Monday, May 6, 2013

Handling Toddler Meltdowns-Bethany

I stumbled across this blog shared on my friend's Facebook page. A fantastic read and I will absolutely be putting these tips to good use :-) To make this entry a little more interesting, I'll post my favorites.

Acknowledge your own feelings and remind yourself that this isn't an emergency.
 It's so easy for me to get caught up in my emotions. To forget that feelings are temporary, no matter how extreme or never-ending they may seem. This could go along with my rule of "Counting to 10" when all I want to do is flip out (Like I did two days ago). When something is broken or a child won't stop screaming or acting up, I should stop, count to ten and acknowledge that, "Hey, I'm upset at whatever is happening. This emotion will pass, and it's not worth yelling over. The damage of yelling is far worse than this one sucky moment."

Remind yourself that expressing feelings is a GOOD thing. 
This is so important! I had a lot of issues growing up where I just bottled up my feelings. With a certain person in my life, this led to a huge blowup when I was 18. It was ugly, and I didn't know how to handle that overwhelming load of emotion. Feelings are so natural, they should never be shoved down and ignored. I want to teach my kids that whatever they are's ok...we'll tackle it together and find the best way to express them. I've started this with my 4 1/2 year old stepson, Landon. When he gets angry, he tends to raise his fists in frustration. I am working with him to let him know that it is ok to be frustrated with something, or at someone (Like when Little Sister hits him or has a toy that he wants). Instead of making fists, or hitting back, I want him to find a better way to express his feelings. Like using his words, or coming to me or Daddy, or even screaming into a pillow.

The rest of her entry is great as well, but those two really stuck out for me!

My Day Two is going swimmingly so far. Poor Savannah got a papercut when I let her play with a piece of scrap paper. A Lightening McQueen bandaide and tons of kisses later, and we're all better <3

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The yell snuck up on me-Bethany

Today should have been Day Twelve of no yelling. Instead, I am restarting on Day One.

I blew it last night.

It had been a really good day. Laying on a blanket in the grass with the girls, reading books and enjoying the sunshine. A splurge on pizza for dinner. My girls were happy, and I was happy. Chris was at a class all day so it was just us three.

And then Savannah got sleepy. For the past few weeks she has really been fighting going to bed. Arching her back, screaming, spitting out her paci, biting me if I try to nurse her to sleep. It takes a lot of patience and lullabies to get her to sleep. She's just like I was as a baby (and a kid) I never wanted to miss anything. So the best way to get her to sleep is to have a quiet surrounding.

With a 2 1/2 year old? HA!
Nevaeh is usually so good about keeping her voice down when I ask her to. She'll come running into our room in the morning and if she sees that Savannah is still sleeping, she'll put her finger to her lips and whisper, "Shh! baby sister still sleeping!" Likewise, if I am trying to get her to sleep, Nevaeh is usually good at being relatively quiet.

She was last night too, during the hour it took for me to get Savannah to sleep. Rocking, bouncing, walking, butt patting, shh'ing, singing. Putting her down in her crib once to use the bathroom and hoping she'd just fall asleep (hahaha...ha). Finally her eyes grew very heavy and she stopped fighting. Stared at me with a sleepy grin while I sang her Her Song.

Just a little more...her eyes were almost closed....

There. Thank God. She was asleep.

"MOMMY!!!!!!!!!!! MOOOOOMMYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"


Instant awake. Crying. Stress.

Without even stopping to think about why Nevaeh had screamed my name, I shouted, "DAMMIT Nevaeh! She was asleep! I just got her to sleep! You just woke her up! ARRRRRRRGGGGGGG!"

That's all it took, was one moment to completely lose my cool. I was so beyond frustrated.

I sent her to bed. A bit nicer but still loaded with frustration. I told her I would be in to get her into her PJ's when I got Savannah back to sleep. Which took all of 5 minutes. She was already so sleepy, it wouldn't have taken that long to get her back to sleep.

So why did I yell?! I snapped. I didn't even think about it. I was just so frustrated for that hour, working to keep from getting upset at my sweet little baby. Then I finally had that relief of her falling asleep, and then it was undone. And I just snapped.

The yell snuck up on me.

I laid Savannah in her crib and went in to Nevaeh's room. She had a super sad look on her face, and my heart was so broken. Her feelings were hurt. I realized I had never even asked her what she needed earlier when she yelled for me.

"I am so sorry Nevaeh. I am so sorry that I yelled at you."
"It's ok, Mommy. I forgive you." She looked me in the eyes and I felt that unconditional love pour from her. I cried. Here she was, so ready to just love her mommy and forgive having her feelings hurt for no good reason at all. My sweet, sweet girl. I hugged her to me, told her I loved her a million times over. I lightly explained that Mommy had been frustrated, and should not have taken it out on her. She stroked my hair and gave me hugs back. All this compassion in such a small little girl. I felt so undeserving at that moment! I snuggled her until she fell asleep, then sat myself down to reflect on my undoing.

