My wife leaves pretty early in the morning and she showed me how to do my daughter's hair so it stays out of her face, but my fingers are longer and thicker than my wifes so I'm having a harder time with the ties than I thought I would. What have other Dad's done to solve this problem?
The topsy tail tool can be used to help make a plain ponytail if you find your fingers are too cumbersome to manage the hair tie. However, even with thick or long fingers you'll find that using hair ties simply takes time and practice. At first it'll be difficult, time consuming, and the results won't be great, but like tying shoes, after doing it hundreds of times you'll find you can use one without even thinking about it.
But there's no shame in using tools to get those seemingly tiny bands onto someone's hair.
You can also ask your wife for other methods. She may be using the bands because she thinks it'll be easy for you, but there are a number of creative ways to use clips, hairpins, and barrettes to accomplish the same goal. Who knows, with some creative practice you may find your daughter preferring your hairstyling to the simple ponytail.
If her hair is long enough, you could try French plaits - these give the hair a lot of friction, so when you put the hair band on the end it stays together quite well, usually for a couple of days before you need to remove it.
If you do just want to stick with a pony tail or bunches, my technique is to give the hair a bit of a twist to hold it together and then for fine hair (like my youngest daughter has) use two hair bands.
While I rarely have time for doing elaborate styles, I've never found pony tails especially difficult. This is perhaps because I have two younger sisters, and perhaps also because I myself wore a pony tail for a number of years.
I spend a few minutes brushing her hair first. (Somehow it's always a complete bird's nest in the morning — yet when my hair was long, it rarely needed brushing.)
Then I grab it into an approximate pony tail with my left hand. This is a "low" pony tail, heading downwards at about 30° from the vertical. I then use the hair brush in my right hand to brush her hair from front to back, to get all the remaining strands into the pony tail, and make it look a little tighter and neater.
I then put down the brush and use my right hand to wrap a non-decorative elasticated hair tie around the pony tail. How many times it will need to be wrapped depends on how much hair there is, and the size and elasticity of the tie. Three of four times usually seems about right.
This can then be supplemented with a more decorative tie or ribbon if desired.
Then I get her to face me, and I secure the front with clips, usually around four of them. This is because the front strands, being furthest from the hair tie, are most likely to become loose, and if they do become loose, are most likely to get in her face.
Because I am often asked to show her what her hair looks like, and because arranging the mirrors just so is a chore, I have an unusually large number of photos of the back of my daughter's head on my phone. So I shall share one with you. It's not as neat as I would have liked, but perfectly functional. It may look off centre, but that's just her head being crooked.
I can also do plaits and buns, and am available for hire. ;-)
How about two pigtails or two plaits. I'm sure theres a YouTube video out there that shows you how. Divide and conquer? Also if you can tie her hair in a lose ponytail theres a style called the French Twist which is really simple to do and looks very pretty. Not to mention it doesn't come loose easily. And you'll score major points for being the only dad who knows how to.
Solution 1: Solve the problem a completely different way
Perhaps another hairstyle might effectively keep the hair out of her eyes without the hairband headaches. I would suggest a headband would be an easier way to keep the hair out of her eyes. Headbands can either be a flexible hard band that just goes over the top of their head, which is very easy to put on her, or a continuous elastic band that goes all the way around the head. While both styles are effective, a wide elastic headband keeps hair out of the eyes slightly better.
Solution 2: Practice & Technique
Or you could practice with the hairbands more and it may become easier over time.
Pick the right elastic Hair elastics come in several sizes. Here is a picture of a few of the most common sizes available: Often, elastics sold for kids are similar in size to the smaller black one in this picture, and while they look nice in thin/fine hair like children often have, they are more difficult to work with than a larger elastic with a thicker cord (eg: the one on the right in the picture). The thicker elastic has a wider rubber band in it, meaning it will compress more on it's own and require less twists than a similar band of thinner cord and be easier for larger fingers to handle. If you don't have the larger broader hair-elastics, you may wish to get a small package of them to see if they are easier for your large fingers to handle.
As far as putting the elastic band on the hair, put it over the thumb and index fingers of your non-dominant hand and push it all the way down toward your palm. Use your dominant hand to brush, and then make a fist with your non-dominant hand around the hair. At this point, you should be able to use your dominant hand to pull one side of the elastic over the hair. I would suggest using the pointer and middle fingers for this, with the palm of your hand facing down, and your fingers curled around the elastic at the top knuckle. Then you can rotate your dominant arm so your palm faces up, causing the hairband to twist into a figure eight. Then take the thumb on the same hand and add it to the other fingers inside the hairband, and use the remaining fingers to make a fist around the hair and repeat in the opposite direction until the hairband is sufficiently tight.