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.
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.
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!