By now you’ve probably seen the viral posts about the “hair-tie trick”—a parenting hack from Kelly Holmes (aka The (Reformed) Idealist Mom): The one where you put five hair elastics around one of your Bad Mommy wrists. And then anytime you lose it on your kid, or are in general not as loving and patient as a daddy penguin sitting for two months on that goddamned egg or just generally acting in a way that helps you connect with your offspring even when they’re spewing ectoplasm and their heads are rotating independently of their necks, you move a band to the other wrist. Then you need to “earn” each of those bands back by not being such a bitch doing five positive things—like playing with your kid, leaving them a surprise note or starting sentences with phrases like: “I appreciate when you…” Eventually, not being a Mean Mommy becomes a habit (or, like, less of a habit, anyways).
Parents are waxing rhapsodic about how this method is actually working for them. But there are so many more effective ways you can remind yourself to be a better parent and just how terrible of a parent you currently are. Here are some of my faves:
1. Whip yourself with a cat-o-nine tails every time you yell the words: “Shoes. Shoes. PUT ON YOUR SHOES.” Collect your blood and tears in a sippy cup. If you have less in there on Day Two than Day One, you are becoming a Better Mommy Every Day.
2. Take a sharpie. (I recommend purple for that “pop” of colour smiley face emoji.) Write “Mommy, don’t you love me?” on your child’s forehead. Make sure it NEVER WASHES OFF.
3. Teach your toddler to say “Where’s Daddy?” on repeat. Make a song together about it!
4. Call your mother to ask her a question about cooking chicken, at which point she will then suggest that any of your kid’s problems are obviously because you didn’t put him in French immersion and she doesn’t know why you wouldn’t have taken advantage of that opportunity and clearly he’s bored in school and can’t you move him even though you’ve already told her FIFTEEN MILLION TIMES that no, you’re not allowed to move him. Wait, what?
5. Do 30 full prostrations in front of the daycare doors and beg them for their witchcraft tricks. (Note, also great cardio!)
6. Curl up in a fetal position in the corner of your laundry hovel while rocking back and forth and muttering: “I will watch Paw Patrol again. I will watch Paw Patrol again…” until your preschooler finds you because the battery on the iPad is toast.
7. Put a picture of your kid when he was 3 months old and basically a malleable lump of gurgling smiley challah up on the fridge. Gaze longingly at it whenever you get into a fridge-door wrestling match with your now-six-year old over why he cannot, in fact, have ginger ale for dinner.
8. Don’t drink any wine for 40 days or 40 nights. Actually, don’t drink anything except the dribbles of warm, congealed discarded milk in the bottom of cups your child leaves around the living room.
9. Read blogs about how parents are trying to become better, like, parents.