Confessions of a shouty parent: I’ve invented the Shout Jar. It’s not really working

Are We There Yet?: Three things to do with your children this weekend

Shout jar: this is like a swear jar, except you have to put money in it if you shout at people. It was not my best idea, because at the rate I’m going I’ll be bankrupt by Monday. Photograph: Paul Bradbury/iStock/Getty

We have a new addition to our kitchen window sill – aka the nervous-breakdown window sill, because every time I look at it I worry that I am going to have a nervous breakdown at the sight of the assortment of hair elastics, bills, jewellery and shoelaces that have accumulated there.

And now, nestled ominously among the random shrapnel of life, is the Shout Jar. This is like a Swear Jar, except you have to put money in it if you shout at people. It was not my best idea, because at the rate I’m going I’ll be bankrupt by Monday.

I am a shouty parent. At times of peak stress – bedtimes, school mornings, when there's no wine in the house – I resort to raising my voice. I am also a lazy parent, so sometimes, instead of going into a room to give an instruction or ask a question (Have you fed the fish? Learned your fractions? Stop hitting your sister with your tin whistle!) I'll shout it from another room, lazily.

I've watched enough Supernanny – mostly before I had children, and always judgmentally – to know that this shouting business is not good for any of us. So I'm trying to stop; hence the shouting jar.


The children sometimes shout back, and of course that’s because they live with a shouty parent, so, as with everything parenting related, all this is my own fault and always will be, now and forever, world without end, amen.

As a colleague remarked recently, parenting is not a million miles from serfdom. (I say this as the person who does not do the lion’s share of the serfing in my house.) Increasingly, as well as resentment about the serf status, I find myself worrying that my children don’t appreciate everything they have. I find myself complaining that they take everything for granted.

After a birthweekend – there is no such thing as a birthday any more, you understand – of chocolate fountains, lunch at a posh hotel, climbing parties, personalised aprons, state-of-the-art blowtorches and four (four!) home-made cakes, one of which was vegan, if you wouldn't be minding – Sunday night's bedtime became another battleground. "When I was nine I had nothing – nothing – and I was grateful for all of it," I shouted, shoutily.

The funny thing is that the Shout Jar doesn't seem to stop me shouting. It may have even made me more shouty. The coins are piling up. My purse is getting emptier. The other day a headline caught my eye: "Boy (12) steals parents' credit card and flies to Bali after family argument." I won't bother hiding the credit cards. At this rate they can just raid the jar.

Some things to do with children this weekend

Carmel's Storytime
Every Friday at 11am Carmel Hester, of Kildare town library, gets out her fancy-dress costumes and tells stories to very small children. She mixes it up a bit by singing songs between the stories (which are suitable for anyone up to the age of five). She also has an extensive wig collection. "The children never know what colour hair I'll have," she says.
Where: Kildare town library, Co Kildare
When: Fridays, 11am
Cost: Free. Just turn up; no need to book. Parents and guardians should accompany children
Contact: 045-520235

Star Chasers
This modern theatrical adventure for ages four-plus is a beautiful way to deal with the difficult subject of grief. Star Chasers sees Billy and Dad heading north "with just a tent and a box full of Mam's memories". On the way they pitch their tent, conjure Mam's stories and quarrel as they seek journey's end and a new beginning. This tapestry of music, movement and magical imagery is a rich exploration of the relationship between a parent and child and their attempts to come to terms with the shared loss in their lives.
Where: Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin
When: Sunday, April 29th, 4pm
Cost: Tickets €6.50/€8.50 (school show €6; teachers go free)|
Contact: 01-2312929

Pets in the City
A free event in the centre of Dublin celebrating pets of all kinds, the day promises to be a "pawsome" (sorry) opportunity for animal lovers to enjoy a wide range of activities, stalls and live entertainment. Supported by the DSPCA and King of Paws.
Where: Smithfield Square, Dublin 7
When: Sunday, April 29th, 11.30am-4.30pm
Cost: Free