It was unfair. I yelled for nothing. I'll never know why she shouted for me. Probably to show me something she did or made or saw. Something innocent and sweet, I'm sure.

Today is Day One, and I have a new determination. I don't want to see that hurt expression on her face. Ever, especially when I'm the one that caused it.

Day One, Orange Rhino. I can do this!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Orange Rhino Challenge...It's not just for the kids.... -Erika

Let me be honest.....
1. I can't seem to get past day one. I am not having any luck getting my yelling under control
2. Most of the time when I'm yelling at my kids, it's because I'm frustrated or angry about something that has nothing to do with them.

Hows is this fair?

It's not. I'm starting to learn that the Orange Rhino Challenge isn't just about not yelling at the kids, it's about making a lifestyle change. Changing the way I handle frustration, changing the way I discipline my children. I really want to do this. The one time I went 2 days without yelling I noticed an improvement in Timmy's behavior, so why is this not enough for me to be able to get it right.

Today, I yelled at Timmy for spraying vegetable oil in the kitchen. I got mad at him for bringing too many toys in the living room. How ridiculous is that? The worst part is, I'm in a bad mood because today has been so busy, because I still have a ton of stuff to do and it feels like I have no time to do it. I put off some housework to enjoy some time with my kids, but I blew it when we got home and I wasn't nice to my toddler. 

I really need to think about what kind of mother I want to be. I LOVE my kids! I'm so blessed to get to stay home with them. On a beautiful day like today, I got to pack our lunch for an afternoon at the park. I want my kids to grow up feeling like Mom is an active participant in their lives, and I am quite successful at that, away from the home. They deserve so much more of my attention at home. Most of the attention paid is negative, that is how often I'm mad. It has to stop. 

I CAN do better, I NEED to do better! 

The Orange Rhino Challenge is challenging me more ways than I ever expected! It's not just for the kids, it's for me.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Day One.....again! -Erika

Every day has been day one for me for the last 3-4 days, I just can't seem to remember what I'm trying to accomplish here. Then I realized it's because I'm not even trying. Not yelling at your kids, it takes work, it takes self discipline, it takes LOADS of patience, and I haven't even been attempting it lately. 
The woman who started the the Orange Rhino says that she uses orange napkins when she eats, as a reminder not to yell at her children, since dinner time is always such a struggle. Well, the living room is where my family spends most of it's time, and Tim took Timmy to get some new fish for the tank yesterday, and he picked out, mostly orange fish! It's almost as if he's trying to tell me to keep at it. "Here is your reminder Mom." There are about 15 orange fish swimming around our fish tank now :) He also picked out a crab and shrimp, and he loves them! He is such a sweet child and deserves a Mom who is going to push herself to be the best mom she can be!

One thing I noticed is that for the my first go around when I went 2 days without yelling, Timmy was listening and behaving so much better. I also noticed that the more days I went yelling at him for doing things I didn't like, the worse he was getting, the worse he was listening. When you take this challenge, and fail at this challenge, you begin to realize just how major of an impact it has on your child's behavior.
So as difficult as it is, I absolutely recommend to everyone to take this challenge, and put 100% into it, as I am prepared to start doing again today. I will complete this challenge, even if I have to start over 10 more times I'll get there. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day 6, pick up sticks-Bethany

Well, we didn't literally pick up sticks ;-) But it rhymes!

Which brings me to another "technique" I've figured out. It diffuses a meltdown (unless said meltdown is the result of tiredness, in which case only a nap can fix it).

Sing a song! Patty cake, It's Raining, Itsy Bitsy, or the lullaby I wrote for my biggest girl when she was a sweet, smooth cheeked baby. That's my favorite one to sing, because she gets this sweet smile on her face. Like she just knows that song is special and just for her. It helps remind me of the gut wrenching love I have for her, in the midst of what could easily become chaos that would end in me yelling, and her precious feelings hurt.

I wrote a lullaby for Savannah as well, and am sure it will come to use down the road when tantrums are thrown or just when she needs some special lovin'.

Today was a great day by the way, as was Friday and Saturday. The husband was off work and we spent lots of time together as a family! (Minus our sweet Landon).

