christian parenting

7 Life-Changing Things I Learned From 30 Days of No Yelling

I'm a yeller. I started out my motherhood with the promise not to yell, but quickly broke that promise. To be clear, I'm not talking about verbal abuse here. I'm talking about raising my voice to make a point, reacting out of my anger or frustration. I came to the conclusion that yelling is a normal part of motherhood and a piece of who I am. Plus, when a Cuban girl and an Italian boy get married and have four kids in five years, it's a loud house, and yelling is essential to survival. 


That's what I told myself; that's what I believed, until a few months ago. 


You know how God slowly changes your heart without you really even noticing? Then all of a sudden a topic comes up one day and you notice you feel way differently about it than you did a year ago? God has done that to me multiple times with some pretty important issues, and that's what He did with yelling. 


I remember exactly where I was standing in our tiny two-bedroom condo that rainy day. We had just moved from sunny Southern California to beautiful, but very different Northwest Arkansas. We were living in this tiny place for six months to give us time to become familiar with the area and find a rental house. It was stressful, tense, and incredibly frustrating. I was adjusting to living with no familiar people around me, the kids missed their grandparents, and I was waiting for God to show me why He called us out here. I stood between the front door and the staircase and yelled at him. I yelled so loud and so hard that I felt it in my stomach. When I met his eyes, everything changed. 


My small, but strong-willed five year old looked back at me with a little bit of fear and a lot of desperation in his eyes. I could tell he wanted to say something, but knew he'd be met with more screaming from the tyrant who had taken over his mommy. Right there in that humbling moment of motherhood failure, God tapped on my heart and whispered, "this isn't what I want for you. Or them."


Over the next few days, God continued to draw my attention to my habit of yelling. I decided to do a thirty day challenge with myself and cut yelling out completely. When you have a blog and a following, you have automatic, heavy accountability, so I shared my challenge on social media, the blog, and started Periscoping my progress. (Note: I'm off Periscope now, but I do live stream in my Facebook group regularly. Request to join the party HERE)


I found myself quickly surrounded by other moms who struggled with yelling. Some were already working through books on the subject, some were in denial of how bad it was. I felt more determined than ever to complete the thirty days. If I could do this, maybe they would too. 


It's been one month since I completed the thirty day no yelling challenge. Here's what I learned from it. 


1. Yelling is my answer to almost every frustration in my life.

Once I made the decision not to yell, my eyes were opened to how often I turn to screams as a solution to problems during the day. It felt like I was sucking in a shout every five minutes at first. I was ashamed of how often I had to stop myself. For the first week, I messed up occasionally. Not because I just couldn't take it and had to yell at someone, but because yelling had become such a deep-seated habit for me, that it would just come out without a thought! 


2. Yelling doesn't accomplish anything good.

Since I was suddenly aware of how often I yelled, when I would start and then stop myself, I began to notice my kids' reactions. Sometimes it was fear, other times it was almost an annoyance. Their faces read "ohh great. Mom's freaking out again, how can I get through it this time..." The thing is, when I yell, I am trying to accomplish something. I want them to listen to me, respect me, and do what they need to do. Through this challenge I learned that none of that was being accomplished. In fact, just the opposite was. My kids respected me less, they shut down instead of listening to me, and if they did do whatever I was yelling about, it was done out of fear of me or out of just getting me to shut up. 


3. Yelling damages relationships.

This might seem obvious to you. When I type it it's obvious to me, yet I was yelling all the time so, apparently it's not obvious enough  and is worth saying. When I stopped yelling, my relationship with my kids got better incredibly quickly. I noticed my seven-year-old daughter asking to spend time with me, wanting to talk to me and tell me secrets. I noticed my boys wanting me to go outside with them and kick the soccer ball around. It was like they couldn't get enough of me. During the times when I would start to yell out of habit, it was almost like I could physically see my children pull away from me. Yelling severs closeness; I know that for a fact. 


4. Yelling makes my husband shut down.

I did this challenge with my kids in mind, but it impacted my marriage in a very deep way too. I found myself having to hold back the most around my husband. It hurts me to admit this, but I noticed how often I get irritated with him and push him away with my words. Far more often than I'd like to tell you, I found myself biting my tongue with words like "Just do something right!" or "Can you please just take care of one thing yourself?!" The weight of how painful these words are really hung from my heart over the first couple of weeks. Just like with the kids, I saw my husband's face change when I started to yell. It seemed as if he was a machine that was turned off, a robot who ran out of battery life. He just completely shuts down when I yell. I've always been thankful that Brian rarely even yells back at me when I get like that, but having noticed his face, I think this is worse. Over time, as I got better, I saw him moving closer to me in every way. He was happier, lighter, more loving toward me, and wanting to talk to me more. Alongside working on my yelling, I started being more physically affectionate with my husband throughout the day, because touch is his love language. Not yelling gave way to more improvements that didn't even seem hard to make because I was already conquering the hardest one for me. 


