The downside of popular parenting hacks
Once upon a time, parents put whiskey on their kids' gums when they were teething, left them in wooden baby jails on the back lawn and attached them to leads when taking them for a walk.
Parents were free to get on with the job of raising kids without pesky restraints like car seats, sunscreen, bike helmets and judgy suggestions from strangers
Now it's 2019 and everyone wants to tell everyone else how they should raise their kids.
These days everyone's busy sharing their parenting hacks, nifty short cuts dreamt up by parents to save time and money and trick kids into being good.
Some of them are pretty cool.
"Don't suffer with bad behaviour in the lead-up to Christmas, parents … Just wrap up a load of empty boxes and throw one in the fire every time one of the kids acts up," offers one mummy hacker, who I've just decided is my new best friend.
"When punishing your kids, don't take away their electronics, take away their chargers and watch the fear in their eyes as they use it less and less as the battery slowly dies," offers another.
Right on, sisters.
One US study found the average parent uses seven parenting hacks every day and spends five hours a week trying to get their kids to do things.
Five hours more to binge-watch Married At First Sight - that's reason enough to adopt a few parenting hacks, I'd say.
There are some I really love. Why didn't I think of carrying around an Out of Order sign to pop on to shopping centre ride-on toys when my kids were toddlers? Brilliant!
Why haven't I thought to hide my jewellery in a disposable nappy that looks as if it's been used? Genius!
Why don't I serve up dinner every night out of plastic containers from an Uber Eats bag so my kids think it's takeaway? Too easy!
I also like the idea of making kids earn the wi-fi password by texting me a photo of their clean bedrooms or the spotless kitchen.
Of course, celebrities can't resist offering up endless parenting hacks on social media.
Actor Jessica Biel tells us she eats when she's in the shower now that she's a mother.
Kim Kardashian put a milk box with a straw in her bra for her toddler when she was breastfeeding her new baby.
Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar even suggests taking a quarter out of her daughter's piggy bank when she asks for a cup of milk but doesn't drink it.
Clearly, some parenting hacks are better than others.
One popular mummy blogger suggests parents should mix yoghurt with food colouring to make edible paint for toddlers. Sounds good, but won't your kid's pictures end up smelly and mouldy?
She also suggests putting a bean-filled glove on your kids' back when you're too tired to keep patting them.
Sounds good until your kid wakes up to find your hand has come off and screams the house down.
Many hacks make no sense at all. You can put your kids to work by pretending chores are fun games, or you could just get them to do their damn chores when you tell them to.
You can put giant pieces of cardboard on your stairs to make a fun slide. Or you could just take them to the park to play on properly designed equipment that won't result in a nine-hour visit to the children's hospital.
As much as I love short cuts, I worry that we'll end up with a generation of clueless kids who think apples cut into sticks are French fries and that the ice cream truck's run out of ice cream when they play the song.
That's because some parenting hacks are downright stupid.
No, you should not put socks on the toilet seat to keep it warm.
No, you should not tell your twins apart by shaving the numbers 1 and 2 into their heads.
No, you should not use your dreadlocks to tie your kid to your head at a heavy metal concert.
No, you shouldn't attach your baby's rocker to a kitchen mixer so you don't have to rock it.
These are real things people have done and proudly posted online.
The latter prompted a fun online exchange from people who had lost limbs in accidents involving rotating machinery describing why cribs and KitchenAids don't mix.
When it comes to kids, don't get mad, get even.
And change the wi-fi password when there's housework to be done.
- Susie O'Brien is a Herald Sun columnist