How I Stop My Cranky Moods so I Yell Less

(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.


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:

  • Do you know the physical signs in your body that a storm is brewin’?
  • Do you have a go-to set of things to try to head off the storm so it doesn’t grow?
  • Do you have a game plan for when all else fails?
  • And do you have a back-up for when the back-up doesn’t work?

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.

Why am I Yelling So Much Lately?

I had been less than pleased with my yelling frequency lately so I had been pushing myself to figure out what was triggering me so much that I was unable to do what I know I needed to do (and could do) to stay calm in the tough moments.

I knew it wasn’t just because the kids weren’t listening (I mean sure, that is a trigger and is way annoying, but I knew it wasn’t just that.)

I knew it wasn’t because I was physically tired (I actually sleep now; game changer by the way.)

I knew it wasn’t because I wasn’t exercising or eating crappy foods. (I actually exercise now and eat crappy foods…less J)

I knew it wasn’t because of more obvious, “simple” and easy to manage triggers because I was struggling more than usual to keep it together.

I kept asking myself, “but why, why, why?” to dig deeper but all my digging led me to…nothing. No real, deeper answer. This gnawed and gnawed away at me, which for the record, didn’t help with the whole yelling less bit! My not knowing was a complete distraction (trigger); my not knowing made me personally cranky (trigger); and my not knowing made me mentally exhausted (trigger) because my brain was working over time looking for an answer.

Yeah, figuring out triggers can be a real pain the arse. But one beautiful fall day, it all became clear. (Cheezy, I know. But, the cheeziness is important. Stay with me.) I was out walking my puppy on a perfect fall day. The air was crisp. The leaves crunched beneath my feet. The sun shone brightly. There was not a car on the road; not a person walking near by jabbering. It was quiet. It was relaxing. It was peaceful.

I was just walking along, talking to no one, not listening to music, not doing a mental to-do list, when out of nowhere, clarity hit. (I read recently that boredom is important for the brain because it allows the mind to wander and be creative and problem solve – or something like that. I guess the article was right because my bored, at peace, brain problem solved the heck out of what my real big trigger was!)

I hadn’t set out on the walk intent to figure out this darn trigger. I just set out to get some steps in, some relaxation in (to prepare me to not yell when the kids barged in the door hours later), and some puppy potty-training in. So, it shocked the heck out of me when, bam, out of nowhere, my big trigger, that has been subconsciously bothering me for months, popped into my head, clear as the blue sky.

And that’s when my peaceful day turned dark.

When I realized what was really driving my yelling, the tears didn’t just fall. They poured. I got our puppy into the house (because god forbid any of my neighbors see me in my state!) and sat at the kitchen table with my head in my hands and bawled.

And bawled.

And bawled.

I pounded the table with my fists a few times too.

I asked why to the air, as if I would get an answer.

I shook.

I sobbed.

And then…and then…I finally breathed.

After all of my sobbing, I found myself exhaling.

My grey day turned peaceful again, and I felt like I had just taken a deep breath of that fresh, crisp, fall air that had only minutes ago made me feel so relaxed.

It wasn’t because I literally took a deep breath (you all know I hate taking actually deep breaths to relax!) it was because it physically felt so freakin’ good letting go and releasing so much built up pain, sadness and anger. Of course, my anger and pain didn’t go away, but the stress of holding it all in, did. I actually felt a sense of relief because I finally had crystal clear awareness of one of the big triggers that had been causing me to yell.

Yelling more than one likes, sucks.
Trying to figure out why one is yelling can also suck.
It isn’t always instant.
It isn’t always pretty.
It isn’t always the answer you want.
And, there isn’t always an easy way to manage the trigger.
But it always, always, is ultimately for the better.

Figuring out my big trigger took months. It took persistently, yet patiently, pushing myself really hard to look at my actions and challenge myself to figure out what the heck was going on with me, because I knew it was an instance of “it’s not you, it’s me.” The answer wasn’t pretty. My big trigger? I am a lot angrier about some things in my life than I thought. Like real, true, anger.  I didn’t expect the answer. I certainly didn’t want it; I don’t want to be an angry person! And the things I am angry about? I can’t change them, I can only change how I accept them and that means a lot of personal work, and ugh, who wants to add that to the to-do list?

But, knowing that I finally have a source of why I am struggling so much gives me hope that I can now more easily get back to a place of yelling less because I know what I am dealing with.

And that, that is way better for myself and for my boys.


(I know I continue to be vague about some stuff; but I need to be so thank you for understanding! )

The Orange Rhino Challenge App!

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 CommunityThe 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.

Goal Complete– 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.




Daily Tips      New Goal!


Journal– 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!






Journal Entry   Trigger

– Stay in touch with my latest insights, stories, and tips by getting up-to-date posts from my Facebook page, Twitter Feed, and blog


Support– 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.






Set Goal – Personalize your journey by picking the best goal for you. Make sure to select “Set Goal” to save your preferred goal.

– 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– 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!)





photo 4   Backdate Yell
Please note: This screen shot of daily tips is old – you actually get tips, i.e. do pushups and not quotes! 

Daily Alarm   Short Alarm Message   Days of Alarm

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

Happy Downloading!