Monday, 8 February 2016

how I stopped yelling at the kids // 2 steps that really help!!

I never used to be a 'yeller'. Before kids, definitely neverrrrrrrr. And even with one and two kids, I was never really tempted to yell at them. Cranky, tired, frustrated - sureeee. But I just wasn't a 'yeller'. #yet

(Please note, I also thought I was a very patient person before I had kids... ha!)

I can tell you when it started to change (unfortunately). When I was pregnant with my third little cherub, I once again experienced pretty severe hyperemesis (severe all-day all-pregnancy morning sickness). I did a lot of 'parenting from my bed' while my then four and two year old roamed around... because often I simply could *not* get up. And so I would be calling instructions, (please come here! stop touching that! get dressed!). Then, as my frustration with both my limitations and their childishness grew, the calling would morph to yelling and you know what... turns out yelling is a habit. And once you unleash it, it kinda turns into an outlet that is all too easy to keep justify using.

So, that was the beginning of giving myself permission to yell. Not a happy beginning or proud progression, I have to say! I've realised that often the yelling is provoked (still) by my own frustration at being unsure how to otherwise handle behaviour - or simply not having the energy/desire to handle it as I know I should - especially when rushing! Other 'causes' might be my annoyance at their childishness interrupting my other plans or simply 'kids being kids' somehow still being a surprise even after this many years of parenting!? ;) Really, these are excuses, not reasons, aren't they?

I wouldn't say I yelled daily or even usually weekly... (depending!!) but I also saw it was creeping up in me as an easier 'go to' response when I was really exasperated. Eeek :( But this isn't about counting how often I yelled or how often you yell and ranking it on any kind of scale! It's about challenging myself to step up to being the parent I want to be. And maybe sharing my story may encourage you too, if you also struggle with yelling. You are not alone! And it's a different story for everyone but we are all still mothers who want to do our best for our kids - that's the point, right? #hugsallround

I think we would all agree 'parenting by volume' is not the best technique! Far from it. Obviously, it hurts the hearts (and ears!) of our children. Aggressive behaviour is not how I want to teach my children nor how I want them to behave. And what kind of example is it, to show them such lack of self control, when we are trying to teach them those very skills? (And how much older are we?? Ahem).

Soooo, ten days ago, in the middle of the long summer school holidays and also in the midst of a pretty busy and stressful time for our family, when we, (the parents), had a lot of outside things going on distracting us from the children, I could tell I was too easily feeling 'disrupted/frustrated' just by them being kids. So, in the very worst time, it suddenly seemed like the very best time to set myself a 'no yelling/kind voices only' challenge.

And the key? Unlike all those other times I had told myself 'Never yell again! It's awful! Just don't do it!', I decided to 'set myself up for success' with two extra steps. A little advanced preparation makes all the difference when you are really determined to break a habit!

Two Steps to Help You Stop Yelling...

1) Set a DEFINED LENGTH TO YOUR CHALLENGE. This makes it feel much more achievable. I randomly chose 10 days! Which is quite a lot to be honest, maybe I should have set it shorter, haha! But once it was set, I was determined to meet my goal.


2) TELL THE KIDS. They sure keep you accountable!! Over breakfast one morning, my kids and I had a chat. It was a frank and honest talk about yelling. I had to humble myself to tell them I was sorry about how I had yelled in the past, why I didn't want to yell anymore and that I was going to work hard on stopping - with a 10 day goal. They immediately wanted to sign on for themselves too, haha! And were generally just sweet and excited and supportive. So I made a simple little sign for the wall and then every morning I would ask them if I had yelled the day before. You know, kids don't hold back, huh?? #brutalhonesty And how sweeeeeet it was when every morning they would answer 'no yelling!' and I got to cross that day off the chart... felt pretty proud, heehee :)

PS There was one day where they said 'Well, you weren't yelling but you were huffing a lot and being a bit harsh'. Oops.

The toughest thing to realise was, ironically, that it was not that hard. I guess what I had to admit to myself is that previously I was giving myself permission to yell. I was excusing it, justifying it, blaming it on the kid's behaviour rather than my own frustration, unrealistic expectations and simple lack of self control. Having three little sets of eyes on me, cheering me on and keeping me honest and accountable made a world of difference. Having a defined goal made it seem even more achievable - and makes the competitiveness kick in for yourself too! And being forced in those 'tempting situations' to pull up my parenting bootstraps and find other more effective (and mature!!) ways to deal with my children made me a better parent.

