When Is It OK To Leave Your Toddler Semi-Unsupervised While You Shower?

Circle of Moms Editors

By Amy Armstrong

When do you shower? And at what age can a toddler be left semi-supervised or even unsupervised long enough for you to get clean?

Circle of Moms member Lexi C.'s son is 21 months old and has stopped taking naps, leaving her in the lurch. She says, "Our house is safe and child proofed. Is it okay to let him watch TV while I shower with the door open just across the room?

Like many moms, she's resorted to taking her tyke into the shower with her. But this too has its limits. "It'd be nice to shower alone occasionally," Lexi laments.

Wow, what a good mom! When my son was a wee little guy, still unaware of gender, I too took him into the shower with me. But this only lasted so long. Just ask Amy J.:

"I stopped showering with my son at 17 months because he was looking and point(ing) places, so I was like, ok, enough of this," she shares.

Related: Showering With Your Child: When Should You Stop?

Does the end of naps and co-showering mean that your only choice is to leave your child unsupervised for the duration, as Lexi fears?

It depends on your kiddo.

"I don't watch my two-year-old year old while I shower. I leave the bathroom door open and she comes and goes. I think as long as the door is open so you can hear him (or her) calling, then it should be ok for 10-15 minutes," is Theresa J.'s advice.

Other moms keep their kids in the bathroom with them, just not in the shower itself.

"Try bringing some toys/books into the bathroom and let him play in there while you shower," advises Gena P.

The toy ploy also works for Jennifer W. Before she gets in the shower, she makes sure that her child's favorite toys are readily available and that child-engaging music is playing. "I would say it's time to have a little faith and trust in your child. Keep the bathroom door open and lock the front door," she says.

But what if your child's not yet capable of entertaining herself for a short periods of time, like Stephanie C.'s daughter? As she shares, leaving her little one alone is a recipe for disaster: "I don't even close the door to pee because I never know what she's going to get into. She always manages to find stuff that I didn't know existed even though I clean everyday and sweep twice a day. One evening I took my eyes off her for ten minutes and in that time she had managed to find a permanent marker and make a huge mess on our wood floor and her face. So, no thanks. I just take my showers after she goes to bed."

See Also: A Quick Guide to Baby-Proofing

And Hayley B. can tell you it isn't just toddlers who make messes while mom is in the shower. Her response to the question about when it's okay to turn your back is a flat "never."

"I've had my kitchen flooded, my toilet destroyed as he misses constantly, dirty hand prints all over my white walls were he leans on them, my kitchen worktops have been ruined where he hasn't learned to use a chopping board yet. Can't turn my back for a second! I even caught him yesterday stabbing at a trapped piece of toast in the toaster with a fork."

Turns out she's actually referring to her 30-year-old partner. But her point is well taken, and begs another question: When can mom ever really take a shower and not expect to return to some sort of mess?

Answer: When she's june-cleavered the entire house and no one else is coming home for at least an hour. Otherwise, forget it.

Family messes -- and messy moms -- are just part of the process. This too shall pass.

Eventually we all have to let go. Our children do have to be semi unsupervised at times. But that doesn't mean we can't have a system to keep tabs on them when we check out to take care of our own personal needs.

I for one like Becky L.'s very practical suggestion:

"Put a baby monitor in the living room with the receiver in the bathroom with you so you can hear him (or her)," she advises. "If your house is child proof(ed) you should be fine."

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Photo: EvilErin via Flickr/Creative Commons