Why I Started My New Year’s Resolution on December 19th

2 Jan

While we’re only a few days into 2012, I already have a couple of weeks worth of resolution under my belt. This year, my New Year’s Resolution is to not yell at my kids.

I realized that something had to give when I barely made it through day #1 of Winter Vacation. What started out as a great plan quickly turned into a morning full of screaming:

Come-on! Get dressed!
Cooperate PLEASE! I’m trying to take you to do something FUN!
Get your shoes! Your SHOES!
Don’t you want to go see the gingerbread house with your friends?!
Fine. Forget it. We won’t go…Nope! We’re not going!!
We’re late! Where’s your jacket?! Your JACKET!
To the car. THE CAR!

That was just the beginning… And while I’m not proud to admit it, this was not an “atypical” way for us to leave the house. I could go on, but honestly, I’m embarrassed and ashamed of some of the things that came out of my mouth that morning. It was an out of control snowball of shame – the more I yelled at the terrible behavior, the more unbearable the behavior became. While I knew my yelling was exacerbating the situation, I was so stuck in our downward spiral, I couldn’t pull myself together. It got loud, and worst of all, it got personal. Things I promised I would never say, I said. Things like, “What’s the matter with you?!” What’s the matter with you? Really?! I said that to my child?! I should know better. I do know better…

Yelling is the worst!  It feels awful for everyone. I feel horrible when I do it and it makes the kids feel upset, angry and frustrated. And… it’s ineffective. Who in their right mind would listen – I mean really listen and consider what is being said – to a person who has clearly lost control? Not me, so why should it be different for my kids? It’s my job as a parent to teach my kids to communicate in respectful ways, and this mostly happens through the examples I set. So what kind of lesson do my kids learn when I shout, “CALM DOWN,” at them? They’re not learning to calm down, I’ll tell you that much, and they are definitely not learning how to speak to others in positive ways.

By noon on that first day of vacation, I put in a call for reinforcement. Thankfully my mom was able to give both my 5 year-old and myself a much needed break from each other. While I sat in my “time-out,” fuming over the disgusting behaviors of that morning (both mine and my child’s), I soon came around to answering the terrible question I shouted at my daughter:

What’s the matter with you? ME!  I’m what’s the matter. I wasn’t ready to leave on time. I wasn’t paying attention to you because I was trying to do 10 things at once. I was the one feeling tired, cranky, overwhelmed.…While you met each of my missteps with escalating defiance, I am the grown-up and the person responsible for getting us out of a tailspin.  

Henceforth, I resolved to stop yelling – effective immediately. Like most New Year’s resolutions, my commitment to abandon yelling will require tremendous will power, and so far I have managed to keep my cool. When the 3 year-old climbed on the bathroom counter, filled up 30+ Dixie cups, crushed them and threw them on the floor, I handed her a towel and left the room. When the 5 year-old was putting her foot in a toilet at a friend’s holiday party, I did some deep breathing. Obviously I’ve thought about cheating on this resolution, but unlike a diet or exercise regiment, it affects people beyond me – it affects the people most important to me.  

So here’s to a happy and healthy 2012!  May this year be filled with patience, self-control, listening, peaceful problem solving, respect, kindness, fairness, compassion, healthy communication, and loving relationships. And when little feet find their way into questionably sanitary places, may we all find the strength to think before we act.

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8 Responses to “Why I Started My New Year’s Resolution on December 19th”

  1. Nina Badzin January 5, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    Oooh, that’s a hard one AND a good one! This was a really honest and important post!

    • Hillary Manaster January 5, 2012 at 8:36 am #

      Thanks Nina. It’s been a little easier than I thought – forces me to slow down, calm down and think. My blood pressure didn’t even rise last night when the 5 yo thought it would be funny to sit down in the full bath completely dressed. Is this what it’s like to do yoga? Namaste 😉

  2. alliwaw January 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    I wish you luck with the important resolution. Don’t be too hard on yourself, as there will be a period of adjustment…but your awareness and honesty show that you are taking this seriously. Life does get frustrating, and I think you made an important point about “you” being ready…it’s so easy to get so many things on the go at once, but I’ve found if I let some of those other things go and focus on the moment and what really needs to get done, like buttoning jackets, finding mitts, etc. then they usually do get done…Good Luck 🙂

  3. Jen Dumonceau January 13, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    Too funny! I just finished reading the book “Scream Free Parenting”.

    • Hillary Manaster January 13, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

      Ooooo….I need to get a copy of that!
      So good to hear from you Jen!

      • Jen Dumonceau January 13, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

        think your posts are spot on and thought the same thing about the new legos! glad to see you are doing well!

      • Hillary Manaster January 13, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

        Thanks Jen!

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