I’m not sure there’s a daily ritual I love more than bathtime. Since the beginning of my kids’ lives, it’s been part of our nightly routine– a way to signal that the day is done, a soft landing from the chaos of day to the calm of night. A way to play and interact and learn, and oh yes, also a way to keep my ‘babies’ clean after a day of hard work and play. Even now at ages 4 and 6, my kids adore bathtime and would spend hours splashing in the warm water and weaving tales of adventure if I let them.
One bath I will never forget is my daughter’s first bath. I wish I could say it was in the sink at home as some parents do those first few weeks, but as you may know, it was not. Her first bath was in the NICU at the hospital and it was a cause for celebration, even though it happened a month after she was born– she had finally graduated to a nasal cannula for breathing so we could finally give her a bath! She was a little unsure at first, and screamed at the top of her lungs when we first placed her in the washbasin, but we all laughed because it was her first scream and it echoed around those NICU walls. “Go baby girl” we all cheered! Daddy’s comforting arms afterwards made it all better.
At the time, surrounded by lifesaving machines and nurses, it was one of the only caregiving duties in which we were allowed to partake. We milked it for all it was worth each time the nurses told us it was bathtime! And afterwards we’d therapeutically massage her with Johnson’s baby lotion. I will never, ever, EVER forget that blessed scent– and neither will she, 6 years later she still smiles when we smell the bottle together (yes, I saved it). Her OT taught us that massage increased eye contact and positive expression. Gee, do you think she was right?
After that, there was no stopping her: bathtime quickly because a highlight of her day. We played toys, read bath books, sang songs, and everyone (parents included) ended up soaked. WORTH IT.
When my son came along, it took a few tries for him to love baths the way his sister did but he soon came around. Today, he loves to write words using our foam ABC bath clings and build using floating bath blocks. We have bath Thomas and Jake and the Neverland Pirates sets too, so bathtime is often an adventure of epic proportions. For my daughter, we bought a water-resistant shower speaker that hangs on the showerhead. We pipe in songs from her favorite movies so we’re treated to a nightly karaoke fest as she belts out tunes. All of these activities– reading, sensory, pretend play, music– are building their brains and they don’t even know it. To my kiddos, it’s just FUN.
Plus, once in awhile it’s needed to actually get clean. 😉
Apparently in American households, 54% of the primary bath-givers were dads. Many times, my husband is the one handling bath duty. It gives him time to connect with the kids after being at work or traveling, and I get to hop on the computer and get some work done. Though most times I sneak upstairs to join in on the karaoke party or simply enjoy the happy bathtime sounds and scents going on.
My point in sharing today is to never underestimate the power of a bath. As mamas we often push ourselves to create ‘perfect’ Pinterest-worthy parties and handmade Valentines and complicated crafts and lunchbox meals in the shape of Frozen characters. You know what matters most? Time together. And warm, happy baths. Plus also pajamas layered with superhero capes. So slow down and enjoy. Life is the bubbles!
Did you know that bathtime was about so much more than getting clean? What’s your favorite nighttime ritual? Do your kids love bathtime too?