I got a little personal last Sunday and admitted to you all that I’ve gotten into the bad habit of yelling at my kids. It’s something that I don’t like so I decided to do something about that. I challenged myself to not yell for 30 days and I’ve started thinking of this little experiment as “No Yell November” (you know, to go along with that whole No Shave November thing). Not yelling is going very well; I have done great all week. There was a time on Saturday morning that the kids were going in and out of the front door while I was sitting on couch feeding the baby. It was super chilly and they kept leaving the door open. I was freezing and annoyed but I kept asking nicely every time they’d come in to please shut the door. After about 10 times I started to get louder and I finally hollered “Please Shut the DOOR!”. I wasn’t screaming and I didn’t say it with anger in my voice… I went for more of a loud foghorn effect. It wasn’t perfect but it was much better than having an angry tone and yelling.
On Monday we were still sick and I had decided to take the kids over the mountain to get a second opinion on their illness, best idea ever, more on that here. On the way home two of the kids were in the back seat and they were really really being mean to each other. They were screaming at each other and trying to hit each other… it was a total out of control cat fight. In the car is one of my worst times for yelling and one of their worst times for fighting. I felt myself getting mad but I was resolute about not yelling so I just couldn’t say anything. They were in tears and I just sat there. Sure I didn’t yell, but I also didn’t know how to handle the situation in the car. Thomas looked at me like I had lost it because I was totally ignoring the whole situation. I thought about that time a lot this week. Obviously yelling isn’t what I want to do, but I also need to figure out some replacement options instead of just doing nothing. I’m still trying to think of how to get them to be nice in the car. Thomas is excellent at using distraction, when they start to fight he gets their attention and then tells them a story about when he was a kid. They love it and it works really well. I need to figure out what I’m good at or steal his idea!
I received SO MANY kind emails, Facebook messages, and comments from you all and you made me feel like I wasn’t alone in this struggle. So if you are feeling alone, don’t, there’s so many of us trying to be our best selves in this wonderfully hard things called motherhood, and not just in parenting, in life in general. I wanted to share a few thoughts that other people had shared with me.
“I realized that our goal to not yell has to more realistically be a family goal for mom not to yell. Especially if yelling has become any kind of normal response. The kids are trained to respond to yelling, so if we want to stop yelling, we have to have our kids stop only responding to yelling. How do we do that? We yell even louder!! (just kidding) Maybe you’ve already sat with your kiddos and told them about your goal and asked them for your help. If you have, and they’re still crazy and yelling seems to be the only option, then maybe you could chat with them again and come up with a family code. One you could say when you feel frustrated, and you want to yell, and they’re not listening to your calm please, but if you say…”Only lions are allowed to roar” or whatever silly but somewhat logical sentence you come up with, it might just pull them out enough to remember they have to help you reach your goal. SO there’s one thought. Also, if you’re in the car (been there done that-in fact I probably yell loudest in the car…) maybe just quietly put your blinker on, pull over at the safest spot, stop the car and be silent. They’ll be stunned enough to stop what they’re doing and think about it. And maybe to make this a fun family goal, every day you can have a yelling spree with everyone. Get together and yell at the top of your lungs for 30 seconds. It would end in giggles for sure and help remind everyone of the goal. There’s some thoughts.”
This got me thinking and I found this quote while I was having my personal study time one night. “We all need to feel appreciated. An American industrialist, Charles M. Schwab, said, “I have yet to find a man, whatever his situation in life, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than he ever would under a spirit of criticism.” Lesson 35: Developing Gratitude in The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual
I know that everyone responds well to being appreciated and I just loved the quote. It really struck me that night. I felt like it went well with the previous comment… trying to be intentional about choices and not just doing something because it’s wrong or even just doing something because it’s right, but instead, doing something because you’ve thought about it and it is what is best.
I was trying to do some major cleaning because my grandma was coming to visit and so I was downstairs and the kids were upstairs; I could hear something going on and then Macey totally flipped out and started screaming at her brothers (and it was something that wasn’t their fault, she was just mad). It was so sad because I feel like that was my fault. So I called up to her (without yelling at her!) and had her come downstairs to talk to me. I just told her I was trying really hard to not yell and to be kind and I wanted her to do the same because I want love in our house. It was a tender moment and I really have this whole #noyellnovember challenge (and you all!) to thank. I then chose the consequence of unloading the dishwasher for her which helped me out too. I felt in control and like I was the master of my soul, helping a little one master her body, to in turn, master her own soul. I went on to tell her things that I loved about her and how nice it is to have her helping me with this goal.
That’s how it all ties back into the scripture I picked to “ponderize” this week.
In your patience possess ye your souls. – Luke 21:19
This was the message I got from the scripture this week – Bring your body and natural tendencies into subjugation of your spirit. Doing things that might be hard because they are what is best, like mothering without yelling, being intentional, and showing myself and my family grace and patience.
What did you get out of it? How does it apply to your life? What can I learn from you?
(My parents, my older sister Lachelle, and me)
And in fear of writing the longest blog post ever, I should wrap it up now. But I have more to say :)
Here was another comment left on last week’s post. It’s from my own sweet mama.
While you work on being patient with the kids, your scripture also implies that we must be patient with ourselves as we work to possess our souls. You are already making great strides if you can recognize your weaknesses and make a conscious effort to change. Keep up the good work!
