I DON'T WANT TO YELL ANYMORE!
There. I said it.
Have you found that after you get to a certain age or have children, everything becomes so much more annoying? Stop that tapping! You're charging me for using my pin number? Are you seriously not going to take back this water bottle belt that I haven't used even though I'm upgrading and giving you more money for the more expensive one????
It's like how old people start not caring about what they do or how they drive, they just back out of the driveway without looking and say, "Look out! Here I come!" They don't even pray that you stop, they just plow on out with complete faith that you will, because they're old and they can.
Recently, I've approached that first step of elderly, where I have noticed that I, too, have stopped caring in certain scenarios. It's like you get to a certain age and you don't wanna take any more crap from anyone. Because that's what I've done all my life. I've been the one who just sat aside idly while someone completely took advantage of my niceness.
Whenever this happens and I'm in the midst of someone actively taking advantage of my niceness, I think back to 8th grade basketball. I had fallen down on the court and was hugging the ball and an entire gaggle of girls from the other team came stomping over, trampling me, ripping the ball away and from the stands I hear a mom call out, "That's right, girls, step all over her! Get that ball!"
But that's the type of person I was. I was too nice to get up and go stand up for myself and plow back over and knock them down for revenge. And my basketball career ended that year to be honest. I was just not aggressive that way. I was the passive aggressive type. I would be aggressive, but only from my side of the court or the field, i.e. softball or volleyball. Not in a contact sport type of way. And in life and career, although I was a leader in my job, I respected authority just a little too much and I would always, always get ripped off at the car dealership.
When I had children, a variety of things changed, like, for instance, my ability to take crap and the amount of shame I carried around with me. Now I didn't care anymore what people thought about me (or my underwear in the middle of the gym floor), and I wasn't afraid to go into a store and demand something and/or write a strongly worded letter if I wasn't happy with the results.
But I also began to yell more, too, and mostly at home. I would lose my cool and be the one throwing the tantrum right alongside my 4 and 2 year olds. How cool am I?
Aaaand I really wanna stop doing that. So I'm issuing you a challenge for 30 days. I am becoming a scream-free zone. Even though it is really, really, really, really, really, really, really hard to not yell when you're the mother of two toddler boys who are 19 months apart.
But here are some of the ways I have done this (I explained this a little for our May Monday Project at the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans). And so far I have been successful.
- I ask questions. Do you think that's a good choice? Do you like it when people hit you? Can you try asking again in your indoor voice? Can you use your words? Was that a nice thing to say? Can you try that again?
- Change the subject. Look at that shiny object over there!
- I try to offer two mom-approved choices so they're under the illusion they have a choice.
- I've stopped saying "no" and instead say what we can do or offer an alternative. I.E. Him: "Can we climb a giant ladder and stand on the roof and jump off?" Me: "We can go outside and make sand birthday cakes, how about that?" Him: "Can we have cake?" Me: "It's time for breakfast, but maybe after dinner."
- Spell out the consequences nicely. "Hitting is not ok. You will not be allowed to play at the spray park if you hit." And then promptly remove him and follow through with the consequence. Although that does not net a pretty reaction from the child, so remaining scream-free in this instance is extra-difficult. Mommy may need a huge reward
beer, wine, chocolate cakefor keeping her cool in this scenario.
- I have tried diffusing situations way before they brew. For instance, now if we leave for school at 8:55, I get us ready at 8 because it takes about a half-hour to decide which shoes we want to wear and because for some reason, they slow down to a stop when we have to get ready to go somewhere, so this gives us time to do all that toddler dilly-dallying.
- I give them a head's up before we change activities. (One more go down the slide and we're leaving! We're going to put on pajamas right after dinner, watch one Noddy and then it's storytime!)
- Finally, if I really, truly get pissed off, I whisper angrily. I get quieter rather than louder. And it has become so much more effective than yelling! They know I mean business when I'm whispering.
So we'll see how it goes. So far it has really been a lot more zenful in the house. And everyone is yelling a little less. I'll update here next Friday with my progress and if you wanna join in my little Scream-Free Project, feel free to post about it and link up down in the comments, or just tell me how you're going to be scream-free too. Because I can use all the suggestions you have!! Safety in numbers, I always say!
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