Inside: 7 Steps- Use the Parenting Books you already own to make you a better mom.
Last week I decided that all those parenting books on my bookshelves are only good for one thing: starting a bonfire.
A big one.
I was pulling my hair out.
My youngest two sons had been at each other’s throats all day.
- They fought about breakfast dishes.
- Almost went to war over why their stretchy gecko toy thingy shouldn’t be touched ‘under any circumstances’.
- And they dared go toe-to-toe with their loving, kind, and unraveling mom.
Related: These boys straddle my least favorite age. They are both within touching distance of the 12-year-old emotional boy.
I tried everything.
- I prayed over them.
- Listened to each side of the story.
- Sent them outside to play.
- I even threatened them with an early bedtime and bread and water for dinner.
But nothing worked.
And then I saw it.
Sitting in my “burn me later” pile of parenting books was my copy of Happy You, Happy Family by Kelly Holmes.
I decided to give Kelly a chance to help me. One chance.
Even though she lives thousands of mile away and is the mama of little girls, not teenage boys, I cracked her book.
I was desperate.
Parenting Advice from a Mom Who Spits Gold
You may have seen a snippet from this little book floating on the internet.
Kelly’s How to Stop Being an Angry Mother With 5 Hair Ties is right from her book and went viral a few weeks ago.
Her idea is everywhere in cyberspace, landed her a tv interview, and saved my boys from having to be chained together doing manual labor all summer.
The idea is simple. Too simple.
How to Stop Being an Angry Mother With 5 Hair Ties
If you’ve been snapping at your kid more than you feel comfortable with, follow these steps:
- Find 5 hair ties that will be comfortable to wear around your wrist.
- When your kids wake up in the morning, put the hair ties around one of your wrists. It’s important to wait until they wake up because visual cues won’t work very well if they blend into the background and you stop noticing them – kind of like wallpaper. In other words, once you get used to seeing the cue in your environment, the cue is no longer effective. To prevent that, you’ll:
~Put the hair ties on when your kids wake up.
~Take them off when you’ll be away from your kids, like if you leave the house for work or an appointment or if the kids go down for a nap or leave for school.
~When you’re with the kids again, put your hair ties back on.
- If you catch yourself snapping at your kiddo, move one hair tie to the other wrist. But your goal is actually to make it to the end of the day with all 5 hair ties on the original wrist. So what do you do if you slip up…?
- You can “earn back” one hair tie by doing 5 simple things to reconnect with your kid. Research shows that to have a healthy relationship, for every one negative interaction you need 5 positive interactions to balance that out. It’s called the Magic 5:1 Ratio, and here’s a list of a few ideas for how to get those 5 positive interactions on the books as fast as possible, from a hug to a dance party and everything in between.
That’s great Kelly, but I have sons.
Five of ‘em.
Plus, they are all out of the “look how cute he is sitting on the toilet” stage of parenting.
Could I tweak this to work for my boys?
Since nothing else was working, I decided to give it a try.
I gave the youngest three boys 5 rubber bands this morning. At first they though I had armed them for a “new kind of battle”.
Then I explained the rules.
- Ignoring the eye rolling, I explained that if they find themselves arguing, complaining, or fighting with one of their “brothers” they needed to move a rubber band to the other wrist.
- They could “earn lost rubber bands back” by doing something kind or helpful to that same brother.
- “He who has the most bands on their starting wrist at the end of the day wins!”
The oldest of the boys instantly revolted and traded his rubber bands for his handmade paracord bracelet. Since it’s his heart I am after, and not his wardrobe, I let him win. Mom’s of boys know that the key to winning the war is letting them win smaller battles. Trust me, it gives you an unfair advantage. Parenting perfection in motion.
I had to lay down “Boy Rules”
- Do not snap your rubber bands at your brother. Yes, this includes “threatening to snap”.
- No, you may not sneak up on an unsuspecting brother and snap his rubber bands.
- If your rubber bands are on the left wrist at the end of the day, you win!
