“I’ll be really quick,” my friend says to us as she steps into a shower stall.
It’s the peak of summer at a family camp that’s been put on water restrictions, and there are about 5 of us women in line to take a shower.
Before I know it, my friend is stepping out of her shower stall and I exclaim “Wow, you weren’t kidding when you said you’d be quick! Mom shower, eh?” She smiles back. We both know how to do quick showers with young kids; we could probably write the book on it.
I couldn’t always shower this quickly, though. It makes me wonder – what other random skills have I picked up on mostly by virtue of becoming a parent?
1. The ability to confine showers to a length of two minutes or less
I’ve found that the length of my showers is inversely proportional to the age and number of my children. One newborn? Easy peasy after those first couple weeks of adjusting to new parenthood: shower sounds can actually lull most of them to sleep on a full tummy. With a preschooler and a toddler now, I have had to make some serious decisions about what constitutes “necessity” in showering. Shaving? Only armpits. Washing hair? Save it for the weekends. In our house, when my husband and I trade off showering time, we ask each other one question: are you taking a full shower or body shower?
2. The ability to wipe a baby’s poopy bottom with a single wipe.
It took a while to learn this skill, but it’s borne out of necessity. When one has only one wipe because the toddler has made a game out of removing all but the last wipe in order to clean the coffee table, and then threw them away (because, darn it, you taught them to throw used wipes away), one must improvise. The key is removing as much junk as possible by wiping with the diaper itself before removing it. Then, use the wipe very judiciously to remove all the remaining…stuff.
3. Having an ever-ready list of silly children’s songs that can be used to distract, entertain or encourage cooperation.
I learned early on that almost any directive I wanted my daughter to follow could be sung to the tune of “Frere Jacques”: “Let’s put your shoes on, let’s put your shoes on, here we go! To the park! Hold your feet still please, hold your feet still please, thank you very much! Thank you very much!
Annoying? Heck freaking yes. Effective? To the tune of 98 percent. Or something like that.
4. Realizing that people aren’t judging you as much as everyone says they are.
I remember being so concerned about taking my baby on flights to visit family. Didn’t everyone hate riding on planes with infants? What if my baby cried? While nursing my infant in the waiting area to board our plane one early trip, she pulled off my nursing cover and I remember my chagrin at being suddenly exposed.
But while I held my breath, nobody in that waiting area gave me dirty looks. Nobody on that flight groaned or got verbally annoyed when our baby got fussy and had a stinky blowout diaper. In fact, I’ve never experienced any of those reactions. The looks and comments I have received say “You’re doing great!” or “Solidarity.” or “Can I help you?” or “Your kids are adorable and let me tell you about my grandkids.”
I’ve learned not to apologize for things I don’t need to apologize for, like my kids being kids.
5. Appreciating the little wins.
You remembered to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer before they started smelling like mildew? High five. Returned those library books on time? Successfully hid vegetables in your kids food (or, decided not to feel guilty for feeding your family a $5 Hot n Ready pizza for dinner)? You are winning the day. Compared to whatever your life might have been like before kids, these may feel like such small potatoes, but don’t be shy about counting each “little” win for what it is, especially in the early days. One step at a time – you’ve got this.