a reserve – you just need to know when it is going to be needed and how to get there.
RELEVANT TAKE-AWAYS for your Orange Rhino journey to YELL LESS and LOVE MORE:
Don’t fret if you don’t have the answers to any or all of the above, just pick one and ponder it…and remember, tomorrow brings a new day.
Wow, it feels surreal to be sitting at a desk, typing a blog post again after almost three years (but really, closer to what, seven?) I have so much to say, to write, to explain, to explore, to admit, to face and to do!!!
Before I do that, I am going to very quickly get a few things out there.
To all NEW ORANGE RHINOS: Welcome! I will write more about me in upcoming days but for this post, most important things to know are:
To all Original ORANGE RHINOS: Hi! Oh, how I have missed this community and the positive, supportive people in it. I have constantly struggled for the last seven years really feeling like I let you down by becoming quiet. But alas, I am back and I am ever so grateful you are still here.
And to everyone (myself included)…
Just take one step.
It doesn’t have to be perfect.
It doesn’t have to be fully planned.
It just has to be one step taking you in the direction that you want to go.
Just one step helping you become the person you want to be tomorrow (or shoot, even later today!)
Just one step towards your goal.
My goal right now, and I share it with all of you so that I can be held accountable, is to bring The Orange Rhino® back to life. I don’t know entirely what that looks like, or means, or how I am going to do that, but I do know that I just need to start and keep going, even when I feel unsure, insecure or overwhelmed. And most importantly…even when I feel like my plan isn’t perfectly outlined.
I have learned a lot about myself since I took a break from full-time commitment to The Orange Rhino®. A LOT. One of those things is that my need for a solid, clear plan/path to success actually kept me from achieving many of my personal goals. I haven’t DIDN’T start going after many of my goals or ideas because I didn’t feel like I had enough supports/resources/answers in place to succeed. Maybe if I figured out one more detail, then I would be guaranteed to succeed. Or wait, if I figured out just another detail after that, yes, then I would definitely succeed. Or better yet, what if I knew the answer to every single “what if…?” and knew every single to-do? Yes, then I would most definitely be set up to succeed!
If I am going to be honest with myself, my focus wasn’t just about guaranteeing success. It was also (more so) about guaranteeing that I didn’t fail. That I didn’t let myself down again. That I didn’t let others down again. That I didn’t get disappointed again. That I didn’t get hurt again. Ironically, all my over-preparation to succeed did just the opposite. I am not going to say I failed; I am moving away from that word that my brain apparently has a strong attraction to 😉 Instead, I am going all “elementary school poster” and saying that I had seven years of
What works for me, what doesn’t.
Who I am, who I am not.
Who I want to be, who I do not want to be.
What I yearn for, what I desperately fear.
What I love about myself, what I hate don’t really like so much about myself.
And learning that I need to just freakin’ start.
I don’t need all the details to move forward.
I just need one first step towards my goal and then the other steps will follow.
They might not come as fast as I wish; they might not go in the order I wish and they definitely won’t be executed as perfectly as I wish…but they will come….as I long as I just freakin’ start and keep going.
This is going to be very hard for me, the whole, no formal plan thing and putting out work that isn’t presented perfectly. But…I am gonna do it anyways. Because if I don’t start now, fear will come back and take over and I have had enough of sitting back and watching my goals pass me by.
So who is with me, just freakin’ starting going after a goal…even if hesitant, scared or doubtful?
As I take my first steps towards (1) bringing The Orange Rhino back to life and (2) being uncomfortable putting stuff out there that isn’t perfectly planned, I truly hope you take any first step towards your goal of yelling less and loving more. I will be here to support you, as will the community. Again, I don’t know all of my steps I will have in place to personally support you (and you know it is killin’ me that I don’t, but you know, charging forward anyways) but I do know that I will be reading my book again and will be doing another 30-Day Challenge. But don’t wait for all those details 😉 start today with one step.
Here is one simple(ish) step:
WE got this. Let’s freakin’ go!
The Orange Rhino
I have been avoiding you for quite some time now.
Yes, avoiding you.
Please don’t take it personal.
This is most definitely (and legitimately!) one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” situations!
I could list 1,001 reasons why I haven’t been writing but at this point, are they really relevant? Are they really what I want to focus on? Do I really want to focus on the past or do I want to move forward and focus on the present, the future? Yes, that is what I want – to move forward. I am certain there will be a time and place when sharing my 1,001 reasons for not writing with you will make sense. And I am certain there will be a time when I feel more comfortable sharing them (I know, odd coming from me, the one who feels comfortable sharing everything), but right now is not the time.
