When I imagined myself as a mother, I fantasized about holding the sweet little hand of a pink-clad girl as we walked excitedly into her first ballet class. I dreamed about passing on my favorite books – like the Babysitters Club series and everything Judy Bloom. I thought about braiding hair, and far in the future picking out wedding dresses. Yet here I stand (proudly) in camp #boymom! I have two boys of my own and one bonus son. Trains, balls, cars and dinosaurs galore. There is so much to raising boys that I just wasn’t prepared for – and yes a lot of it is penis-related! 🙂
3 years into parenting boys, I still have so much to learn. Which is why I am so thankful for friends like Amber, who have been doing this mom gig for much longer! I met Amber, an incredibly talented and funny writer, on twitter, and she is the ultimate boy mom expert! I asked her for her #1 tip for raising happy, healthy little dudes and this post is her answer! 🙂 Enjoy!
My #1 Tip for Raising Boys
I have now been mothering boys for a decade. My oldest is 10 and the other three are 7, 5, and 2. It has taken me this long to figure it out, but my best tip for raising boys is that resistance is futile. Trying to fight their boyishness will only leave you frustrated—because you can’t.
Two of my kids are as intense and feisty as I am, and we butt heads all. the. time. The other two are fun-loving and generally cheerful like their dad. We butt heads a lot less. Regardless of their core personalities though, they are all atomic energy balls. I fooled myself for way too long into thinking buying them cool new toys would calm them down and keep them out of my face. But they hardly ever play with their cool new toys. They open them, check them out, then throw them into the black hole that is the toy room and grab a ball instead. They are go, go, go.
They are always playing with soccer balls, basketballs—outside and inside. This is why we can’t have nice things. I finally wised up and for Christmas they got things like colorful soccer cleats that cost more than I’m usually willing to pay, climalite soccer socks, and goalie gloves. Those are things I was going to have to buy anyway, so I splurged for nicer versions and probably ended up saving money overall.
Boys need to run around and let their energy out. Sitting them in front of electronics for extended periods of time makes them ornery. I know because I’ve tried. . .several times. I get a lot more computer work done if I take my kids and my laptop to the park and sit under the pavilion while they play. It’s a win-win because they get to climb on the slide instead of the pantry shelves and since I don’t have the internet, I can focus on writing instead of what’s trending on Twitter.
Boys are harder to potty-train than girls are (so I’ve been told). I don’t even try until they turn three. I tried to potty-train my first when he was two at the
suggestion opinionated demands of others and all it did was make me crazy. He didn’t actually start caring until he did turn three so I never made that mistake again. With every child, I’ve been asked the same questions: “What about saving money on diapers?” “Aren’t you tired of changing stinky bums?” Always accompanied by, “I bet if you tried he could do it.” Yeah. . .no.
I’ve been paying for diapers for ten years; I obviously don’t have a problem with it. As far as changing stinky bums, I’m still wiping a 5 yr. old so whether I wipe a toddler on the floor or in the bathroom makes little difference. I’ve also never had a problem with accidents. Sure, here and there, but nothing major. Once my kids are potty-trained, they sleep in Pull-Ups for about two weeks to give me peace of mind but usually wake up dry. I feel like waiting is totally worth it.
Boys will not sit and entertain themselves like girls will. At least, mine don’t. My friend who has both boys and girls told me her daughter will keep herself productively busy for hours – coloring, playing house with her dolls, etc. If I provide my boys with an activity (we’ve made things like pipe cleaner ninjas and beaded candy canes), they’ll sit and do it if I sit with them. But if I haven’t heard them for a while, there’s a 100% chance they’re not calmly coloring or playing house. And there’s a 99% chance there’s a mess to clean up. I’m talking entire rolls of toilet paper in the toilet, full boxes of cereal dumped on the floor, and games and Lego sets scattered all over the toy room. When it’s too quiet, sometimes the writing literally ends up on the wall. As my boys have gotten older, they have started to occupy themselves a little more. Although it seems like that stage will last forever, I’m an eye-witness to the fact that it won’t. My ten year old has started writing his own sports books, and it’s adorable.
Trying to get my boys to do things for my benefit (aka peace and sanity) always comes with a price. Embracing their world and letting them have Nerf wars or helping them make blanket forts makes for much happier little dudes. If I give them a snack to eat inside their fort, they get all kinds of excited. That’s not to say I’ve mastered this and do it all the time. But if I let them get their energy out the way I’ve learned works best, they are a lot more likely to give me some down time later in the day.
I used to feel like I couldn’t be a good mom to a bunch of sports-loving maniacs because I don’t identify with that world. But I married one, so somewhere along the way it must have appealed to me. (Or was that just the fact that he worked in a restaurant while we were dating and brought me chocolate fountain left-overs?) Either way, I’m learning that if I facilitate opportunities for their active bodies and fuel them with meals, snacks, second dinners, and more snacks, I seem to pass the test. So I sign them up for soccer and basketball, drive them to practice, and show up to their games with Gatorade and granola bars. I take them to the park and read or write while they play, and hope it wears them out enough to watch Ninjago while I make dinner.
What do you think of Amber’s #1 tip? If you’re a boy mom, chime in with your best advice!
Amber Christensen is a mom to four boys, and has been married to her husband Nick for 12 years. She is chasing after a rambunctious two-year-old by day and soccer mommin’ it up by night. Amber is also the author of Memoirs of Mayhem: The Good, The Bad, and The Hilarious – a book about the ups and downs of motherhood and how even mundane tasks like laundry can be humorous. You can find her blogging at AmberChristensen.com or follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twi