I want to be an Orange Rhino

"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom." -- Victor Frankl

Saturday night was one of those shockers. We'd been out all day at my sister's place for my Dad's 60th birthday BBQ. We stayed till about dinner time so that we could eat there (saved me from cooking!) and then the girls would go to sleep in the car on the way home.  The idea being it would be easier for me to get them inside on my own as Dave wasn't with us, he was working night shift. It almost worked.

Unfortunately Zee woke up about 15mins from home, absolutely screaming. The last week or two I've noticed she has been shocking herself awake and getting really worked up. This time was no different and she was inconsolable by the time we got home. Punky woke up just as we pulled in the driveway, and hearing Zee so distressed she joined in the screaming too. It had been a big day for both of them, neither had had much sleep, and I guess it just all caught up to them.

I managed to get both girls in to the house and Zee out of her capsule and then we sat on the lounge together for 10 mins. I had a girl on each leg and I was trying my hardest to comfort them both at the same time. I even tried to give Zee a feed while still hugging Punky but she was just too worked up to latch on.
My beautiful little munchkin, so exhausted after a huge day

In the end I had to carry both girls to my bedroom where I made the choice to put Zee down in her bassinet and deal with Punky first. I grabbed her drink bottle and went in to her room where she finally calmed down and I popped her in to bed with lots of kisses and cuddles, surrounded her with her toys and dinosaur night-light and walked out, knowing she was ok. This took about 5 mins.

In that 5 mins poor Zee was still screaming her lungs out, all by herself. I went in to her, changed her nappy and then spent the next half an hour getting her calmed down enough to have a feed, during which she eventually fell asleep. She'd been so worked up though that every now and then she would stop feeding and give those big shudders you get after an hysterical crying episode, long after the tears have stopped.

The whole episode broke my heart, seeing my girls so tired and distressed and worked up. It killed me to have to choose between the two and leave one crying her heart out while I comforted the other. And mixed in with all of those feelings was some anger. There were a few moments were the situation had me so stressed that I had these flashes of rage, in my brain, when I screamed "FUUUUUUCCCCKKKKK!!!!!" in my head and wished I could just put them both down and run out to the backyard and scream! In a situation like that though, my over-riding emotion is one of compassion, and the love I feel for my babies is stronger than any anger could be.

However. I've always had a quick temper. Sadly it's something that has been one of my issues for as long as I can remember. Since having kids the quickness of my temper has at times frightened me. I don't always have a lot of patience, so that, combined with the quick temper, means there have been more than a few occasions when I have snapped and screamed at Punky. And then had to deal with the guilt afterwards.

And so it was that I found myself sitting on the lounge on Saturday night at 10pm, finishing off some leftover cheesecake, trying to relax and scrolling through Facebook. As I scrolled I came across this post on the Pinky McKay page. Which led me to this post on the Huffington website, which then led me to discover this blog, The Orange Rhino.

You know how sometimes things just happen right when you need them too. You see something that you really needed to see, or read something that is just what you needed to read at that exact moment? This was my moment. And funnily enough while writing this very post last night a link to this article popped up in my Facebook newsfeed. Tell ya what, when the Big Man is trying to tell me something he really shoves it in my face!

While on Saturday night I didn't act on my feelings of anger while trying to calm down the girls, there are plenty of other times that I have acted on my feelings of anger. I yell, I stomp, I bang my hands on things and just generally allow that emotion of anger to control me for a few moments. It's those moments when I'm at my worst, and afterwards I feel like a failure as a mother.

I don't want to be an angry person, and I don't want my girls to think of me as an angry Mum. I also don't want my girls to see and learn my bad anger management and behaviour. I've known I've needed to make more of an effort to find patience and stop the yelling for a while now. As Punky gets older she tests the boundaries more and more, and in the process tests the limits of my patience and temper and I need to find ways to reign that in and control it. For all of our sakes.
I think I need to do this for Punky, such a simple, but I imagine effective idea

On Saturday night I stayed up way later than I should have, devouring pages and pages of The Orange Rhino blog. Some of you may already be aware of The Orange Rhino blog, but for those who aren't, it's the blog of a mother who decided she was going to challenge herself to going 365 days of yelling less and loving more. Everything I read on Saturday night resonated with me in a way few things have. Here was a woman with 4 boys, who realised she needed to make a change, and she set about making that change as best she could.