And that is really hard for me to do because folks, if you haven’t guessed it yet I am an anal-retentive, logical, sometimes-organized person! The whole idea of writing posts that don’t reflect my life chronologically drives me bonkers! The whole idea of not thoroughly explaining to you all how I have arrived at this type of post drives me bonkers! I want to explain to all you newish folks why I started with “dear diary” and how this post actually fits in within the grand scheme of The Orange Rhino Challenge.
So why don’t I write those posts you ask? Why don’t I take you back in time with me? I don’t know! I go to write those posts and I hit a block. Actually, I hit a lot of them. Think of it this way. You know how when you don’t call a friend one day and think, “oh, I will call her tomorrow?” and then tomorrow doesn’t happen or the day after or the day after that? And then before you know it more than a month has passed and you still want to call but feel so bad for not calling that you don’t actually make the call?
Yeah, well that is how I am feeling about my relationship with writing right now. Oh how many times I have yearned to write to you dearest diary. Oh how many times I write to you in my head but then avoid writing to you in reality. Oh how many times I sat down to write to you and instead surfed Facebook because the distance between us had grown so much and with it my hesitance., and my fear but we will save that for another day. And oh, oh how many times I said to myself, “just write already, you know you want to, you know you will feel relieved once you start, you know it is a great stress relief, just do it!”
But I couldn’t just do it. I guess you could say that I fell out of my habit of writing. I lost my groove (am I allowed to even admit that here?) and I think we all now how hard it is to get back into a groove. It is brutal! The whole “no more eating chex mix for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert” practically killed me yesterday but alas, I had to get back into the groove of eating better as my body was begging me too. And don’t even get me started on the having to get back into the going-to-school-groove after vacation. Yesterday was Such. A. Tough. Morning. And Day. And Night. Everyone is tired, cranky, disappointed, just wanting to be in pajamas and therefore struggling. Fun times!
I did manage to get into those two grooves yesterday and have continued them today. Partly because the out-of-groove period was so short and well mostly because I had no choice! But getting back into the writing groove? Well clearly it hasn’t been so easy-peasy! But I desperately want to get back into the groove so yesterday I did something about it.
I just started somewhere. Anywhere.
I told myself to, “just sit and write, stream of conscious style like you used to do. Write to your ‘diary’; it might not be your ideal format for this post but it will get you started so just to do it.”
“Just do anything,” I said to myself. “It doesn’t matter if it is good or meaningful or post-worthy, it just needs to be a start. You just need to start writing. You just need to start practicing again, to get the flow going.”
So that is what I did, that is what I am doing. And wouldn’t you know it, it feels fantastic! I can feel my desire to write to you again, as in sooner than a year from now, growing. Feeling fantastic is a pretty contagious feeling and all I needed to get to that feeling was just starting somewhere.
Just starting somewhere…
Without fear if I would succeed.
Without fear if I would continue to succeed.
Without fear of what people would think.
Without fear of whether or not I would do it right.
Without fear if I was doing enough to get going.
Without fear of well, anything that could keep me back from just doing.
It wasn’t easy letting go of aforementioned fears but I can tell you, it was worth it. AND, if you are like me and are struggling to go after something you want, perhaps, oh say, learning to Yell Less and Love More in 2016, it will be worth it for you if you let go of any fears, hesitations, excuses, concerns you have that are holding you back from starting your own journey to be an Orange Rhino. You don’t have to let go of those feelings forever, just long enough so that you can Just Start in the moment. Because once you get started, once you start to gain momentum and feel fantastic, you won’t want to stop. Trust me.
Will you, will WE, have setbacks along the way? Will you, will WE, have setbacks oh say hours after we started? Probably. And then we will just start somewhere again. We will take any step forward that we can and that step will matter because it will move us forward.
Will you, will WE, have setbacks along the way? Will you, will WE, have setbacks oh say hours after we started? Probably. And then we will just start somewhere again. We will take any step forward that we can and that step will matter because it will move us forward.
Great you say, but what blooming step can I take? Here are a few in no particular order because again the point is to just do something, anything to help close the distance between your goal/desire/dream of yelling less and your current state. They may seem like small steps, but small steps are bigger than no steps and more importantly, the small steps will lead you to where you want to go!
Just starting somewhere certainly isn’t easy, but I think that not starting at all, that wanting to do something and not doing it all is a heck of a lot harder and a much greater burden to carry.
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Phew! I did it! I achieved my goal for this week. Did I struggle all last night and this morning about sharing this without any connection to all of my last posts? Yes! Am I sitting here thinking I should save this post for later, for when I have written the posts that lead up to it so that everything is “in order” and “done the way I would ideally do?” Heck yeah. But again, I can’t do that. If I wait, if I don’t just take another step forward by posting, I will get stuck again and I don’t want to be stuck – I want to be moving forward, closing the distance between my dreams/hopes/goals and where I am today.