On the last day, my seven year old said to me 'Mummy, when this challenge is over, can we do it again? Another challenge? Again and again and again? Because it's so nice around the house with no yelling'. Ziinnnng. She is right. And I can only agree. Will I never yell again? I can't make promises like that and no doubt it's likely I will lapse again (I'm only human!!). I only hope that this little challenge reminds me that I actually do have the self control to not yell, and that I do not have to give myself permission to yell, instead I can aim higher, do better, be gentler. I can stop, bite my tongue, and choose another strategy rather than the 'easy way out', the 'quick release' of yelling. I feel like a cycle has been broken, a terribly hurtful downward spiral has been interrupted, and my earnest prayer is that it is broken for good. In its place I want to put new, more gentle and calm strategies that still set clear boundaries without the 'cheap cheat' of yelling to get results. Things I already know but too often chose to ignore in those 'white heat' moments!!

The peace in our home is a worthy result of this little experiment. Do I still get frustrated, exasperated and sometimes just downright angry with my kids? Yes, yes I do. Not bragging on that either... more things to work on!! And while I am learning to better control my responses, I will also be working on my heart. Ahhh, parenting. We are learning and growing right alongside our children, huh? I am all the more thankful for God's graciousness and my children's forgiveness as we walk this challenging but rewarding path of 'family' together.

xx Kate

PS If you want to take on a 'no yelling' challenge, there are heaps of great resources and websites around the internet. One of the very best is the Orange Rhino blog. She even has a free app you can download, where you can set goals and even 'reminders' at certain challenging parts of the day. About half way through my challenge I downloaded this and it was great. I had a daily reminder at 4.30pm, lol!! Another gorgeous blog with lots of lovely idea for better connection with your kids is Handsfree Mama.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Big City Adventures with Kids! // Brisbane (Southbank) // Part One

We love 'the Sunshine State', (ok, we love our state too but must admit it does not have a beach, haha!)... so when Mark had some work training to do up in Brisbane, Queensland late last year, we eagerly tagged along to soak up some sunshine and swim time!

It was a 14 hour drive up there which we did in one hit, thanks to the kids being road trip warriors (sometime, I will put together a post on our road trip tips??). A biiiiiig drive but so worth it!

We spent the first week exploring Southbank. Southbank is this wonderful area of Brisbane just outside the CBD. It runs along the river and has a great mixture of restaurants, playgrounds, free public pools (that look like beaches) as well as a cultural precinct of galleries, museums and libraries... all within strolling distance. It's fantastic, with so much to explore for families and everyone!

So, we spent the first week trying out urban living... we stayed right near the buzzing Southbank area, in a serviced apartment situated between West End and Southbank. It was a great position with heaps of restaurants and interesting little shops around West End and all the fun stuff to do in Southbank just an easy 10 minute stroll away. The West End Central Apartments where we stayed were great for our family. We had two bedrooms so we could space out a bit, a good sized kitchen, a common area pool for the kids to enjoy, a huge balcony/patio area for the kids to play in and a fun view of the busy urban streets. Some of the fitout was a little outdated but that didn't bother us, especially compensated with its great location. They seemed to be in the midst of some renovations so if you are looking for serviced apartments around the Southbank area, I would recommend!

Nothing quite like starting your day with a sunshine-filled breakfast on the patio!

Morning giggles over muesli.

Everyday while Mark went off to his training (some of us have to work, huh!), the kids and I would pack up a bag of snacks and supplies and head out to enjoy a day at Southbank. Honestly, I didn't intend to hang out at Southbank for the whole week, I thought we would end up venturing into the city or elsewhere too, but there is just sooooo much to do around Southbank, we never felt the need to go anywhere else! It's such a great location, very central for meeting up with a few friends I was wanting to catch up with, too.

The other great thing is that without even really meaning to, we didn't spend a cent all week! Yup, everything we did was **free**!! So much free, fun, family-friendly stuff on offer around the Southbank strip, it makes it a pretty awesome place to hang out! Well, obviously we did have to eat but as we were in serviced apartment with a supermarket across the road, I just bought simple food supplies from there and would make up an easy lunch and snack bag every day rather than buying pricey food when we were out. Always nice to save the $$$ for when you really need it!

