My #1 Tip for Raising Happy Healthy Little Boys

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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

#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 on raising happy healthy boys

Amber’s Bio

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 InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

(Stay at home yogi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com)

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48 Comments

  1. I’m sure this post wasn’t meant to do this, but I teared up. Right now, we have 2 boys (3yo & 10mo) and this week has been HARD! Monkey Boy and I have done nothing but battle one another mostly because eh’s a boy and his energy need is so.damn.high! But, the messes, uggh and the noise, and the inability to do anything on his own is so very taxing and in my heart I thought it was because he’s a boy, so to hear someone else’s struggle with that really helped! 🙂
    Kendall recently posted…How to Indulge While Caring for Home and FamilyMy Profile

    • Awww, Kendall! <3 <3 <3 My boys are 3 and 1.5 so I totally understand what you are going through right now! Big hugs to you sweetheart and reach out to me anytime! 🙂 We're in this together!

    • Kendall the more boy moms I talk to the more it solidifies my belief that most of them are non-stop energy balls. Even when my little guys are watching a movie, they’re playing lava while it’s on or rolling around on the floor or moving from seat to seat. Of course there are exceptions, but you are not alone! And oh sweet mercy, the noise! I’ve done a kid swap with another mom before where just once a week, we’d watch each other’s kids for two hours so we could have a tiny bit of alone time. If that’s something you could make happen, or hire a sitter for just a few hours a week, it’s so helpful. Even if you watch Netflix during your alone time, spend it enjoying the best sound on earth – silence!
      Amber Christensen recently posted…To Work or Not to Work (Part 3): Working From Home and Series ConclusionsMy Profile

  2. Resistance is futile. That pretty much sums it up. LOL Love my boy but he is definitely different from my daughter.
    Ashley @irishred02 recently posted…Geocaching For Beginners!My Profile

  3. We have 3 girls and 1 son so we have learned to figure out what they are interested in and help encourage their interests. Our son LOVES to draw and animate. So we make sure we get him in programs that will help encourage that.
    He’s not really into athletics so we need to find ways to get him motivated to move. LOL!!
    Heather Lawrence recently posted…9 Warm & Cozy Fall FontsMy Profile

  4. It’s interesting, isn’t it? I have a boy and a girl and oddly, the boy is MUCH more likely to sit and entertain himself. Actually he will for hours!! My daughter used to be more like that but she’s seven now and will say, “I’m bored!” And she’s the more physical one too.
    So fascinating, right?
    Tamara recently posted…How I Honeymooned Your Father, Part III: Matanuska GlacierMy Profile

  5. Having raised a 15 year old and girl and an 11 year old boy, I can say with full certainty that your comments about raising boys are spot on. Sounds like you’re doing an amazing job as a mother!

  6. Well, I agree that my boys were totally different than my girls. They wanted to jump off things and were little daredevils. Thankfully, they enjoyed playing sports, so we started them pretty young and that helped a lot with releasing all the extra energy.

  7. Ha ha! I have a son and a daughter, and I can tell you that, when they were little, you could plant my son in front of any kind of screen and he would be mesmerized for hours. My daughter would be grabbing her sneakers and pointing to the door, saying, “Go!”
    Lois Alter Mark recently posted…life reimagined: i’m now organized!My Profile

  8. This advice is spot on! My little boy will be 12 this year and I can’t agree more with everything you’ve said! Boys will be boys and that’s about it. This is great advice for all moms of little boys! 🙂

  9. Oh gosh being a boy mom is so much crazier than I expected. He is all over the place and on his own terms and his own schedule no matter what. So I’m totally with you on resistance is futile. I don’t even want to think about potty training anytime soon. Yes he’s almost 2. No I don’t care.

  10. Four kids! That is incredibly impressive :). Great tip and I completely agree with it. I have a son and a daughter. Your friend is right, little girls can definitely sit and entertain themselves with coloring, Barbies,… It’s quite helpful :).
    Candace Playforth recently posted…How to Stop Turning to Food for Stress ReliefMy Profile

  11. Yes!!! My 4yo son has so much energy, and if he sits still too long it explodes out of him and chaos reigns. If he watches tv, plays on an ipad or anything for too long, I know I’m gonna pay for it later. The only thing that will keep him still without the energy explosion later is legos. So we are all about lego everything right now! 🙂
    Samantha @ Momma Wants Java recently posted…5 Life Lessons I Learned in My First Year of BloggingMy Profile

  12. Yep! 3 boys here (12, 10 & 8); It’s loud, messy, and crazy but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
    Mother of 3 recently posted…Anxiety and Sick KidsMy Profile

