3 reasons to shower with your toddler (and 1 not to)

3 reasons to shower with your toddler (and 1 not to)

When I first started staying home with Jack, the shower became one of our daily activities.

Our morning routine was breakfast, drop off big brother, run, and shower. Jack is an excellent running partner, and has become an agreeable shower buddy. It took awhile, but he doesn’t smack me in the face anymore for putting his back under the shower stream.

Showers weren’t a part of my original Stay-At-Home-Mom plan (because I totally had one of those, right). Using up all that water just to entertain a toddler would be pretty wasteful. But, after running with a stroller for several miles under the Texas summer sun, you kind of require a shower. Like, bad. So that first day after we ran together, I plopped him in the shower with me. I got clean, he had fun, and my house wasn’t destroyed. Win-win-win!

Since running helps me keep my sanity (which can be in short supply when home alone with a toddler), it and the shower became a regular occurrence in our weeks. After awhile, I started to see some real benefits to showering with a toddler.

Enjoy a shower again!

Showers are one of the first things to go when you have small children. The risks of death, destruction, dismemberment, or just general mayhem are not worth the benefits of clean pits. Solution: bring the toddler with you! You’ll never wonder what your little angel is destroying and/or eating, because he’s right there. Throw a few toys in the mix, and you should be able to have a decent shower. Bonus points: if you time it for after a meal, you can clean two people with one shower!

Comedy gold

My son is hysterical in the shower. He makes the funniest faces when water sprays his face (I may or may not be involved in this). He has tried to punch the shower stream for getting water on him (true story). Pouring water on Mom induces fits of giggles.

Skin-to-skin time

The benefits of skin-to-skin are well-documented for newborns, but I believe older babies/toddlers benefit as well! Jack is always on the go, so I cherish the times he wants to cuddle. In the shower, I’ll hold his chest against mine and let the water fall on his back. He’ll put his head on my shoulder or press his silky-soft cheek against mine. We’ll stand there like that for a minute or two, and it’s so relaxing for both of us.

One drawback to the shower

Any breastfeeding mom will tell you that seeing a boob will remind a nursling that he/she NEEDS to nurse. NOW. And the older the nursling, the more insistent he/she is. There were a few times our shower ended abruptly because Fuss McGuss just could not handle being around a bare boob without nursing. I didn’t want to be stuck in the shower for an undetermined amount of time, so I wouldn’t let him latch. He’d pound my chest, yelling “Nuh!” I’d answer calmly, “We’re not going to nurse right now.” Repeat until I could get all the soap off us and turn the shower off. This usually occurred when the shower was close to naptime, so that may have played a role. But just beware – if you shower with a breastfed toddler, there is a good chance he’ll want to nurse!

he won...post-shower nursing
he won…post-shower nursing

Sometimes, it’s better with him.

Sometimes, it’s better with him.

Picture this: you’ve been terrorized by a miniature version of yourself all morning (in other words, a normal Friday). The typical pattern is toddler asks for something (Waffle! Bite! Milk!), and when given said item, vehemently denies ever wanting it and punishes you for your insolence with assorted fussy behaviors. This pattern continues until toddler finally, blessedly, falls asleep.

 

Jack sleep
only someone with real cojones takes a flash picture of a sleeping toddler.

Picture this: house is silent. Toddler is crashed out in the bed. You slip out and quietly fist pump over the specter of Free Time. You never know how long this toddler-free time will last, so you intend to use it wisely (HA). It’s time to recharge the batteries, bring the patience meter up from negative 47, restore calm. You browse Facebook, check your email, and revel in the fact that there aren’t any sticky little fingers trying to turn the laptop off. You decide it’s time to dust off the old blog and start writing again.

Yes. It is definitely You Time.

dance
Source: http://giphy.com/gifs/JltOMwYmioVrO

Until…

A subtle change occurs in the atmosphere. You glance down the hall and see a little face quietly peering at you around the corner. The toddler has woken up and silently come to find you. He creeps over with a look of complete joy, like he’s just been given carte blanche to write on all the walls and climb on all the tables.