This was an angle that I hadn’t thought of at the time and that I was quick to brush off. This after all was about me being nicer to my kids and not about me being nicer to me. But as the week went on, this theme of having patience with my own ever developing soul kept popping up and I started to listen.
Why are we moms and women and parents so slow to offer the same grace and love to ourselves that we dole out to the world on a daily basis?
My friend Cassie from Wholefully wrote a great post last week about self-care and filling up her own cup in order to better fill those around her. It’s a great post if you are interested.
I also got a email from a dear friend and she had so much great advice that I felt really strongly about sharing it with you all. I asked permission from her and she was more than happy to let me post her email. She agreed in hopes of helping someone else out.
I can relate. I remember as a kid having a temper. I thought I had conquered my temper and then I had children. Lack of sleep, so much to do, hormonal changes, and then children are exhausting and all add up for a perfect storm. I still struggle with yelling, but I try to cut back on the things that we have to do and also have different expectations. I get so frustrated with my kids when we are late for church or even at church when I am embarrassed by their behavior, but really, does it matter that we are late and that they are misbehaving? One Sunday when I was all by myself I felt the frustration coming about the kids and all that I had to do before we left so we could get to church on time. I made a decision in that moment that it was ok to be late. It was so liberating. I would do my best, but not yell at my kids and if that meant that I would be late then that was the better option. I have even sent the kids with [my husband] to church so they were on time and finished up with myself. It was really nice having some alone time.
I know that when I am not kind to myself and when I am frustrated with myself that I will treat my children and husband the same way. So really be kind to yourself! You are so good and wonderful. I feel like you and I are very similar in this way—that we cannot see the beauty of who we really are. Stop beating yourself up. It is ok that you messed up and yelled at your kids and that you get frustrated and that you are not perfect. I think it is actually good for them to see that we mess up and how we deal with messing up. I really cannot remember being yelled at as a kid, but I wonder if it would have been better if my parents did yell a bit more, if it would have been healthier. I feel like my family is not very good at talking about our feelings and apologizing and accepting differences of opinion.
Another thing that I am working on is saying no—really recognizing my limitations. [My husband] will ask me if I am okay with him going on a business trip and I have to look at myself and ask if this is good for me and for our kids and for him. We want to be able to handle it all, but we cannot. You have to take care of yourself to be able to take care of all these people you are taking care of.
I also have had to really look at what I want and need. One thing I asked from [my husband] when I was really struggling was 15 minutes a day from him where he focused on me and he could have the same if he wanted (he was thinking it should be “our time,” but I said no. I needed it to be about me.) So during that time I got to talk about whatever I needed or had him massage my feet or kiss me or tell me why he loved me. It was very hard to do, which seems so silly, but it was so difficult to ask for what I needed and to even admit that I was struggling and that I had needs. For whatever reason I felt like I should not have needs. I really had to work through those feelings. This helped us though because instead of me drowning and him watching me drowning it gave him something specific to do that was not overwhelming either. 15 minutes a day is not that much.
Another thing I asked for was one evening a week or month that was mine and he could do the same, but that evening he would be responsible for the kids so if he needed to get work done then he had to get a babysitter. We only did this once, but it was amazing to not have any responsibilities and be able to do whatever I wanted and to not have to be back at a certain time. I should do it again. This also opened up a discussion about that there is a lot of demands on his time, but that I needed him home more so maybe he should get released from his church calling. It is hard because with church callings there is a lot of guilt. I should support him in whatever calling he has, but in that moment he said he wanted to do his calling and so that was his choice to use “his free time” toward his calling. So instead of his calling being something he had to do and I had to support him in it, it became something he wanted to do.
I have been reading Harry Potter to the kids and that has really helped me. When I feel overwhelmed and annoyed, reading a book helps me and them to get into a different mindset. I also have been more willing to ask [my husband] for a time out. When I feel I am going to explode, I say I need a timeout and I do not feel guilty that I need a time out and that I cannot handle everything. One time during dinner I went to my room and some other times I have gone on walks. On one of my walks he asked me to come back because he needed help which was nice to know that he needed my help.
Sorry, this is super long and kind of random, but I just wanted you to know how much I love and adore you!!! I love how real you are! I love how kind and hard working and giving you are. I think about you often and how I want to be more like you!
I cried all the way through this email. Remember that quote about a thousand words back about being appreciated? Well this made me feel so very appreciated and I have been reading it and thinking about it all week long. I’ve read and reread your comments too. Thank you!
I loved what she said about taking one night a month to do whatever she wanted. I thought of this as “dating myself”. I really think I’d love some time alone to shop or write or read without worrying about the kids because they’d be with their dad (and he’s a fabulous dad/babysitter!). I also liked that she mentioned reading a book. I have found that if I read a chapter book out loud the mood always changes. We are moving through The Little House on the Prairie series and I just love it. The kids will play with blocks, color, embroider, or just snuggle on the couch while I read and it’s always a really pleasant change of pace.
So many great ideas from so many wonderful woman in my life. Thank you for letting me share them with you. I hope that at least a few of these words have struck a cord with your heart and you’ve been uplifted or rejuvenated a bit.
Here’s my scripture for this week. You can right click on the image and save it and then print it out for your own fridge. We can ponderize these words together this week!
Thank you for being here and letting me share 2800 words that aren’t about food or chickens with you today.