5. Yelling opens the door to anxiety in my home.

When I stopped yelling, I was suddenly very aware of all the effects yelling has on my family. I noticed my little girl twiddling her thumbs before she came up to me with a question. I noticed my husband feeling around for my mood before bringing up an idea. I felt like a monster. Even though I really just yelled out of what I felt was necessity and knee-jerk reactions to frustrating moments, it was enough to cause anxiety in the people I love dearly. That broke my heart. As time went on, their trust in my new-found calmness grew and the anxiety fled. I never want to go back to the way things were. I never want to be the cause of anything but love and peace in my home!

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6. When I yell, I am not a good steward.

My children were given to me by God to raise up to do great things for His kingdom! When I yell, I am not showing them His love, and I am not being a good steward of what He gave to me.


An overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.

Titus 1:7-8


My husband is my partner in this life, and he's to be honored and respected by me as unto the Lord and as an example to my kids. Yelling at my family goes against the will of God for all of us. These are His children I'm treating this way. I know it hurts Him to watch, and I know that's why He lead me to change. 


7. Yelling makes me an unhappy person.

The biggest surprise I found in this challenge was how yelling affected me. I found that I felt lighter, happier, and just less cranky in general throughout the week. The times in the beginning when I would yell out of habit, I noticed it put me in a terrible mood and really darkened my day. I realized a lot of the time when I was in a bad mood was directly related to how I had treated my family that morning. 


I hope you take this honest post with a large scoop of grace for me, especially if yelling isn't something you struggle with. I hope you've poked around my blog before and know how much I adore my husband and my babies, and how much of my time is spent creating beautiful memories with them. I hope you don't judge my parenting solely on this incredibly honest piece of writing. It was meant to reach the mom who yells and thinks it's okay, and the mom who yells and doesn't think she can ever stop. I encourage you to take the challenge, and don't stop just because you slip up. Keep going, start new every time you need to, and watch things change. 

Why Mothers Need Minimalism

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When people think of minimalism, I think most of them picture one IKEA couch in the living room, cold white walls, no TV, no toys, and plants hanging by the kitchen sink. That's not the point at all. 

Three years ago, embracing minimalism changed my life and transformed my motherhood from angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed to happy, light, and free of stress. I fell in love with the way of less, and never looked back. My marriage improved drastically, my kids became less anxious around me because I wasn't a yelling basket case anymore, there was no longer clutter everywhere I looked, and I found myself doing things like sitting on the floor building train tracks with the boys, watching old James Bond movies with my husband, cooking more meals, and taking walks with my little girl. Suddenly, I was much less busy, and I was a better person in general. All because I got rid of the stuff I didn't need. 

I could go on and on about how minimalism has impacted my motherhood, but instead I'm gonna break it down into a few main points, because I truly believe in two things: Jesus and minimalism. I know it's the answer to the epidemic of overwhelmed, tired, frustrated mamas. 

WHY MOTHERS NEED MINIMALISM


Less cleaning.

Do I really need to go on here? LESS CLEANING! I have about two days a week where I do a couple loads of laundry, clean the bathrooms, run the vacuum and the Swiffer, and wipe down the walls and baseboards. That's it. I'm not pulling your leg, exaggerating, building up a false reality- this is my actual life. I have to do the dishes (much less than most people though), make the beds, and pick up shoes, coats, art supplies, and a few toys, but that's it day-to-day. 
 

I don't think cleaning up and being frustrated and overwhelmed is a very good way to spend these precious, short years of raising kids. Minimalism has created an escape from that for me. 


I don’t remember my mother ever playing with me. And she was a perfectly good mother. But she had to do the laundry and clean the house and do the grocery shopping.
— Patricia Heaton

I'm always ready to have someone over.

My house could be at it's very worst, and I would still feel okay having someone drop by. Why? Because there simply isn't enough stuff in our house to ever allow it to be that messy. It's so wonderfully liberating. 

I have more time.

We create the life we want, time is in our hands, and I decided to create more time for myself by eliminating the excess. I have so much more free time these days versus my pre-minimalism life. And I have two more kids since then and I work from home now, so really I should have much less time. Minimalism, you win again. 
 

from  my instagram feed

 

STOP SETTLING FOR OVERWHELMED. 

LET’S UPROOT WHAT’S WEIGHING YOU DOWN AND UNCOVER YOUR ABUNDANT MOTHERHOOD.

 

I enjoy my home more

I don't like to cook, but I like being in my kitchen. I love putting on some music or a podcast and creating a delicious, simple meal for my family. I don't like doing laundry, but I love sitting in my living room while my kids play Legos on the coffee table and I fold their clothes. Minimalism has allowed me to actually love my home and love spending time in it without having to spend hours or days getting it perfectly clean (then having it last all of three seconds). 

A better marriage. 

Maybe you don't see the connection between minimalism and marriage, and I never would have either, but it's there and it's really strong. Since becoming a minimalist, my brain is so uncluttered and clear, which made me a happier person, which has made me a more available wife. Brian can't believe how much more I laugh, how much kinder I am in general, how much more available I am to listen to him, be intimate with him, spend quality time with him. Our bond is stronger and our relationship has improved by leaps and bounds since we purged our stuff. 

