If you read my post last week about bath time feeling like World War 3, then you know my true feelings on this subject. In our home, bathing my kids is a… challenge, to say the least. Most kids love bath time but how can we make it less horrible for us parents who hate it? Here are my 5 suggestions:
- Start prepared, or you’ll be sorry. Before you even tell your kids it’s bath time, make sure you have a few things in place. I’m talking things like the towels hung nearby and some that are already laid on the floor to minimize puddles from the inevitable splashing. Also, have a few toys ready, but only a few—no need to allow your kid to bring every toy they own into the tub because that just creates more work for you to clean up. Make sure the bottle of soap isn’t empty (you’ll refill it or replace it eventually, right?) and have a washcloth on hand so you won’t have to make a mad dash to the closet while trying to get back in time before anyone drowns. Finally, have your phone charged and ready, because while the kids love playing in the water, it can get pretty boring for you without Facebook to scroll through.
- Get your expectations in line. If you’re thinking that maybe, just maybe, this time you’ll be able to get the kids bathed and in dry clothes in no more than 5 minutes, you’re setting yourself up to fail. If you’re thinking there won’t be a mess of water, soap, toys and tub-crayons by the end of this ordeal, you’re kidding yourself. If you think you won’t get wet at all, you’ll be moistly disappointed. So to save yourself some frustration, go into bath time with appropriate expectations: you will get wetter than you want, you will deal with at least one tantrum, crying, or complaining, and you will have aching knees and/or back after only a few minutes of trying to catch your slippery kid so you can wash him. If you’re already expecting this to be a rough 15 minutes on your end, then you won’t be surprised when it is!
- As the bathtub fills, use the running faucet to get your kid’s hair wet. My toddler has never really caught on to the whole, tip your head back and close your eyes so the water won’t run down your face, thing. So instead of yelling, “Look up! Tip your head back!” repeatedly, I’ve learned it’s easier to just have her put her head into the stream of water that’s filling the tub. She closes her eyes and leans far enough down into the stream that it gets her hair wet while running off her forehead into the tub, instead of down her face. It’s faster than refilling a pitcher to dump on her head over and over. And when I do this again to rinse the soap out of her hair, I’m comforted to know its fresh, clean water I’m using to do so. There’s something about rinsing with the already dirty, soapy, and possibly urine tainted water that makes me cringe.
- Let a timer be the bad guy. My toddler thrives on warnings of how many minutes she has left to play, in order to transition easier to the next step. So instead of me saying, “Okay, time to get out,” and dealing with the resulting complaints about not being ready, I let the timer signal the end of bath time. That way, I can be like, “I’m sorry, honey! But you know when the timer says it’s over, it’s over, and there’s nothing mommy can do about that!” It works, for now.
- Have your kids help clean up the mess. They need to learn that if they are going to ignore you and continue to splash all over the place, that they are responsible for the consequences. A toddler is perfectly capable of helping you mop up puddles or wipe tub-specific crayon off the walls, and older kids can definitely squeeze out, or at least hang, their washcloth and put toys away. Eventually, you won’t have to do any of the clean up yourself, and your kids learn responsibility.
Some other honorable mentions of ways to make bath time easier would be: tub toys that don’t have a hole in the bottom (so mold doesn’t start to grow when water gets stuck inside), THESE wipeable crayons that I mentioned, and a cushion like THIS one to use on the toilet lid, so your butt doesn’t fall asleep while you sit there scrolling through Facebook.
These are just some of my suggestions that I’ve personally found helpful but I know this isn’t an exhaustive list.
What are some tips YOU have that make bath time easier for parents?