I tried a viral 5-second trick that promised to make me a happier, calmer parent
How is the summer holiday going so far, parents?
Yes, I know we all long for summer and school holidays all year, but after several years as a parent, I also know that eight weeks of spending so much time together as a family, with no school hours, no sports training, no work, it can all get a little intense at times, no?
I mean, we have all been there. Kids that are moaning about being bored, weather that doesn't play ball and mess up plans, toddlers who have literally started to climb the walls, screen time curfews that are being blatantly ignored – by kids and adults.
Is it any wonder we lose our patience and snap sometimes?
Hopped up on stress hormones and just general tiredness; sometimes, as a parent, it will get to you and you will lose your temper.
And then when it happens to me, I regret it – immediately. As I watch their little faces drop I feel that knot in my stomach, that shameful feeling that I am not always the mum I want to be.
But the good news is that there is a trick we can all try – and it actually works.
According to Kelly Holmes, mama-of-three and author of Happy You, Happy Family, all you need are five hair ties to calm yourself down if you're having a stressful day.
Hair ties will help
Yup, that's right. Hair ties – the ones you use in your hair. Except for this time, you are supposed to wear them on your wrist.
The idea here is that the hair ties will act as visual cues, stopping you in your tracks before you lose your temper.
Curious? Here is what you do:
1. Find five hair ties that will be comfortable to wear around your wrist.
2. 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. In other words, once you get used to seeing the cue in your environment, the cue is no longer effective.
3. This means you should take the hair ties if when you’ll be away from your kids for a while, like if you leave the house for work or an appointment or if the kids go down for a nap or leave for school. Then, when you’re with the kids again, put your hair ties back on.
4. If you catch yourself snapping at your children, 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…?
5. 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.
So does it work?
I actually started trying out this method a couple of weeks before school was out, and I'll tell you one thing – it sure worked for those manic morning moments.
And now, on our holidays, I am still sticking to it – and so far, I can totally see why this trick makes sense.
And the best bit? Is so beautifully simple to do.
The hair ties (I picked really brightly coloured ones for maximum visibility) with their gentle, constant pressure on my wrist, serve as a constant reminder to not lose my temper, but instead, take a deep breath and talk to them calmly, no matter how much I am mentally tearing my hair out.
I'm not saying it will work forever, or that I will never snap at my children again because I sure there will be situations where that might happen. But what I do know, is that this trick will no doubt make me a kinder mama – a more patient one, even when the mornings are manic. And that is more than enough for me.