5 Tips to Yell Less and Love More This Holiday Season
By Sheila McCraith, a.k.a. The Orange Rhino
I love the holidays!
I love the lights and the decorations.
I love the twinkle in my boys’ eyes when they talk about their wish lists.
I love the smell of Chex Mix in my kitchen and the taste of homemade cookies covered in buttercream frosting.
I love the sharing of my childhood traditions with my boys.
And I love the extra moments with my family that are free of interruptions and full of laughter.
Oh, the holidays bring so much to love; and yet, they also can bring so much stress!
The stress of having a greatly increased to-do list, yet also a greatly decreased amount of free time. The stress of having to figure out the “who, what, where and when” of family visits. The stress of children being more hyper, more overwhelmed, more anxious, and more tired from all of the growing excitement and increased holiday activities. And those are just some of the stressors (don’t even get me started on trying to get a picture for the holiday card!)
Self-imposed or not, these stressors are real, as is what they often bring out in me: an increase in grouchy, short, and snipping moments towards those with whom I would much rather be making joyful memories. And yes, as the case used to be, not just snappy moments, but yelling moments. Oh the irony that a season about loving more can become the season of yelling more. I know this all too well, for prior to my completion of my promise to not yell at my boys for 365 days straight, I struggled every single holiday season. While I did experience the extra joy, peace, love and laughter, I can honestly say that I didn’t experience them as fully as I hoped. My feelings of frustration and disappointment with myself for yelling, most definitely put a damper on things.
Fortunately, I learned a lot during my year of not yelling (and in the years that have followed). I am truly enjoying the holidays more than I used to…and I now have five main actions to put in place each year to help me continue to Yell Less and Love-everything about this time of the year-More!
I share these tips with you so that you too can experience the wonder of Yelling Less and Loving More. It truly is one of the best gifts to share with yourself and your family.
5 Tips to Yell Less and Love More this Holiday Season
- Create your own holiday wish list–one based on how you want to manage your yelling triggers. One of the most powerful ways to prevent yelling is to have a plan for how you are going to respond to or manage the trigger well before it even happens. So take a moment and write down all of your major holiday triggers and then brainstorm ideas for how you will either prevent said triggers from happening or how you will respond to them. Combine your thoughts into one fun holiday wish list that reads like this. “All I want this holiday is to respond to (insert trigger) by doing (insert solution). “ And then this is the best part – make your wishes come true! Review your wish list often so that the solutions and responses are top of mind making them much more likely to happen in the heat of the moment. Some examples:
“All I want this holiday is to respond to the excess noise by excusing myself and taking a break.”
“All I want this holiday is to respond to all the extra mess and clutter the gifts bring by cleaning bedrooms beforehand so space already exists for new toys.”
“All I want this holiday is to respond to a particular relative who gives me a hard time by signaling my special someone (spouse, friend, mom) that I need to be rescued.” (Don’t forget to tell your special someone the plan beforehand!)
“All I want this holiday is to respond to my normal freaking out about too much to do by telling myself, ‘it will all get done, it’s all good.’”
- Share stories with your children about how you experienced the holidays as a kid. I have told my kids how I used to cry when it seemed that my brother got better presents, how I couldn’t stand holiday parties because they felt too crowded and how I used to write out elaborate plans to catch Santa Claus and how the only person busted was me for being out of bed! The beauty of sharing your childhood stories is that it will set the stage for feeling empathetic when your child does (drumroll please) the exact same thing you did as a child!! Empathy is a wonderful tool to de-escalate anger. When you can understand what your child is feeling, your heart will naturally soften a bit and with it, your tone. (Don’t forget to share the good stories too, like how you were so excited that you couldn’t fall asleep, you couldn’t stop thinking about whether or not you would get the gifts you wanted, and you couldn’t stop singing your favorite holiday song. Throw caution to the wind and join your child in the excitement. You won’t be sorry!)
- See your child’s extra meltdowns as a gift and L.O.V.E. them! Seriously! When your child is melting down, Listen to what they are saying, Observe the physical environment for clues as to what could be causing the meltdown (Time to eat? Sleep? Is it too hot? Too hold? Are there too many people?) Verify with your child what is causing the meltdown and then again, Empathize with them to de-escalate the situation. There is no denying that these meltdowns are exhausting, but they are indeed a gift this time of year because they will tell you exactly what your child needs and wants at that moment–and all the remaining moments of the season! (Hint: we aren’t the only ones who want peace and quiet this time of year and who feel cranky after eating too much junk food!)
- Decorate your home with “Yell Less, Love More” reminders; place your holiday cards all around the house in strategic locations. I often recommend people place orange post-it notes with inspiring messages in high yelling zone areas to remind them to be an Orange Rhino, a parent who chooses not to charge with his/her words but to remain calm and determined when triggered. (Read my blog www.theorangerhino.com for the whole back-story!) This time of year, though, holiday cards work just as well since they are beautifully emblazoned with messages perfect for reminding us what we hope to achieve during the season. “Peace & Joy.” “Love & Laughter.” “Find Joy Amidst the Chaos.” “HAPPY Holidays.” “Be Bright.” So don’t just put those cards in a basket by the front door. Get out the scotch tape and tape the cards around the house so everywhere you go, you are reminded of your holiday goals. (Perhaps even put one on the jar full of holiday cookies that keeps tempting the kiddos?)
- Give gifts of forgiveness, kindness, love, peace and acceptance…to yourself! One of the biggest triggers for yelling is dwelling on past yells. So this season, be kind to yourself and forgive yourself for losing your cool the other day after everyone had been in the car for hours on end traveling to a family celebration. Beating yourself up will just set you up to yell more! The holidays are tough; yells might slip out. If (when) they do, love yourself as you would love your child if he/she felt frustrated with himself so that your feelings of disappointment don’t overshadow all the really good stuff happening!
I know this is hard to do so make sure to also gift yourself the gift of peace! This way your mind will be well rested and therefore strong enough to remember to be kind to itself when most needed! Put the to-do list aside for a bit one night and relax. Schedule a nap if you need one (I say schedule because otherwise it might not happen!) Plan to take a walk alone to get fresh air. Put holiday music on and sign with your kids. Whatever you do to re-charge, make sure it is on the top of your to-do list because it is equally as important as everything on that list!
And lastly, give yourself the gift of acceptance. Accept that the holidays might not go as planned and that isn’t a reflection of you. Accept that some outings will be exhausting and stressful no matter what you do…and then hopefully be pleasantly surprised! Accept that kids struggle to sit down for along meal and plan accordingly. And accept, no, BELIEVE the fact that you can Yell Less & Love More, because you can!
Sheila McCraith, also known as The Orange Rhino, and also known as “mommy” to four boys ages nine, seven, six and four, is the author of “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can Too!” and creator of the online community, The Orange Rhino Challenge. Her mission is to share her story about her struggle, and then triumph, to yell less because she wants to help other parents feel less alone, less frustrated and more hopeful on their own journeys to become Orange Rhinos.
Originally published December 20, 2015
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