Raising boys means stinky feet, telling them to get their hands out of their pants over and over, and holes in the knees. Here are a few survival tips.
Humor Parenting

Five Tips for Raising Boys I Wish I Knew Sooner

Dear Moms of Little Boys,

My sons are now 10 and 13. Along the way, I’ve picked up a few tips I wish someone would have told me sooner. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but you might just find a nugget in here that saves you a headache in the future.

1. Come up with a secret signal.

This became essential when my boys were around 2 to 4 years old and always had their hands down their pants. Trust me, giving a secret signal is way better than saying, over and over, in gradually louder tones until finally, you’re screaming at the public pool, “JOHNNY, GET YOUR HAND OUTTA THERE!”

For us the secret signal was me putting a finger to my nose as a not-so-subtle reminder. True, I spent about 13 months in that position, sometimes even announcing, “I have my FINGER ON MY NOSE.” But, alas, it did work — at least temporarily — to get the guys to put their hands in more socially acceptable places, like their nostrils.

2. Invest in iron-on patches.

When my boys were in about preschool through fourth grade, it seems like they were drawn to sitting on their knees, especially whenever they came across concrete and gravel surfaces. We were going through pants like crazy until I invested in some iron-on patches.

Whatever you do, don’t throw away those holey pants, because before you know it you’ll have more holey than unholey ones!

As an alternative to patches, sometimes I just sew the holes shut. And sometimes, my boys just go around with bigger and bigger holes on their knees until I finally cut the ragged bottoms into shorts.

3. Learn how to wash shoes.

I never really needed to know how to wash shoes until I had two boys who revel in mud puddles and all things slimy and gross. If their current shoes actually still fit their monstrous feet, it’s a crying shame to throw them out just because of their crusted-on filth.

If you’re not already an expert, I recommend watching a YouTube video on how to clean shoes, then get yourself an old toothbrush and some crunched up newspapers (for drying) and go to town.

4. Repeat: Your feet aren’t brakes.

Speaking of shoes, before I had boys, I never knew sneakers could be worn out in a single week. But then my kid got a scooter, and his new shoes doubled as his scooter breaks. Skateboarding isn’t much better.

So I started the mantra, “Your feet aren’t brakes!”

We talked about and then practiced other ways to stop on a scooter or skateboard, like jumping off or riding into the grass. Some scooter models even have hand breaks.

5. Accept that you’re not going to “get” them sometimes.

My 13-year-old son just packed an entire Xbox gaming system in his bag for a sleepover. When I gave him the WTH look, he replied, “I’m a boy. Sometimes I’m gonna do things that don’t make sense to you.”

And he’s right, actually. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shaken my head as my boys wrestled to the ground or splashed each other in the face or slid down banisters or purposefully belly-flopped into a pool or insisted a hoodie qualified as a winter coat.

And even though I might not always “get” them, I can still parent them.

In fact, with these tips, some patience and a sense of humor, you can still set boundaries, enforce rules, teach manners and have a hella good time being their mama.


Big Mama

(That’s my walkie-talkie handle, at least according to my boys.)

P.S. I’d imagine some of these could apply to raising girls, too. I just don’t have any girls, and this is based on my own experience.


About the Author

Jacqueline Miller is the lone female in a house full of guys. She travels freakishly light and can balance two kids on her Dutch bicycle. Her recent articles appear in Scary Mommy, Her View From Home and Grown & Flown, and she’s working on a book about her three years in the Netherlands. If you enjoyed this, you can follow her at www.boogersabroad.com and https://www.facebook.com/boogersabroad.