Parenthood does wonders for your appearance. Unfortunately, this pretty much means people look at you and *wonder* what the heck happened (probably not what you were going for…) In fact, appearance post-children is such a struggle bus that I will probably make this into a series of posts. Up first: bathing.
You’re going to have to find a standard with which you’re comfortable. I highly recommend finding that balance somewhere in between gorgeous model and disheveled, unshowered lunatic. The former is certainly a pipedream but the latter is undoubtedly my husband’s nightmare, so, you know, compromise.
This is not to say that Lady Lunatic will not be making her periodic appearances, and in fact, there may be seasons in which it looks like she has downright taken over (side-eye to you sleep regression, terrible twos, stomach-flu-season, etc.). Still, making a little effort here and there is good for the soul. The problem: appearing somewhat normal these days requires more than making just “a little effort.” It requires a Herculean one…
Bathing: Once Upon a Time… and now.
Personal hygiene doesn’t happen as easily as it used to. It is no longer “I feel like a shower and hence, I shower.” Bathing now resembles a juggling act. If your spouse is home, you can trade-off shower time –one watches the kids while the other washes up. This is all well and great on the weekend, but during the week is where things really get dicey.
I stay home with the kids and Hubs leaves for work very early. There was a time when I used to get up while the kids slept and shower before he left, but that was several children ago and my desire for sleep has long since trumped my desire to be clean.
These days, showering requires my three children to be safely engaged in something. Every now and then, the planets align and I manage to snag a shower while the oldest is at school, the middle is in his room for “rest time” and the baby is napping. This happens approximately five times per year.
Unfortunately, five weekday showers per year is, clearly, gross. To shower on the other days, I experience this dilemma: Do I tell my kids what I’m about to do?
The upside to telling them is that they know where to find me if there is an emergency and my oldest will know to be more careful of the baby (who will be safely-ish locked away in a pack n play, bouncer, crib, etc.).
The down side: the second you tell the kids what you are doing, they need you urgently. All three kids could be happily playing/sleeping/watching a cartoon, but if you tell them you are going to shower (or heaven forbid, to the bathroom), wait about two seconds so all hell can break loose.
I typically choose the Sneaky Shower, which involves starting the shower and getting everything ready, then going downstairs to do one final check on the kids’ well-being. If the coast is clear, I then sprint up the stairs, take off my clothes (often while simultaneously sprinting up the stairs–sorry neighbors!–perhaps we should’ve considered a house with a first-floor Master bedroom…), hop in the shower and wash up in Guinness World Record time, and then get out.
The sound of the water camouflages any screaming that comes from downstairs, which is a mixed blessing. You won’t hear screaming and crying, which is stressful, but you also won’t hear screaming and crying which requires your assistance.
This is why you must not be fooled into lingering in the shower. Sure it’s nice and warm and quiet in there, and you begin to contemplate moving into your shower and living there forever, but move it along, sister.
Because of all the drama and potential damage (property, bodily harm, etc.) that goes along with weekday bathing, dry shampoo and I have become BFFs. I am forced to rely on my BFF, plus a courtesy spritz of body spray or Febreeze for the good of those who must smell me, far more often than I would like (I may live in a fraternity house, but that doesn’t mean I want to look like it). To say that they camouflage my unshoweredness would certainly be overselling my success; perhaps “damage controlling” my unshoweredness is a better description.
I wish things were different, but this is where we are right now. Cleanliness is certainly still on my list of desirable things, but it’s on that list behind things like not getting fired, not dying from sleep deprivation, and not having my children battle one another in an all-out death match while I am not supervising them.
Bathing the Kids: Meh, maybe.
The hygiene struggles apply to the kids as well, especially the more you have of them. With our oldest, we used to have a whole bedtime routine. After all, this is what the baby books tell you to do, and there’s nothing a new parent clings to more than baby books.
Each night, Hubs and I, together, would draw the baby a bath and let him play for as long as he wanted. Then we’d take him out, get him into his pajamas, and read him bedtime stories. Then, I’d rock him in the glider, saying prayers and singing his favorite lullabies before laying him in his bed. I am cracking up over the elaborate memory of it all as I type this.
Fast forward a few years and kids later. I’m almost ashamed to admit this (I say almost, because motherhood is the murderer of shame), but we regularly can’t remember the last time we bathed the youngest. My husband and I have literally had to start counting back, together, to determine the most recent bath (Well, it was after you left for your business trip… but before your parents came to visit….).
We determine that it’s bath night by the level of filth we can see or smell on the children. Spaghetti dinner? Yep, that’s going to require a bath. Baseball practice? Gahhhh! It’s not even the child who was playing baseball that most requires the shower (although he may need one too); it’s the siblings we dragged along who spent ninety minutes entertaining themselves by digging in the dirt, throwing it in one another’s hair, and occasionally, eating it for good measure.
Bathing in the Summer? The pool is your bath. You’re welcome.
Summertime brings a little relief from the bath-time shenanigans. I don’t care what anyone else says, a pool is basically a giant bathtub, so if we’ve been swimming, whatever to baths. What.ev.er.
Apparently this doesn’t apply if you have girls because their hair tangles into an apocalyptic rat’s nest, but I reside in a sea of testosterone so la dee da, hooray for me.
Besides the bathtub-pool bonus, summertime also means the end of school. This will contribute to your insanity in a thousand different ways, but one thing no school does mean (that is helpful) is FEWER WITNESSES. Okay, maybe my kid played pretty hard at the playground and could use a bath tonight, but the only person who’ll be seeing/smelling him tomorrow is me so, off to bed with you. We’ll go to the pool tomorrow.
Share this post with a parent who knows that the sometimes-bathing struggle is real!