I was pretty impressed with myself when I actually managed to follow through for 24 hours,
And last week, I had my two month anniversary.
I haven’t yelled in two months.
It’s not always easy.
Staying calm is not automatic.
But I’m getting closer.
There are a couple things I do to help myself to not totally lose it.
And if you have reached the point that I reached two months ago, where you have just lost it on your kids for the eleventy skillionth time and you are feeling bad about it, but you don’t really know what to do to stop or you have tried without much success, maybe the following 6 things will help you too.
1. Just breathe.
I do a lot of heavy exhaling.
Like, a lot.
The other day I was up in the office working with Maureen.
All hell kind of broke loose out of nowhere.
Number 7 was trying to climb all over the desk while I was working, Number 6 was screaming about something I can’t remember, and when I wouldn’t do exactly what she had demanded, Number 5 stormed out of the office, yelled, “YOU’RE STUPID!” and slammed the door as hard as she could.
I closed my eyes,
breathed in to the count of ten,
and then breathed out to the count of ten.
Sometimes doing that once is enough to get myself centered.
Other times, I need to breathe almost to the point of hyperventilation.
2. Find a mantra.
I say “Serenity NOW, ” several times a day.
In fact, that day that Maureen and I were working in the office and the kids all simultaneously went apeshit,
I took a deep breath in, exhaled slowly, and looked over at her.
“I don’t know how you don’t totally lose it,” she said to me.
To which I responded, “Serenity now.”
And then I took another deep breath.
And yes, this may seem corny, but it works.
So maybe you take a page out of Frank Costanza’s playbook,
or maybe you come up with your own mantra.
Whatever it is, having
Serenity now or Keep calm or Breathe in, breathe out or Hakuna Matata or anything else other than WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU??? as your go-to phrase can really make a difference.
3. Streamline the morning routine as much as you can.
The other week I got this message on the Facebook page:
… Every evening I have good intentions to give it a try, then it is morning, we are running late again, and the pants aren’t right, the socks were right, but not with those shoes, and can you pack me a lunch? I feel it boiling up and then it just comes out as yelling. It doesn’t help. It upsets the girls, and then I feel mommy guilt for yelling. How on earth do you do it?…
That morning routine can make or break you.
And when you don’t have any sort of established system (that works), that is prime yelling time.
But yelling at your kids to HURRY UP!!! is no way to start your day, and that’s no way for your kids to start their day either.
I found myself yelling in the morning just about every time we were running late.
And we were running late a lot.
We were running late a lot because the mornings were often a free-for-all.
So I started making sure the biggest offenders were taken care of the night before.
The lunches are made, the outfits are picked out, two matching shoes are located, and brushes and ponytail holders are put in a designated spot.
Is this sometimes a pain in the ass to do on Sunday? Sure, but it’s much less of a pain than doing it all while you are screaming at your kid, “WOULD YOU HURRY UP???THE BUS WILL BE HERE ANY MINUTE AND I AM NOT GOING TO DRIVE YOU TO SCHOOL!!!”
4. Getting up early enough.
This applies to you and your kids.
I know what it’s like to want to hit that snooze button.
And I know what it’s like to want to give your kids that extra five or ten or fifteen minutes of sleep, either because they could use it, or because you just want to put off having to deal with them.
But not allowing yourself or your kids enough time, even if you do have things planned out the night before, immediately puts you in the position to need to hurry.
Needing to hurry leads to stress.
And stress leads to…
5. Keep your eye on the prize.
Rather than focusing on whatever it is that is pissing you off, focus on how you will feel when you do yell.
And how you will feel when you don’t.
Then start from step one.
6. Don’t beat yourself up.
Finally, this isn’t easy. And if you have been having one reaction for years, it could take a long time for changing your behavior to become even close to automatic.
If you fall off the wagon and lose it on your kids, don’t throw in the towel.
Try to figure out what the triggers were.
See if you can adjust.
And then, climb your ass back up in that yell-free wagon.
Because once you are back in, it’s definitely a much smoother ride.
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