Sunday, 9 May 2010

How to manage "Bath time"... finally

I've had trouble signing in over the last couple of days. Sorry about that.

I promised to talk about "bath time" didn't I. Well, here it goes.

Bath time is actually my favourite part of the day. It didn't used to be. In fact when I first had my second, I was really worried about it. I just couldn't work out the logistics in my head. At the time we had a two year old toddler who went up for bath at 6pm, and was asleep between 7 and half past. How was I going to fit in another baby's bath time and still have them in bed by 7pm?

It turned out that the answer changed as the ages of the girls changed. Early on, when the younger was still breastfeeding in the her first three months, we'd bathe her in the baby bath on the floor in the bathroom either after the elder had got in the big bath (and was happily playing), or with the elder helping us clean the younger's toes before she then got in the big bath herself. Then I'd be sat on the toilet seat breastfeeding the younger, whilst the elder was playing. Luckily the elder, at 2 and a half, was old enough to be able to dress herself with minimum help. I'd dry her with one hand (younger in the other) and we'd go into the elder's bedroom for stories. Stories would be read (the younger still feeding). Finally I'd leave the elder to look at her books for 5 minutes whilst I took the younger into her room next door, gave her a final cuddle and popped her in her cot.

The younger very quickly learnt to go to sleep unaided. To the extent that today, at 20 months, she won't fall asleep on my knee. Something I occassionally miss! If in her room, she will point to the cot and start whining if she thinks you're taking too long getting her in bed. She has always had to fall asleep on her own.

Don't get me wrong. I didn't leave a screaming baby on her own. Just a whinging one for a short time! But having another child teaches you that they both need and deserve your attention. And if you are on your own, then they have to take turns. If the younger wasn't settling well, I'd read the elder a story, then pop in and see the younger, then pop back to the elder and so on; leaving the younger to mither (it's definitely different from crying) for a few minutes at a time. Often those few minutes were all it took, and off to sleep she went. Because this happened from day one, I didn't get to the controlled crying stage that we had to go through with the elder.

Bath time now, is of course, completely different. They both go in together. And I spend the whole time telling them to "sit down", "don't drink the water", "share the toys" .... You get the idea. Action songs are a good distraction if you still have enough wits about you to remember to launch into song.

But in all cases, the key thing to remember at bath time is this; before they get in the bath, make sure that everything, and I mean everything, you will need is within arms reach of your position at the side of that bath. Towels, nappies, wipes, baby lotion, pyjamas, clean pants for toddlers, slippers, shampoo, sponges, changing mat.... If you need it, have it there. Because once they are in, you can't walk away from that bath for even a second. At the very least, they'll be drinking the water when you return, and the worst... well, you know. So please, please, please, don't take your eyes off them, and don't move more than arms length away. (I've had a couple of major saves of the younger, when she's tried to stand up in the bath, one foot off the bathmat, slipped, and I've caught her before she hit her head. And when she was small, and just sitting up, she lost her seated balance on more than one occasion in all the excitement, and simply fell backwards. Again, my arm was there. I may be paranoid. But I don't risk it at bath time.

One final thing. If you have tiled floors in your bathroom, don't let the toddlers run around in there. Mine have slipped on the wet floor. Only last week I saved the younger's head from hitting the tiles, with my slippered foot and hand. Now they go from bath, to knee, to slippers, to carpeted bedrooms.

I said it was my favourite part of the day. It is. From teatime onwards my girls know our routine. And because that part of the day is always the same, they are calmer. As I am. We all know what to expect.

Above all, have fun. (oh, and get one of the those suction pad net bags for all the toys. Genius)

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