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How to take a shower, unplugged

In case you missed it: Having considered the issue, reconsidered it, and considered it again, the American Academy of Pediatrics says no screentime for your babies under two years old. This should be old news, but even old news bears repeating and repeating again as our culture becomes more screen-oriented: Your baby learns nothing from a glowing rectangle, so turn it off!

I remember when I had my first baby, and our decision to turn off the TV and not look back. It happened one night when we were watching our usual Thursday TV: Seinfeld, Friends, and ER. My son was nursing, and he couldn’t stop himself from popping off and watching. That was all the convincing we needed.

I also remember what people said when I told them that we’d decided on no screen time for our baby:

“How do you take a shower?”

Well, I’m here to tell you that for millenia past, moms have been taking showers (or baths) with no problem. Here’s how it goes:

1) Set your child up in a safe location.
Moms in millenia past probably didn’t have play pens, but you do. Or put him on the floor of your bathroom. Snap the baby gate across the doorway to her room. Whatever you do, be sure that he is safe.

2) Make sure your child has something to do.
Long before we had screens, we had blocks. We had mirrors. We had linking rings and squeaky plush toys. The screen isn’t the only weapon in your arsenal.

3) Take the darn shower.
News to modern moms: A little screaming never hurt a kid.

I know, we all want to be the perfect parent these days. Studies tell us that kids need to feel loved. Parenting books tell us that when we neglect our children, all sorts of unspeakable things happen. But folks, this is a shower. This is something you need. You need to feel warm water coursing down your body, washing away the smell of spoiled breastmilk and the drool that your baby put on your neck right after eating creamed carrots.

Here are some ways that you can justify this:

1) If you don’t take care of your needs, you won’t be a good mom.
This is proven. Unfulfilled (and unshowered) moms turn out needy, out-of-control kids. Don’t believe me? I’m sure your grocery store checkout aisle is displaying a tabloid newspaper with all the details.

2) Your kids will learn, at some point, that they can’t have everything they want, and that point is now, during your shower.
Kids with moms who react to their every whimper turn out to be wimpy, whimpering kids. Yes, you should definitely react if your child is about to be eaten by a lion. But a bored child asking for your attention when you’re just getting a little peace in the shower? This is a child who needs to learn about Priorities.

3) Kids whose parents don’t entertain them constantly are more successful as adults.
You heard it here: Actual Scientific Evidence proves that boredom is good for children. Don’t believe me? The next time your older kid asks to play a video game, just say no. Don’t give a reason. Just say no. Then lock yourself away somewhere and say that you have something Very Important to take care of. Then spy on your kids. At first, they’ll gripe, throw things, scream, or draw on the walls. Whatever they do to get your attention. But soon, they’ll realize that you’re serious. This time, you’re really not giving in. Then you’ll see what they’re capable of. Perhaps they’ll start fooling with cellophane tape and end up with a Nobel Prize. You never know.

When my kids were little, I brought them into the bathroom with me. I had special toys that lived only in our bathroom, so it was a treat for them. Any other time, these toys were off-limits. But when I was in the shower, play away! One such toy was a bag of fascinating foam pieces that took forever to pick up and put away. But the kids adored this toy. They also got noisemaker toys (which I hated) when I was in the shower.

Yes, at first, they tried to get my attention by crying. This is their biological imperative: they must try to keep Mama’s attention. But it’s our biological imperative to find a way to take  a shower. And we must fulfill that imperative, take the shower, and feel ready, again, to face the world.

Eventually, your child will realize that this is Life. This is The Way Things Are. And your child will give in.

Now, you may have to wait a while. If you have a sixteen-year-old in there with you, pleading for his iPod, I give you permission to give in. Let him have the iPod, go to his room, put his feet up on the wall, and tune out.

If at that point you’ve had to give in, at least you get your shower, what you need, what you deserve, your Biological Imperative.

Enjoy it. You deserve that shower.

Next time:

  • How to sleep through the night.
  • How to eat your own meal without sharing it.
  • How to have one full, complete, and satisfying conversation without interruptions.

Posted in Parenting.


2 Responses

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  1. Melody says

    You can also bring your baby into the shower. This way she gets clean too. And won’t be attacked by her older sibling. I still feel less worried that mayhem will break out if one of my children is showering with me. The lone child seems to play well, but together they cause trouble.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. iPotty, uPotty, we all scream for iPotty! – Avant Parenting linked to this post on December 11, 2013

    […] How to take a shower, unplugged […]



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