 Daddy teaching Vae tic-tac-toe....good way to avoid "out to dinner tantrums"
 One happy outside baby!
Nevaeh got her first haircut today! She flipped out at first, nervous about scissors coming at her. Instead of getting frustrated, I calmly talked to her, let the stylist cut a small piece of my hair to show her it wasn't scary, and finally bribed her with a sucker. After the first snip, she was super excited! A lot of times she "acts up" because she isn't sure about something. That's what I need to constantly remind myself of.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Thinking Chair-Bethany

A while back, before the Orange Rhino was a figurative animal in my mind or household, I tried to think of a more creative discipline for my kids. I didn't like sticking them in the corner (and my poor walls were hopelessly stained with tear streaks, which was ugly and heartbreaking), and it never worked anyway. All it was, was me yelling "Get in the corner!" "Be quiet!" "Stand still!" "Get BACK in the CORNER!"

It was way more hassle than help.

Thus was born the Thinking Chair.
 Time to think
Time to stew
Reflect upon the things you do
And when you're done
Be on your way
Please behave while you play!
She is not in trouble. She saw me taking a picture and insisted on demonstrating :-)

Nice chair off of ebay (That I put together wrong the first time, and yelled at my kids several times during assembly -give me back that screw driver! Don't hit your sister with that leg!-)
Stenciled with a poem I wrote to help them concentrate on why they're sitting on the chair in the first place.

Now I must admit. I was a lot more gung ho about this chair when it was still an idea in my head. Once I actually made the chair, it didn't serve the proper purpose. It became somewhere to sit in time out, instead of standing in the corner. I didn't put that clever poem to good use.

Luckily the Orange Rhino has reared her horn at me and reminded me that this Thinking Chair is in fact a great idea. Sometimes kids need to just chill out and relax, without being sent to bed for a nap (and certainly not yelled at to shut up).

So the Thinking Chair will now be used properly. With love, understanding, and a good explanation of why they are sitting on it, instead of a half hearted "Go sit in the chair in time out!"

Landon, Nevaeh and Savannah....I love you! Day 4 of no yelling <3

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Well it had to happen sometime -Erika

Well, I really didn't expect to get through a whole year or even close on my first attempt. Let's face it, I am human, I am not perfect, and I yelled at my children today. I didn't completely lose it, but I yelled at each of them once and I more than got a little irritated with Timmy for being a toddler getting into things when he didn't at all deserve my unpleasant words. So here we go again. Orange Rhino Challenge, day 1. 
It started when I was in the living room rocking Billy to sleep while the mac n cheese was cooking on the stove and I hear Timmy start crying. I knew what happened before even checking on him, he was standing on a chair at the stove crying. So I yelled, "Timmy, NO!" He got hurt, and I got mad, when I should have been sympathetic but stern. Not the first time I got mad when he got hurt. Why should I though? He's already hurting and my sharp tongue doesn't make matters any better.
A little while later, Billy was having an all out fit, and I screamed over him to get his attention, hoping it would stop the crying. It didn't, and now I have to start over because of it. Aside from that it was the little things, little irritants. It's like a chain reaction. You yell once it's easy to do it again. And now I'm feeling very guilty, so it's time to wind down a little and  relax. Billy is quiet now, about to take a nap, and I'm going to spend a little time reflecting on the mistakes I made. Tomorrow is a new day. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The power of 10-Bethany

Today is Day Two of my Orange Rhino Challenge.

*Happy Dance*

I made it through Day One!

Here is how that day went...

Yup...baking soda!

I finally got both girls down for a nap at the same time. Do you know what that means?

I could take a shower! Woooo!

Clearly a certain 2 1/2 year old woke up during my shower. 
My first thought was to yell, "NEVAEH! WHY did you do that?!"
I stopped myself. I remembered that a few days ago I had sprinkled baking soda on that chair because Savannah vomited on it. So Nevaeh was probably trying to help me.

Instead of yelling, I sat her on the Thinking Chair, cleaned up the mess, and then explained that next time she wants to help Mommy clean, she needed to ask me first. She said, "I sorry Mommy, I make a mess. I love you sooo much!"

I'm so glad I didn't yell ♥

Lesson I learned? When faced with an onslaught of baking soda-covered-chair (Or whatever naughty incident) count to 10 before you react. Think to yourself "Why did they do this?" instead of yelling, "WHY DID YOU DO THAT?!?!" 

You may find that they had sweet intentions, if less than perfect execution of said intentions.  

Day Two is pretty stellar so far! Tomorrow I think I'll explain the aforementioned Thinking Chair I created a while back :-)

Have a Rhinoceros day!

