A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

Confession time: I'm a yeller, a trait that seems to be virtually imprinted in my DNA. My mom was a yeller, her dad was a yeller. It's just how we react. Don't get me wrong—I'm not a monster. It's just that when I'm provoked, or really stressed, or my daughter has fought me for the last 20 minutes about doing her homework, finally, I yell.


It's not something I want to pass on to my daughters. And I know it isn't good for them in the short-term, either—as registered play therapist Clair Mellenthin, LCSW, RPT-S confirms. "Yelling affects children in several ways by creating high levels of stress, shame and fear," she tells Motherly. "This in turn can significantly negatively impact a child's self-esteem, particularly if the yelling also includes insults and shaming statements."

In other words: Whatever you're yelling at your child becomes their inner voice. Ouch.

I know there isn't a great excuse for it, but I'm sure that my stress doesn't help the cause. With everything on my plate as someone who works from home 40 hours a week, runs a business on the side, takes care of two kids and an aging mother, I can see where this stress comes from. But I still don't think it's okay to take it out on my family.

So how do I undo generations' worth of bad habits and the stress that amplifies them? The answer is: slowly, painfully and imperfectly. I created a process as imperfect as my behavior, but it seems to be gradually working. Mellenthin reassures me that even though progress may not be as quick or linear as I would like, it's worthwhile.

"We have to be willing to change the things within us that we want changed in our children, because most of the time, we are their model of how to respond to the world around them."

Here's what I've learned:

1. Observe yourself

To solve a problem, first you have to know there's a problem. I became the observer in my life, watching my children's faces when I yelled, paying attention to how they react to each other. (I am their example.) I paid attention to my anxiety and my workload and my stress. I listened to the tone of voice I used to talk to them.

It wasn't easy. It made me sad. But it gave me a reason to change.

2. Treat the source

I discovered that a leading source of my yelling was anxiety. Studies show a huge link between anxiety and anger and it was definitely true in my case. So, what reduces my anxiety? For me, it was exercise, a healthy diet, good sleep (the link between stress and sleep is also huge) and prayer or meditation. For some, medication is necessary. Until my anxiety was under control, I had little hope for my yelling to get better.

"Many parents feel hopeless, helpless, scared and discouraged when they are unable to stop or 'parent away' unwanted behaviors or emotional difficulties. When we feel these vulnerable emotions, the easiest way to respond is in anger," Mellenthin says. And an untreated anxiety disorder is a recipe for disaster if you want to parent in a calm, peaceful way.

3. Hold yourself accountable

I decided I would keep track of my yelling. I would make a tally mark on the calendar each time I yelled in a day. Awareness was necessary. I began each day with a meditation: "Please let me be kind, wise and gentle today."

I focused on the moments like unnecessary accidents (such as breaking something they weren't careful with), fighting among the sisters and rude behavior—and then I watched my reaction and made an effort to breathe. Sometimes I just had to walk away. I didn't want to shame myself for slipping, but I wanted to be aware of my behavior, which Mellenthin recommends.

"We have to catch ourselves being good just as much as we need to do this for our children," she says. "When we can raise our insight and awareness into how we feel, we can make changes in how we react."

4. Celebrate your accomplishments

"It is so important to reward ourselves as parents—and one of the ways we can do this is by engaging in self-care as well as verbally telling yourself 'I am proud of me today,'" says Mellenthin.

There was an intrinsic reward to yelling less, of course. I saw my children relax more, I saw them enjoy their time with me more. I saw their faces light up when I responded with kindness and patience when they fought. (Side note: Whispering to your kids when they are in a yelling match is very effective.)

I told them that if I didn't yell for a solid week that I would take the whole family out to dinner. Now, I need to be honest here, six days has so far been my personal record. But six days without raising my voice once is huge. And a great start.

I've only been at this for six months, but so far, I'm a happier parent and my kids are happier around me.

So, whatever stage you are at in this process, be gentle and be hopeful. Being a wiser, kinder, more peaceful parent is within your grasp. And with that, everyone wins.

You might also like:

Comments20x20 ExportCreated with Sketch.
Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like the heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends, which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent.

Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, it's more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby—in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it all through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

The fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so that there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

You might also like:

In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

You might also like:

For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

You might also like:

There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

You might also like:

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.