I Didn’t Plan to Yell at my Kids

After having run on empty for the last couple of weeks, I couldn’t wait to pull into my parent’s driveway and let my ten day “vacation” of doing things with my kiddos that I did when I was a little girl begin. It was just what I needed to fill up; a trip down memory lane of my summers as a child. My summers were filled with family, friends, and fun times; you know, all the good and important stuff and none of the other stuff. I expected my memories and moments of self-reflection to start flooding in when we actually arrived in New Hampshire two days later; I never expected them to start within minutes of coming into my parent’s house, a house I didn’t grow up in and which holds no real emotional attachment. And I certainly never expected the first moment to be so powerful.

Within seconds of pulling into the driveway, before I could even get the baby out of his car seat, my three older sons had run into the house, hugged Grandma, and then thrown open the door to the basement where as always, all my brother’s and my childhood toys awaited them. I unbuckled #4 who ran in after his brothers screeching, “I go! I go! I go!” I of course ran in after him because he is too young to be downstairs by himself at Grandma’s house.

We made it to the bottom of the stairs where the three older boys had already set up the firehouse, Legos and Lincoln Logs. But littlest man had no interest. He walked right over to a section of the basement that normally is all blocked off and starting pointing.

“What that? What that? Why? Why? Mine? My toy? I play?”

He pointed directly to my dollhouse; my beautiful dollhouse that my parents and brother labored over for two months to surprise me at Christmas one year.  A smile crept onto my face as I found myself going back in time (and feeling a little bit like Rose in the movie “Titanic” where she re-tells the story of the time on the ship as she gently runs her hand over her keepsakes!. I ran my hand over the wooden shingles, the one exterior touch I did to finish the dollhouse.  Immediately the smell of the glue, the feeling of the glue on my fingers as I scrubbed it off, the satisfaction I felt after I neatly placed every new shingle and wiped off an excess glue, oh it all came back to me.  I pushed the front door open to see the “wood floor” that I had so carefully chosen and the dining room furniture that so eerily resembled that which I have now.  And then I peaked through the windows into the second and third floors where the kids bedrooms where and I smiled again, this time thinking about how I had it all planned out, my life that was, and how it obviously didn’t turn out as planned. Yes, my dollhouse was what my life would be and as a child I naturally assumed that nothing could change what I planned. Obviously, that isn’t how life goes.

The plan was that I would have twin girls first so the large third floor was the girls. At one point, pink ribbon wallpaper adorned the walls, twin white swindle beds looked lined up under the dormer windows and pictures of horses hung on either end wall. Well, instead of having twin girls first, I had one boy, and then another. And another.

The plan also had my last child being a son. Well that part was accurate. And the nursery in my dollhouse, my dream house, well it is close to what I have. The walls were white with a delicate light blue trim and I swear the chosen crib is a miniature version of the crib all my sons have slept in. And on top of the white dresser was a little sailboat to reflect my love for the ocean. In no surprise, the theme in my son’s nursery is sailboats.

Also no surprise was that the mom I envisioned for my little dream family never yelled at her kids. Never. Ever. She always talked in a sweet loving voice. She always said kind things like, “Good Job” and “I’m proud of you.” and never hollered “Hurry up” or “Enough already!”  I mean, why would I envision a mom to be a mean mom? An impatient mom? A yelling mom? Who would want a mom like that or to be a mom like that? I certainly didn’t want my pretend three children to have a mom like that nor did I want to be a mom like that when I grew up.

And yet, SURPRISE, nineteen years later I was that mom. And SURPRISE, here I am standing in the basement staring at this house, thinking, “Wow, how did it happen? I had such dreams of the mom I would be. Where did I go wrong?”

It was a beautifully harsh moment, beautiful that I had such a fond memory of building and playing with my dream family and dream house, yet harsh that I had such an uncomfortable recollection that there was a time, are times, when I wasn’t the mom I dreamed of.  By now, littlest man had wondered back to play with his brothers so I had a peaceful moment to just think. 

It was a beautifully harsh moment, beautiful that I had such a fond memory of building and playing with my dream family and dream house, yet harsh that I had such an uncomfortable recollection that there was a time, are times, when I wasn’t the mom I dreamed of.

Where did I go wrong? Did I go wrong or did life just happen? Is it life, that as kids we have innocent dreams and when adult life happens, reality of stress and being an adult, happens, changing those dreams? Or, where did my parents go right that I was able to create in my mind such a loving household free of yelling? How do I create that in my own house now so that my boys envision themselves to be the kind of parent that I so very much envisioned myself to be when I was a little girl?

How do I inspire my sons to dream and aspire to be a loving parent?
By being a loving parent.

How do I create a home where my kids will walk in the door and stop and look at a certain toy and feel the same joy and gratitude that I felt at that moment?
By creating a loving home.

