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Some of my worst and best moments have been in the shower. Yeah, you read that right. The shower. Kind of an odd place, but it makes sense if you think about it.
Sometimes you just need to step away from life, and the shower is such a good place to do that. The rush of the water falling over you, the fast pitter patter of each drop drowning out the noise of whatever was racing through your mind before. A chance to wash the real and metaphorical dirt of the day off you. It’s cleansing.
The significance of long showers has changed for me over the years. As a kid, they were just warm and comforting. The only dirt I was washing off was from the playground. Shampoo, conditioner, a little soap and you’re good as new. And then as I grew up, showers were where I used to wash off all my teenage angst. I could cry or be moody, no questions asked.
As I became an adult? Long showers became where I spoke with God. When I was pregnant I prayed for my unborn baby every day in the shower. After I gave birth and became a new mom, my one requirement—the one thing I insisted on every day—was the chance to take a long shower.
Unfortunately as my baby gets older I’ve found showers don’t happen nearly as often as they used to. That’s right. You heard me. I stink. We cloth diaper, so I figure I’m using the water I save from my showers toward diaper laundry, which at least keeps our water bill unaffected. It all works out, but the truth of the matter is I take fewer showers because I’m busy and I haven’t been making the time.
Which got me thinking. Should I? I believe the answer is yes.
WHY MOMS SHOULD PRIORITIZE THEIR SHOWERS:
1) They facilitate creative epiphanies
Studies have shown that you are likely to do your most creative thinking when you’re doing something monotonous, like standing in the shower. In fact, 72% of people report getting creative ideas in the shower! (source). The thought behind this is that when you are on autopilot, other parts of your brain are freed up, letting your mind wander off the beaten path and paving the way for creative thought. In fact, this association between the shower and creativity has even lead to the invention of an idea notepad specifically for use in the shower.
Why is this important for moms? Because we have a lot on our plates, and the shower can be a great place to come up reflect on our parenting and mom problems, like how we might have handled that meltdown better, or why it was so triggering for us in the first place. This kind of reflection is important.
2) They help you relax
This is one quality that makes a shower different from other places where your mind wanders: it’s relaxing. A shower is an enclosed space that is warm and inviting and probably smells like your favorite shampoo. When you get in this relaxed state, your brain releases dopamine, which has been associated with increased creative thought (source).
New moms in particular, especially sleep deprived ones, need this chance to relax. Have someone you trust take care of the baby for a minute and zone out. It’s okay.
3) The short time alone makes you happier
Studies have shown time and time again that “me time” plays a hugely important role in our overall happiness, and fortunately one study in particular found that quality “me time” is more important than quantity. According to psychologists, in addition to helping us unwind, time alone can make us more productive, reboot our brains, improve our concentration, and enhance our relationships (source).
Alone time is hard to get as a mom who suddenly finds herself no longer able to even poop in peace. Take advantage of whatever alone time you can get! As a breastfeeding mom, this alone time has also been a chance for me to embrace my body as entirely my own again, if only for a few minutes. It helps.
4) It gives your life a margin
My mom is always talking about book margins. She loves books with wide margins because she has more room to take notes, but she also talks about margins as a metaphor for that time in life you need to carve out and reserve for nothing in particular. It’s room to be and to breathe. It gives your life’s “page” balance, and it gives you time to “be still” (Psalm 46:10).
5) You’re really, really dirty
And then of course sometimes a 5 minute shower just isn’t enough to get the dirt off. The word catharsis stems from a Greek verb that means to purge or to purify. The shower is, of course, a great place to do this: You can physically purge yourself of dirt and grime and emotionally purify yourself by letting go of whatever pent up feelings you’re holding onto. It’s your shower–you can cry if you want to! And if need be later, blame it on shampoo getting in your eyes.
As a new mom, there was one day my husband came home and found me crying in a nightgown covered in spit up, baby poop, and old breast milk. It was a hard day. I needed that shower.
BUT–UM, WASTEFUL MUCH?
Of course, growing up in a desert that’s been in a drought since basically before I can remember, I’m pretty sensitive to wasting water. So what’s the environmentally-conscious mom to do? Fortunately there are ways to mimic the beneficial qualities of a shower. It’s not exactly the same, but fortunately the point isn’t just getting wet. If you want to schedule a metaphorical shower for yourself, make sure that whatever you do in place of an actual shower meets at least most of these criteria:
- White noise or no noise – This helps facilitate that monotony we talked about earlier.
- Be alone – The kind of alone you’d be if you were naked.
- No distractions – In a shower all there is to look at is the tub and tile, you can’t receive texts or Facebook updates while wet and don’t have a pen and paper either. That’s the level of no distractions we’re going for, if possible.
- It should last at least 10 minutes, or as long as you need – 10 minutes is actually a long shower for me, but “long” means different things for different people. Take the time you need.
- People need to know they can’t bother you – Hopefully you live in a household where your kids know they can’t whip open the shower door and have a conversation when you’re elbows deep in shampoo suds. So you shouldn’t be bothered during your metaphorical shower either!
Have you ever considered scheduling a long shower for yourself? What can you do to go about regularly scheduling this kind of “me time”?