Who is with me? Who is moving forward today? What 1 step are you taking?
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If you would like more details to get started, you might enjoy this blog post: 12 Steps to Yelling Less or my book which gets a lot more detailed! You can the entire scoop on it here: “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can Too! A thirty-day guide with tips, stories, and insights.
It’s funny how life can work out.
On April 29th I received a new book in the mail from a colleague.
On May 2nd I tore my ACL.
And on May 3rd the fighting between my boys intensified greatly.
Understandably, though, right? I mean, here I was, stuck on a couch, unable to play with my kids, hardly able to hold a conversation, and completely unable to crawl into bed and give good night snuggles. Not only were my boys already on edge with everyone as a result of witnessing my accident, but now they were also desperate for my attention of which I had so little to give. So, they started fighting with each other even more than before which is to say, their fighting went from slightly intolerable to majorly intolerable and oh my gosh did it make me want to SCREAM!!!
Luckily, the book I had received was Dr. Laura Markham’s new book, “Peaceful Parents, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life.” I mean, talk about perfect, timing! Every second I had enough energy, I read Dr. Laura’s book for I simply could not put it down. All of the non-preachy insights and ideas that just made good, logical sense that I knew I could remember and implement had me hooked!
I would love to share with you all that I took away from the book because I know that fighting siblings is a wonderful trigger for yelling. Gosh, between the extra noise, the lack of peace, the frustration around, “why can’t we just get along and have a fun family time,” the physical outbursts at each other, and the competition, it all leaves me wanting to yell! Am I right?!
That said, I underlined and highlighted so much in the book that if I shared all of my takeaways I would just be re-writing the book J So alas, here is my main takeaway and then a few other takeaways that have been game changers for me in how I approach my boys when they are fighting and how I approach parenting in general.
My Main Aha: Kids need coaching on how to problem solve when they are fighting, not just to “work it out” by themselves.
You all know I am a fan of the concept that discipline means to teach and that my role as a mom is to teach my kids. Before this book, though, for the most part I followed the “work it out” themselves approach. Sure when things were huge I stepped in, but for the most part I let them figure things out. This worked sometimes (think small issues) but for the most part, one kid just ended up frustrated and either walked away screaming at the other or came running to me crying. Which when I think back, makes total sense! Kids aren’t born knowing how to compromise, how to listen to each other, how to make “I” statements, or how to “fight fairly and productively.” How can I expect them to “work it out” themselves when I haven’t really, truly taught them the tools to do so in the first place? I mean sure, here and there I share a lesson, but the lesson really needs to be right then and there during the fight so it can be put to use. I need to coach them. I need to teach them to problem solve on their own. Which is exactly what I focus on now – teaching them to problem solve. Teaching them this skill is so much more than about reducing sibling fighting by the way; it’s about giving them a life skill that is so ridiculously important, on so many levels. So focus on teaching them problem solve I have. And the results have been mind blowing.
About one week into my injury, the boys were out fighting in the back yard over who could use the red toy (because obviously the blue one at their feet was inferior. Duh.) I gave it a few seconds to see if they could figure it out and when I realized things were about to escalate, I stepped in and used Dr. Laura’s tips.
“Uh-oh! It seems we have a problem. But we can solve this. Let’s see. Why don’t you each tell me what you think the problem is…without using your brother’s name. Andrew, you go first….Okay, James, your turn….This is like Scooby Doo guys! It’s a mystery as to what the solution is. Let’s problem solve; what can we do here?”
Side note: the amount of times I bring cartoons into my parenting sometimes scares me, but it does make relating easier! Moving forward.
I followed Dr. Laura’s suggestions for how to continue the rest of the conversation. Within minutes, NO JOKE, and without raised voices or tantrums, the boys ON THEIR OWN came up with a solution. Before I could even say “good job!” they had run off playing TOGETHER. Laughing. Happily. Like I said, Happy Siblings = Happy Mom. I then SAT in a chair UNINTERRUPTED!!! for 20 minutes watching them play. It was a miracle. It was beautiful.
Coaching my kids through a fight instead of letting them work it out on their own was the biggest take away for me from the book and it has continued to be a useful insight/tool/life saver. Just the other day two of my boys were walking together, holding hands, whispering to each other and evidently making a plan. They had been fighting minutes before but with the mere prompt of, “Looks like we have a problem,” they figured it out. Again, lifesaver!
