If I can wash my kid’s hair, I can do ANYTHING

Oh, the screaming.

I shudder to imagine what the neighbors thought was going on at our house. But it was just bath time.

Over the last six months or so, when it came time to wash my kid’s hair, Peeper would disappear and a panicked, sobbing, shrieking beast took her place.

It was torture, apparently, for her, and it was no fun for us parents, either.

But what I ended up learning helped make all the screaming, the crying and the frustration a little more worth the struggle.

Learning parenting lessons is hard. When I finally was able to wash my kid's hair, it felt like such a win! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Really, really dirty hair

We tried everything to wash my kid’s hair.

We covered her eyes with washcloths, goggles and sunglasses.

We had her pick out a special shampoo. (She chose the Raphael Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles one—I was kind of proud she picked it over Elsa.)

We bought ridiculous looking contraptions that promised to keep the water off her face.

I got into the bath with her.

We watched Daniel Tiger episodes about washing your hair. We tried washing her hair at different times of day. We tried logic, threats, bribery and gentle encouragement.

Nothing worked, and the hair-washing tantrums only got worse.

Washing my kid’s hair: It must be done

I didn’t want to completely traumatize Peeper, but that hair was dirty. With the digging and the playing and the throwing sand and the somersaults, a good hair washing was overdue. I could actually see dirt and sand on her scalp.

(Mother of the year!)

So I resolved to do it.

Finally, a hair-washing win

One night, I told Peeper I was going to wash her hair—in the kitchen sink.

I lay a towel on the counter. I had her lie down. And I cued up an episode of Daniel Tiger on my phone.

We were ready to rock.

If I can wash my kid's hair, I can do anything! Ten Thousand Hour Mama


And, to my surprise, she didn’t fight me—too much. As I held her head over the sink and massaged her scalp with suds, I felt the resistance drain out of her little body. It felt as if I were washing away all the tension from months of power struggles over shampoo.

And get this—she even giggled when I rinsed out the bubbles. “That’s tickly!” she said.

Problem-solving parenthood

I washed my kid’s hair in the sink again the other day. She was afraid at first, but her hesitancy was short-lived. Next time, maybe, she’ll be ready for her shampoo even more quickly.

Afterwards, I combed Peeper’s fine blond hair. I gently teased out the tangles then parted her hair in the middle. As I braided her hair, I noticed how calm we both were. The scene couldn’t have been more different from the bath time screaming fits when I could feel her heart beating against her rib cage like a hummingbird slamming itself against a wall.

Motherhood is constantly presenting challenges like Peeper’s anti-shampoo stance. In the face of these fights, I try anything and everything I can think of to solve them with all our sanity intact.

In the middle of the hair washing drama, it felt as if I’d never figure out a way to get Peeper’s hair clean—just like I felt I would never get Kiwi to sleep more than 45 minutes in a row, and just like I felt I would never be able to breastfeed without pain.

But, like everything, Peeper’s panic over shampoo was a phase. We finally problem-solved our way past a preschooler’s fury.

I’ll try to remember this win the next time it feels as if some parenting challenge can’t be overcome. Because if I can figure out a way to wash my kid’s hair, I can do anything.

8 thoughts on “If I can wash my kid’s hair, I can do ANYTHING

  • October 19, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Congratulations on figuring out the latest parenting puzzle – funny what they throw at you to keep you sharp and creative in problem solving lol

    • October 19, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      Haha, I’m sure that’s what she’s doing – keeping my mind nimble! It’s like a crossword puzzle or Sudoku. 😉

  • October 19, 2016 at 10:50 am

    I don’t have children, but your post made me laugh out loud. I love your writing style and sense of humor. Here’s to life’s little victories. 😉

    • October 19, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      Thanks, Brianne! I figure getting a win is a win, no matter if you’re a parent or not.

  • October 19, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Oh my gosh, this was me and my daughter, too!! She fought hair washing for SOOOO long, and it was an awful tear-filled, screaming, pleading, sad fest. She’s showering fine on her own now, and I have no idea what we did that finally worked, now that I think about it. Kudos to you for your smart, creative solution!! I wish I had thought of that, and I am sure this post will help another mama who is going through the same!

    • October 19, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      Isn’t that funny how parenting challenges are so awful and traumatic in the moment—but then later on, you practically forget all the details? I sure hope my solution helps someone else avoid those teary bath nights. They’re no fun for anyone.

  • October 19, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Being a human is already hard, I can’t imagine being a human managing another human experiencing everything for the first time. I hope wine was involved.

    • October 20, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      HA! That is so true. Thankfully as Kiwi is going to bed regularly, I can count on a glass of wine after she falls asleep whenever I need it. And that is most nights. 😉


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