How to Take a Shower
It sounds like a wacky bit of new-mom hyperbole, except that it totally isn’t. Finding time to take a shower after having a baby is HARD. It requires planning. Multi-tasking. ACCESSORIES.
It’s not so bad at first, when they’re teensy and immobile and generally just lie around like a burrito, or when you have PEOPLE with HANDS around to HELP YOU. But then everybody goes home. Your partner goes back to work. Maybe you go back to work, but then your partner starts leaving the house at 6 a.m. to “go to the gym” or “beat the traffic” or other things that are code for “not being around to help you get up and out the door in a efficient and hygienic manner.” Maybe the baby gets bigger and more wiggly and waaay more opinionated. Maybe waiting until he/she goes down for a morning nap means waiting later and longer each day. Maybe the phrase “morning nap” is the funniest thing you’ve read in a long time.
There were (many, many) days when my husband came home to find me still in my pajamas, unwashed. And more often than not, those were (very, very) bad days for me.
I’ve talked with girlfriends about the shower thing, about how easy it is to become some kind of stereotypical cliche of a slovenly housewife, as we have to think really HARD about whether we brushed our teeth that morning, and find we have to plan for shaving our legs at least a week in advance. And then we all talk about the solutions we’ve MacGuyver’d up to allow us to shower in peace with a wide-awake baby. Solutions we really should be passing along to the next generation, as imperfect as some of them are.
Things I’ve Used To Take A Shower In Peace, SO FAR:
1) Bouncy seat.
The obvious choice, especially in a small bathroom, though both of my children needed me to extend a dripping wet leg out of the tub and give the seat the occasional manual bounce.
Pros: Small, portable, safety straps, music/lights/vibration.
Cons: Very short time frame of use, still mostly stationary, requires batteries, your baby probably hates it.
2) Travel swing.
Our bathrooms have always been too small for those big cradle swings, but I was usually able to get our smaller Fisher Price Take-a-Long swing set up and rocking. If your baby loves his/her carseat, Graco makes a collapsible swing frame that most infant bucket seats can snap into.
Pros: It’s a swing that fits in the bathroom. Duh.
Cons: Getting it through the door can still present a challenge, requires batteries, your baby probably hates it.
3) Baby bath seat.
If you have the tub/shower combo with a bit of space at the end and a baby who can sit upright, get a small bath seat with suction cups or some kind of grippy bottom — in a style that your baby can’t (yet) escape from. (Something like an Aquababy or the Tummy Tub.) Angle the showerhead down and give your baby some bath toys while he/she enjoys a little sauna and naked mommy show.
Pros: Great for a baby who *ALWAYS* wants to be with you, two-for-one bathtime.
Cons: Getting out of the shower and dried off is a little more complicated with a slippery naked baby, and one day you’ll rinse the soap off your face and find that surprise! Your baby has figured out how to get out of the seat and is making a very wet break for it.
4) Doorway jumper.
Another option for the slightly more antsy/mobile baby is attaching a Jumperoo to the bathroom door frame.
Pros: Worked GREAT in our old apartment, where the door opened away from the tub.
Cons: Did not work AT ALL in our house, where the door opens toward the tub, thus completely blocking Ezra’s view, causing much woe and wailing the instant he couldn’t see me.
5) Baby-proof the bathroom.
Bring in toilet and cabinet locks, outlet covers, extra bath mats or blankets and some toys and just let your kid have the run of the room.
Pros: By far, the number-one choice of Ezra the Fearless Wonder Toddler.
Cons: Don’t forget to remove the toilet paper from the holder. And move the plunger outside. Clear everything off the counter if your baby can stand up. What did just find behind the toilet? Oh, God, this is the SHORTEST SHOWER EVER.
6) Fake it.
Some days, it’s just not going to happen, or it’s going to happen so quickly that you’re still going to feel like a mess afterward. Invest in some good dry shampoo (I like Ojon and Oscar Blandi) and ask your hairstylist to recommend bedhead-type styling/scrunching products for your hair type that can make messy, air-dried hair look purposeful (I like salt sprays and Bumble & Bumble’s Curl Conscious Holding Foam). Some spray shine (Bedhead Head Rush) works great to mask the dullness caused by dirt and dry shampoos. Use a body deodorant spray (I use an unscented one by Crystal). Aim for washing your face and brushing your teeth and get some good makeup shortcuts. Good foundation fakers include Dr. Brandt Pores No More primer, Laura Mercier’s Undercover Pot, and Benefit’s Some Kind-A Gorgeous. Swipe on mascara, some blush or bronzer and lip gloss and you’ll totally look like you MEANT to look like this.