I never truly appreciated the freedom of using the bathroom alone, until recently. I was chatting with a girlfriend at the gym, and we were swapping stories of how our lives have changed since having kids. One way that we strongly agreed on was the lack of privacy. I’m laughing recognizing just how sneaky I have to be to have just one minute to myself.
My son has never left the mommy stage. I’m not complaining; I love and cherish every hug, and it melts my heart when he hangs onto me … most of the time. Yesterday, my husband and I were in the playroom with Evan, and I needed to go potty. I waited until Evan was in his tent with a book and fully interested in what he was doing to run — so fast yet so quietly — up the stairs and into my bedroom. Yes, there is a bathroom in the playroom, but I wanted privacy! I wanted quiet. I wanted to have nothing to look at, nothing to think about and no one touching me. I wanted that 45 seconds of bliss. When I came downstairs, I was greeted with a big smile and open arms, and then back to his busy toys he went.
My mind is so busy during the day. It’s full of to-do lists, schedules and Goodnight Moon. I spend a lot of time repeating sounds and less time listening to silence. It becomes less about mommy time and more about survival! There is so much going on that sometimes, we just need silence! This is my life now. I sneak away for privacy and sometimes, little feet follow me. Evan cannot turn the knob on our doors, yet, but he tries. When I hear those hands on the other side, I simply say “privacy, please.” In my head, he gets it. My husband stands at the door, trying his best to redirect him, but oftentimes we fail and he starts throwing a fit, body falling aggressively onto the hardwood floors followed by a very wet, tearful face. I have been really good at not giving in and keeping the door closed, and once I open it, life is good again for him. I always, always, always thank him for my privacy.
I mentioned a few privacy-finding strategies when I wrote about mommy guilt, to find that “me time.” But we need to be able to find some privacy when the kids are home, too. When I’m home alone with Evan, I’m too nervous about closing the bathroom door. So while I do ask for privacy when he comes in, I go into the bathroom armed with options — toys! When he inevitably comes in, I quickly say “privacy, please” then offer him a toy and talk about what he can do with that toy. So far, our best option is a ball. He’ll throw it and then chases after it — BRILLIANT! — a moment of privacy, and I can see what he’s doing. This doesn’t always work, of course. And if it doesn’t, I have a book for him. He loves to read, so I’ll offer that if he comes back. Most times he will sit in the bathroom with me, but he’s focused on his book.
We’re a few weeks into our privacy lesson, but repetition is key. Soon, hopefully, we’ll graduate to where when I ask for privacy, no one follows me. Wishful thinking, I realize, and I say that because when I’m visiting my mom, I will interrupt her private time because I must know at that moment where her nail file is. I guess this is payback. Sorry, Mom!
Say it with me now: “privacy, please.” It sounds simple, but it will take some time for our kiddos to master. We will once again be able to go to the bathroom in peace. Now if only the dog would take a hint.
What tricks do you have for sneaking away? How do you encourage your kids to respect your privacy? —Jennifer