A few months ago one afternoon, I was at my wit’s end with the girls, and I could tell that I was on the verge of losing my cool with them. It was one of those everyday parenting moments that we have all had-when our kids are having meltdowns, or sibling fights are in full swing, all while the chaos of the rest of our lives unfolds at that very same inopportune moment, and it feels like the whole world is pushing on our every last nerve.
During this particular episode, I had hit that boiling point and while I wanted to stay calm through it all, I could feel the wave of heated energy rising. I closed my eyes for a brief moment, took a couple of deep breaths and just started singing- like belting super loud-
“Happy Thursday to Me! Happy Thursday to Me! Happy Thuuuurrsday to MEEEE! Happy Thursday to Me!”
The girls immediately stopped in their tracks, looked up at me with mouths open and we just all stared at each other, and then started cracking up. It was enough to deflect the energy in that moment, which changed the course of how the rest of the afternoon unfolded.
A common misconception with mindful parenting is that it’s always calm and collected. While that is something we all hope for, the reality is we are all human, and the difficult emotions- the irritability, the anger, the sadness, the frustrations- are all part of our natural human experience. It’s our ability to pause and respond vs. react in those heated moments that will make all the difference in how our children respond. But sometimes it’s just a matter of re-channeling the energy to let that “yell” out in a different way. Many of us have given ourselves a “parenting time-out” or tried taking deep breaths, which are tried-and-true, but here’s a few fun(ny) other alternatives to yelling:
1. Sing HAPPY [WEEKDAY] TO ME! – Hey everyday as a parent is a celebration! Why not sing about it?! 😉 Whatever song you choose, just sing your heart out.
2. WOW it out: My friend learned of this from her meditation teacher. When you walk into utter chaos, just start saying WOW! WOW! WOW! Mouths open, arms wide…just WOW! The louder, the better.
3. Laugh: Laughter really is the best medicine. Studies show that it can relieve stress and tension, and is even good for our hearth health. In fact, there is even an entire yoga practice centered around laughter. And even if the laughter starts off forced, you still get the benefits.
4. Jumping jacks in place or better yet dance: Start moving your body, do air boxing, or break out into your most eccentric dance moves. That is sure to change some tension in the house.
5. Put a bucket over your head: My friend just shared this over lunch and I thought it was brilliant. Just place a bucket over your head- a mini-parenting time-out in place- simply put.
6. Blow up a balloon: I love this idea from the same friend. Keep balloons in a central area of your house, and blow them up. It’s basically taking some really deep breaths with a prop. Who knows how many balloons we will pop?! 😉
7. Step outside and heck yell or even cry out there: Research has shown that exposing yourself to fresh air can reduce stress and anxiety, so if the option is available, get a bit of fresh air.
8. Get creative with breathing and the littles may follow: I’ve written in the past about different kinds of breaths you can practice with your littles, but it can help the bigs as well. Turn a deep breath into a “Blast-off Breath” – palms together like a rocket ship, inhale on the countdown, deep exhale on the blast-off with the palms into the air. The littles love to join this particular one, but you can get creative, and everyone may end up taking deep breaths together without even realizing it.
And ultimately…if you still end up yelling, it happens. Forgive yourself and talk about it with your littles. As parents, as bigs in general, we are extremely hard on ourselves. Parenting is not an easy journey, and we are all going through the highs, the lows, the mehs- every single one of us. If we can share the parenting moments- the ahas and the gotchas- with one another as we go through them, the better off we will all be.
So let us know what alternatives to yelling you have tried at home. We would love to learn!