Parenthood comes with many a landmine, not all of which can be avoided. Diapers must be changed, temper tantrums have to be dealt with, and baths must be given. While the latter doesn't sound so bad in theory, experienced parents know that bath time can be a total sh*tshow, especially when you have more than one kid and you don't have a few tricks up your sleeve (though, seriously, don't wear sleeves to bathe your kids because they're going to get soaked).
In my house, bath battles are fought at every turn. I have to beg my kids to get in the tub, then inexplicably, also beg them to get out. In the middle, they're fighting over bathtub real estate (by the way, our tub is huge), crying that our baby-friendly shampoo is permanently scaring their eyes, and drenching my entire bathroom . . . and I'm not even mentioning the dozen of so times my kids have decided to use the bathtub as their own personal toilet, ensuring that we have to start the whole process all over again.
As a friend with four kids under five once told me as she was forcing her kids to shampoo up at a pool shower at 3 p.m.: "If I do this, we can skip bath time, and man, bath time really takes the wind out of my sails." I knew exactly what she meant. If you have similar bath dread, here are seven tips to take the torture out of that splashy time.
- Don't wait until five minutes before bedtime. We know that a warm bath can be a valuable part of a child's bedtime routine, but put off bath time to the last minute, and we can guarantee your kids will catch your scent of desperation and make sure that bath is as drama-filled and drawn-out as possible. Instead, give yourself plenty of time to handle any meltdowns and tub resistance you might get, and still get your tiny monsters into their beds on time.
- Make sure you have age-appropriate bath gear. Bathing a newborn or squirmy toddler can be stressful, so make sure you have an appropriately-sized tub and bath products.
- Take stock of what you need before the soak. Nothing's worse than getting your kid in the bath, then realizing that the toy bucket, shampoo, or towel you need is in the other room, forcing you to carry a dripping kid to go retrieve that bath necessity. Before you put your child in the water, make sure you have everything you need, and if you have more than one kid in the bath, add pajamas to that list so that if one child wants to soak longer than the other, the first kid out won't be forced to sit naked, waiting for you to convince their sibling that bath time is over.
- Trade off nights with your partner. In my house, we try to take turns with bath time. One parent bathes the kids while the other cleans up after dinner and shuts down the kitchen and living room. The fact that my husband and I greatly prefer to clean dishes and tidy up toys speaks volumes to how treacherous bath time can be.
- Consider dividing to conquer. If your kids always seem to fight during bath time, make it easier on yourself and bathe them one at a time. It might take twice as long, but it will be half as stressful.
- Introduce older kids to the shower. Once my almost 7-year-old daughter was old enough to wash herself, I started encouraging her to shower. It saves water and time, and prevents her from trying to drown her younger brother during their previously shared bath. Win-win!
- Don't forget about yourself. Do your kids linger in the tub like it's their own personal spa? Then don't forget to bring in your own sanity saving necessities: your phone, a portable speaker for some soothing music, and maybe even a glass of wine. Who says bath time can't be fun for everyone?!