I’m a boy mom; I have two awesome boys ages (almost) 2 and (almost) 4. It feels like I live in a whole different world than most of my friends (especially the ones who have at least one girl). There’s not a lot of quiet moments in my house. It feels like all I do is chase them around! They run and go all day long–climbing, hitting, jumping, crashing, breaking, yelling–everything is big & loud. It’s like the only time they stop is when they go to bed… just to wake up the next day and do it all again! It’s exhausting! I don’t want to subscribe to the whole “boys will be boys” notion. But I can’t help but wonder how much of this has to do with their gender and how much of this is my parenting? Is this wild side a “boy” thing?
– Oh, Boy…
Dear Oh Boy – Life is a bit wild with boys! I too have two little boys and always say, “active body, active mind!” Boys tend to crave movement and using their larger muscles more frequently than little girls in their younger years. This is not to say that girls don’t need to move and groove as much as boys. All children move to gain a better sense of their body during the toddler years. Boys can seem more impulsive as they gain control and test their sense of speed and strength. If you are ever feeling totally exhausted with the amount of energy being released on a daily basis try to provide opportunities for your children to have a healthy outlet to release their energy. Heavy work exercises can work magic on calming energized boys. Some examples of these activities include doing push ups and jump roping to music (when the music stops they must freeze, when the music is playing they must move), allowing your child to climb up the slide several times at the park satisfies a good leg, stomach and arm workout, balancing on a chair with the stomach on the cushion and legs and arms out superhero style does a number on the core muscles (adding a superhero cape and encouraging drawing a birds eye view on an open cardboard box to rest beneath the chair also adds to the fun). Put 40 minutes aside mid morning for playful exercise before following up the workout with a calm down activity. Teaching your boys how to breath and be still for a few minutes at a time is also a wonderful way to enforce mindful calming. Boy are boys, but they can also be little cuddle bugs when they have gotten the ants out of their pants for the day. – Bernie
Dear Oh, Boy…as a mom of three girls, I’m not sure I have the insight into boy life you are looking for, but I did want to offer you this: I don’t think anything bad about high energy kids, boys or girls. I know boys and girls develop differently–physically, emotionally, & mentally–and that is totally okay. Every child develops differently and has a unique personality. My hope for you is that you feel comfortable enough with your high energy kiddos that you don’t ever feel like you have to apologize for their behavior when they are just being kids. I can only imagine the exhaustion of having to be “on” and help them focus their energy and make good choices when they start to lose control (which all kids do, it sounds like that’s how it is for you a little more often). Kudos to you for reaching out, being honest, and looking to shift your perspective. From an everyday standpoint, I can lovingly recommend as much outdoor time as possible and keeping an eye on sugar intake (as both of these influence kid behavior in general). More fresh air and less sugar is a good recipe for any kid. Also, make sure you’re scheduling some alone time for yourself to recharge. You’re the best mom for your kiddos. How lucky they are to have such a thoughtful mom. – Lori Beth
Dear Oh Boy, If it helps to know that my daughter found a whistle and blew it all day, I can tell you about the noise she can make, ha! But as a mom to both a girl and a boy, I admit that my son approaches life with a bit more fierceness! Kids need space to be loud, wild, and creative…and I applaud you for giving your boys that. But being an exhausted mom 24/7 isn’t the ideal for you. We will all have our days and our exhausted seasons of life and perhaps this is your season. Or perhaps you could tweak a few things and limit the chasing around. One thing I have found that helps is to follow a routine. I use the word routine loosely, as I am not a schedule maker mom. But having a daily flow when the kids know that after we do chores, we play outside, then we snack, then we have art/creative time, then we play outside, then we do this activity….you get the point! My son now loves play dough and sand time and he will spend hours digging in the dirt. Another tip that has been helpful with my kids has been to incorporate yoga. They are still moving but it’s controlled and has many teachable skills built into their fun time. I hope those ideas are helpful! You’re doing great, hang in there! – Cortney
As a mom of two young boys, I know the feeling of constant energy, activity, and intensity. I find it helpful to use what I know about my boys’ personalities and then plan and implement strategies to work with them. Focusing my energy on connecting with them and creating opportunities for them to work on skills that they need to practice (e.g. sustaining attention to a task for more than a couple of minutes) will help you feel less like you’re battling their energy and more on the same team. Also, avoiding the comparison trap (whether it’s comparing to moms of girls or any other mom) will help you feel more in control of your own mothering style/groove. – Diana
Dear Oh Boy! I’ve got three boys and wouldn’t change a thing. But, if you saw my trip itineraries for our family, you’d certainly understand how high energy they are! There isn’t a whole lot of sitting still in our family. I can totally relate to your question. I’ve known moms (more than one or five) whose oldest child is a girl, then they had a boy…and once that boy reached about two years old they were concerned something was wrong with their boys and would even go so far as to apologize for their boys (perfectly normal) behavior! If you want to encourage some level of quiet play, I highly recommend Legos, Keva planks, any kind of building blocks! Also, I have to keep a close eye on making sure they get plenty of sleep, eat regularly, and have physical activity daily. My boys are wrestling as I write this…they are a bit like puppies, they’ve always got to be on top of each other! Did I mention they are wrestling on the couch I am sitting on?!? Patience, a routine, and understanding each child’s personality will help you to appreciate them regardless of boy or girl. And setting aside time for yourself to get a haircut, nails done, or even to watch a movie that doesn’t have superheroes helps as well! – Lorelei