With many of us working mums, we inevitably (rightly or wrongly) suffer with mum guilt. We worry that our little one spent more time with the childminder during the school holidays than with us, that we missed a school event because of a work commitment, and that when we are with them we are yelling, ‘give me two minutes,’ rather than giving them our undivided attention!
So for us, the idea of making an essential activity like bathtime, a special part of the daily routine is ideal. It gives us 30 minutes of devoted time with our little people - to relax and chat about the day whilst calming them down, and getting them clean and ready for bed.
But bathtime isn’t always a scene of tranquility... here we share our top tips for making bathtime as enjoyable (and easy) as possible:
- Be clear – if your child is with a caregiver or your partner during the day, let it be known that you want bathtime to be ‘your’ time with them.
- Give your child plenty of repeat warnings in the lead up to bathtime, especially if they are in the middle of doing something else, like playing. It might not be having a bath that induces tears and tantrums, but having to stop what they are doing. Continue this throughout bathtime, letting them know you’ll be washing their hair and warning them when it’s time to get out.
- Be prepared – take everything you’ll need for bathtime into the bathroom – this is especially important with little ones who can’t be left. Towels, nappies, creams, pyjamas and anything else.
- Make a game of it, we often find beating the egg timer to get undressed, or racing them to the bathroom (and losing to them obviously) is just enough to distract them and move positively towards bathtime.
- The more the merrier - make bathtime a family affair and hop in with them or bathe siblings together. Is it scientifically proven that skin-to-skin contact (which can be parents cuddling, tickling or hugging their children) stimulates the vagus nerve which slows down heart rate, slow blood pressure and changes brain waves into the direction of relaxation.
- If getting in yourself isn’t always possible, give them your ear instead! It’s easy to be distracted by a text message or email but keep your phone out of the way and be fully present for bathtime listening intently to everything your child says. As they say “…If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”
- Remind yourself it’s only water. We know, clearing up afterwards is a pain but it is only water (we have to remind ourselves daily). Give them toys to play with that are fun and interactive. We’ve scoured the market, and stock what we think of some of the best bath toys available – bright, fun, with a bit of science thrown in – but all easy to clean and non mould festering. Cover the floor in bath mats and dare we say, encourage some splashing - it’s a great confidence builder for younger ones entering the world of swimming too.
- If your child has a genuine fear of the water, let them be as in control of it as possible. Give them the shower hose to control the spray, let them hold a flannel over their face when hair washing or even better, let them wash yours so they can see it’s nothing to be scared of.
- If in doubt, at any age, add more bubbles – they will love you for it! (though be mindful to pick a gentle formulation, with no nasties in. Our favourite is from Dandydill Way, it bubbles beautifully and smells divine!
- Have a lovely snuggly towel to wrap them in. We know ourselves but there’s nothing nicer than a warm towel waiting for you when you step out of the bath. And we know of some very lovely towels too ;) All Hooded Owls towels are big, thick and absorbent with a double thickness hood (for faster hair drying) and a pop fastener for warmth and privacy – perfect for escapee toddlers and body conscious tweenagers when changing amongst peers.
The more routine led bathtime becomes, the easier it will become. Look at it as your daily bonding window to tell each other stories, ponder some of life’s great mysteries and have a bit of silliness. And did we mention it's the perfect cue for sleep, see 'getting your child into a bedtime routine' for more hints and tips.
Here’s to happy (and easier) bathtimes. Good luck!