Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Keeping Boys Busy

What are your boys doing to stay busy this fall?

My oldest, age 13, is a member of the Junior Show Choir. (Think Glee, but without all the snark). He's also got a bit part in a local community theatre production, cuts lawn for some residential customers and writes content for a fishing website.

Boy #2, now 11, is playing football on a 5th and 6th grade team. The team practices Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 4:30 pm to 6 pm -- and plays games on Saturday -- so between school and sport, he has little time at home.

Boy #3, age 8, is attending third grade at a local school. In his spare time, he loves to bike and skateboard. He also recently took third place in a 1K race for kids ages 8 and under. He's already announced his intent to play flag football next year.

Boy #4, age 5, is in kindergarten. He also likes to putter in his workshop (yes, I let him use tools), watch Wild Kratts and play with friends.

Did I mention that we're also members of 4H?

Life is pretty busy these days, as I imagine it is in your home. But while my older boys are involved in a couple of organized activities (Show Choir, football), I don't think that organized activities are essential. Keeping boys busy is a must -- boys with too much time on their hands tend to find trouble. But "busy" can vary from boy to boy and home to home. Consider these non-organized, but still fun ideas to keep your boys busy this fall:
  • Yard cleanup. Don't laugh. Your kids might be more willing to participate than you think. The key is to work together; your kids aren't going to get excited about picking up the yard unless you're out there too. Look for age-appropriate ways for the kids to contribute. My 5-yr-old loves driving his plastic truck around the yard and picking up sticks.
  • Making wood. Do you heat your home (at least partially) with wood? Let the boys go out into the woods with you, their dad or another reliable adult. You probably don't want them using chainsaws yet, but there's no reason why they can't carry and haul wood -- and help stack the wood at home. Make sure to leave some time to play in the woods.
  • Go for a hike. Right now, the fall colors at my home are near their peak. The days are warm and bathed in golden sunshine. It's the perfect time to get out and explore natural areas. One bonus: most of the bugs are gone!
  • Pick apples. Got an apple orchard nearby, or an apple tree in your yard? Get busy picking apples! Your sons can help you convert the apples into apple chips, applesauce and apple pie.
  • Go camping. If you can, try squeezing in just one more weekend of camping. I'd love to take my boys, but football (see above) is interfering with our schedule.
  • Go for a bike ride. On a rainy day, have your boys tune-up their bikes. Then take them out for a spin on a nearby bike trail.
Have any other ideas to list? How do your boys stay busy in the fall?


  1. Since you're the only other mom I know who allows her kids to use real tools, I have a question for you:

    What kind of drill does your youngest use? I have a swivel B&D drill that I bought years ago. It works great, and my son (age 3) loves using it, but it's a bit heavy so I always need to help him. He knows he needs my help, but he'd rather do it on his own. I'd love to find a smaller, more lightweight drill that he could use on his own.

    How do I keep my boy busy? When he's not riding his bike, we're using the drill. Or hammering nails. Over, and over, and over again :-). Once a week, he takes a circus class (coolest.thing.ever!). He also does a great job helping me with household chores (laundry, dishes, raking, pulling weeds, etc). Last month he also started 6hrs of preschool per week. It's a great little program and he loves it.

  2. Hi Mel,
    I help the boys with the drill. I also stress safety and the importance of adult help/supervision when using any kind of power tools. Time consuming, yes -- but an important step to helping them develop tool safety and independence.