Do you yell sometimes? How about a lot? Well, this Abundant Mama interview is for you then. I’m honored to give you a little inside peek into the brain child behind The Orange Rhino Challenge, an anonymous blogger encouraging parents to stop yelling at home. I always love these interviews. I hope you do, too!
1. Welcome. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Let’s start by asking about you. Who are you and what’s your story? How many children do you have and how old are they?
Thank you for giving me this opportunity! I am a stay-at-home mom to 4 boys ages 6 and under and I go by the name of “The Orange Rhino.”
Last January my handyman caught me screaming at my boys. We’re talking red in the face, body shaking, full on screaming! I was mortified. I took one look at my sons’ faces and decided at that moment that my yelling had to stop. The next day I promised my boys that I would go 365 days straight without yelling. Soon thereafter I launched my blog “The Orange Rhino Challenge” to publicly chronicle my progress, keep me accountable and find support.
I go by the name of “The Orange Rhino” instead of my real name, as it reminds me of my promise to my boys and symbolizes how I hope to parent.
This is my favorite story! I wanted an inspiring symbol for my Challenge and I was struggling and struggling. One day my then 5 year old screamed in my face. I calmly said to him “#1, if mommy can’t yell what does that mean for you?” He looked straight at me, finger in his nose, and calmly replied, “I can’t yell but I can still pick my nose.”
That night I Googled the origin of nose and got rhinoceros; further research showed that rhinos are naturally calm animals but charge when provoked. Aha! I was a rhino; I am a naturally calm mom but when provoked, I charge with my words!
3. You mentioned having an epiphany about yelling. In the Awesomely Awake community we encourage peaceful parenting. Why is this important to you? What have you learned since starting the project?
I learned that I often yelled because I was in a stressed place, not because my boys misbehaved. I have learned that yelling achieves nothing but tears and mama guilt. I have learned that being present and really listening when my boys are struggling is more powerful than yelling. I have learned that sometimes walking away for 1 minute to regain composure will actually get the Legos picked up faster than yelling.
But, one of the most powerful and important lessons I learned about myself, the one that gave me the push to start the Challenge, I learned during my yelling epiphany. I realized that while in the presence of others, I put all my energy and self-control into ensuring I don’t yell because I want to appear like a great, loving, calm and patient mom and I always succeed.
But when alone, all that energy and self-control disappeared. Without an audience, without potential judgment, I yelled freely at my boys. My boys are my audience, my most important, always there, audience; they are the ones who matter. They are the ones I love, the ones who will be watching me every day, learning from me every day, hoping for my affection every day! I don’t just want to appear loving and patient and yell-free in front of them, I want TO BE loving and patient and yell-free. This realization gave me the strength to start living a yell-free life.
4. What are 5 alternatives to yelling that we can share with Awesomely Awake readers?
- Talk out loud. State: “I don’t want to yell at you, I love you.” “I am stressed, can you help me?”
- Play the Orange Rhino game. My boys say “Orange Rhino!” when they sense mommy is getting cranky and ready to yell; it’s a great warning system!
- Do Push Ups and Jumping Jacks. Exercise calms me down and gives me much needed energy to re-group.
- Post baby pictures in yell prone areas. (ie. bedroom doors). When I see a baby picture it reminds me not just how precious and fragile they are, but how much I love them and don’t want to hurt their feelings.
- Act like a gorilla. When a big yell is brewing and is at the tip of my tongue, I bang my chest like a gorilla. It is silly and lets me release stress and makes my boys and I laugh.
The author of The Orange Rhino is a Stay-at-home mom to 4 boys 6 and under who has NO clue about the world of boy toys and games but is slowly learning. Before staying at home, she worked in brand marketing and used to constantly debate starting her own company around one of her many passions like cake decorating, photography, or doing random acts of kindness. She recently discovered though that writing a blog and helping other moms learn to not yell is exactly how she want to spend her free time.