Emotional Exhaustion, AKA: Why it takes 2 days to get a shower


I was watching as on TV this mom of 2 (less than 2 years apart) who had just battled cancer and was wearing the same drab stuff day after day teared up, saying ‘I want to look better, but I don’t even see myself in the mirror’…and the person helping her (with a quick makeover) said, you’re just emotionally… exhausted.

Hearing those 2 words was like a light bulb going on inside my head. Adding a third child has been absolutely wonderful, and yet it’s only now that I have trouble getting a shower. With one child, I drug her into the bathroom with me, or showered during her nap and all was well. With 2 kids, I let the older one watch tv, and drug the 2nd one in with me or nap safely tucked away and got a shower. Enter baby #3–The big kid picks on the little one and screams the house down. Someone falls and bleeds or cries, or breaks something. Seriously, you can’t leave them in the same room together. I’ve tried it and had to run through the house dripping with a towel or less because I thought someone was surely dying from the thumps, screams, and cries. If the baby was napping? She wouldn’t be anymore. Then there’s the baby. You can’t leave her in a room with the middle one because she doesn’t understand ‘gentle’…and the older one doesn’t take a nap. So prime time for showering is when either a. everyone is in bed before 7 a.m.– but that’s tricky because if it’s too close to wake up time, then you’ll inevitably wake up someone too early and they’ll forget to sit on the toilet, and either wake up everyone else, OR pee on the floor–or if you can get the younger two to nap at the same time, and keep the oldest one quiet. Again, nearly impossible. When the heavens do align, or when my husband is home, you probably wonder, why not shower THEN?

Enter emotional exhaustion. It’s when you finally have the ‘power’ to do something, but your body and brain just join forces to keep you in the same sweat suit, yoga pants, gym clothes, pajamas that you were in the day before. It’s why you don’t have a date night, why you don’t like looking in the mirror, even if you have lost that baby weight.. it’s just…you’re stuck and you can’t put forth the effort to actually do anything for yourself, even if you have the TIME. The time with my husband is so short anyway, and now that it’s getting warmer, he goes outside with the bigger kids and I’m stuck inside or basically 10 ft from the house with a baby monitor. So we get one hour together ‘alone’ before he has to be asleep and that usually includes a baby who needs nursed for 30 minutes of that time. Taking a shower would be great–but it would eat into the only adult conversation time I get in a day. The clock has ticked over to 2 days without a shower. I feel so GROSS. Post-partum hair loss, dry skin, certainly not smelling the best.. it’s just all aligned to awfulness. The moment I feel like ‘yes I can go shower’… someone yells and wakes someone else up, or slams a door, or, you name it. Since kids are generally untrustworthy, it’s basically best for your own emotional state to let yourself fall to the bottom (or off) of the list. At least you know that they aren’t killing each other the minute you leave the room, and yes, it’s barely worth it to the use the bathroom these days since they’re so awful to one another. I TRY and keep the older 2 apart as much as possible. They are angry at me for this, but not enough to be nice to one another. It’s emotionally draining to even think about getting up to shower, let alone putting on clean clothes, doing hair, etc.

I decided to write this blog since I couldn’t let the 5 yo be outside for 20 minutes without supervision, and that’s how long it takes me to get the shower warm, jump in, wash hair, get the stink off, dry, deodorize, moisturize, brush and yank back hair, and get dressed without dripping milk all over the floor. It’s like a breast milk tango… oops, don’t step there, move the towel.. and on and on.. and of course, the toddler is in bed, the baby WAS napping, and she cried THIRTY SECONDS before the 5 year old came back in… *sigh* so with door slamming I’m not sure she’ll get back to sleep, and yet she’d only been in there about 15 minutes. My window closed before it could open… if that’s not depressing or emotionally exhausting, I don’t know what is.

I hate it though. I need new clothes. I have donated almost all of my winter clothes and most of my old summer stuff, but even then the summer stuff isn’t breastfeeding friendly. Or post-baby body friendly. I really love my nursing tanks, but the ‘girls’ are out of control and don’t fit into my tops anymore– and I am okay with that at home, but I do NOT want to show them off at church or the grocery store. I have 2 pair of jeans that fit.. kind of. At least they stay on my hips for the most part. But that means if i go somewhere Friday and Saturday, I have to do laundry before church on Sunday. If I only wash the one pair on Saturday, then I have to wash again by Sunday afternoon to have a pair for Monday, and so on and so forth, and no I really can’t wear them twice. But shopping for jeans with 3 kids is out of the question. Let alone tops that you have to decide ‘is this going to show my belly, is it going to ride up, can I nurse the baby in it’.. and on and on.. so I wear the same 3 or 4 ‘geeky tees’ in men’s large. They are fun, but they swallow me and certainly don’t make me look like a lady, you know? But when you’re tired, and your brain won’t even fire on enough cylinders to allow you to get a shower every day? Sometimes that’s all you CAN do… throw on an old shirt, or roll out of bed in the same thing you wore the day before…

I used to think people were kidding about not getting a shower. Right up until my life became… a three ring circus..


  1. Comment by ami:

    For me a shower wasn’t optional. It’s my coffee. My wake up. The thing that above all else MUST happen for my sanity daily.

    So I had to get up before my husband left the house VERY early in the morning. The shower was more important to me than my lack of sleep. I got my shower before he left. After that, no matter what went wrong, didn’t get done, no matter how busy or hectic or crazy life was for the day, I at least smelled good and my hair wasn’t greasy.

    I’m not saying that’s what you need to do, by the way. I’m just reminiscing.

    I do remember what it’s like to just put out fires all day long rather than do life. (((hugs))) It will get better.

    And here’s perspective? I know a mom with seven. Four of them were under five. DO not ask how long she had to go between showers.

    (((more hugs))

  2. Comment by Rachel:

    Sounds exhausting! I hope things have improved for you. I can hear people suggesting shopping online but I know I can’t shop for clothes online! In a store I try on probably 40 shirts before finding one that I want to buy! No way I’d risk buying one I couldn’t try on (let alone touch!).

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