Eight Truths about Parenting Boys in Quarantine

I’ve seen a lot of fun posts this last month from mom’s talking about the baking they did with their kids, or how their children colored flowers and hearts to place in the windows.  Lovely scenes of calm children creating beautiful things and playing games of imagination.

But then I saw another post, and this one was more what I relate to. I don’t remember the exact wording, but the gist of it was something like this:

“Pray for the boy moms. There are no tea parties going on in our houses. It’s straight up wrestle mania 24/7.”

To the mama who first made that post, you are my people. When this is over we should get a drink. There are very few art projects, or tea parties, or games of pretend going on in my house these days. Although my kids are able to leave the house to go to daycare a few times a week, that’s about the extent of their social interaction apart from each other.

Here are eight things that quarantine has reinforced for me about parenting boys:

1. Never respond to the first scream.

I’m not talking about a real “OMG there’s blood!” type of scream. I’m talking about the screech of injustice that tells you someone is seriously offended. I let these types of screams ride and give my boys time to work it out themselves. If it continues for three, or maybe four, then maybe I’ll intervene. Maybe. Or maybe they’ll work it out themselves.  And then I haven’t ignored them, I’ve helped them improve their conflict management skills. Parenting win!

2. Silence is golden.

Unless you have small boys. Then silence leads to you finding a brand new set of wall decorations near the baseboards by the stairs.

3. Never leave them in the bathtub alone.

My kids are 8 and 4-years-old, so I’m not worried that they will drown if I turn my back, but the wall and floor of my bathroom can only take so many episodes of periodic flooding.

4. They will run and climb.

Best to do it outside where at least they won’t put a foot through the wall or knock into mom’s pretty cabinet. Encourage them to do their climbing over grass so as to lessen their chance of an emergency room visit when (not if) they fall.

5. Never underestimate the ability of a 4-year-old to sneak an ice cream.

At 9 a.m. he took an ice cream sandwich from the freezer. At least he’s still young enough that he is honest when I ask him where the chocolate around his mouth came from.

6. Have a well stocked first aid kit at all times.

I’m pretty good with the butterfly tape and we have (multiple) ice packs in the freezer. If I had a dollar for every time I have yelled, “we cannot go to the emergency room right now!” it would fund a very nice post-COVID vacation.

7. Making slime is not a fun science project.

Anyone who claims otherwise is lying. Or they don’t have children. It’s gross and it gets everywhere and you are guaranteed to find pieces of it in the laundry and behind the couch for weeks.

8. My boys will drive me right up to the point of crazy town, and they seem to be able to sense that moment right before I’m going to lose it.

That is the moment when they will snuggle onto my lap, tell me I’m beautiful, and give me a kiss. And just like that — I remember that I wouldn’t trade all of this craziness for the world.

Are these stereotypes? Absolutely. But do they reflect my reality today? You bet your tea cups. Boy moms and girl moms alike, stay safe and stay sane. We’ll all get through this together.

And just a reminder . . . if you haven’t checked their lunchbox by now, just throw that baby away and start over next year.


Sarah Bengtson
Sarah is a proud Iowa native who currently lives in North Liberty with her husband and 2 sons. She grew up in rural Benton county and moved to the Iowa City area in 2005 to attend graduate school at the University of Iowa in Physical Therapy. Now she balances raising two growing boys with a work as a pediatric physical therapist. Outside of work and family, Sarah loves music, playing her cello, running, baking, crochet, church activities, and cheering for the Hawkeyes and the Minnesota Vikings.


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