To All Moms of Boys

1560551_10152241454611018_1967083356_n (1)Dear fellow mothers of boys,

How the heck do you do it? What is the secret? Do you guys have superwomen spandex suits on under your mom jeans and t-shirts? Do you drink Red Bull before you get out of bed? How do you do it??

Especially you moms who tackle the homeschooling thing. I am at a loss. In my quest to become a domestic goddess (sarcasm included), I am trying to use my previous skills as a preschool teacher. I am discovering that a class of one is much different from a class of twenty-two with an assistant and management. Lesson plans? Oh boy. Crafts? I sorely miss even the most frugal of supply closets. And somehow in all this, I’ve got the nerve to attempt teaching basic ASL and Spanish. To a boy. A very, very energetic boy.

So, how do you do it? What are your secrets? Especially during the winter. Especially on a first-floor apartment that has no railing around the porch for safe playing outdoors. How do you balance the necessary things of the house like cleaning and cooking with teaching? How do you keep them entertained or interested?

#1 is not a bad kid, and he’s incredibly smart, but his attention span is… Well, it’s not fantastic. Somehow, I think kindergarten next year is a good idea. He can’t sit on the floor still for 10 minutes. I haven’t been in kindergarten for nearly 20 years, but I think that might be a problem. So, moms of boys, how to you help your little men get ready for that next big step? And how do you keep your sanity while not feeling like a terrible parent?

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22 thoughts on “To All Moms of Boys

  1. LOL! Oh, you leave me laughing….but I get it … I really do. I WISH I had a super suit….but no… How do I do it? I have a 15 year old (have been homeschooling him since age 7) and also a three year old, almost 4. How do I do it? Well…. with LOTS of prayer…. and some general things like keeping the older one physically active even in the winter. He participates weekly in a local co-op for gym. He also has learned to ski and we try to get him to the slopes 1-2 x per week. More would be ideal but that involves 40 minutes in the car for me to take him there and 40 minutes to go get him and bring him home if we can’t find someone for him to hitch a ride with. We also have a treadmill and stationary bike in the basement. He does other exercise each day as well…pushups, that kind of thing. And of course, we minimized processed foods and sugar and he doesn’t have ANY artificial colors, preservatives, etc.
    The three year old…. well, again we minimize the processed stuff and don’t do any of the artificial stuff (YES, it really makes a difference and it really is WORTH it!). We try to get outside as much as possible but I am a real wimp when it comes to the cold and so it’s been a few weeks since he’s been outside! I try to get him to exercise.. sometimes we use a video by the wiggles so he can dance. He does pushups and situps with me (not much of course…I’m a wimp there too). Maybe you can find one of those little mini-trampolines that fold up when not in use? Those are the things that come to mind at this moment…hope something helps!

    • This are awesome ideas! I love it! We’ve been trying to cut down on the processed foods, too, which has been fun for my culinary side. Unfortunately, with a very small food budget, we do end up getting a few packs of hot dogs. 😛 And I love the idea of a little trampoline! I might have to find one of those. #1 is such a cutie. He’ll “do his exercises” by running in place or shooting up and down the hall in his socks. I will have to do more physical activities with him, though. I’m a pansy with the cold as well, but our cold’s probably your t-shirt weather. 50s outside? Nuh-uh. Too much work breaking out the snow suit for the baby. Oh us Texans….

      • Glad to help! I bet if you look at pinterest for toddler gym activities or something of that nature you might come up with something too! 50’s sounds like a heat wave! I wouldn’t be wearing t-shirts but I could get rid of the layers! No, more like -5 today! Brrrrrr……. and the upstairs heat wasn’t working! Thank goodness we actually decided to pay the extra fee for the ‘peace of mind’ deal they made us last year….fixed within 4 hours of us calling! Whew!

      • Ha! Haha! Uh, no thanks… -5? You really must be superhuman. 🙂 Down here we shut everything down if it ices and gets below 33. We’re completely lost when it comes to cold weather. Give us a 110* day and we can handle that, but 20*? Popsicles. -5? I’ll need an alien camel to climb into to survive.

        Oy… it must be late for my nerd side to come out…. And even later if I can’t think of what it’s called.

  2. …. I can totally relate. It’s been rough during the winter!!! Two boys… There’s not secret but I just pray a lot. I stop what I am doing and give them attention. I just posted a preschool calendar if you’re interested! But ya… I have good days and bad days… pray pray pray to receive inspiration on how to stay calm! 🙂

  3. Of course I have a spandex suit under my mom jeans, but that’s where it stays because I don’t want to scare people 🙂

    I totally agree with some of the ideas shown above, and have adopted some myself such as the little trampoline. I passed by the ones made for kids and just bought a reasonably priced adult version from Walmart. The one I bought has a jump counter attached to it, which was a real motivator. GREAT for bad weather days.

    It is difficult to homeschool an energetic boy, and many people I know delay kindergarten for a year. However the beauty of homeschooling is that you can modify it to a child’s personality.

