3 Things That Help Me Not Yell (As Much)

I yell. It’s what I do. It’s not something I’m proud of. And you may not even believe that I do it, if you knew me pre-motherhood. In fact, speaking up, speaking loudly…these are not things that come naturally to me. Speaking loudly was actually a ‘thing’ I had to work on during my speech therapy practica, particularly working with the elderly population. “Needs more practice projecting voice” was commonly found on my evaluations.

Enter: Motherhood.

Where these lungs come from, I don’t know. But they show up good and strong when things aren’t going smoothly: we’re running late and nobody else seems to care, someone spills something (again) which requires me to drop what I’m doing and clean up (and the thing that I’m doing is probably something I’m rushing through because…we’re running late and nobody else seems to care), the kids are fighting, someone is complaining about something so not worth complaining about, I’m doing bedtime alone and instead of children I feel like I’m trying to wrangle wild monkeys…you get the picture. Normal stuff. And the only way I seem to be able to react when things get this crazy is to practice projecting my voice. Well, by now I’ve aced this skill. And you know what? I hate it.

Image Credit: stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net
Image Credit: stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net

It makes me feel awful and can ruin my entire day, and everyone else’s. It hurts their feelings, it hurts my ego (because I have no idea how I can behave so unlike the perfect mother I am in my head), and it hurts my throat. There are repercussions left, right and centre.

I had to do something so I’m trying these 3 things to help me not yell (as much). I’m hoping to eliminate this behaviour completely, but for now, I’m taking it one day hour at a time:

1. I’m getting rid of the rush as much as possible. This means I now wake up 45 minutes earlier than I used to wake up to get the kids ready for school. It’s really dark out. But this gives me time to get dressed, eat breakfast and make lunches before waking up the kids. I’m fuelled and sometimes mascara’d and things just feel less panicky when I pry the sleepy bodies from their beds.

Another way I’m reducing the busy-ness (and the subsequent endless ‘hurry UP, we’re going to be LATE!’ is by not scheduling in much to be late for! For now (and I know this can change, especially once we’ve got all 3 kids in the mix), we have no more than one activity after school. And there’s absolutely nothing planned on Fridays. Weekends are also low-key. I even block off entire weekends where we are not allowed to plan a single thing outside of family time. It’s working for now, and this may need to change, but I’m hoping that the frenzy factor stays low.

And finally, to get rid of the rush, by the end of Sunday, all uniforms, practice jerseys, swimming costumes, and swimming towels for the upcoming week are washed, dried and put in OBVIOUS places. Sunday does not end until this happens.

2. I’m quitting my referee job. Being a mom means I am a gazillion things, sometimes several at once. But one role I absolutely hate playing is referee. At 7 and 4 1/2, my two older kids are old enough to know the basic principles of playing fairly. In other words, they know what they’re doing when they push the other’s buttons. Having them run to me without first talking about their problem and coming up with a solution drives me insane. And makes me yell. Then when I’m done yelling, the two of them go back to being best friends while I am left seething and cursing as I prepare dinner or whatever it was I was doing before they interrupted me. I don’t want to hear it anymore. Unless someone is bleeding, I don’t want to hear it. I know they can compromise. I’ve seen them work things out under my stern gaze. But I’m taking my gaze and my sternness out of the picture.

3. Mealtimes are no longer begging sessions (me or my husband begging the kids to focus on eating). I’m pretty sure constantly barking, “Next bite!” is bad for my digestion, especially because I can practically feel my blood pressure rising as we approach bedtime and they are Still.Sitting.There. I don’t want them to gobble their food down or be unaware of when their bodies should stop eating. But an hour and a half to eat dinner is ridiculous. So now dinner is 30 minutes, maybe 40 if it’s a productive 40 minutes. Whatever is left on their plate becomes their bedtime snack. (The kids hate this.) And yup, my son has even eaten leftover tacos for breakfast. It’s still difficult to watch the goofing off or the long, vacant stares out the window and not prod them along loudly and verbally. But my husband and I give each other ‘the look’ when it seems like the other is about to explode. Take breath. Shove food in mouth.

I’m tired of beating myself up about being a yell-y mom. It’s how I react. I’m not a saint. But maybe if I can reduce or eliminate the situations that make me fly off the handle, while also learning to let go of the things that get me uptight (control would be the main thing), at least I can feel like I’m doing something that saves my vocal folds and most importantly, their feelings.

What works in your household? I’d love to hear some suggestions!


P.S. I’m linking up with Pink Chai Living, The Write Balance and Love Laugh Mirch who are all sharing 3 things from their worlds with you today. Be sure to check them out!

16 thoughts on “3 Things That Help Me Not Yell (As Much)

    1. Thanks, Salma! It’s really encouraging to know I am not alone. It can sometimes feel that way, like everyone else has a lid on their frustration. Glad you liked the suggestions. Let me know if you try any or if something else works for you. I’m sure these tricks will need to be revised or augmented. Lol!

