My very first coping skill I learned as a parent was to hide out in the bathroom.
I’m convinced that knowing this skill and perfecting it throughout the years is the reason my children survived potty-training, the entire phase of saying “Me do it!” over and over, and the obsession with knock-knock joke stage.
Picture the scene:
Son banging on bathroom door: ”Knock-knock!”
Mother, crouching low while sitting on a toilet, trying to make herself as inconspicuous as possible: ”I’m going to the bathroom son and so I can’t concentrate on that joke! Tell me again another time.”
Son goes away to find someone else to knock-knock.
Other moms have other techniques to help them get through the day, but the bathroom ploy has served me well. My children think it’s normal that I keep a book or two on the shelves in our bathrooms. And they’ve learned patience waiting outside in the hall as I’ve pulled myself together by practicing deep breathing while staring into the mirror. Plus, if I’m not immediately visible they know exactly where I am, so it’s a great from a safety stand point.
As my children have aged I’ve needed the sanctuary of the bathroom less and less. However, when I do flee inside for peace, I find myself staying within the hallowed walls longer. It simply takes more time to recover from a child accusing you of ruining their life than it does from a child who takes their diaper off at nap time. One is just incredibly inconvenient, the other crushes a small part of your soul.
My husband has caught on to my lavatory shenanigans, which is rather unfortunate since I occasionally am forced to take refuge there because of him. However, after a few barbed remarks, he usually still respects my “private time.” He’s a good egg, even if he occasionally creates the need for a bathroom moment.
The other night I discovered my oldest daughter hiding out in the bathroom reading when she should have been in bed sleeping. Part of me was upset- it was almost ten o’clock, after all. However, most of me was proud. My kid has learned where to turn for peace. It’s a skill that will serve her well when she has annoying roommates in college or children of her own.
I’m pretty sure I can’t be the only mother employing this tactic since another name for bathroom is restroom. That can’t be a mere coincidence.
So when new mothers ask me for advice I merely say, “Make sure your bathrooms are clean. I mean it, spend some quality time in there.” And then I wink at them.