    When my son was little I remember taping flashcards of letters or numbers all over the living room and having him run around from one to the other as I called them out. Later, when he started to spell I’d give him a word we were practicing and challenge him to bend his body into the shape of the letters as he spelled the word. For single digit math we’d go outside and make a number line with chalk on the side walk and he’d run from one to the other (or use his scooter) as I’d call out the math problems. (The great thing about any of these activities is that YOU don’t have to be active the whole time as well–boys wear you out!)

    In the younger years we would dance along with Sesame Street’s “Get Up and Dance” or “Elmocize” videos (I think Grover has one out now, too). There are also workout videos especially for kids, which I’ve used a lot. Sometimes you can even find them at your library (or request them if they don’t already have them).

    And finally, two words: GREG & STEVE. Ok, that was two names. These guys make CD’s with songs that promote activity. One of my favorites is “The Freeze”. You might be able to find them at your library as well.

    As your son gets older, you may want to look into some homeschool swim days or similar activities.

    Lastly, don’t worry! You can do this!

    • So many good ideas! I need to go find a notepad to write these all down. I love the idea of the flashcards around the room! Brilliant! I will definitely be doing that. And I will check with our library at our next storytime to see if they have any workout DVDs. Thanks so much! (And I know what you mean about your “superwoman” garb. 🙂 I am so tempted to buy it every time I pass it.)

  4. I agree with these other, lovely ladies. Work with his energy, not against it.

    I have a six year old, he is high active and always has been. PE is our first subject of the day and we do 45 minutes of it, just to get him wound down a little bit. We have a mini-trampoline, we do pop-ups, sit ups, push-ups, and anything else that will get his energy levels lowered just a little bit.

    We do our first couple of learning subjects, then take a quick break for him to run five laps around the front room as fast as he can. Then we proceed with the last few ‘book work’ exercises. He then gets a half hour break before we do some hands-on science and history as a group with his siblings.

    As for the domestic chores, use your son! He can help load and fold laundry. He can help cook (science/food art) and clean.
    My suggestion would be to first build a routine for yourself, knowing you will be making some adjustments. Give yourself a few days to run through the routine and revamp. Test out different routines for a few weeks and you’ll get things more regular. Once he begins to understand he plays an important role in your family, (e.g. dinner couldn’t get on the table without him) he will begin to use his energy to serve and assist. He’ll also start learning initiative.

    It sounds to be like you are already doing a fantastic job! We all have hard days, they key is to remember those are only for a season.

    • This sounds great! I love your idea of starting out with physical activity. Right now, we do exactly the opposite: an educational show while I do a few quick chores (shameful, I know…), then class time, then physical activity, then craft or science.

      It sounds, too, like most moms of boys have the same experiences I do. I had a teacher once tell me that my son had ADHD and needed to be separated from the class. I doubt all our boys have ADHD. Do you think that traditional school fosters that idea because of their physical activity-poor curriculum?

      • I think it is easier for traditional schools to label children then medicate them into a stupor, rather than find clever ways to keep them entertained and work out the extra adrenaline. The truth is they don’t have the time, resources, energy, or funds to take care of that many children at once and meet ALL their needs. They are doing their best, but at some point they are going to find the easiest route for the majority of people.

        Boys are naturally more active; there is nothing wrong with them. Also, not everyone learns the same. While some prefer book work (me!!), others prefer hands-on, while yet others need someone to show them first.

        None of these is wrong; it’s the way we are wired. It is our differences and various abilities which allow us to function as a whole and build a better society. We strengthen each others weaknesses and fill in the gaps.

        Sometimes I wonder if ADHD really exists or if some people just have higher levels of adrenaline and need to find productive ways to work with their body systems. If they have higher levels, there must be a reason they were created that way. Let’s figure out why.

      • My brother has pretty severe ADHD, where without medication he literally is doing things 30 seconds or more before thinking. His also tended towards a more aggressive side. Compared to him, #1 is placid. 🙂 I think that’s why I was so upset at his pre-k teacher and wary of putting him into school. Of course, as the flip side to my brother’s high energy, his mind works a lot faster than others, and he’s incredibly smart.

        I agree about the path of least resistance, as well. I know I did it as a teacher, though I did try my best to cater to the wildness inherent in little boys. Is this lack of flexibility (not at the fault of teachers, but due to exactly those factors you listed) one of the reasons you chose to homeschool?

      • Honestly, no! I think teachers get the short end of the stick most of the time. They WANT to do more, but unfortunately their hands are tied in the most important areas. I truly feel for them.

        Your brother sounds like a fascinating person. I imagine he would be a very interesting person to meet. Is he still very high energy and how does he put that to use now that he is an adult?

        No, we simply kept our kids at home because this is where we wanted them. My husband is self-employed and I am a stay at home wife. Why not just keep them with us all day and bond? It didn’t seem right to send them off when we were both going to be here all day. Short answer: We just love our kids and want to be with them as much as possible.

