As you may be aware, kids can be expensive. But, I’m a firm believer that kids are as expensive as you make them (with the exception of daycare, ugh. If both parents work, this really is expensive; it doesn’t go on clearance). So I am always on the lookout for ways to cut costs, especially recurring costs like groceries, clothes, and — you guessed it — haircuts.
I have three daughters, and they all have the same straight-as-a-stick, flat-as-a-pancake hair that I do (sorry, kids!). When my oldest daughter was around two, her mullet was out of control, so I took her to a run-of-the-mill chain hair salon and said a hopeful prayer that the person next in line to cut hair was decent.
I mean, it wasn’t awful, and I don’t have ridiculous pictures that would garner hundreds of laughs/likes on social media, but it wasn’t very good. Turns out that stick-straight hair has to be cut, well, straight. The haircut set me back about twenty bucks and a (stressful) hour of my life was gone, so I waited a long time to do it again. Months later, I took her again (to a different salon) and had the same experience. Not-very-good haircut, stressed mama. I figured that if my daughter was going to get a bad haircut, she might as well get a bad haircut for free, from me, in the comfort of our home.
Lots of friends and family comment on my kids’ hair and when I mention that I cut it at home, I get a lot of incredulous looks. Many a friend has told me that they could never cut their children’s hair. Before I started doing this, in my mind, the kind of moms who cut hair were the super domestic types who grow their own organic vegetables, plan pinterest-worthy dinner parties, and make homemade toothpaste. But I can assure you that I am not exactly Suzy Homemaker (but if you are, props to you, Mama!). I am a less-than-mediocre seamstress (I forget how to thread the bobbin every time, and I just had to Google “bobbin” to make sure that is a real word), I forget to water the few plants I do try to grow, and my toothpaste comes straight to my door via Amazon Prime.
Yet even I can cut my kids’ hair at home. It saves money, yes. And with three kids, I estimate we save about three hundred dollars a year because I cut their hair at home. But even more importantly, it saves time; and time is money, as the saying goes. Plus, the thought of taking three kids to a hair salon and entertaining two while simultaneously explaining to a stranger who is annoyed to have deal with children that we want two inches off, no bangs(!) makes me want to poke out my eyeballs. Oh, and I have to also manage to not cry in public over those sweet, last baby curls falling to the ground and being swept into a pile?! Not happening.
So, I’m here to tell you that you too can cut your kids’ hair, especially if your standards are low like mine! I am not going to give a tutorial because there are lots of great video ones on YouTube that are far better than anything I could write up. Pick your favorite if you like a good how-to. In my four years of home hair cutting, I’ve learned a lot, almost all by trial and error. Here are the tips I wish I would have had when I started this venture.
1. You really do need the right supplies.
You should not — no, you cannot — scrimp on the supplies. Do not cut your kids’ hair with kitchen shears or kid scissors from their art box. It will look like your kids cut each other’s hair (this is not good, FYI). You need real hair-cutting scissors. Apparently, in the business they call these shears. Good news is these cost less than one haircut at a budget salon, so it’s a small investment. I bought a pair for ten bucks at CVS, but they are available at Wal-mart, Target, and Amazon, among other places. You also need a simple fine tooth comb and a spray bottle for getting kids’ hair wet (hello, dollar store).
2. You need perseverance.
The first cut is the hardest! And yes, it could turn out poorly. But, the worst that can happen is that you have to take them to get their hair “fixed”. But then you’ll have a fabulous story to tell for the rest of their life (bonus if you get a funny picture!), so it’s a win-win.
My first couple of cuts weren’t very good, but I kept trying. I have found that, like with most things, practice results in improvement. I have also learned tricks to keep kids still(er). Oh, and I always go back the next day and trim up any missed hairs (I always miss a few), so willingness to let go of perfection is a must too.
3. Give them rewards, not bribes.
I find that moms, myself included, tend to joke about bribing our kids. And while I’ve certainly been guilty of bribing them to survive a grocery shopping adventure or a long car trip, I do try to use rewards rather than bribes.
A bribe is used to prevent bad or unwanted behavior (i.e. Here you go, fussy, wiggling kid . . . have a sucker while I cut your hair and don’t fuss or move, or else!) Meanwhile, a reward encourages and/or praises desired behavior (i.e. Here kid, you sat so nicely during that haircut, you have earned a sucker).
The “prize” is the same, but the lesson a child learns is quite different. With the bribe, the child learns how to get what he/she wants by misbehaving while with the reward, the child learns how to get what he/she wants by obeying. My go-to reward with a haircut is a juice box, but any favorite treat or toy will do. I often let my girls watch a favorite show during the haircuts (helps with keeping their eyes fixed in one direction!) and then give them a juice box if they are able to sit (relatively) still and be (relatively) pleasant. A simple reminder that if you sit still during your haircut you may have a juice box does the trick pretty well.
4. Keep it brief.
Keep the haircuts short, Mom! I don’t mean the length of the hair, but the length of time the cut takes. Ten minutes is the absolute max in my experience, especially for little ones. Give kids a bath, comb out wet hair, cut, praise them, give reward. That’s it. Check the next morning, trim up any stray hairs (this should take 10 seconds!) and count the savings — in your bank account and in your sanity.
Ready to give it a try? We’d love to hear about your home haircut experiences!