Raising children is a dirty, exhausting, whirlwind of trial and error. Each child requires something different and it is up to the parent to discover what works for their family. As a mom of little girl –whom is currently ALL girl– I recognize the vast difference it takes raising boys. Since I am no expert on raising boys, I turned to a mom who I believe has a great handle on managing the needs of three strong willed boys. (I wasn’t sure if I should include the husband in that total or not!?)
Top tips on Raising Boys
- Embrace the chaos. Little boys are a whir of constant motion that puts the Energizer Bunny to shame. They bring with them a cloud of destructive energy in everything they do. Try to harness the energy into every creative outlet you can think of, and at the end of the day, embrace the growth that the boys had in making the mess before you.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff (and don’t buy nice things until they’re grown). Boys in their infinite energy destroy EVERYTHING. No matter how many times I tell my son that the couch is in fact not a cliff diving platform; I find him standing on the arm of the furniture for take-off, time and time again. Every item in the house has been used as a sword or gun so my superheroes can save me from bad guys (and no, guns are not allowed in our house… doesn’t matter to them). Every chair I own has streaks of peanut butter and ketchup from dirty fingers that didn’t think to use a napkin. I’ll have much more time than I’d like to clean all of these things in afew years, so for now I try to keep my cool and let them play out their fantasies.
- Start a savings account for your future grocery bill. All that energy requires more food than you can imagine to refuel. All little boys turn into bottomless pits at some point, so you might as well prepare asap. An equal saving to whatever you plan to put away for college is probably a good start.
- No matter how you dice it, little boy are dirty, smelly creatures by nature. So invest in a good stain stick and air freshener you love. You will use both daily. (Buncha Farmer’s is our favorite) You can’t fight nature, but you can try to save your clothes and your nose. On a similar note, you’ll thank yourself for making sure every possible fabric in your home is stain-resistant AND machine washable.
- Teach them to clean at a young age. I don’t love laundry and my boys produce A LOT of it. I put little stickers on the washing machine settings they should use to wash their clothes. No, I don’t make my 3 and 6 year-old do their laundry by themselves (yet), but they love pushing the buttons and I like a glimmer of hope that I’m raising self-sufficient children who will learn to take care of their own messes as they grow.
- Speaking of messes, teach them to wipe up potty messes early! My boys are easily distracted and have horrible aim – I’m talking pee on every surface of the potty, baseboards, and bathroom floor. Long story, but I’ve even had pee accidents in my pantry before (Did I mention life raising boys is always an adventure?!) If you don’t like the idea of chemicals in little hands, the norwex envirocloth is a great non-toxic tool to get this job done (*note- I am not a norwex consultant, just sharing what I’ve found that works for us).
- Buy clothes in bulk. Boys will wear pretty much anything you put in their dresser drawers, so you don’t need to worry about them being picky. We literally buy our shorts and jeans a dozen pairs at a time. Remember, I don’t like doing laundry!? Each boy can easily go through 2-4 pairs a day! A dozen pairs of each size means I don’t have to do laundry more often than once a week. As long as I’m diligent with my stain stick, (and buy high quality in bulk) most clothes get handed down from boy to boy.
- Teach them manners. I believe establishing manners early on will create life-long habits which will translate into my little guys growing up to be true gentlemen. When one of them has managed to find and destroy a treasured item they weren’t meant to have, I’m less likely to completely lose my cool on a little boy who just sweetly held the door for me or remembered to say please and thank you at the dinner table.
- Teach them to be a little tough. I didn’t embrace this one at first. I was determined to raise sweet, polite children who kept their hands to themselves and played with toys the way they were meant to be used. I laugh now reading that expectation. As my children get older, I realize that boys aren’t made to sit still or use toys according to directions on a box (I told you everything in my house is turned into a weapon). Roughhousing is a language to them, they truly use it to communicate their energy, strength, and power to each other. My rule is no whining to mom about bumps and bruises that occur as a result of rough play (only broken bones and cuts deep enough to require stitches or a blood transfusion are allowed to be brought to my attention). If they break anything that isn’t theirs in the process, they pay for it out of their allowance or do chores to make the money to pay us back. That being said, I also want my kids to know that mom and dad are a safe place to be vulnerable, and they don’t need to be tough all the time. Boys have strong emotions and they need a safe place to let it all out sometimes, too.
- Hug them A LOT. Boys won’t always tell you that they need physical affections, but they do! My boys probably each get hugged at least 30 times a day, and this will continue to happen until theyreach the age when they tell me it’s not cool for mommy to hug them. And then I will sadly and begrudgingly back off…. a little. Hugs are powerful tools to communicate affection, compassion, acceptance, and to bring a sense of security to the chaotic energy of their little worlds. They truly can’t be loved on too much.
- Embrace the loud, messy, smelly world that is raising boys. Kiss those sweet, sweaty, dirt-streaked cheeks every chance you get. When the chaos overwhelms you (and it will sometimes), treat yourself to a girls’ night, or a pedicure – whatever makes you happy. Recharge your batteries and then jump back into that chaos with both feet. All boys are mama’s boys for a while, but they grow too fast. The days are exhaustingly long, but the years are painfully short. I never pictured myself as a boy mom, but I’ve been blessed with three of the best boys I could ever dream up. I work hard to embrace every sweet, smelly, messy, adventurous, frustrating, crazy moment with my guys. I know they’ll be grown in the blink of an eye. My world with them in it is the best adventure of all, so I’m determined to sit back and enjoy the ride.
** The images below are of the youngest boy enjoying a smash cake for his first birthday photo session.