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"You'll Never Shower Again": Do new parents really not bathe?

I have heard a number of times that I’ll never be able to shower once I have a kid. I can’t help but question the competence of my otherwise quite resourceful friends when they say this. Surely, you can hand the baby to your husband or someone and take a five-minute shower. Am I deluded? -Keeping Clean

Dear Keeping Clean,

Deluded? No. Overly optimistic, maybe. Which is actually healthy – or at least evolutionarily appropriate – when it comes to imagining life with a newborn. How would the species perpetuate if we were all truly convinced we’d never bathe again?

Figuratively speaking, “You’ll never shower again” is shorthand for “Your needs will take a back seat.” And for many moms, personal grooming needs tend to take a major hit. Of course, this depends on where you are on the postpartum primping spectrum: J. Lo being on one end, inadvertent dreadlocks on the other and “at least my teeth are brushed” falling in the middle where most of us find ourselves.

But literally taking a shower when you have a newborn can be really quite tricky. In theory, yes, you can hand the baby off when your partner comes home from work and get in the shower. In practice, there are often so many other things you’ve been wanting to do all day, and your routine’s out of whack, and you need food or sleep or conversation and the next thing you know it’s a week later. This may sound unthinkable, but many moms will admit that in the early months of motherhood, they revisited nadirs of cleanliness unseen since the days of college finals week. Others will scoff, saying showers were easy as pie for them, or that they’d never sacrifice their personal grooming needs for a day, much less several. If you have a chill baby who is totally content sucking fists or staring at a crack in the wall, you will probably be a clean, exfoliated mother. If your baby resists being apart from you and can only nap on the boppy with your boob in his mouth, you may find that your pumice routine is put on hold for a while. Some babies will cooperate with their moms’ grooming needs more easily than others – and some moms are more willing to shower to a soundtrack of screaming.

The hand-off is probably the easiest way to deal with your ablutions. But if you do want to try to shower at those moments when it’s just the two of you at home, here are some ideas. Forgive us if they seem TOTALLY OBVIOUS:and then forgive yourself (and your ‘incompetent’ friends) if, in a few months time, you realize that they’re not so obvious after all.

• Put the baby in a bouncy chair in the bathroom.

• Shower while the baby naps. (Put baby monitor in the bathroom if you are not down with letting the baby cry for a couple minutes if he or she does wake up.)

• Take a lame sponge bath (i.e.: face, fingers, feet, pits:).

• Go the full Attachment Parent nine yards and shower with the baby in a water-friendly mesh sling.

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