Nerf Darts & Dirty Socks

Everywhere I look there are nerf darts and dirty socks. They’re in between the couch cushions, wedged under every piece of furniture, and jammed into every corner of my house. I swear I could probably spend all day picking up the tiny little pieces of neon orange foam and still not get all of them.

To make matters worse, at some point over the last year my husband decided to buy a giant box of like 500 more of them. I have no idea what he was thinking. It must have been a pandemic induced state of psychosis. Clearly he thought it was necessary to bring his nerf game to the next level. But did he even consider how much extra work it would be to clean them all up?

Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing how much fun my boys have getting into these nerf gun wars. They love it anytime their dad plays with them, especially when he chases them around the house. Even though it always inevitably ends with someone crying because they got shot in the face.

The Aftermath

But somehow when the war is over everyone magically disappears. Then I’m the one left to pick it all up. I know, I know, I could force my kids to help clean them up, but have you ever actually made a 6 year old pick up their toys? It’s pretty excruciating. I’d even say that I might enjoy going to the dentist more than suffering through more than 10 minutes of it.

Let’s not forget about all the dirty socks I’ve been gifted with over the years. On top of being squished up into tiny little balls and somehow strategically placed in every room of the house, they’re also super stinky! Do boys not have a sense of smell? If that was the case, things would actually make a lot more sense.

On top of the dirty socks and nerf darts, there’s the endless crumbs under the kitchen table, toothpaste smeared all over the bathroom sink, and couch cushion forts in the living room.  There isn’t one room in our house that hasn’t been taken over and destroyed by the kids.

Excuse The Mess We Live Here

Embrace The Mess

Let’s face it though, it comes with the territory. Once you have kids, your house will never truly be clean again. Not for long anyways. Even if I do spend all day getting it spotless, as soon as they get home the mess will instantly reappear.

Just like I’ll never win the war on laundry or dishes, I’ll never be able to pick up all the nerf darts. I have learned a few tricks, like threatening to give everything that doesn’t get cleaned up to charity. They work sometimes, but not without lots of tears. Sometimes we can motivate the kids to clean up when it’s time for them to get paid their monthly allowance. Nothing works better than bribing them with money.

We usually just end up cleaning like crazy before someone comes over. Honestly though, I’d rather have friends that don’t care if the house is messy when they come over. Those are the best friends in my opinion.

In reality, I have to let the mess go. Because if I’m going to let the mess bother me, I’m probably going to spend my whole time as a mom being bothered. That would take all the fun out of being a mom!

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The Secret To Raising Little Boys

What’s the secret to raising little boys?

Well it’s not rocket science. It’s not even really anything that profound.

It may be something you’ve already heard before.

Have you ever felt like you had to ask your child 10 times to brush their teeth before you could leave the house?

If you’re a boy mom, 28 may be a much more realistic number.

Until last week, I thought it was because my kids were annoyed by the sound of my voice and they must have been tuning me out.

I’ve considered whether their ears are super sensitive like dogs. Maybe when I ask them to do something important my voice is a super high frequency like a whistle would sound to a dog?

Or maybe they just like the sound of my voice so much, that they want to hear me say things over and over again?

I recently learned that’s not the case at all.

I heard a parenting talk by David Thomas, author of the books Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys (Tyndale House Publishers) and Are My Kids on Track? The 12 Emotional, Social & Spiritual Milestones Your Child Needs to Reach.

Thomas spoke about the different developmental milestones that children reach at each age. The main point that I took away from it was that 5-8 year old boys are mostly visual learners!

Back To The Basics

I wish I had heard this tip about raising little boys sooner. Even after two years of graduate school and multiple classes on child development, I didn’t realize how differently they learn.

So many meltdowns and power struggles could have been avoided in our house!

I probably did hear this back in Child Development 101. But sometimes you have to live it before it really sinks in.

What really made sense to me was when Thomas pointed out that if your child isn’t doing what you want them to do, it’s really your fault as their parent. It’s your fault because you haven’t set up their environment for success.

It may not seem like it sometimes, but kids actually want to make us happy. They truly want to be good.

So it would make sense that sometimes when they aren’t doing what we want them to, it’s because we have made it too hard for them.

Instead of engaging in power struggles with your kids about why they haven’t done what you asked them to do a hundred times already, make it easy for them to remember.

Boys have a larger part of their brains dedicated to spatial and mechanical functioning than girls do. This is why boys need to be able to visualize things in order to learn them.

Now it makes sense to me why when my husband was starting up his business, he had had little sticky notes all over the wall in our office. Each one had a different task that he wanted to focus on in order to be successful.

Set Them Up For Success

As parents, we can help set our children up for success by using visual cues and reminders around the house.

For example, you could put up a sign with a list of the 3 things your son needs to do in the bathroom before getting ready for school. Make sure to keep it simple.

You could use a small sign that says Flush, Wash, Brush.

A simple list of what steps are needed to get ready in the morning in your child’s bedroom can go a long way! For younger kids, you could use pictures of what the steps are.

Post a schedule near your child’s virtual learning space and make sure it’s visible all day. Here are a few other tips on setting up your child’s virtual learning space.

If you walk through your child’s elementary school, chances are you will see lots of bright and cheery pictures. In their classroom, you’ll probably see lists of expectations and schedules all over the walls.

That’s not just a coincidence!

It also makes sense now why the watch my son got for his 6th birthday was one of his favorite gifts. He didn’t take it off even at night!

It was pretty nice to tell him to check his watch when he asked what time it was every 5 minutes. But now I see why it meant so much to him!

Think Before You Speak

We can use this principle to help us be more proactive.

Instead of always saying things like “stop, no, don’t, quit,” we can show our children what we want them to do. You can easily do this by removing the things from their environments that you don’t want your child doing.

During virtual learning, make sure the only things that are in the learning space are school materials.

The secret to parenting little boys

Of course, this isn’t always realistic or possible to do. But I’m sure you can help by reducing at least some of the distractions.

Following this parenting tip doesn’t mean we shouldn’t set high expectations for our kids. It is a good reminder for why yelling doesn’t get you as far though.

I’m definitely excited to try it and hopefully save my breath a little!

If you enjoyed reading this, I’d love for you to share it with others who you think might need this tip for parenting boys too!

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