Growing up, I had one younger sister so my knowledge of living with growing boys was absolutely nill when I had two boys 14 months apart. You learn pretty quickly through trial and error – everything from the best way to diaper them to avoid a million clothing changes a day (if you are still in this stage, go a size up when you start noticing leaks regardless of weight!) to how to make my teen boys room NOT smell like a football locker room (trial and error, my friends, both my boys are different.)
Navigating life with teen boys may be relatively new to me, but luckily as a pediatric and school nurse I have 20 years of experience working with growing boys and that has definitely helped!
You know you live with teen boys when:
#1 THEY SMELL.
The biggest challenge living with teen boys is typically the subject of hygiene…or should I say lack thereof! Boys as young as five years old may develop body odor and require the use of deodorant. However, typically, most start developing a need for more attention to body odor issues around age 10 or 11, or the newly dubbed “tween” years. This is also around the age when they are completely independent with showering and most parents are not in the bathroom making sure the use of soap is actually happening. I have found myself picking up their bottles of body wash and shampoo wondering how long ago I bought them and how they should probably feel a LOT lighter! Yes, boys will just stand under the water for 30 minutes without touching an ounce of soap – or possibly just peeling off all the labels to the bottles in the shower and decorating the tiles. They may say they have mastered the quick shower and are in and out in 5 minutes, which great for my hot water, but they don’t have that fresh and clean scent! I constantly sound like a broken record pleading with my boys to make sure they take a shower every night and are really scrubbing their hair with shampoo and using body wash on every square inch. I really feel like they should know at this point that showering is a part of daily life and I shouldn’t have to remind them. 95% of the time that is not true! Back to the deodorant talk, this is typically another daily reminder despite having deodorant in plain sight in their bedrooms and bathrooms. However, this is not as big of a fight as the shower so that is a win!
Around this time is also when acne may start to pop up. I have had face wash in the shower for my oldest for a couple years and it now says “PLEASE USE” in black Sharpie. Clearasil wipes or something similar are typically a better option in the early teen years as they can grab and go on their way out to the bus – something is better than nothing! Sports, video games, and friends are far more important than blemishes at this age but at least you have provided the tools and continued guidance. Eventually, they will surprise you and care – typically when you aren’t asking them to do it. This also holds true for most things we ask them to do.
#3 THE HOODIE
Our cute little toddlers go from well-dressed, adorable boys to comfy, hoodie-wearing teens in the blink of an eye. I have come to learn there is the hoodie (or insert the t-shirt or the shorts here if applicable.) The hoodie is the one they wear pretty much every day as a shirt, a jacket and maybe pajamas too. Hopefully, they wash the hoodie often but since my boys are responsible for their own laundry that is highly unlikely. You will ask them to change the hoodie when you notice it is on day 2 or 3 of consistent wear. They will say they will but they don’t. You will tell them that their teachers will think you cannot provide them with enough clothes, that they will smell up the class, it is just plain gross, etc. but the hoodie prevails. New hoodies make little impact on the rotation of the hoodie and sometimes the only cure is summer!
Despite these telltale signs of teenage boyhood, I absolutely adore my boys and cannot believe how much I learn every day as they grow into young men. Through laughter, tears and a screaming match here and there, they still need their mom for guidance and support.
As I started writing this post, I quickly realized I had more to share so this will be the first post in my Living with Teen Boys series! Have questions or areas you want to know more about? Let me know in the comments!