One of the easiest things to do on the internet is talk about how great life is, how wonderful our children are and what they did that just melted our hearts. I love showing gratitude and I think it leads to a healthier outlook on life. Let’s be honest though, life with kids isn’t always a picnic, it’s tough work! I’m a huge fan of celebrating the little wins, the joys of parenthood and the silly moments in my home. Today, I’m going to be extra real though and talk about the not so fun times. I always dread it–will I be judged? Maybe everyone’s family is perfect and ours is not, maybe I’m just not as good of a mom as others, those are just a few concerns that comes to mind. But if I can help even one family by this post, it’s worth it.
One of the things I struggle with most, as a mother, is patience. I was not born with this virtue. It’s the thing I wish for most when I get out of bed. Did I mention I’m really not a morning person either? Well I’m not, if I had my perfect morning, it would be sleeping in until 10 am and no one speaking to me for an hour or two while I slowly sip my coffee and try to wake up. As a mother, we all know this will never happen (and if it does, it’s probably cause for concern). We need to wake up with a smile on our faces and be cheery for the little people in our lives who are eager to wake up and start the day. This is so not me! I already start the day out with a huge disadvantage. Every day, I do my best to be happy and greet them with a smile and a hug, knowing my coffee is just a few moments away. While the kids eat their breakfast I sit and think of how I’d like the day to go, fantasizing about this perfect day where the kids listen and everything goes swimmingly. This is never how it goes and I set myself up for disappointment.
While I’m drinking my morning cup of happiness, my 1 year old will climb on the couch and leap off, leading him to hysterical tears. Meanwhile, my charming 3 year old will ruin the Lego masterpiece my sweet 8 year old was building, leading them both to tears. Now I have 3 kids crying before 9 am and I haven’t even made it 1/4 of the way through my coffee in peace. I’d love to pretend that I’m such a wonderful mom that my first reaction is to run to my 1 year old’s rescue and give him a huge hug, then with my other free hand fix my 8 year old’s Lego creation and explain to my 3 year old that we don’t ruin our brother’s things. But no, I’m a human and my first reaction is to yell, “Enough!!!!!!!”.
I’ll be honest here, I yell more than I’d like to admit. I get frustrated, I have a short fuse and I lose my temper after the 40th temper tantrum of the day. Those are my shortcomings. That all changed one day while reading my FaceBook newsfeed. I saw a friend had posted an article called “The Orange Rhino Challenge”…basically no yelling for a year. I was immediately up for the challenge, not only because it’s a way to get myself together and exercise some self control, but rhinos are also one of my favorite vegan land animals.
I started the challenge 3 weeks ago and things have been amazing. My kids are still themselves, but I love them a lot better than I used to. Not more, just better. As the author of the Orange Rhino Challenge points out, when you decide to quit yelling, you have to create solutions. Before, my solution was to just get mad, frustrated or angry. Now I laugh more at the ridiculousness of the situation. I walk away when it’s too much and work on my yoga breathing techniques. When my 3 year old wants to scream his head off over the toy he wants that his brother had first, he has to go to his room to cry. Inevitably, he just stops on the spot. I feel better about myself, I feel like a happier person and the kids are happier too. Also, “Scientific evidence suggests frequent angry outbursts may increase the long-term risk of everything from heart attacks and strokes to poor healing and a weakened immune system.” (source)
If you’re a yeller too, I hope you’ll take this challenge. It’s easy to recognize our shortcomings and own them as personality traits, but it’s worth it to our kids to show we are better than that and we can overcome our primal urges. I wish I was a bigger person that didn’t have primal instincts, but the good thing about life is we can give into our urges and do what we know deep down inside that we shouldn’t do. Or we can do the thing we know that we should do and go help our kids make their world right.
As a vegan mother, I always pride myself that our house is cruelty free. No animals were harmed in the process of our meals and we don’t spend our money on things that hurt or exploit animals. It hurt the most when I realized that with my words, at times, I wasn’t living cruelty-free. Now, I can happily say that I cuddle my 1 year old super hero couch jumper every time he leaps to his doom, I help my Lego architect reconstruct his buildings from the 3 year old tornado and I do it with a smile.
I can officially say, our house is 100% cruelty free.
Have you taken the Orange Rhino Challenge? What are your thoughts? How do you manage to stay calm with kids?