Thursday, January 31, 2008

One up for the Americans

After 17 years in the States, I still haven’t really embraced the great American love of showering. Lest you think I’m some skanky mama with greasy locks, let me rephrase that slightly – I much prefer baths to showers. My husband, gives the typical American response - “Ugh, you’re sitting in your own dirt”. I usually remind him that although I hail from the north east of England, I’m not a miner and I generally don’t get that filthy.
I have never been a morning person and a shower at that time is just too jarring. I find it much easier and calmer to run a two inch bath while I’m picking out something off the floor to wear, and barking at my teenager to get up. Actually I’m lying through my teeth here as I often do the whole morning routine of breakfast and school walk first, and then attend to my toilette when I come back. (I am in fact, sitting here, unshowered, waiting for my shopping delivery before starting my day proper. In fairness to myself, I have my workout clothes on, and there’s a slim chance I might even make it to a treadmill.)
Yesterday morning our 4 year old came into our room at 6am (middle of the night) and woke me up – how come the dads never wake up? After I’d found the blanket that he’d lost (right on top of his pillow) and put him back to bed, I willed myself back to sleep but the mental to-do list was up and running. Suddenly remembering a prolonged appearance at school that day, and an oil slick threatening the tendrils, I leapt, no dragged myself back out of bed and ran the shower. Normally a hair wash on a school morning is impossible but hey – I had an extra hour.
Isn’t it amazing what a well-heated bathroom and draft-proof shower will do to change your mind about showering? My memories of showers in bygone (UK) days include shower curtains that stick to you as soon as the water flows, showers jammed into teeny spaces like under stairs or in bedroom cupboards, electric showers with two options – freezing or scalding, and showers with a non-frosted window included, forcing you to stoop to avoid giving the newspaper boy an eyeful.
Always one to admit an error, I have to confess that the shower left me invigorated, (as much as possible given the time of day), coiffed and verging on yummy mummy-ness. I have to hand it to these Americans – they do showers well; I might have to try it more often!
PS. Any Americans visiting the UK in the near future, - Fair warning - the showers can be a bit “disappointing”.


  1. Hi Expatmum,
    Boy do I see myself in this! Like you, I have 3 kids (2 teenagers + bonus)and my mornings are...unconventional shall we say. I usually get up at 5.15am and shower to wake myself up (at least that's the idea.) Then I'm on the road at 6am driving my 13yr old to 0 period band practice.Last night my 8yr old woke me up at 4am. I'd already tossed and turned half the night, so by the time I had to get up to start the school run, I couldn't be bothered to shower. This is not normal for me. As much as I love a bath (a total luxury, with scented foam and candles round the tub),I'm not awake without a shower (and a cuppa ofcourse!) Had to resort to a knitted beany hat on the walk to Elementary school and couldn't wait to get home and get clean.
    Your memories of UK showers cracked me up too. My dad's shower was always just a trickle. A hairwash was out of the question and you almost had to wash one limb at a time while the other went blue with cold!
    Will be stopping by your blog regularly. Thanks for improving my day!

  2. 5.15am! Ow, ow, ow. I thought my week was bad with my 12 year old having 6.45am basketball practice on Wednesdays and 7am orchestra on Fridays, but when it's light he can walk there by himself.
    The other thing I've never embraced is the baseball cap for scraggy hair. Most of my friends look good in them, with the pony tail sticking out the back, but I just look ridiculous. Fortunately it's so cold here you need a hat to survive so I have more excuses not to wash my hair too often!

  3. Yup, it takes me 3hrs every day just to get the kids to school! The perils of having them all at different stages of their education, I guess.
    Not got into the baseball hat thing myself either. Bit too much of a stereotype for me yet perhaps. As you say, when it's so cold you need a hat to survive so if it's a toss up between warmth or style, I'll take the geeky woolly over the head cold any day!

  4. I've come to terms with the British showers (though it is always a treat when I'm back in the States to get a 'proper' shower). My wife, a Brit, only does baths. I have tried one from time to time and, frankly, I find them a waste of time and sort of confusing; I mean, how do you know when you're done?

  5. Our shower is rather like some with cystitis piddling. Starts of hot, falters, cool, stops, dribbles a hot bit and then nothing.

    Typical UK shower. No wonder I take baths.

