No Nelling No More!

you did it

Today marks the 30th day of my No Nelling Challenge, which I embarked upon to help me stop yelling at my kids. When I first got started, I thought that it would be possible to never yell but if it is possible, I’m not there yet. Luckily, I didn’t start over every time I slipped or else I’d be back on day 5. It makes me wonder about the pressure we put on ourselves with sobriety dates. Not that they’re not important but goal reaching and learning isn’t always an A to B, linear process.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

Challenges are a good way to jump start a habit. You see them everywhere: no sugar challenges, gluten free challenges, writing challenges, sobriety challenges. Personally, I like having an excuse to do something. I hated to admit that I had a yelling problem to begin with and committing to this challenge gave me permission to do something outside of my comfort zone. Doing it publicly helped me hold myself accountable and having my husband on board with me ensured I had support.

Overall, I’m less grumpy. Being mindful of my mood and reactions lifted me out of my general piss off/bad attitude state of mind. I generally have a more positive outlook because talking kindly makes me feel more kind. When I feel kinder, I’m happier. Even if I have a bad day, I feel more resilient and don’t wallow in it.

My kids pay attention to everything. There’s no convincing myself that “They’re young, they won’t remember any of this.” Even if they don’t remember the details, they’ll always remember how it feels to be yelled at. I’m still sensitive to people yelling and I’m 43 years old! The good news is that I saw nearly instant results when I made a change in my tone of voice and attitude. They feed off my energy. If you’ve ever had your bad mood snowball into a bad day for everyone, you know what I’m talking about. It works the other way around as well.

Not yelling doesn’t mean never being angry. One of the most positive outcomes this month has been my kids really understanding that anger doesn’t mean the withdrawal of love. It’s a lot easier for them to be ok with me getting mad if they aren’t afraid of me. We all get mad sometimes and I’ve been talking to them about appropriate ways to express their feelings and most importantly, showing them.

I’m a much better mom than I give myself credit for. Back when I was a DINK (dual income, no kids), I had plenty of ideas about what I thought a perfect parent should be. I have to say that my husband and I come pretty close to what I envisioned in the areas that matter. Of course, I had no idea how difficult, terrifying and exhausting it would be. Overall, I’m doing a fine job.

I still have so much work to do. This challenge was about way more than yelling. I confronted some demons these last 30 days and I have a much better idea of what I still need to work on. This is what it looks like to put the oxygen mask on myself first and how it looks to worry about the log in my own eye. I may not count the days anymore but being kind is still going to be top of mind for me.

All posts in from this challenge:

No Nelling Challenge

Shoot, I Did It Again:Triggers

Scary Monsters and Super Creeps

The Audience That Matters

Make A Wish


17 thoughts on “No Nelling No More!

  1. I really enjoyed this post, and this challenge overall. I don’t know how I would fare – i am not a yeller, but I can be curt and not as sing-songy in my responses to the boys (3 and 5). Your thoughts about not frightening them made me think of this morning when the oldest wanted a knife (butter type) for his pancakes. It’s one of the first times he has been allowed to get one for himself. He was walking to the table with it and was holding it up and out and his younger brother ran around the corner and was less than an inch from getting stabbed in the face (this particular knife wasn’t rounded like the others). I freaked for a moment, then told him how to hold the knife properly. About 30 sec later, he burst into tears – he said that I frightened him. So it made me realize (once again – I don’t learn well the first 100 times…lol) that I can come across as frightening for a 5 year old. And yelling certainly can add to that.

    Thank you for the wonderful points there – you give yourself a break and yet you see the challenges and learning opportunities you had. And now I am learning from you here.

    Wonderful stuff 🙂



  2. Not even words to express my gratitude for this post. I was just working on tomorrow’s post for SI and it’s a parenting one. I love that you finished this whole “challenge” with what you learned. Ditto on Marie’s comment. I went to my “New Posts” folder this morning and jumped here right away. I always enjoy your mind. xox lisa


  3. I LOVE IT! What compassion you are showing yourself. It’s a journey — not necessarily a destination, though you will notice that you yell less and less as you are on this journey. How awesome of you to blog about this — to encourage other parents to take up a practice that can change the way their brains are wired (literally) and change the way their children’s brains are wiring (literally) and change their relationships with their children (definitely). “Slipping up” or “messing up” gives us an opportunity to regroup and teach ourselves and our children about compassion and forgiveness. All is not lost! I definitely agree with you that our kiddos remember how they FEEL with us. That’s the amygdala — it’s the sensorial and emotional recorder in our brain. IT’s fully functioning at birth. The hippocampus is the “factual” recorder. It doesn’t fully develop until age 6 or so. So we “remember” early experiences through our senses and our emotions — nonverbally. It’s being recorded. BUUUT that doesn’t have to put us on a guilt trip at all! It’s a reminder that we can begin again, just as you have over this last month!!! Again and again we “wake up.” I love, too, how you say that not yelling doesn’t mean you aren’t angry. NO way! We just channel our anger into other ways of expressing it and HONORING it. Anger is there for a reason — it’s waking us up to our needs. So awesome of you, mama. Go easy on yourself. Seriously. I say that for me, too, and all of us mamas! COMPASSION is what heals. It starts with compassion for ourselves. I’m so behind you!!!! Lisa


    1. Karen, I sat with what you wrote after I replied to this post. I went and took a shower afterward – just came back from Zumba, the kiddos are still with my husband. And the prompt came to me, “Share this post.” So Karen, I have no idea how to write the link to the Barefoot Barn’s Facebook page ( but I just shared this post and your initial post that started the 30 day challenge of not yelling. Your journey can encourage so many other parents to do the same. Your writing is real, honest, and with integrity. I’m celebrating you and your work today. Such love to you, Karen. Lisa


    2. I felt so much shame over my yelling and I knew that if I kept feeling that shame, nothing good would come of it. This challenge was a tool for me to create new habits without beating myself up. I agree so much that compassion is what heals, especially compassion for ourselves! Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment!


      1. Karen, you have already inspired one of my good girlfriends to do a similar challenge after reading about you on FB! AND challenged her to write about it, possibly! — which is something I know she’d be incredible at. So, thank you! YES about shame. It does nothing good to keep it inside. Shame grows in secrecy. You sharing gives other people permission to see their shadows, to have compassion for them, and to begin again. Have you read Brene Brown’s work? She writes ALL about shame! Check her out. I hope you get some more lovely followers from the share on FB. Lisa


        1. That’s wonderful about your friend! I was inspired by other people who had done similar challenges before me so I’m honored to have been an inspiration to her. I LOVE Brene Brown! Thanks so much for sharing my challenge on Facebook too!


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