Every parent knows that learning goes both ways: for every lesson I’ve given my toddler in the art of eating with a fork or not sticking one’s hand in the elevator door, he’s taught me an equally important one, including in the area of personal grooming. Perhaps especially in that area.
As a working mom and, ahem, generally lazy person, I don’t often take the time to practice self-care. But, thanks to Baby, I’ve gleaned a few tips that have not only sped up my morning routine but also improved my overall mien.
1. It’s OK to love yourself.
Like most toddlers, my 2-year-old can spend hours staring at himself in the mirror, admiring a pose or the cut of his self-selected jib. His vanity has shown me that spending time on your appearance doesn’t make you shallow or selfish (my son would gladly give strangers the yogurt off his spoon). I don’t feel guilty anymore about taking time away from our weekends to get my hair cut and colored, for example. Judging from my phone, Baby has decided that his best side is his backside, so that’s what he presents when the camera comes out.
2. Baby wipes aren’t just for babies.
Baby won’t let you bathe? I’ve been there. A couple of weeks ago, my kid went through such a period of separation anxiety that he had to hold open the curtain while I showered. Since this situation wasn’t working for anyone, least of all the bathroom floor, I judiciously employed his baby wipes for a few days (also known as “taking a hobo bath”). Even better if you sprang for the wipe warmer!
3. Crayola is the new Maybelline.
When it comes to toddlers and markers, “paper” is a mere suggestion, which is how I wound up with “Rain Drop Blue” on my eyes and “Firefly Red” on my cheeks recently. Scrubbing left a nice glow that lasted the morning, through a meeting with my boss, and into lunch with a friend. In a nod toward coordination, Baby also gave my tan work bag some “Kitten Gray” stripes. Alas, Crayola is not the new Coach.
4. For the ultimate bed head, sleep 10-12 hours a night.
Forget blow-drying your locks upside down or carefully finger-combing to achieve this season’s must-have ’do. You can ditch the spritzes and toss the sprays. Much mane magic occurs when you sleep, and sleep, and sleep. Note: to achieve the optimal look, you should go to bed with your hair still damp from a bath, your head full of stories about talking trains and great green rooms.
All right, all right. Maybe this one isn’t super-feasible, at least while your kid is still a toddler. But, hey, a mom can dream— no pun intended.
5. Have a pair of lucky pants.
If it were up to him, my son would wear the same pair of navy corduroys every day, rain or shine, in winter or summer. Since he’s been known to dig them out of the laundry basket, my husband and I have to sneak them out to be washed in the dead of night (i.e. past 7 PM). I’m not sure if Baby is attracted to the dark color, in love with the textured fabric, or a combination thereof, but these pants make him feel safe, confident, and ready to face the world.
Me, I have lucky red trousers. When they’re on, I can handle anything, from the messiest breakfast to a super-long potty session as we’re trying to leave the house.
6. The best accessory is a smile.
The other day Baby wandered out to the living room wearing red and gray striped leggings topped with a neon yellow and green polka-dotted shirt. He looked like something an optometrist would use to test pupil dilation. Post-nap, he might don cowboy boots, a down vest, and a lei, using hair-ties as bracelets and paperclips as fake nails, a great big smile pulling everything together. Sometimes, in fact, he wears a smile, and only a smile, and that totally works too.
He smiles at me, and I smile at him, and all is right with the world — even if I do have marker on my face and yogurt on my pants.