Parents of toddlers and babies know how hard it is to get any alone time — even for something as simple as a shower. That leads to an important question: When, if ever, is it okay to leave your child on his or her own so you can attend to basic hygiene?
For one mom, that question has created a marital rift.
The anonymous mom complained on the Mumsnet forums that her husband has been leaving their 2-year-old downstairs on his own while he showers. She went on to explain that she feels her husband has “no clue how to watch him properly,” and gave the following example:
This morning he takes [our son] downstairs, and then I can hear him saying, “So [are you] gonna stay downstairs and be a good boy while Daddy has a shower?” Now forgive me if I’m being unreasonable, but surely I’m not the only one here thinking you don’t leave a 2.5 yr old downstairs — on his own — while [you] go upstairs to have a shower?
The mom added that she is currently seven months pregnant, which is why her husband is caring for their son in the morning. She also said their downstairs is not well child-proofed. The kitchen is accessible and her husband leaves the gate at the bottom of the stairs open, despite the fact that their son recently took a tumble on the stairs.
The mom acknowledged that she has left her toddler alone while brushing her teeth or other short chores. But she feels a shower is another matter:
A shower is a bit different as you can’t actually hear if anything happens, so I would never leave him downstairs — especially as I was just upstairs and he could have just brought him up with him, and I would have watched him. It just makes me sick with worry at the thought of him looking after him for a long period of time.
Commenters were split on whether the mom is being unreasonable about her husband’s showers. Some felt that it was a matter of whether the area was childproofed and the child in question could be trusted for short periods. One commenter wrote:
I left [my daughter] downstairs while I showered at about that age — stairgate on kitchen and stairs, fresh episode of peppa pig — should would barely notice I was gone I’m not sure she even moved. […] [My son] however — he is not 2 yet — but can only just nip to the toilet without him, and some days not even that. He is a climber. So depends very much on the child.
Many commenters told the mom that she was being unreasonable and making things too hard on herself. Several suggested she improve the childproofing arrangements for her own peace of mind (and so that she could leave her son alone too). As one mom wrote:
At that age I regularly left [my daughter] playing whilst I had a shower/did the hoovering upstairs. I made she knew where I was going so she could come and find me. [To be honest], you will probably need for him to be able to do this if you are going to have to be left alone if you are sorting things out with a new baby.
There were a few who agreed that the husband’s habit of leaving the toddler alone for so long would leave them angry too. Those who took the mom’s side noted that, “children are unpredictable,” and that toddlers can quickly get themselves in dangerous situations. One mom wrote:
I would have had a go at my [husband] if he did this, especially as you were in the house and could have watched him.
As a mom of three kids who are long past the toddler stage, it’s funny to remember how hard I once worked to get a solo shower. I seem to recall dragging my oldest into the bathroom with me along with a playpen and toys so I could keep an eye on him at all times.
On the other hand, by the time my youngest was a toddler, I had gotten to the point where I would turn on a movie (probably “Frozen”), surround her with toys, and shower with no qualm of conscience. As far as I can tell, none of this had any effect on her, negative or otherwise. (I, however, am permanently traumatized and would be happy never to hear “Let It Go” again.)
What do you think? Is the mom being unreasonable? Or is the husband in the wrong for leaving a toddler alone while he showers?