Jack table

So much for You Time.

But instead of getting frustrated, you welcome him. He crawls into your lap and asks to nurse. You oblige. He nurses for a few minutes before drifting off to sleep.

Jack nurse

You could get up and take him back to bed. You might be able to scrape out a little more You Time, maybe even craft that blog post that’s suddenly percolating.

But instead, you let him sleep in your arms. You smile at his little baby snores and memorize his sleeping face. He must have known you both needed this. The two of you sit silently on the couch, his little body sprawled out over your arm and lap, while you type your thoughts on your phone instead of the laptop.

Sometimes You Time is better with him. Sometimes what you – I – need isn’t time without him; its peaceful time with him. I need the reminder that it won’t always be like this – the good and the bad. He may always drive me nuts in one way or another, but he won’t always be able to snuggle into my lap for a midafternoon nurse ‘n nap. So for today, I welcome him into my You Time.

Sobriety: the best stress reliever

Today is my sobriety birthday. 8 years! Originally I thought I’d do something lighthearted; other awesome things that are 8 or notable stuff that happened today.

But then I had a shitty stressful day. ON MY (SOBRIETY) BIRTHDAY. Here’s the rundown:

Packed up both kids. Drove to grocery store. Unpacked kids. Halfway to store, realized I’d forgotten my wallet. This was me:

 

Fuuuu_Face

Packed up both kids. Drove home, found wallet. Finally back to store. Grocery shopping with two littles is never relaxing, especially when the almost-4-year-old chatters nonstop and the 6-week-old wakes up halfway through and screams for lunch.By the time I got home, got everyone fed, put the baby down for a nap and got the groceries put away, my nerves were shot.

And I was like, What. The. Hell. It’s my (sobriety) BIRTHDAY. I should be relaxing or doing something awesome – not feeling like a stretched-out rubber band that’s two seconds from breaking.

But after eating a bowl of popcorn and watching a few episodes of Agents of Shield, I realized this stress was exactly the right way to celebrate my (sobriety) birthday. The morning was shit, so what did I do with the afternoon? Not get drunk, not make bad decisions, not react and reach for something to numb the frustration. Instead, I ate a favorite food, watched a good show and gave myself time to relax.

Sobriety gave me the ability to do that. Sobriety also gave me the ability to still be a somewhat decent mother when my patience is so thin, it’s transparent. What better way to celebrate my (sobriety) birthday than to utilize the most precious gifts this day have given me?

photo(1)

A Letter To My Uterus

Dear Uterus,

I want to commend you for a job well done. For just about forty weeks now, you’ve nourished what is undoubtedly a beautiful baby boy. From all the pictures we’ve seen, he’s grown well and all the necessary bits are intact. You’ve done splendidly.

However, it’s time to let go.

You can’t have him forever. He’s going to keep growing and you can only stretch so far! It’s already getting pretty cramped in there, according to the rest of my abdomen. Bladder is especially insistent that her days as a trampoline come to an end soon.

It’s time to move into phase 2: expelling your precious cargo. Now, I know this requires more physical work than you’ve been doing. You’re going to have to use those muscles you’ve been working on for about 20 weeks now (yes, I’ve noticed your many, many sessions of Braxton Hicks, especially the ones when I was trying to sleep – your dedication has been commendable). You should have Olympic powerlifting levels of strength by now, so it really shouldn’t be too physically demanding for you to squeeze him out. I’ll even help (I’m sure you’ve noticed my own grueling workouts – all those lifting sessions were training for labor).

You held on too long with Colt, and remember how that turned out? I had to come at you with a Foley bulb and Pitocin. I really don’t want to have to do that again. Don’t make me use interventions! I know you have it in you to do it on your own.

I promise you, we will take good care of that sweet baby once he is out of you. He will be loved and cherished by everyone who is anxiously waiting to meet him – me, his daddy, his big brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles and of course anyone who is on social media. He will go straight from you to my chest, where I will hold him close and help him transition to this scary new world.