Southbank has a series of awesome public pools, one like a lagoon (this one), one like a beach (with sand and all!) and one huge splash park. Love being able to choose whatever type of swimming you feel like each day, and it's lovely to see everyone in the community able to enjoy a swim - any season, any time, yes even late at night! Here the kids are surveying the scene... first thing in the morning, ready to swim!

Hitting the 'beach'

Southbank has just opened this truly incredible new playground! It's huge, adventurous and shaded - a real winner. The kids wanted to play here EVERY day, at least once! 

Playing on new toys with new friends!
Clambering the nets.

This 'hamster wheel' was a huge hit, constantly filled with kids and often adults too.
I had a go and now I know why hamsters and mice run in these things all day long -
such a surreal sensation!! 
Miles went up and down and up and down the rock climbing walls...
Bed time books with big sister on the hotel bed... so precious!

This boy knows how to chill...
My sister came to meet us in town with my triplet nephews and niece! Love seeing the cousins reunited. Every time they are a little older and can play more and more... it's just wonderful :)
Three little duckies bobbing in the water.
Eli likes to just drift in the water like this, watching an underwater world with his goggles on. Needless to say, it freaks me out and makes my heart skip a beat every.single.time. I have to keep watching him just to check he really is floating happily!!
Brisbane blooms purple this time of year! Loved walking through this canopy every day!
Got a little bit obsessed with this luscious green wall across the road. So pretty!

They were so tuckered out each night after big days of play. They love adventuring and I love experiencing it all with them! We really hit our groove when we travel together, just love it :) #sleepingbeauties

When Eli saw these photos he exclaimed 'We look like best friends!'. He absolutely
loves them... and so do I. These two boys are just learning what it is to be best friends,
and a lot of the time are more like 'boys who drive each other and their Mama crazy'
but they are learning and so am I... to enjoy the bond of brotherhood that is forming!

Why don't I do the matching thing more often? It's so cute and my opportunities are
so fleeting, haha. Love my boys, mayhem and all xx
One day we did briefly journey out of Southbank - on the free CityHopper ferry! We met up with some lovely friends and cruised down the river to the beautiful botanical gardens. The ferry ride was a lovely way to see all along the river :)

Fantastic playground and lots of glorious shade on a very hot day at the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens. We only saw a sliver of the gardens, but they were gorgeous!
Lily was fascinated to recieve the hotel's questionaire and filled it out very seriously on my behalf :)
A little pre-bed colouring in with Daddy.
Bed time books read by big sister... is there anything better??
We met up with a lovely relative and visited the Queensland Museum (also free!). Love the cultural precinct in Southbank - Museum, Library and Gallery all together, free and such good quality! Sadly my favourite, GOMA, was in between exhibitions so we didn't get to visit this time. It's usually fantastic! 
Helloooo, gigantic squid.

The State Library of Queensland has an incredible children's space filled with wonderful play and art and learning opportunities. So rich and relaxing! Perfect for some chill out time after a big day in Southbank too - curl up with some books in the air conditioning! That's one of my tips for city adventures with kids - when everyone gets tired and needs a break, find the library and enjoy some chill time with books :)

E gets his craft on.
The perfect nook to curl up with a good book...

Just doing a little BBQing by the caravan... in the middle of the library. As you do! Haha, love this play set up!!
Two hot, tired kids after trekking the city all day. Still cute though! ;)

We didn't even discover the awesome huge splash park at the end of Southbank till the last day! It was awesome!

Southbank at night is just wonderful, especially with the warm weather! One night I whisked Lily down for a special 'one on one' night where we got Nitrogenie ice cream and had fun adventures together - the next night Mark did the same with Eli. Another evening, we all wandered down for a casual dinner as a family at the cool little restaurant strip near by called Little Stanley Street. We also had a night time play on the playground!
When you just want a nice photo of your three kids but the boys want to sword fight with leaves #sigh

Me and my gang. We did Southbank, we did it well, and we loved every minute. Without doubt, we will be back!!! 

Southbank, we kinda just LOVE YOU! Thanks for treating us so fine xx

Part Two coming soon(ish!).... the Redcliffe area, family time, beaches galore!