I consider myself a quasi-attachment/cloth diapering/natural minded/feminist/breastfeeding supportive/environmentally conscious/nouveau hippie type of parent. When my kids are upset I’ll hold them close and repeat “breathe and calm down, breathe and calm down…”. They’re so used to it that they even console each other with that little mantra and for the most part it works beautifully. I teach my kids to be kind to the world and to find kindness in even the darkest corners. I try to teach them not to give such high regard to material things but, tablets are cool and sometimes they’re life savers.
So, while it may sound like we have this airy-fairy kumbaya family dynamic, make no mistake, I can and do lose my shit. I’m not a spanker and I don’t hold judgments for those who do because to each their own. But I am a yeller.
I am lucky enough to work from home for the most part. I do most of my marketing and correspondence from home then teach classes, meet with clients and attend births outside of the house. This can be a blessing and a curse, however. I love that when days are slow and the house is clean I can sit and be lazy with my babies and watch whatever weird new cartoon they’re into on Netflix or Hulu. We’ll swim, paint, make bracelets and sit together for lunch. But on busy days when I’m sending out emails, invoices, press releases or making phone calls that I’ve put off for days, the fighting, bickering, nagging for snacks, potty training, messy rooms, meal preps, and repetitive requests to PICK UP YOUR TOYS is frustratingly overwhelming.
And that’s when I lose my shit. That’s when I don’t care if they breathe and calm down. That’s when the toy I’ve been tripping over the whole week gets thrown in the trash along with any other collateral damage in it’s vicinity. That’s when privileges get revoked. That’s when they can forget about whatever fun outing I half-heartedly promised to take them to if they just listened for the rest of the day (I knew they’d fail miserably, it was just my shameful attempt at some peace and quiet during a client call). That’s when I STRAIGHT LOSE MY SHIT!!!!
I yell things like “Are you kidding me??? How many times do I have to tell you?? CLEAN YOUR ROOM!! Am I talking to myself?!?! Say ‘okay, mommy’ say ‘okay, mommy!!” And then the countdown begins “1…2…” followed by their “Okay mommy!!” as they sob out of my line of destruction.
To be honest, this is a daily occurrence and no, I’m not proud. I feel bad every single time I yell at my kids. I remind myself that I’m teaching them to yell in response to frustration and that makes me feel worse. I’ve yelled so loud before that I’m sure my neighbors have heard me and I feared, if even for a second, they’d call CPS.
Last night I was preparing my son’s lunch for a school program he’s attending this week. I know the challenges he has in the classroom and I knew he’d be working with a teacher he hasn’t worked with before. My immediate thought was, great, they’re going to know I haven’t done any practice work all summer. They’re going to know I haven’t helped him with completing his work which is something he struggles with in class. I got annoyed at the prospect of judgment I’d be facing the next day. That annoyance would normally turn into frustration which would then turn into anger which I’d likely take out on my kids. Instead, when I went to kiss him goodnight I sat on his bed and told him, “Okay, so tomorrow you’re going to have some work to do at school. You’re probably going to remember most of what the teacher is talking about but you might have to try really hard to remember other things. So tell yourself right now that you’re going to try your best and work super hard tomorrow to finish all your work. Pray to God, too, if you want and he’ll help you when you’re stuck.” Then I kissed him goodnight and went to finish his lunch. I wrote him a mommy love note that I tucked in his lunchbag to remind him of everything we talked about and then, I just let it go. That’s when I decided that I’m not yelling at my kids today. #imnotyellingatmykidstoday
Because in all honesty, yelling is an immature response for me and for a lot of people. Instead of dealing with the situation calmly I fly off the handle and act out. Much like my kids do when they’re frustrated. I felt good about the way I handled the situation with my son. I felt good about recognizing the pattern I could’ve easily fallen into because it’s all too familiar to me and deciding to respond in a more positive and calm manner.
It’s 2:00 p.m. as I’m writing this and so far I haven’t yelled at my kids. Granted, one of them is at school and the other two are happily making a mess in their bedroom that I’m sure will piss me off later but, #imnotyellingatmykidstoday. And hopefully, I’ll end the day with #ididntyellatmykidstoday.
And while I’m sure you’re all that picture perfect kumbaya family that would never yell at your kids, humor me as I challenge you to not yell at your kids today. Share your story and mine with your friends and family and add the hashtags #imnotyellingatmykidstoday or #ididntyellatmykidstoday. But most of all, good luck. Here’s to us not losing our shit on our kids.