Showering when you have a baby is hard, but if you’re willing to listen to a little fussing, it’s totally doable. They aren’t going anywhere or getting into anything. They can be safely contained with ease. But then they get mobile and curious and showering while they are awake feels equivalent to handing them a bowl of uncut grapes and walking away. Sure, you could get up early and shower (unless your toddler is in your bed by morning and wakes as soon as she feels your warm body’s absence), or when they nap… but then you’re waiting until 2:00 to shower some days and WAHMs know how precious those nap time hours are. There’s night time, but my curly hair really prefers to partially dry naturally, and sleeping on wet hair is a no go.
My toddler’s sleep routine and my hair routine are at odds. So a few times a week, I’m forced to navigate showering with a toddler who is into allthethings. If you find yourself in the precarious position of needing to shower during your toddler’s waking hours and the spouse or a reliable older sibling isn’t there to help, here’s some tried and true ways to occupy a toddler while you give yourself some much deserved hygienic self-care.
First an essential, you’ll need a containment device for your toddler. We keep the highchair in the bathroom now that she’s sitting in a booster chair at the table. A pack-n-play or exersaucer can work well too, but I’ve really had the best luck with a high chair. It might even be worth buying an extra cheap Ikea high chair or an extra booster chair that you can just set on the floor, especially if the kitchen and your bathroom aren’t close to each other.
- Snacks, Snacks, Snacks
Plop some Cheerios or puffs down on the tray or in a snack cup and lather up fast. The clock is ticking. You might want to hide a sucker in a discreet spot just in case there is a mid-shampoo meltdown.
- Shower Over Breakfast
If you’ve got them in the highchair anyway, you might as well serve them their breakfast (or lunch) while you shower. If you make yourself a smoothie or shake, you can drink your breakfast at the same time too. Three birds baby!
- Play Dough
Some moms might break out in hives at this suggestion, but I tried this with my almost two-year old the other day and I got to wash my hair and shave my legs, plus I got my hair and make-up done and even got dressed. Totally worth picking dried bits of play dough off my tile for a few days!
- Educational Animation
If ever there is a good excuse to plop your kiddo in front of a screen, it’s mama’s shower time. The PBS App on the phone or kindle is my favorite. My toddler can navigate it herself and change her mind as many times as she wants. I think she’s really just in it for the introduction songs. (I can’t blame her either; some of those are catchy.) Use the Guided Access feature on your iPhone to keep your little one locked into an app.
- A Ziplock Bag of Trinkets
There’s something extra about a ziplock bag of toys and trinkets because not only can they play with the toys themselves, but they can take them out of the bag and put them back in, open and close the zipper. The bag is half the fun!
- Shower with Your Toddler
If you can beat ’em, join ’em. Put them in the shower with you and get you both clean at one time or let them splash around in the water. We keep cheap shaving cream on hand for the kids to play with on the shower walls.
- Special Toy
A friend of mine bought her little one a special fun toy that she’s only allowed to play with when Mommy showers. It stays special that way and they both have something to look forward to when it’s shower time.
- Sacrificial Box of Wipes
How much are you willing to pay for a peaceful shower? How about two dollars? That’s a bargain, if you ask me and if you look up babysitting rates these days. My toddler is never quieter than when I find her sneaking into a box of wipes, so sticking her in a pack-n-play with a box and free reign, is a sure fire way to keep her quiet and happy.
- Dry-Erase Markers
Dry erase markers and a cheap dry-erase board are fun for little ones that like to draw. My first could be trusted to stay on the paper with crayons, but not so much with my second. She likes to explore all the surfaces around her, so a dry-erase marker makes it easy to clean up her high chair after she’s enjoyed some artistic expression.
- Silly Songs, Peek-a-Boo, Basically Your Undivided Attention…
If your toddler is just not having it, peek-a-boo with the shower curtain or singing their favorite songs can often get you through that final home stretch so you don’t have to abruptly end your shower with one leg shaved and conditioner still in your hair.
If all else fails, dry shampoo and deodorant can carry you through a lot longer than you’d think. A day will come mama, when your child will sit through an entire episode of Sesame Street or play independently for 20 minutes without being destructive. It will be here before you know it and you will shower in peace once again. Until then, treat yourself to a new cute hat every now and then!