Are you holding on because this might be your last baby? Does it sadden you to think your Big Job in life might be done for good? I get it – I have similar feelings. But remember, there was a time we thought this baby might not happen. You never know what will happen in life!

So please, dear Uterus, let my baby go. I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done so far, and we’ll work together to bring him earthside.

Love,

Sara

uterus

P.S. No need to worry about how well he’ll be nourished outside of you. The Boobs wanted me to tell you they’ve got this. Judging by the amount of wet spots on my shirts lately, I have to agree with them.

A Little Less Lost and Alone

I attended a conference called Project Mom today. It was a day for moms to get out sans kids, get some swag and hear speakers on relevant topics. You know, typical conference stuff. I skipped the breakout sessions, but caught the beginning and ending keynote speakers. The message I got from them was “you are the perfect mom for your child” and “get connected so you don’t feel so alone.”

The first one is good, because I do need the reminder that I’m not royally screwing up my kid. There is a reason he, with all his endearing-yet-maddening personality traits, was given to me. I’m not a perfect parent, but I am the perfect parent for him. Helps keep the suicidal thoughts away (only joking here, right?).

The second message brought into sharp focus just how alone I feel. I’ve never been good at connecting with people. I forced myself to learn how to do it superficially (alcohol helped; relearning it in sobriety was even harder), but really letting people IN has always been hard. I lost some close friendships in the past year, which has made it even harder. Though I know the loss was partly my fault, and we’re mending the friendships slowly, the pain of losing women I considered sisters makes me not want to get close to anyone else. I don’t want to get hurt again.

So, I’ve lost my two closest friends. I’m in a new town and don’t know many people. Family and other friends are far away. When I’m in those low moments that seem to happen all-too-often with this pregnancy, I feel completely and utterly alone. I laid on my bed sobbing last week, wanting to reach out to someone but not coming up with any names. And it’s frightening. I guess I just haven’t figured out what is more frightening – opening up and telling someone I need help, or continuing on with these overwhelming feelings on my own.

Luckily, I went to Project Mom with a friend. She’s in a similar situation, and I feel like our friendship deepened a little with our shared experience today. I don’t feel quite so lost and alone, knowing there’s at least one other mom out there who shares my fears.

It’s ok to hate motherhood

It’s kind of funny that my last post was about angry music and in it, I asked my hormonal bitchiness to go away. The day after I wrote it, I had probably the worst day of my pregnancy, hormone-wise.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was the perfect storm of crazy. I was tired, sore from my Sunday run, short-tempered and low on patience. My son was whiny, tired and not really willing to listen to me. Everything came to a head when he refused to nap. I laid with him for a little bit and, of course, fell asleep just long enough to wake up groggy, tired and more irritable than before. I left him lying there awake and told him to sleep. About 15 minutes later, I hear a knocking on his door (his usual way of letting me know he’s up). I ignored it, until I heard him hit the door with what sounded like a hard toy.

I kind of exploded. It wasn’t pretty. I yelled about not hitting the door and he started crying. In a fit of rage, I showed him how his beloved Lego Marvel superheroes video game was going into the closet for the foreseeable future because he wouldn’t nap. All the while, he’s standing there with tears in his eyes, probably confused as to why I was freaking out so much.

Once I forced myself to calm down a bit, I held him for awhile and apologized for yelling. We talked about how it was scary that I yelled and how he shouldn’t have hit his door and I shouldn’t have yelled. He was running around and playing as if nothing had happened about 15 minutes later, but I was still in a state.

Fast forward, my husband gets home and they go outside to play. I sit down outside to watch and soak up some Vitamin D, but within two minutes I have to go lay on my bed and bawl my frickin’ eyes out. While sitting out there, watching my son run around, I had this fleeting thought:

I wish he’d keep running and not come back.

That instantly triggered the mom guilt and reinforced my thoughts of inadequacy; hence the tears. As I lay there sobbing, I alternated between beating myself up for having such a horrible thought and being terrified at the thought of having two children when I can barely manage one.