I continued to feel nostalgic and a total emotional sap as I picked up pieces of furniture from each room. I stopped when I came to the candy dish filled with little Valentine’s cookies and candies. I remember exactly why I picked out that piece with my allowance from the month – because giving a Valentine treat is exactly something my mom would do. She would go out of her way to make the holidays special. She and my dad went out of their way to make my life special and full of meaningful memories. She and my dad went of their way (or so I imagine, maybe they were naturally patient and I just got the wrong genes) to not yell at me.

I have been struggling lately to remain yell free; I have been struggling to yell less and love more because of personal stress of living the “dream” life and owning the “dream house” I envisioned as a child. Being an adult is hard sometimes and not as perfect as I imagined; some things just aren’t going as planned making it challenging. But today, reminiscing over the dollhouse and my childhood full of positive memories (okay, mostly, lets be honest) reminded me just how important having a loving, yell-free home is to me. It reminded me that I want nothing more than to fill my sons’ lives with loving, inspiring memories. I want nothing more than to create a childhood that my children will fondly look back on. I want nothing more than to create a home and a relationship with them that they want to run back to and hug tightly once they have graduated college.

I want nothing more than to continue to yell less and love more no matter how hard it is.

There are a lot of things in life that don’t go as planned, but this, having a yell less and love more type home? This I can plan for. No one or thing can change my plan to have a home with less yelling and more loving except for me. And I have no plans on changing that anytime soon.

YLLM1For a 30-day Guide to make your home more yell free, check out my newly released book: “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can Too!” Part parenting guide, part parenting memoir, part journal, “Yell Less, Love More” walks you through the steps I took to stop yelling and includes 100 alternatives to yelling as well as honest stories to inspire you on your own journey. Click here for a partial list of retailers that have the book! 


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18 thoughts on “I Didn’t Plan to Yell at my Kids

  1. Oh Amy, I know exactly how you feel. I hear my mother every time I start yelling at my 7 year old and barking orders at him. I so desperately want to stop lashing out at him because I am overwhelmed with my bad marriage and lack of money, etc. Because of my screaming, it has now caused my husband and son to do it as well. I know at times they both hate me and that kills me. I say thank you as well for this blog and hope it will change me for the better in the long run. I find it so hard to stay on track with not yelling and then I fall right off (similar to eating healthy).

  2. Its lovely to hear how everyone else is doing. I am determined to do this. Its is difficult at times to remember why I am doing this and I personally I can lose my motivation if I dont have the support. . The other day in the car I told my kids that I was doing this challenge for one year and I needed them to tell me every so often how i was doing as it would be a big support. My eight year old looked at me with these pussy cat eyes that started to fill with tears and said ” Are you only doing it for ONLY one year mommy”. It really made me realise how important this was to him and as a mother I owed them this. Also last night my 10 year old was being very cuddly with me while we were watching tv and I do believe that as I am not shouting at them its bringing us closer again. These are the things that keep me motivated. By not shouting I am becomming aware of my triggers and by dealing with them I am not as inclined to want to shout. Its dealing with these triggers is my biggest challenge because that is what its all about really. Sometimes when I stop myself from shouting Ill go away and cry and cry and cry. This is a much better release and in doing so I am not taking my anger out on my children and husband. My anger comes from me being unhappy with myself, disorganised, Tired, procrastinating, hungover etc.. I am excited about the future . Good luck to everyone else . Keep going and when we have bad days we must just learn from them, forgive ourselves and keep going.

    • OMG. I lost it with my two boys this morning. I must have asked them to get out of bed 40 times really nicely and no budge….So Breda just gave this unmercyfull yell . It did shift them which was good but I was disgusted with myself and so were they. I had everyting ready the night before for school including lunches, I went to bed early. I got up and ready before I woke kids so all was good but I forgot that my kids should be in bed themselves earlier and they were exhasuted…O well i have forgiven myself and they are going to bed early tonight so theyll find it easier to get up tomorrow and hopefully itll be a yell free start to their day.. You live and learn

  3. that was so beautiful…and i feel the same way. my mom also never raised her voice, one of the “looks” was enough to get us in line. but i wonder if our moms also had “meltdown” moments, but we don’t remember those because the good moments overshadow the not-so-good moments?

  4. Wow. I just cried at my desk at work and had to choke it back. You have NO idea how this hits home. I ADORE my mom… would die for her. But she was very strict in raising us. I remember her yelling and yelling and barking orders and more orders and yelling some more. She regrets that. She tells us all the time that she hates she raised us that way. My sister and I tell her “but we are the strong women we are today because of how we were raised, and you did a good job”. But (choking back tears again)…. my sister has no kids, and I have turned into my mother. NOT what I wanted for my two boys. I can HEAR her when I’m yelling at my kids, when I’m barking one order after another, telling them to hurry up, asking them why they do the things they do. And it KILLS me. I was bawling in church the other day (after my mom and I had another disagreement… I’m 37 yrs old for crying out loud!!!!) and it hit me that I had turned into her. I turned 99% of the disciplining over to my husband (he is so much better at it anyway, hardly ever yells – and he stole my orange Love More Yell Less bracelet months ago!) I don’t want to be the bad guy anymore (not that I want him to be that either, but he is the leader of our home, I am the nurturer.. or at least, that’s what I want to be). I look at myself in the mirror all the time and say “wow, what happened”. thank you for this blog and for helping me help myself and help my husband and help my kids. I admire my mom for so many things she has accomplished, but I don’t want to be her and regret it when my sons are grown. Thank you.