      • My brother’s a nut. 🙂 In a good way. He plays rugby a lot and tries to stay active. Unfortunately, as a side-effect of his having ADHD, he doesn’t have much motivation (either from a personality trait or from conditioning as he grew up), so a lot of that energy goes into video games and not doing homework. 🙂 During those times, though, he usually has some meds. The days we visit when he doesn’t, he’s bouncing off the walls, exhausting #1 with wrestling and chase, and being all around hyper, for lack of a better word. He’s a super-sweet kid, though.

        And I totally think that many kids diagnosed with ADD/ADHD are not. They’re just normal kids that parents or teachers don’t know how to channel. My brother is rare. In the years I taught in preschool, there was only one other boy I saw who was like him. The others labeled “ADHD” were nowhere near my brother’s level.

        Your reason for homeschooling sounds very much like my reason for wanting to stay home: to form relationships with our little people. 🙂 And it’s just an awesome place to be.

  5. I have spent a lot of time pondering the question directly above, and my short answer is “yes”. Not only is there little physical activity, I have talked to kids (boys) who attend public school that have mentioned loosing recess as a form of punishment. Now this is a two-sided issue here. If a child is already wound up and misbehaving, it seems like a pretty bad idea to take away their one outlet. On the other hand, teachers have a hard job, and there are few other options for them.

    In my mental wanderings, I came across this thought one day, “If boys are so wiggly, how did they get by in the early days?” Just look at some of that fancy old writing of our forefathers! How many hours do you supposed they had to sit there to learn THAT?

    So, I presented this question to my husband, and he had a brilliant answer. He pointed out that before school, boys would have been milking cows, chopping wood, and the like. And don’t forget–they had to walk miles to school-uphill both ways! 🙂

    Given this new information, I’d have to conclude that the world is a lot less physical for boys now, period. This is what creates the problem, and the lack of activity in school compounds that.

    I definitely do NOT think so many boys need to be put on medicine (although some may).

    • Great answer from the husband! I’m torn because husband and I agreed when #1 was a baby that we’d put him into public school, at least for elementary. Now, as he’s gotten older, I’m worried that he’ll lose his love for learning from being overwhelmed by sitting. Do you think that having him do some physical stuff before school would be good, if he has to go to school? Right now, I’m teaching him at home, and it’s hard but much easier than I’m sure kindergarten will be.

  6. Well, it’s hard for me to answer in an unbiased way, and not knowing your child. I will say that I have always felt that a regular flash card type teaching would definitely turn my son off of learning (not only because boys are active). That would be a shame, because pretty much all kids are bright in some way- mine has had the time to follow his passion of geography so much that it put him in third at our state National Geographic Bee! All pretty much self taught (the Geography-not other subjects). I feel like homeschooling has fostered that.

    However, I also know some bright young people in my life who have sprung up out of the public school system and have done some neat things. I will make it a point to say that they are usually from families that stay involved. If I remember right, it seems that studies have shown that homeschooled kids may do very well in public schools as well because the family involvement is the main factor. If you are even considering homeschooling, it shows an obvious desire to have your hand in the education process.

    When all is said and done, after doing this now from preschool through 8th grade, I would be very reluctant to give up the moment of the first spark, the first “aha” moment when I knew the understanding of words had dawned. Things that that are priceless!

    • So the key to learning might be more familial involvement than purely which classroom they sit in? I like that… And it does match up with my own experience, having a mom who kept us doing worksheets in the summertime and sat with us during homework. That gives me some hope! (Since husband is adamant about public school next year.)

      • Well, I’m no expert, but that’s what it seems. I think keeping up with what your kids are learning and making sure your face is familiar around the school helps a lot.

        If you’re still worried about hyper-activity, you can see if anyone around has some wood for him to split, haha 🙂

  7. Oh my goodness, I’m so at this place too. Now, think about your son and times that by 3. My 6, almost 7 year old has Asperger’s Syndrome and is all over the place. I swear he has ADHD as well. Last year in school his teacher would have to teach while he was roaming and walking all over the place. And Brazil is about 30-40 years behind on their understanding autism and working with people on the autistic spectrum. If I could lend any sort of input on the subject, I would say that, especially for boys, you have got to give them tons of breaks. Their attention spans are seriously limited. Also, now this may just be because my son is an aspie, but building your activities around what makes him tick. For example, my son is obsessed right now with dinosaurs. I’m teaching him to read in English online and he all-of-a-sudden became traumatized with his name on the screen. He would scream and cry to not do his class and I didn’t know what to do. Then I decided to change his screen name to “Velociraptor” (the little carnivore dinosaur) and he started to do his class smiling and happy, with no complaints.
    Don’t know if this helps at all, but that’s my 2 cents worth.
    =)

    • That’s a great idea! I’ll have to use that in my at-home classes. Right now, it’s robots, Power Rangers, and ninjas for him. 🙂 I wonder how I can phase that into our “Love” month… Love bots, maybe? 🙂 Or chores done as a robot! Or ninja… Or Power Ranger. So many ideas all of a sudden!

      • Right on. I’m so glad that I could give some type of helpful input. We mothers of young kids gotta stick together and help each other, wouldn’t you agree?
        =)

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