Here are 5 other inspiring tips that have made this summer a wee bit more peaceful. (Note: these are my interpretations of her points; I might interpret somewhat wrong so apologies Dr. Laura if I do. Regardless, you inspired me to think and act better so thank you!)
“Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings” truly empowered me to get the sibling fighting in my home to a better place and I do feel that we have made major strides in that department…with room to improve, of course! But seriously, with less fighting and shorter fights, there is a lot more happiness in this house and for that I am way grateful. It’s been a hard summer as is and I can’t imagine how it would have been if the fighting was where it was 3 months ago! Yuck. So thank you Dr. Laura for sharing your book with me and for making my life a wee bit saner!
I know how cruddy it feels to classify oneself as a “parent who yells way too much” and I just don’t want you to feel that anymore because I know how great it feels to call oneself an “Orange Rhino Parent!” This is why I created all sorts of different tools to help you out on your journey to “Yell Less” like The Orange Rhino Community…The Orange Rhino store…The Orange Rhino Book, “Yell Less, Love More”…and now (drum roll please) The (new and improved) Orange Rhino Challenge App! I am super psyched about the App as it is a great complement to my book and it helps you do all the things that helped me stop yelling like…
Testing out all sorts of silly and unique ways to stay calm,
Talking positively to myself,
Tracking my progress visually,
Writing down when and why I yelled to determine my triggers,
Creating a plan for said triggers, and
Getting friends to support me in staying to said plan.
Oh, and did I mention it is free?! Yep, it is! It is only for iPhones right now but when we get enough interest and positive feedback, I will look into raising funds to create an Android version. Until then…here are some key screen shots of the App along with directions on how to best use the App.
– Daily Inspirational Quote
– Visual Goal Tracker: Set your own goal in the Goals page and select whether or not you want the graph to appear. The graph will always show your most recently achieved goal in the center (1 day included!) so that you constantly remember that you CAN indeed Yell Less because you have already done so! Also, once you successfully achieve your goal, The App will ask you if you want to go onto the next goal!
– Personal Mantra: Type in your own mantra that speaks to you and motivates you! Change it as frequently as you wish.
– Access to Settings: Three horizontal lines under the Rhino will take you to settings page where you can select daily tips, set an alarm, back date last yell.
– Traditional Journal:
“Write” out all your frustrations so that you don’t let the frustration out vis-a-vis a yell. Enter as many as you wish each day. Scroll through them to identify any patterns, also known as triggers. Tap on the arrow on right to make an entry.
– Trigger Tracking Journal:
Enter all triggers as you identify them as well as a potential solution. Make sure to tap on save afterwards to save changes!
– Stay in touch with my latest insights, stories, and tips by getting up-to-date posts from my Facebook page, Twitter Feed, and blog
– Get in touch immediately with your support network! Add up to five names from your phone’s contact list to your support list. When you want to yell, text or call them and get instant support!
– Connect with other Orange Rhinos by heading over to The Orange Rhino Community. Ask questions on how to handle a specific trigger. Ask for extra support. Read other posts and find hope that you can yell less and peace from knowing you are not alone! Find Orange Rhinos like you going through similar struggles.
– Determine how you want to monitor your success. Do you want just the days counter to appear or also a progress chart?
– Decide your rules for The Challenge. If you want to go a set number of days straight without yelling but you yelled, reset the counter…but don’t reset your determination or belief that you can do this!
– Daily Tips: Set a specific time (say, first thing in the morning?) to receive daily tips pushed out as notifications on your phone. Make sure to select “Set Time” to save your tip time.
– Backdate Last Yell: Capture every day you haven’t yelled by updating the date your Challenge successfully started.
– Set Custom Alarm: Set an alarm to go off at tough known moments with an Orange Rhino inspirational sound and a short message of support for yourself. (Note: You will not see a list of all of your saved alarms and at this point you can not upload your own sound…maybe in the future!)
To set alarms follow these steps in this specific order! (1) Tap on the “+” (2) Tap on Random Sound, select sound, press done (3) Type in short message (4) select “Repeat Options” to select all Days the alarm should go off (5) Select time (6) Tap “done.”
So there you have it – the basic layout and functionality of The Orange Rhino Challenge App! Just like parenting, my goal here wasn’t perfection, but rather progress and I continue to progress further developing this App and others. I hope you enjoy using The App as much as I enjoy looking at the screen shots and dream of using it (eh hem, I am an Android person!) You can download the app on iTunes
You 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
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.
Tips to Stop a Growing Yell When Preventative Measures Don’t Cut it.
Alternatives to Yelling When All Else Fails and a Yell is Inevitable.
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.
For 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.