  5. I am SO HAPPY I just happened to find your site!! I am a yeller. I grew up with a yeller. I have almost lost my marriage due to yelling. I have been yell free for the past 4-months (that is when my husband almost left me and was my eye opening moment). I have been doing this on my own and I cannot tell you how meaningful it is to find a blog like this to help! With back to school and the chaos of getting into a new routine I have found myself close to slipping back into the easy way of barking out orders to my kids, snapping at them to hurry up with everything- homework,chores, etc…reading this this morning has re-connected me to my goal of saving my family & saving my marriage! THANK YOU for whatever led me to your blog today!!!

  6. Dear O.R. I hope you know how blessed you are even when you are not feeling so blessed. To have such childhood memories of your loving parents. I never had such a doll house (or a big brother and the dad to build it), and my childhood life was filled with yelling and disharmony, so I did not dream and plan my perfect family and my perfect life, and if I did, I certainly do not remember it. But I do remember thinking when I am a Mommy I will never ever spank my children. And I mostly adhered to that with my oldest children. I worked hard to give them the childhood I did not have, one filled with fun and special memories like what your parents gave you. And then you know what? My oldest daughter (27 now) tells everybody what a horrible childhood she had. I was crushed! I worked so hard and took zillions of pictures of happy smiles, swimming parties, trips to the park, ocean, family, you name it. I used to knock myself out making each holiday and birthday spectacular. It was like something inside me was preparing for the day when I would say “You did have a happy childhood and I have miles of video tape to prove it!” Then I learn she has no memories of her childhood before she was 12 years old. Yep, at 12, tragedy struck our family and everything started spiraling out of control. But to obliterate the first (and best) 12 years of her life? wow. Then after 15 years I am blessed with more children (8 in all) and now, with my littles (7 7 and 4) I don’t worry so much about making memories as I am about showing love. And even that gets trying sometime – this is our first year homeschooling so I am PRESENTLY WITH THEM and INTERACTING with them ALL DAY…and schoolwork is a struggle and we have multiple meltdowns each day over not wanting to write a sentence or do a math problem. SIGH. But I am happy for you that you have happy memories of your girlhood and have parlayed that into a goal for the present. And as usual, your writing is inspiring and touching chords in all of us! Thank you! (And God bless you!)

  7. How is it that I have many of the same beautifully harsh moments? I’m trying, but I can do better. I can be better. I can choose to yell less and love more and know that I can! Thanks for sharing your wisdom to keep on.

  8. Fell off the wagon for 2 weeks. Trying to get back on. Must be the stress of getting back in school and being really busy. (And thinking about homeschooling) Lots of things going on and I just keep loosing it with my 6 yr old. He can push button like no one else. Getting back on and trying to hang on for GOOD!

  9. Oh I missed you! Im glad you had a good vacation, but so glad you are back to motivate & inspire me. Thank you for the reminder of why I need to yell less & love more! Today was one of my worst days since I started this challenge. Now its time to get back on track and focus on what really matters. No more yelling!!

  10. Thanks (again) for sharing with us, to inspire us to keep going. I am wondering, because I can do ok most of the time but during the “ugly” week, omg. How do you do it? I totally blew it today, threw things down, yelled at the kids, yelled at the husband, woulda yelled at the dog but he probably ran and hid, even though I knew it was coming and thought I was prepared I fell flat on my face. 🙁 How do you get thru the “ugly” week Orange Rhino??
    xoxo melzie

  11. I almost didn’t want to finish reading this because it made me realize how much I wanted a yell free home for my kids. My mom was a big teller and I resent her for it. Before history repeats itself I need to get back in gear and focus on what is important. This week has been tough for me – maybe it’s the back to school stress or the just home from vacation stress. Either way it’s not ok to yell. Thanks for posting this article! I needed a nice slap in the face for motivation, lol!

  12. Sigh…I just want to cry…I have yelled and lost my cool for the past 2 days…I have allowed my boys to push my buttons…I cried on my way to work this AM…I stink at this parenting thing!!

    • no you don’t! we are all here for the same reason – if we didn’t yell, would we have sought out this blog???? don’t beat yourself up!

      • I agree! we are all here because we want to change but it’s a process and doesn’t happen overnight! It’s ok to have good days and bad days and more over, it’s natural and it’s human. It’s going to happen so please don’t beat yourself up! Just trying, just being on this website, just getting through one day, one hour, one 5 minute chunk is a success! I think of this a lot like AA-it’s a recovery and a way to change your life and shed your addition to rage and yelling and gain peace and perspective.

        • Thanks! It is always so hard when my husband is out of town and my middle child REFUSES to get up…get ready…get his shower…go to bed…I just have no tools! Thank you for the reminder!!! I really needed that!

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