Do kids and hot showers co-exist?

We all know how difficult it is to get things done while taking care of little ones. Even something as simple as taking a hot shower seems like a challenge most days, let alone trying to make dinner, clean up the house, or write a coherent blog post ;). It can be easy to resign to using media to entertain your children to accomplish such tasks. However what starts as a little TV time here and there, can collectively add up to more media exposure than you might desire for your family. We are a TV-free family (going on 12 years!) therefore I’ve had to be creative in figuring out how to accomplish things with little ones. Here’s what has worked for us:

Showering – One advantage to having dreadlocks is having to shower less frequently…however I doubt many mamas are going to resolve their shower woes by going dready so what other creative solutions are there? What has worked for my family has varied throughout the ages and number of children I have. Often waiting to shower until daddy was home in the evening was the best solution. To be honest it was a hard adjustment to not be able to start my day with a hot shower. It was almost as if my body was programmed to wake up to a cascade of warm water rolling down my back. Once that was no longer a consistent option, I had to adjust my expectations and accept the opportunity to shower whenever it was available. Typically an optimal time to squeeze in a shower was while baby napped. Sometimes I would create a little safe, soft spot on the bathroom floor using baby blankets and the Boppy where baby would hang out, while I showered. This worked really well with my second son. I would turn on the loud bathroom fan for him as well. I think the sound of the water and fan were very calming to him. When your baby is a little older and able to sit up, you can bring them in the shower with you. I would give my son a little collection of tub toys and have him face the opposite direction of the water. He was perfectly content to hang out/play while I showered.  I have a friend who has a basket of “special toys” that are highly engaging but only come out during shower time. Now that my boys are a little older I can trust them for short periods of time while I squeeze in a quick rinse-off shower while my youngest naps. However if I need a longer shower (to shave or wash my dreads or if I am just in need of a small dose of sanity) I shower in the bathroom that adjoins the master bedroom. I tell the kids to stay in the bedroom where I can keep an ear out for them. Their current favorite game while I shower is to turn on the alarm clock radio really loud and hop around the bed. It’s crazy, wild, and chaotic in the bedroom but allows me to shower. And there is honestly something so entirely soothing about water. I find I crave its healing properties on those really stressful mothering days.

Cleaning– I have a friend who says “it takes a mess, to clean a mess” and I 100% agree. Now that my kids are older I will often set them up with a sensory-based activity such as playdough or *gulp* moonsand when I want a block of time to clean. Yes, it makes a mess, but the mess is relatively contained and isolated to an particular area. Another option is to set them up with a snack that involves them in the process of preparing it. For example I will give them a blob of peanut butter, crackers, raisins, and a butter knife. I let them go to town with spreading peanut butter and placing raisins on top, while I get busy cleaning. I also rely a great deal on having my kids play outside while I clean inside. Another option is to involve them in the process. They love when I give them a spray bottle filled with water and a stack of rags. They have a blast “cleaning” the house with me. They also really enjoy when I give them a bucket of water to take outside to play with. Water and kids is almost always a winning combination and buys me a big chunk of cleaning time. When the boys were younger I would clean during nap time or on weekends when hubby was home to entertain baby. Another great option with babies is to wear them while you clean. Back carries are particularly conducive to completing housework. I had to embrace the “it takes a mess, to clean a mess” philosophy even with a very young baby. While it’s not as easy to set a young baby up with a particular activity (since their attention is more fleeting), they will discover their own messy activity completely on their own. 🙂 For example I have happily let baby pull all the books off the shelves just so I can fold a load of laundry or wash the dishes. While this seems like a basic parenting 101 skill, it did take me a little time to fully understand that “Cleaning up with children around is like shoveling during a blizzard” (author unknown). Now that I get and accept that’s what cleaning with kids is like, I am much happier while cleaning my house even though stimutaneously new messes are often being made. 🙂

What creative solutions have you developed to get chores done while caring for your little ones? Would love to hear some tips from you!

-Sarah

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