Spring Break at Home: Nerf Gun House Rules


Girl moms can do an at home spa day for spring break like contributor Kira shared about, but where are all my fellow #boymoms at?!

I have three little guys in my house–a 5 year old, a 2 year old, and a 2 month old (and a fourth, if you count my biggest child, my husband!) 

As the sole female in my house, I’ve had to learn to embrace all the things that come with the territory of being surrounded by all this testosterone: lots of poop and fart talk, superheroes and crime-fighters everywhere, and WWE wrestling matches on the daily.

One issue that I hadn’t really thought much about came up with my husband when my oldest, Jacob, was almost 4 years old. He asked me, “Are we going to let Jacob have Nerf Guns?” I honestly had no idea what I thought about this. 

Beyond the obvious considerations surrounding the hyper-exposure to excess violence (and that’s not what this post is about–to each their own wherever you land on that issue), Nerf Guns are like Legos and Kinetic Sand–some moms flat out prohibit them in their house because of all the little pieces and mess it causes and all the fights you have to referee over these things.

But, we ended up landing on the side of embracing the chaos with several rules and boundaries set in place to ensure my own sanity and the kids’ safety and enjoyment. So, if you’re potentially considering getting any Nerf Guns for your kids–boys or girls, here’s some tips, tricks, and hacks that I and some other of my fellow mom friends have found useful.



First and Foremost, Protective Eyewear is Non-Negotiable

Spring Break at Home: Nerf Gun House RulesEvery mom that I polled about this had the same thing to say: they insist their kids wear some kind of eye protection when playing with Nerf guns, similar to insisting on helmets when bike riding. This is understandable for us who suffered a few too many scratched corneas in the 90’s.

Think swim goggles, these safety glasses from Amazon or Home Depot, or even just normal sunglasses. Anything to prevent them from “shooting their eyes out!” #Ralphie No glasses, no Nerf guns. Period.

Provide Some Target Other than Each Other

Especially when they’re younger, maybe encourage shooting something instead of someone. Before we get out the Nerf guns, I help my boys set up some of their figurines or building blocks around the playroom to shoot at. That pile of McDonald’s Happy Meal toys is perfect for this!

Spring Break at Home: Nerf Gun House RulesBonus benefit: Smaller targets require more aim, so they spend a considerable amount of concentration trying to knock those down and really develop some hand/eye coordination.

Other moms have suggested drawing a target on a backyard wall with chalk or using a dry erase marker to draw one on a sliding glass door. You could even have your kids draw monsters or bad guys on construction paper and hang them around the room/playroom as targets. 

Get creative and let your kids be part of the set up!

Establish your own International Rules of Engagement

If you do allow shooting at each other, establish some bodily safety rules such as:

  • No aiming for the face, shoot only from the shoulders down
  • You can only shoot from a certain distance (i.e. establish “bases” to shoot from, or you can only shoot from behind tape on the floor that is 2 or 3 feet apart)
  • If someone says “stop,” everyone must immediately stop
  • No shooting while someone is reloading
  • Set a timer in 2 or 3 minute increments to give everyone a chance to reload/rest
  • One friend told me that she keeps any bullets that hit her so her boys learn not to shoot Mommy LOL

Just do whatever works best for your certain kids and the dynamics between them. Bottom line is to keep it FUN for everyone and to not descend into actual combat!

Start Small

There are 6 cousins on one side of our family, and 5 of them are boys all within about 18 months’ age of each other. We wanted to get them all Nerf guns for Christmas last year, but didn’t want WW3 erupting at my in-law’s house. So, we got all the cousins these single-shot Nerf shooters

They only hold and shoot 1 dart at a time. You have to reload and cock it after each shot. This was a great equalizer for kids and adults alike, and prevented anyone from just getting completely annihilated. 

We have very gradually upgraded to ones that hold more than one bullet, but still only shoot one at a time. You can go all the way up to machine gun style whenever they are old enough. Again, go at a pace that’s best for your family and what they can handle.

Clean Up is EVERYONE’S Job

Listen, just accept it. If you allow Nerf guns into your home, you WILL be finding random darts and bullets in the craziest of places for the next two decades. It’s fine.

But like anything else, if the kids are gonna make the mess, they need to learn how to clean up the mess. And I heard some hilarious (and ingenious!) methods to getting everyone to help pick up all the bullets and mitigate the carnage:

  • Any bullets found the next day will be thrown away
  • Play is only allowed in one room to help contain the mess
  • Whoever picks up the most darts gets a special treat or prize

Whatever you do, don’t be like me and try to count them to make sure you got them all back. That will never end well for you. NEVER.

Just Have Fun!

If you’re on the fence about getting on the Nerf gun train, I’m here to tell you that they can really be a whole lot of fun for the entire family! The cousins all had a blast making these core memories together last Christmas! And after all the kids went to the bed, my SIL and I just shot at our husband’s on the couch for, like, an hour. I’ve never laughed so hard! 

With whatever rules and boundaries work best for your family, you can enjoy this quintessential childhood experience together safely and without too much mess!



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