A friend of ours, the mother of three adolescent boys, was desperate. Telling her boys about the duties that need to happen in a bathroom seemed to be falling on deaf ears. She took action and put her bathroom rules for boys in large letters on the wall. Right by the sink and toilet. Finally, they got the message.
Sometimes our kids need to be hit with a message every single day, but they get sick of hearing their mother rattling it off continually. They get very good at blocking out her voice. We suggest you try her visual method, instead.
By the toilet she neatly painted the following in big block letters, directly on the wall, much like this:
FLUSH, MAN, FLUSH
PUT THE SEAT DOWN
REPLENISH SPENT TOILET PAPER
BE PREPARED FOR GUESTS, PARTICULARLY FEMALES
TURN OFF THE LIGHTS & THE FAN
BE A CONSIDERATE HUMAN BEING
“Alter your lives, or we shan’t have happy lives.” - E. M. Forster
On the wall next to the sink she painted:
BRUSH FOR 2 FULL MINUTES
FLOSS THE TEETH YOU WANT TO KEEP
WASH YOUR FACE TWICE A DAY
HANG UP YOUR TOWEL
PUT AWAY YOUR CLOTHES
CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF
TURN OFF THE LIGHTS
BE THE REASON SOMEONE SMILES TODAY
KNOW THAT YOUR MOTHER LOVES YOU
You can be as creative as you wish in doing this. Some artistic moms might want to add a few graphics for additional effect. Just don’t make them flowery or boys will discount it. They need to feel that real men do this. Instead of painting it directly on the wall you could make the instructions into wall plaques. Large ones. And place them right in their line of vision.
You could also have some fun introducing your wall signs to them. Keep them covered until you have a family council meeting. A little drama and suspense may add to the intrigue and create more interest. Kind of like, “Hear ye, hear ye! The parents of this house proclaim the following.” Well, that’s a bit over the top, but you get the idea.
Get your husband onboard with this. Hopefully, he’s behaving this way already. If not, then it will be good for him to see what respectful men do in their homes. Be kind, not accusatory, as you present the idea to him. Let him see how much it means to you. Loving husbands enjoy pleasing their wives, so we’re guessing he’ll jump onboard with you. Anyway, fathers want their sons to grow into decent men, too. Having him be the example is powerful follow up. Let him know how much his example means to you and to them.
As you contemplate the time when your sons will marry, think of how grateful their brides will be for you having taught, even insisted on, this good bathroom behavior. Hey, you may even be saving their marriages with this. OK, so that’s a little dramatic, but not off the charts. Less than this has caused marital friction. Might as well eliminate as many causes as possible.
What it’s really all about
This isn’t so much about having a neat, clean bathroom as it is about teaching your boys how to be gentlemen. Wherever they may be. Any room, any house, anywhere. Boys who learn this early have more respect, not only for others, but for themselves. That, alone, is worth all the effort.