  13. Love the Star Trek Borg reference “resistance is futile”. I have 3 boys and a baby on the way. We don’t know the sex of the baby yet as we always wait for the surprise. They are high energy and their are lots of messes, but as they get older, they will entertain themselves better. Although we still have lots of fights over legos or other toys. Our oldest who is 9 is really into reading and spends hours and hours every week quietly reading. I hope our younger boys enjoy reading as much as he does someday. Our middle son is non-stop movement. Even when my husband reads aloud to them each day, he is rolling on the floor or climbing on the furniture. He does sit still to create at the art table though and does this a lot when being read too. They are so different and yet so much alike. Luckily we have a huge yard and they spend lots of time outside collecting bugs, riding bikes, and climbing trees. All part of growing up as boys to become men someday. My brother-in-law gave me his copy of “Wild at Heart” since I have so many boys. I still need to read it, but I think the premise is that boys need adventure to develop into the men they will become. We have also found that daily having the boys help with chores gives them some responsibility and helps our family function.

    • Ooh, that books sounds like something I need to read too! Adding it to my amazon wishlist now. My boys sound a lot like your older two Faith! My oldest loves sitting still for books, while my youngest is too busy climbing, jumping, or rolling on the floor to listen! 😉

  14. My daughter was in undies by 2. My son…… yeah no. He has the WORST rash so I have had to let him walk around in undies and he goes on the potty at least 2X a day…… but he also has at least 4 accidents in the house and usually poops on my floor too. Boys are so different from girls!

    I think you are right, I will need to tire him out! He climbs like no ones business, at 21 months I know it will be a matter of time until he is injured in the ER.

    Thank you for sharing at #bloggerspotlight! Don’t forget to come link up tomorrow night and see how was featured!

  15. Love this article!

    I NEED to try getting out of the house with the kids to write. Doing so at home with them is completely futile, and you’re right in that social media is a complete time suck.

    It’s funny, the attention thing is the opposite for me. My daughter is an attention hog while my son, while busy and stubborn will happily play on his own for long periods of time. I’m sure a lot of it depends on personality, and the fact that he was the second child!

    I completely agree though, resistance is futile!
    Tori @ The Mama Nurse recently posted…Switching Your Baby From Breast to Bottle Feeding in Two Weeks or LessMy Profile

    • That’s so interesting Tori, because my first born definitely requires more attention than my second! 🙂 I want to try getting out of the house to write too, that is such a killer tip for us blogging mamas 🙂

  16. Aw, I loved this – especially the dangers of playtime being too quiet… 😀 I only have a daughter so boys are still mostly a mystery to me!

    Thanks so much for sharing over at #FridayFrivolity.
    Jess Powell (Babi a Fi) recently posted…Murder on My DoorstepMy Profile

  17. Hey Amber! I’m a boy mom too. As my son gets older, he wants to run and hang with Daddy. Which means I get more time to myself. Don’t worry, your day will come…lol! Thanks for linking up at Funtastic Friday.

  18. A friend of mine has 3 boys and all I can think of every time we get together is, “Oh, My!” I didn’t feel super-strongly about whether our child was a boy or girl, but now that I’ve been a mom a few years, I know it’s a good thing I got a girl! Thanks for joining us at #FridayFrivolity this week!
    Lisa/Syncopated Mama recently posted…Pumpkin Fun: Book Crafts & ActivitiesMy Profile

    • “Oh my!” and “oh dear!” are phrases Grandma (my mom) is always saying at our house, lol 🙂 She only had girls and now she has all grandsons 🙂

  19. YES! My first child is a boy, he is older now, but all of this applies! I didn’t get it for the longest time, but if I did not give him time to get his energy out then there were issues. Writing on the walls, messes, he would get up in the middle of the night and pull food out of the frig. ARG! Or climb. He ended up on the top of the frig one night, I woke to his screaming. He never meant to be bad, he just had too much energy. Once I figured that out things went much smoother. LOL
    Nikki Frank-Hamilton recently posted…Stunning Shots – HydrangeaMy Profile

    • I have to remind myself every day to give these boys opportunities to get that energy out! And when I don’t – boy do I pay for it!!!! LOL 😉

  20. I had to come back and add that it was 3 before he was potty trained too. I bent to the pressure and started to try with him at 2.5 or so, and it was horrible. I wish I would have listened more to him and his cues. It would have been less painful for all of us!
    Nikki Frank-Hamilton recently posted…Stunning Shots – HydrangeaMy Profile

  21. One word: obstacle courses. Get a timer, explain a course (ideally one that goes up and down the stairs and involves a trampoline) and then have them try to beat their time. They will do this for a really long time.

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