Sunshine Therapy! -Erika

I am almost at the end of day 2 of not yelling at my kids. Although I did come very close a few times yesterday, I didn't use more than a firm voice where necessary and it felt so great! 
Today was amazing! My husband and I took the boys to the playground this afternoon. I was lying out on a blanket with Billy enjoying the fresh air while Tim ran around with Timmy playing on all the equipment and even teaching him to fly a kite! 
Nothing gives me greater satisfaction then being able to enjoy my children, and being able to see them happy. Today, they were so very happy! Happy children make for an easier day, and when it comes down to it, the sweet sunshine is a must! I thoroughly enjoy photographing my kids in natural light, just being kids, the way it should be. 
There was no greater time to start this challenge than now. I will be very well into it when cabin fever hits again and another true test comes along! So if you're feeling like your kids are going to make you pull your hair out today, grab your camera, and take them outside. Photograph your sunshine babies and enjoy them! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Day One-Bethany

Dear Landon, Nevaeh, and Savannah,
Here we go babies. This is for you. Day One of absolutely no yelling. Landon, you are with your real mommy today, so my Day One with you will come later.

You kids are my world. It's weird how everyone tells you, "You won't understand until you're a parent" and I never understood what they meant, until I had kids. They were right! You are my everything. It's a delicious ache in my heart, there is so much love there. When I hold you, I just want to absorb you into my skin; I can't get you close enough to me. Even being in my belly wasn't close enough.

I want you kids to feel that love. Not anger or frustration when I've had a hard day. You are kids; you're still learning. It's Daddy and my responsibility to teach you how to handle your emotions, how to focus your energy and to comfort you when you just don't get it yet. We can't sit by and expect you to just figure it out, and yell at you the whole time.

So here we go.

Day One.

I love you!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Telling her to stop acting like a brat, while acting like a brat myself -Bethany

I was sitting here thinking, "Ok, how am I going to write this?" and then I realized that I can't do that. I can't sit here and think of the best way to write about my biggest fault, because that will be a coverup. The point of this blog is to be raw and honest about the fact that I yell far too much at my kids.

So, day one of my "yelling confessions" takes us to approximately ten minutes ago. My girls are getting over pink eye. Landon came over with a couple weeks ago (Which was another bout of me yelling, "Don't touch your sisters! They'll get pink eye!") Nevaeh has finished with her eye drops but Savannah still has a few more days of the drops. Nevaeh has always been my big helper, and admittedly that sometimes frustrates me. She tends to over help with some things. Usually when I give Savannah her eye drops, I have Nevaeh talk to her as a distraction. I left the eye drops on the coffee table. Turned my back for a minute and when I looked, Nevaeh was squirting the drops onto Savannah's face. My reflex response was to shout, "NO! Nevaeh put that down!" and grab the drops from her. She flipped out saying "I help baby sister! I give her medicine!"

Those of you who know Nevaeh, know how sensitive of a child she is. Everything she does is with good intention, and when a voice is raised she falls apart and is so remorseful. I know this, and yet I still yell. She has been a sweetheart all day long, so why did I let me temper flare up so quickly over something so petty? She didn't get the drops in Savannah's eyes, and even if she had it probably wouldn't have hurt her. They are eye drops after all.

Sitting here thinking about it, I realize how I should have responded. She listens very well when treated with respect and asked to do something. Had I simply said, "Nevaeh, can I have those drops back please?" She likely would have given them to me. Maybe a bit more prompting, but going straight to yelling and snatching them from her should not have been the answer. I did give her a hug and apologize for yelling, and she said "It's all right Mommy." She's so forgiving <3 I could learn a lot from her.

My countdown starts tomorrow. These days with my babies are few and precious, and I will not waste another day.


Has anyone ever told you when you're stressed out that you need a hobby? Well they are right! As I prepare myself to start my 365 day journey tomorrow, I've been working on coming up with ways to keep my cool in those stressful times. So I'm going to start by embracing my hobby and using it as an outlet. Scrapbooking! I've become positively obsessed with cutting up the pictures and organizing them into books with cute stickers and embellishments so I have these amazing projects to look back on. When I first started scrapbooking, of course, Timmy, always the curious toddler, would be all over my scissors, glue, stickers, everything he could get his hands on. And being the stressed out mom of a toddler in training, I would scold him for touching everything. Now when I'm getting out my supplies however, I let his creativity flow along with mine. I give him a piece of scrapbook paper, some photo scraps, a couple pairs of scissors, and a sheet of stickers and let him go crazy! Now what do I get out of scrapbooking besides a fun project for myself? I get some amazing memories that last a life time, of watching my sweet boy create his own "pages" as well. 

He sits on the floor in front of me and says "help Mommy," while he puts everything together his way. Now that is an awesome trade for yelling at him to leave everything alone. 

So what am I trying to say? Alternative number 1 to yelling at your child, improvise what you're doing in a way that makes it special for him, and makes him feel like he's helping! If you're folding laundry and he doesn't quite know how, get an extra basket for him to put his own folded laundry in so it's separated and you can fix it as you go. My son likes to stand on a chair in the kitchen an help me with the dishes, so I'll let him put dirty ones in the sink for me and clean dishes in the drainer to dry.Now I just need to find something for him to do while I'm cooking.....