There are many things that can never prepare you for life as a mother of boys. Whether your son is your first child, or was preceded by one or more daughters, be assured that boys are from another planet. In addition to the dirt, chaos, broken things, and achingly sweet smiles and hugs, you should prepare yourself for a bathroom cleaning experience like no other!
Most moms I know pine(d) for the day when their sons would be potty trained. In addition to the fact that changing diapers gets really old (and expensive!), potty training itself can become rather annoying. Then, the magical day arrives when your son is ready to use the bathroom by himself all the time. What a wonderful day that isÖuntil you walk in the bathroom and realize one inescapable fact: boys are very messy.
No doubt youíre already used to finding socks everywhere and to following along behind your son when he runs into the house so that you can wipe up his dirty footprints, but until your son is potty trained, you have no idea the havoc he can wreak on your bathroom! When you accompany him on every trip, you just clean up as you go. When you are savoring the freedom of *not* accompanying him on every trip, though, problems can quickly set in! Even after 24 hours of not being in your sonís bathroom, you could very well walk in to find your previously neat-as-a-pin, sweet-smelling bathroom completely transformed. After just a couple of experiences like this one, you will be brainstorming ways to keep your bathroom neat. Here are some things that experience has taught me the hard way.
1. Baby wipes are your best friend. They became a fixture in your home when your son was born, and youíll be doing yourself a big favor if you continue to buy them. In bulk. Why? They are the perfect non-toxic cleaning aids you can keep on hand for your son. First of all, many moms think that when their kids are out of diapers, they are out of wipes, too. Not so! For whatever reason, small children find using toilet paper, well, awkward. User-friendly wipes are much easier to get the hang of. Provide only toilet paper, and you may find out the hard way that your son is not keeping himself that clean. Provide wipes, though (with the caveat that only two can be used without a flush Ė ask me how I knowÖ), and you have made your sonís job much easier.
Wipes are not only good for your sonís body, though. They are great cleaning aids. Teach your son to wipe the toilet seat after every single use, both the part he sits on and underneath it, and you will be heading off many problems. Keep two towels on hand, one on the rack for drying his hands, and another in a drawer or a cabinet for drying the sink. If you can train your son to wipe the sink and the fixtures every time he uses the sink, you will never need to do anything else (apart from disinfecting). If this is something you want your son to do, though, be sure and teach him to do it from day one. Trying to instill such a habit in a boy is harder the older he gets (go ahead, ask me how I know). You will do yourself a huge favor if you instruct your son in these little things early on.
2. Vigilance is key. Forgive me if #1 in this list made you think that you would never have to go in your sonís bathroom again. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You must visit your sonís bathroom several times a day, every day. As well-intentioned as boys are, their aim is terrible, and they have odd senses of humor. In a young boy, these two inescapable facts collide to turn your bathroom into something you would expect to find in a bus station.
Research shows that boys develop a social consciousness (including leaving a bathroom nice for the next person) later than girls. Your constant attention is all that can close the gap between your sonís lack of a social conscience and your other family memberís horror at entering the bathroom. I promise that your son will, at some point in his young life, miss the toilet intentionally. Boys seem fascinated by their ability to aim, and they will use this ability to your detriment. It is essential to catch these mistakes right away. Left too long, you will begin wondering what died in your attic (yep, personal experience again).
3. Un-decorate your bathroom. I knowÖIíve been there. You worked hard to make your sonís bathroom as cute as possible. You coordinated the rug, the shower curtain, the soap dish (yes, you will want solid soap. Provide liquid soap, and youíll be refilling that thing daily), and the toothbrush holder, and itís all beautiful. Now take it all out. Give your son a toothbrush case like you use when you travel, and have him keep his brush in the drawer. Youíll be disinfecting it daily, otherwise. Provide one plastic soap dish and one utilitarian piece of soap. One towel is all he needs to dry his hands (in addition to the other one in the drawer with which to clean). The more towels that are in there, the more that will end up on the floor or stopping up the sink. The cute shower curtain is fine, as long as you show your son the necessity of making sure that it is on the *inside* of the tub when he showers. In essence, if you donít want to be picking it up, disinfecting it, and wiping it down daily, take it out of the bathroom.
Many boys do, eventually, outgrow their messy bathroom habits. You can increase the chances that your son will be one of them by following these three simple rules from day one!