She has blogged her journey and has since encouraged others to join in. It doesn't mean you have to commit to 365 yell-free days, you can challenge yourself to whatever you want. Her story has stuck in my head, and I've decided to give it a red-hot go for myself. It's been 2 days since I found The Orange Rhino and decided to really make an effort to yell less and control my temper. And I haven't yelled at Punky yet. I have raised my voice however but I don't see that as a failure. Because what I have been doing in the last two days is being more mindful of my temper and emotions.

In her post 12 Steps to Stop Yelling at Your Kids, The Orange Rhino (TOR) lists some things you can do to help you in your quest to yell less. Number 5 is Track Your Triggers. Now I haven't been writing things down, but as I said, I have been thinking a lot more the last two days about how I am feeling and catching myself when I feel the yell coming on. Tracking her triggers helped the TOR:
"(c) Gain self-awareness that 9 out of 10 times underneath the “triggers” was the real trigger, my mood, and that therefore I needed to focus on my role in the “wanting to yell situation,” not just the kids. (ie. I want to yell because the kids are too loud, but REALLY I’m just tired)"
Oh how this has struck a chord with me. I know that half the time when I get the shits it's because I'm tired, not because Punky has really done anything wrong. The only thing poor Punky has done is to be a typical two-year-old, but because of my own mood, and most often self-induced tiredness (Dave calls it my reckless disregard for bedtime!), I get angry and frustrated at even the slightest irritation or whinging.

Over the last two days, when I have found myself getting frustrated I have stopped and thought about my temper and where it was going. I have noticed the times when I have given in to the frustration and raised my voice to Punky and have even a couple of times caught myself and modified my response as a result. I've discovered that simply by being more aware of how I'm feeling and where my head is at temper-wise, I am finding myself able to control it a little more.
I just couldn't resist including this. It gave me a good giggle!

I plan to read as much of The Orange Rhino as I can over the coming weeks and commit to yelling less and loving more. It's not going to be easy, and it's going to be something that I have to work on every day, rather than just something that I can have 'fixed' in a certain amount of time. Kind of like getting fit and healthy needs to be a way of life, rather than just a crash diet. I want to be able to control my temper and not fly off the handle. There's no hard and fast rules, it will take time. Time to figure out what works for me and what doesn't. But I'm committed to trying my best to reign in my temper and that's the most important thing. I may fall off the horse but I will get back on and I will keep on pushing.

Do you or have you ever had a problem with anger? What techniques do you use to control your temper and stay calm when dealing with your children?

Linking up this fine Tuesday with the ever-fine Essentially Jess for IBOT

And in case you've missed them, make sure to check out my Lazy Girl's Guide to Christmas Shopping. You can find the latest one here and share with me what Christmas presents you or your kids have gotten that you secretly want to get rid of!