  1. Oh Taslim, I can relate too! And to think we were the 2 quiet ones in speech classes, ha. I never ever pictured myself as a mother who yells, but it happens. We get busy and frazzled and overwhelmed and that is sometimes how I cope, and I’m not proud of it either. So I am with you on this challenge! Something I’ve been doing recently when I want to yell is start singing the point I am trying to make instead, and I’m not a singer. 🙂 But it usually makes the girls laugh and forget about whatever they were fighting about in the first place.

    1. Hi Mel! I know you and I never pictured yelling at our kids – I actually thought I was going to be like a little art teacher. Every day would be full of glitter, glue and markers. Ha! But you know, I know that we do have those carefree moments with our littles and I know the girls think the world of you. I’m sure Abby gets a kick out of you singing, being a professional herself! I also heard of hugging your kids when you are about to yell at them. Just gathering them up in a big ole bear hug. I think I’d have to work up to that one. I’ll try singing and let you know!

  2. Tas, I feel your pain. It gets better as they get older. I’ve decided to let them be as much as I can, as long as they are safe and somewhat happy. I loved reading this post. Brought back a lot of memories, not all bad 🙂

    1. Hi Rish – thanks for your comment. I’m glad you liked this post 🙂 It seems like letting go is probably something I should work on. Looking at the big picture, kind of thing. Yesterday I met a mom with teenage girls and the longing look she gave my kids almost made me cry. I love these little buggers so much and I am hoping that we all look back on this time fondly. Looking back on my own childhood, I remember some of the times we got in trouble but mostly I remember the love. <3

  3. I’ve got to think all moms are there sometimes. I’ve been really trying to focus on some advice I read in a toddler book (mine are 3 1/2 and 1 1/2): try not react unless its hurting someone or someone is being hurt. It’s hard but unless its doing that, I try to ignore it. Of course, not always successful:)

    1. Hi Renata – thanks for weighing in. It makes a lot of sense to me that we have to pick and choose our battles. You have no idea how many times I have used that exact phrase with my kids, yelling at them to do the same. I’m so thankful that other moms are opening up about all this. It’s like a big sigh of relief. Thank you!

  4. Wow! Thanks so much for posting this. I was seriously thinking about googling ‘I don’t like to yell at the kids’ while I was nursing Victoria, and Andrew was getting out of bed again to ask for water. It’s gotten to the point where when Andrew comes with his questions, Victoria tells him to “go to sleep!” I’ve obviously done this a few too many times and now my daughter is learning from me (sigh)
    I too feel awful about yelling because this was not the mom I pictured myself to be. Your post brings to light what is a reality of motherhood and invites others to share similar feelings and allows for reflection and improvement in these not so rare moments.

    And yes, I really couldn’t believe you yelled at your kids!

    1. Why is it always the quiet ones? Haha! Yeah, it’s something that none of us are proud of or ever thought we would do. And maybe someone reading this who doesn’t have children is going, Really? I would never do that! It’s very challenging to be constantly ‘managing’ so many bodies and things. And why do the other kids always need something when we’re breastfeeding a sibling? Let me know if something works for you!

  5. I read this post with the familiar background sounds of my husband wrangling my 3 year old into the tub. It inevitably ended with several familiar phrases, “Can you walk or do I need to carry you?”, “Do I need to start counting?” and finally, “BEN, LET’S GO!” I must admit that I too yell more than I ever thought I would (I was a pretty “quiet one” as well). The guilt is instant and long lasting yet I still do it. I will definitely be trying your suggestions, and will get the hubby to read this post too! I laughed out loud to your dinner time struggles (only because we’ve all been there). It’s so nice to read all of the posts and know that we’re not alone!!

    1. OH my gosh, I know that “LET’S GO!” I say it so much, you’d think I was a cheerleader! Let me know what you try and how it goes! I can tell you that my son is going to be eating chicken, green beans and quinoa for breakfast this morning.

  6. Taslim,

    When my kids were young, I started using a phony accent to discipline them. So much fun for me, and it made them stop everything and listen. I had a bunch of Russian neighbors and I sounded exactly like them. It was hilarious. Plus it was something they both could bond over when they were fighting. “Oh no! (insert eye rolling here) Mom is talking weird again!”

    1. Denise! That is so creative! I love the visual and can just picture your kids’ reactions 🙂 Like Melissa’s suggestion of singing, I think I’d have to work up to this. Being funny is the last thing I feel like being, although I can only imagine how effective it is. Another thing that helps me that I didn’t write about, is going to a happy place in my mind. Like, if I have upcoming plans with a girlfriend, or I’m in the ‘think’ stages of my next article (I do love that stage!) then I switch my thoughts to that…imagine myself relaxing over tea with a non-child or formulating some kind of delicious phrase…and it often helps.

    1. Hi Suzanne – thanks for stopping by! I know, phony accents, singing, etc…it’s all so creative. No wonder they say creativity and parenthood goes hand in hand! I wish I had fast and true answers, too. Some days are yell-ier than others. Just keep plugging away… 🙂

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