This flies in the face of the wise advice to “nap when baby naps” (and the less-popular “empty the dishwasher when baby naps”), but it is your best window of opportunity. The pitfall to this plan is “the phantom cry”. Mid-shower, you think you hear your baby fussing. You turn off the water, peek out of the shower and hear… absolutely nothing. After 15 long, drippy seconds, you shrug and turn the shower back on. After several rounds of this, I ended up bringing the baby monitor into the bathroom and cranking the volume to full.
This approach does not lead to a relaxing, leisurely shower. This is a speed event. If you can drag a bouncy chair or exersaucer into your bathroom, and your baby will remain content in it for five minutes, then you’ve got a legitimate shot. Either way, you’ve got to hustle. Say goodbye to “lather, rinse, repeat” and hello to “scrub like mad and maybe shave one shin if you’re lucky.” I’m convinced that 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner products were invented by a new mom trying to cut 20 seconds off her personal best time.
Truthfully, this system wasn’t my favourite, because it required a lot of patience. I was already counting the minutes until my husband’s return – as a set of helping hands, a supportive ear and a source of adult conversation – and now I was relying on him for my basic personal hygiene, too? I was tense and frustrated from feeling grimy all day, and I couldn’t enjoy the experience with my overdramatic, irate thoughts: “Who showers at 5:15 p.m.? This is preposterous! What has become of my life?”
My sister saved the day. She insisted I get out of the house and join her for a yoga class at her fitness centre. Grandma was only too willing to babysit, so I went for it. After the workout, the unlimited, uninterrupted shower turned out to be the major endorphin rush of the day. The hot water never ran out. There were no crying sounds (real or imagined). I used exotic-scented shampoo, conditioner, shave gel and body wash, followed by lotion, mist and moisturizer. It felt so good to be clean.
The gym locker room is obviously a lot more public than your own bathroom. I used to be very shy about nudity (and I still packed a giant bath towel for the gym), but I am less concerned about it since my experience in the delivery room, where it felt like every doctor, nurse, student, intern and custodial trainee was able to breeze in and view my most private areas. It’s just one of the many ways that motherhood has changed me – and I’m okay with it, as long as I get to wash my hair once in awhile.
Originally published in Me & Mom, 2014.