  6. Swearing mother - TMI (too much information) but funny.
    Mikeh - ha ha! When you're very red, you're medium rare.

  7. I must be the anomaly. I prefer showers over bathing; but given the choice (peace and quite AND time) to take a bath in my JETTED TUB(!), I'd pick the tub.

    Water has to be up to my armpits, I don't know how you do it in 2 inches...impressive.

  8. I like both, showers in the morning, baths at night. However all this early morning stuff (6am, 5.15?) is a touch overwhelming. don't think I could stand up then let alone shower without falling over, particularly in a ferocious American wall of water shower.

  9. Take your life in your hands when showering in our house & hope no one uses cold water downstairs as this results in third degree burns!
    I'm frightened of my daughter's power shower though as I'm nearly beaten down the drain!
    In spite of all this I prefer showers!
    Loved your posts!

  10. A round of applause for the hilarious comments, I laughed as much as I laughed at SM's shower post yesterday!

    Tell me is it an American thing to do these before school sports. What's that all about. What time do you're children got to bed? My daughter (8) and son (10) are in bed at 7.30 and 8.30 and I have to wake them at 7.30, and I'm sure as they get to teenage years they will sleep more, our routine would be homework, dinner and bed!

    We have a shower over the bath, which results in shower curtain sticking to your legs, arms, whatever arrgghhh, the shower is not electric, but fitted to the taps, we used to deal with scolding when the water was run or toilet flushed, but since fitting a combi boiler the scolding threat has been removed for hypothermia. x

  11. Wind - take a bath, It solves everything!
    Yes, that could be the subject of my next blog - the ungodly hour most Americans get up. I thought only swimmers practised early in the morning, but here it's almost everything. And god forbid you're asked to attend a breakfast meeting. It will be at about 7.30am. My older two (15 and 12) go to bed at 10 and 9.30 respectively, although they complain that "all their friends" stay up till much later. The fact that neither can get out of bed with much ease in the morning is my proof that I am right. The little one (4) goes to bed at 7.30 unless I have had enough then it's earlier. (What does he know!)

  12. Yeah, the showers are one of the things about Britain that I found troubling when we first moved over here. Now it's just de rigeur and when I'm back in the States I luxuriate in massive powerful shower excess.

    By the way, Dads don't wake up because we're genetically programmed to sleep through these disturbances...

  13. Well Chris, you're the person to do something about that.....! I expect to read about a new breakthrough in that field very soon.

  14. Am with the Yanks on this one - though I must say that I have recently found myself indulging in a bath in the evenings now and again. Note the use of the word 'indulging' - no Catholic work ethic there then.

  15. Three Hail Marys and a margeurita should take care of that one!

  16. My husband (American) actually managed to 'blow up' my parents paltry electric-heated shower by staying in too long, no doubt hoping that the tepid drizzle would finally materialise into the steaming hot jet of water he was used to in the States.

    I'm a convert to showers, because they're mostly more refreshing in our sunny CA climate, but NOTHING beats a good soak in a bath with a glass of whisky and a good book in an evening. If you can barter the time from the husband of course!

  17. Too funny! Exactly the type of thing my husband would do. Instead, one of my kids usually pulls the entire shower curtain down at my mother's house.

  18. So, I have an award for you on my latest post...

  19. What's wrong with sitting in your own dirt? There are so few other fun things to do with that don't involve sexual perversion.

  20. Hi there EPM. re: your question in my comments box;

    Go to the image on my posting of the award. Click, and save somewhere on your system (I normally use my desktop). Then, write your new posting and click on insert picture (it's one of the little icons above the text box). In the browse box that comes up, locate where you have saved the image on your system. Click on upload to Blogger. Click Done when it tells you to. You can move the picture around within your post by simply clicking on it and dragging. (Note: it does something to odd to my formatting but when I add pictures, hence the big paragraph spacing. If you work out how to avoid this, can you let me know?)

    To put it onto your sidebar (if you are as vain as me, that is), simply repeat the process in the Customise section along the top of your home page. That will take you to 'add and arrange page elements'. Click on Add a Page Element and upload the image as before.

    As for passing it on to other bloggers, you need to let them know in their comments box to visit you, and then they have to repeat the whole process I just describe.

    Ask yourself, is it worth it, and do I need recognition and rationalisation in this way? Answer: YES (from me, anyway...)

  21. We all need recognition and I never rationalise anything anymore. Thanks for this, I will give it a go. Hubby is flying to London tonight for the week, (wah!) so I might have an hour or two spare around 3am to do it!


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