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: