Stone Soup for Five: Boys and hard physical labor

Boys and hard physical labor

For the last two weeks, I've been experimenting.

One of my boys is an antagonizer...
an instigator...
sometimes a bully.
And I really was at my wit's end.

What to do, other than get involved?
and be mad myself?

WHAT do you do with boys like that?!?

Then I talked to a friend, who had talked to an older lady about boys.

This lady gave the most practical boy advice I'd ever EVER heard.

And lots of it.   Daily."

She said when her boys were acting up and frustrated, mean, or otherwise unenjoyable, she'd send them outside to do some physical work.  And they'd come in a completely changed person.

I was skeptical, but desperate..... so we tried it.



MAN, did it work!

So if your boys (or even girls, I can definitely say this worked on me in my pre-teen and teen years!) are making you CAH-RAZZEE, send them outside for at least 30 min!

Some ideas for us who live in the city:

Weed.  Weed a big area of the yard, and then rake smooth when done.  They can do it as well as you.  If your yard is small, or not many weeds, send them over to bless a neighbor or family member (but be sure they know enough not to destroy someone else's yard!)

Mow.  Mow the entire lawn with the mower at a higher setting than usual.  If they are still miserable to be around, tell them you really think that looks too high... and have them mow again, on a lower setting.  Hard work that blesses everyone who goes into your yard.

Dig a hole.  We have an area of hard clay in our yard by the garden that I really want to build up the soil in to make usable.  Instead of building a garden box, I'm going to keep that for someone to dig out so I can fill with good soil.  Hard work that blesses me and everyone else.

Saw.  My husband gathers wood during the summer (and takes the boys with him) so we can enjoy little fires in the fireplace all winter.  Last time he went, he got 8-10' long logs and stacked them in the back yard.  Boys who need hard physical labor get to go out and hand saw of a chunk (measured to the right length) and then chop and stack it.  HARD work that blesses the entire family during those long, dreary winter evenings.

Options for sawing:  search Craigslist for free wood. Even if you don't have a fireplace, I bet you know someone who does.  Have them handsaw and stack wood to deliver to someone who could use it.  Even scrap lumber (untreated--found for free at any number of construction sites--be sure to get permission) can be sawn into chunks and stacked for burning.  Or sawn and split with a hatchet into kindling for campfires or friends.

Scrub:  They can use a shop broom dipped in a bucket of soapy water to scrub the siding on your house or shed, and rinse off.  Scrubbing the siding, trim, and gutters till sparkling is a LOT of physical work and blesses the family with a clean, cared for house.

Sweep:  They can sweep decks, patios, driveways, walkways, curbs, and even the area in front of the house, along the curb.

Rake:  We have messy trees that drop SOMETHING year round.  Raking these up till the area is done, or for bigger jobs we ask them to rake till the yard debris bin is full.

Move rocks.  Often on craigslist you'll find free rocks for building rock walls,  or free concrete scraps.  Take the kids with you to gather and bring home.  They can unload the rocks into a pile.  Then if they need work, they can move the pile to another area of the yard.  The next time, another area, and another, and another, etc.

I think one of the most important aspects of this though, is to be sure to send them out with YOU having a good attitude.  Don't ruin it by yelling when frustrated at them to "GO OUT AND MOVE THOSE ROCKS RIGHT NOW MISTER!"

But rather, call the trouble maker in and calmly ask them to do the chore.  If they refuse, you can give them options... "well, would you like to move that pile of rocks for me, or work on that hole? Either is fine, as long as it's done before the day is over."


  1. GREAT idea, Kels!! I wonder why I didn't think of this earlier! It's working great! I'll remember the Mobile Wood Pile idea too!!


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