- Mom of Boys Hack. The words, “You win” are incredibly powerful to a boy. You may also find, “On your mark, get set, go!” and “I can beat you” equally powerful parenting phrases to use on your sons. They work the same magic as “The kids are asleep” do for you.
I’m glad I listened to Kelly.
When I am looking for a solid solution to a particular parenting need or problem, I do not ask just anyone.
~I ask my husband, call my friend or desperately search for mothering magic from Google.
~Don’t make my mistake and ask an emotionally charged question to strangers on Facebook. I learned this one the hard way.
Asking a parenting question on Facebook is as effective as standing in front of an audience at you local movie theater during a Star Wars premier and asking if anyone saw the last Star Trek movie. Don’t do it. ~Bekki Sayler
~Reading parenting books isn’t on my list either-usually. I just like to buy pretty parenting books to line my bookshelves.
That way people believe I am a better parent than I really am, simply by looking at my shelves.
Kelly’s book is different for me. It actually helped.
She doesn’t know it, but she spits gold.
Over the last few days, the hair tie hack for boys has been in full swing.
I’d love to tell you it’s a magic trick, but I’d be lying.
But it has helped. Dramatically.
The boys get up, gather together, put on their rubber bands (or paracord bracelets) and begin their day.
Yesterday, I went outside to inspect progress on a weeding job the boys earned by arguing.
One of the boys was in the middle of trying to get his younger brother to do “his part” and the little bugger wasn’t listening to him at all.
He was too distracted by a broken toy he found in the weeds.
Just as I was about to step in, the frustrated brother silently moved a rubber band from one wrist to the other.
“It’s working!” I thought.
The best lesson from the hair-ties came when my youngest son shared why being “caught” with the hair ties on the wrong wrist is a bad thing.
“It means I refused to take the steps to heal my broken relationship with my brother.”
Wow. Bingo. SCORE!
A HUGE heart lesson from a little rubber band.
Sometimes parenting is easy.
~Kids wake up cheerfully and share their toys all day
~Brothers work side-by-side and are an effective team
~Moms bask in the glory of their amazing parenting skills
And then we wake up.
My life can be quite messy. How about yours?
I’ve decided to wear my favorite bracelet to help me with my own “messy attitude”.
While no book, no friend, no hack will magically turn your kids into angels and you into an award-winning mom, at least this one gives you a tool you can use to train your kids.
Do you have a bookshelf lined with parenting books?
While it’s true that owning a parenting book will not make you a better mom, reading one and tweaking the advice just might.
7 Steps to Using the Parenting Books You Already Own
- Realize the book is worth nothing unless you find a golden nugget that you learn, tweak and apply in your life.
- Observe your kids. What is your son struggling with, what is your daughter failing at? Pride, anger, selfishness, rudeness?
- Start small. Open to the table of contents and browse the titles of the chapters. Do any jump off the page? Start there.
- Search your books. Grab some post-its and mark the pages that carry possible strategies to help you coach your kids.
- Marinate. Remember to let the ideas swim in your head for a few days. How can you customize that piece of advice to suit your family?
- Go for it. You’re ready. Apply the lesson to yourself, your kids, or your whole family.
- Tweak where necessary. Don’t fight over the fact that your 15-year-old would rather wear a paracord bracelet than a rubber band. Be flexible.
I would encourage you to look through them this week and find one parenting hack that you can tweak to better fit your family. Remember, there is no “one-size-fits-all parenting style. However, with a bit of effort, you can really add creativity to your parenting life.
While you are looking for something to help you with your kids, try the hair tie trick.
Come on, give it a whirl.
Decide who needs it the most, you or your kids.
And simply add hair ties, rubber bands, or paracord bracelets.
If it turns out that it doesn’t work for you, at least you can use the hair ties to save you from ripping your hair out when you are having “one of those days.
Want more on parenting?
- Parenting Tip of the Day: 3 Strikes Rule
- If you’re hoping your kids will live with you forever, don’t read this.
- Sucking the JOY out of childhood should be illegal
- Happy, You Happy Family: Find Your Personal Recipe for Happiness in the Chaos of Parenting Life
- 60+ Random Acts of Kindness That Will Get Kids Excited to Give Back