Brian_Allie_Cheek_Kiss.jpg

I'm able to be a mom who plays. 

I've already harped enough on how my mind is clearer and I am a happier, freer person, but it fits in again here. Because of minimalism I'm free to be the mom who plays with her kids instead of saying "go play". I spend a lot of my time in the yard kicking the soccer ball around, dancing to Taylor Swift in the living room, and playing with tiny toy unicorns. I run a business from home and it doesn't put a dent in the quality of my motherhood because I spend no extra time managing stuff. 

I'm a happier person. 

I just have a lot of joy these days. I don't really know what else to say on this point, except, life is simple and sweet and good, even when we're going through something hard. Because it's intentionally focused on what matters most. 

WANT A LITTLE EXTRA MOTIVATION?

HERE ARE SOME EPISODES OF THE PURPOSE SHOW THAT ARE RELATED TO THIS TOPIC!

 
 

Why I Let My Kids Feel the Weight of the World

Written by Allie Casazza

Written by Allie Casazza

We were driving to the store listening to the music of his request, indie rock, as usual. Cage the Elephant played their modern rock ballad about cloudy days and fixing your eyes on the sun, and in the rear-view mirror I saw his face distort to the shape of a true rock star in his element as he bounced his head back and forth. I have always known his love of music was different, and I remembered him in my womb, kicking rhythmically to anything we played loud enough for him to hear.

He interrupted my memories by asking me to turn it down and asked, “Can you be a guitar player when you grow up?” When I answered yes I watched his eyes light up and gaze out the window.

“You can be whatever you want when you grow up, and you should do what makes you feel the most alive, but find a way to change the world with it, because that is your responsibility.”

We pulled into the parking lot as he unbuckled and climbed to the front seat to look at me.

“It’s my responsibility?”

“Yes, bud. The world is your responsibility, and it needs help. It needs someone to change it, and make it kinder and more like Jesus.”

He stared out the window behind me as it sunk it, or at least I was hoping it was.

from my personal  instagram

from my personal instagram

 

“Actually Mom, I would like to be a train track builder. Can I change the world with that?”

“You can change the world with anything you do. It’s about the person you are and the attitude you have. You can find a way to change the world with anything.”

“What about a motorcycle rider?”

“Yup. A motorcycle rider can change the world too.”

He thought some more as he watched people walk by and I got his brothers out of their car seats, then I took his hand and we walked in to buy diapers and new shoes. I knew I was holding the hand of a world-shaper. I was pushing a couple of them in the cart, too.

 

As I ran my errand I thought about a Jonathan Edwards quote I had read once.

“Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.”

Eternity. What we do on this earth should last for eternity, otherwise, it’s pointless. I take that seriously; it’s why purpose is my favorite word. I want my kids to know that they have a purpose and what they do will last for eternity. They have a legacy to leave behind and I expect them to rise to that occasion.

from my personal  instagram

from my personal instagram

Some might say they’re just children, let them be little, or that I’m being too hard on them. I disagree. I am letting them be little, I’m pretty big on that, but letting them in on their purpose doesn’t make them grow up, it sets the stage for a small person to grow into a big person who knows exactly why they’re here. And that’s what I want for them- to know exactly why they’re here, that they matter, and that they play a crucial role in changing the world, in the Kingdom of God.

I want to put the weight of the world on their shoulders, because that’s where it is whether they know it or not. The future generation is the shape the world will take when we are no longer here. I'd be doing them as well as society a huge disservice to shield them from their responsibility. 

I don’t want my children to be selfish adults. I don’t want them thinking that life is about them or even that it’s about their happiness. I believe that’s a big misunderstanding in this world.

The responsibility of changing the world gives kids an automatic purpose, and young adults need purpose. When they have been infused with it from a young age, they are less likely to doubt it or be unsure of themselves. They will have been taught that life isn’t about them, it’s about using your passion and your talents to make the world kinder, better, brighter.

Life is about being Jesus to people. Jesus sat with the lepers when no one else wanted to go near them and caged them off. Jesus dined with the hated, the despised. Jesus held the faces of prostitutes and dined with the poor.

So instead of saying things like, “You can do anything you put your mind to! The sky’s the limit!” I want to pour purpose and intentionality into my children.

Your passion is music. How can you use that to change the world? What words can you pair with your music to shape the minds of those listening? How can you love on people with your music?

Your passion is riding motorcycles. Instead of only riding and seeking out sponsorships, fame, and money, how can you use those things to change the world? Maybe you can start a program for troubled boys- a camp where they can come and be boys and ride motorcycles and learn about the God who loves them wildly, just as they are. 

How can you use what you’re made to do to be like Jesus to the world? It is your responsibility to change the world. It’s on you, love. And you’ve got this. 

Find what sets you on fire inside, and go change the world with it. 

from my personal  instagram

from my personal instagram