Kylie Purtell said…
I find myself getting like this when I am fatigued and I know it is not his fault, it is my tiredness. He is just being his normal self. I find I just need to breath, step away and often stop doing what I want to be doing and just give over to him. Parenting is hard and they try your nerves like no other thing in life! I'm going to check out that website. Visiting from IBOT :-)
Kylie Purtell said…
I'd not heard of this site - thanks for the tip.
Kylie Purtell said…
When I'm tired I'm at my crankiest, but as Sam told me, I get cranky at things and situations rather then at people. I find if something is really bothering me I need to take a step back and say "Jesus, why is this so important?" and most of the time it's just a matter of realising, again and again, that it's not as important as I think, and there is a purpose to it, and that I can't control the outcome, or the people involved, but I just have to let it go and trust that Jesus will know what he's doing!!! Also I like the whole getting down to their level and whispering. At the childcare that's what we used to have to do, get down to their level and explain to them why it was wrong or if they cannot do something. A firm voice is more effective then a yelling one!
Kylie Purtell said…
Thank you, I needed to read this (have also just joined the orange rhino fb page). I know my tiredness plays a huge part in my level of patience, and the combination of 4am starts (thanks to Mr 6mths) and a toddler who is pushing ALL of the boundaries has pushed me close to the limit several times lately. Thank you for sharing your story xx
Kylie Purtell said…
Nice! I do have a temper, unfortunately. It's born mostly from frustration and sensory overload (the sensory overload thing has been much worse since the aneurysm, too). My kids are so forgiving though, which makes me feel even worse when I yell at them! I like the idea of screaming into a closet. Kx
Kylie Purtell said…
I've been working on my anger in therapy this year. One of the techniques she taught me was the magic 20 breaths. Having two kids (or any at all) though you could reduce the number because really it's about focusing on the breaths and changing your thought patterns.
Good luck with your journey.
Kylie Purtell said…
Yes sadly I do lose my shit way too easily these days. It's got worse the more children I've had. BUT I am aware of it and I am trying REALLY hard to just walk away. Although I know at times I lose it in front of kids, but nowadays it's much less, and that is thanks to the blogging world, where mums like you post this sort of stuff! I have opened the Orange Rhino site and will devour tomorrow (and I'll also get around to your Xmas shopping guide) xxx You are a great mum, and if you lose it, they won't remember at this age, if you haven't got it under control by the time they are 7 then maybe worry. Can you remember your life as a 4 or 5 year old??? I can't xxx
Kylie Purtell said…
Thanks for this Kylie. I too can be a yeller, and it's something I really want to work on. Just this morning I yelled at BJ, and then I felt awful. Granted, he needed to be told off, but I could have done it much better than I did. Boatman s always telling me not to raise my voice, but that usually happens just after I have done it, and it makes me feel even more guilty. I need to work out what my triggers are too
Kylie Purtell said…
Kylie, thanks for such an honest and relatable post. Good luck in your quest, this gig is hard, especially when a short temper comes into play. Most of the time outbursts come from how we are feeling and not from how the kids are behaving. One of my biggest regrets is the shit cracks that I took out on my son, it brings me to tears on those nights when I can't sleep and thoughts control my brain. It all comes from tiredness and stress that comes from other avenues, not the kids. He is in his 20s and I so appreciate when I get a hug, a kiss and an I Love You when I see him. I did something right xxx
Kylie Purtell said…
I am also like this. It is most definitely tiredness. Taking a little break for yourself every now and again makes all the difference with you're tolerance levels, do not beat yourself up too much though I am sure you are doing a great job and they will also remember those cuddles and kisses.
Kylie Purtell said…
Oh, this is so me. I come from a long line of short tempered yellers, on my Dad's side, and I would give my right arm to be as cool, calm and together as my mum is and always has been! I hate my short fuse, and when I do yell all I can think is how I'm repeating history - I loathed being yelled at and avoid confrontation at all costs with other people, do anything to avoid upsetting them, but don't bother to take the step back and have the space for my own benefit. If something bothers me, and things pile up, I ignore it until something pushes me over the edge, and I yell, then feel guilty, then hate myself and the cycle continues. It's exhausting and depressing, and not how I want my girls to see me or how I want them to deal with anger.
Thank you for putting this out there - it really is nice to know that I'm not alone!!
Kylie Purtell said…
I love this post, Kylie. I know so well the feelings you described. You could have been writing it about me. I am fairly even tempered, but I do find myself at times shouting at my three year old when she has pushed me too far. I've also been in that situation when I'm home alone and both kids are going off and there's no end in sight. I feel like running away too and screaming. I will definitely check out the orange rhino too. Thanks for a great post.
Kylie Purtell said…
There is barely a day where I don't feel the anger rising up inside of me and I wanna spit the dummy. Most days I do at some point. Then I feel incredibly guilty because I know our children become what we are and what we say. I always regret when I turn into ranty, yelly Mummy. It's almost never their fault. Generally (and you could put money on it) the triggers are that I'm tired and/or my hubby is pissing me off. I am trying to combat it too. Snaps to you for being so actively on it. Your children and your relationship with them will really benefit from it.
Kylie Purtell said…
I think I have heard of this blog before!! I am off to check it out again though. I hope you're able to yell less. :)
In Lior's first year I think I yelled a lot. :( One of the things I'm doing now is practicing my hypnobirthing stuff (still useful after the event!!) and deep breathing. Not when I am actually angry, just frequently throughout the day so that I don't get to that angry point. The other thing I do sometimes, which is kinda weird, is to say "I love you". Because it's actually pretty hard to say that angry, so it calms you down a bit, AND it helps you remember that yes, you do actually love them, and you being angry is either not their fault, or it's your job to teach them how to behave better and yelling or being angry doesn't help.
Anyway, weird things, but that's what I've been trying!!

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