Now, normally this is the point in a blog post like this where I’d tell you about that magical moment where I realized it’s all going to be okay. That my son did something heart-melting and I saw what a joy motherhood really was. Not going to happen this time. I didn’t have an a-ha moment like that this time.

My son and husband did come in and try to make me feel better. My husband rubbed my back and sat there in silence, knowing I would talk if I wanted to. My son jumped around the bed, asking if I was ok, telling his dad that I was sad and giving me little kisses and hugs. It did help my tears subside and my calm (sanity) return, but it didn’t make me love motherhood again.

And that’s FINE. It’s okay to have thoughts like mine. It’s normal not to love motherhood 100% of the time. It’s all right not to have that Hallmark moment where you realize everything is going to be hunky-dory. If it takes you a little longer to find your calm again, you are still a good mama.

Note: If you have these kind of feelings, acknowledge them. Don’t force them away because you are ashamed, or think good mamas don’t have those thoughts. Let them out in some constructive way: crying, talking to someone, screaming (into a pillow, preferably not at someone else), doing a therapeutic activity (art, yoga, whatever floats your boat). If you hold these types of feelings inside, they will fester and possibly grow into something worse. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel like you’re drowning. Asking for help is a sign of strength. My support team is my husband, my parents, a few close friends and my OB. After I give birth, I plan to go back on my antidepressants (I know there are some I could take during pregnancy, but I don’t feel my need outweighs the potential risks to the baby at this point). Just please, don’t hide these feelings away out of fear or shame. You are a good mama, and don’t ever forget that.

I Support You

I’ve been feeling a little lost lately, blog-wise. I know I can write, and I have things I can write about. But when it comes to actually doing it, I freeze. I’ve been frozen for a while.

I can’t put my finger on what’s going on. Depression isn’t really flaring (although this morning’s 0330 wake-up time begs to differ), things are finally settling down here in Texas, I’m working on my Step 8 and I’m enjoying my stay-at-home mom life. But still…it feels like something is missing.

I’m hoping that I’ll get back into the swing of things with a series I’m planning to launch soon. It’s directly inspired by the “I Support You” Campaign launched by three amazing bloggers:

Mama by the Bay

Fearless Formula Feeder

I Am Not the Babysitter

These amazing ladies are trying to truly bring mothers together and help them realize that there is room for everyone at the table. Specifically, the campaign aims to:

  1. Bridge the gap between formula-feeding and breastfeeding parents by fostering friendships and interactions.
  2. Dispel common myths and misperceptions about formula feeding and breastfeeding, by asking parents to share their stories, and by really listening to the truth of their experiences.
  3. Provide information and support to parents as they make decisions about how to feed their children.
  4. Connect parents with local resources, mentors, and friends who are feeding their children in similar ways.

I’ve come a long way in how I view infant feeding. I started at the self-righteous, judgmental end of breastfeeding “support” (All or nothing, and if you don’t breastfeed you’re hurting your child). I cringe just thinking about it. Today, I believe that breastfeeding is the biological norm for our species and that human milk is nutritionally superior to man-made formula. However! I no longer think I have all the answers for every mom. Breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone. And that’s ok.

One of the calls for action put out by these women was to have bloggers interview their feeding “opposite.” I put out a call on my Facebook page, asking women who used formula if they’d be willing to share their story with me. Within minutes I had several offers, and knew I had to do more. I opened it up to any mama who wanted to share her story – no matter how she fed her baby. I’ve always wanted this blog to be a forum to celebrate all the different ways we are good mamas; here was my chance!

So each week, I will feature a different mother’s infant feeding story. My hope is that we can look beyond infant feeding choice and focus on what’s really important: supporting women as they travel the most rewarding yet challenging path of all, motherhood.

ISupportYouByYouAreAGoodMamadotcom

I can already feel my blog ennui ebbing away. Look for the first post in this series on Friday!