I used to love a bath.
The average person, when asked to picture in their mind’s eye a bath time scenario, will probably imagine a relaxing affair, conjuring up images of soft lighting, candles, a good book, decadent smelly bubbles, a face mask perhaps, maybe even a cheeky glass of wine…
If I have a bath, it is generally with two small children. It is about as far from relaxing as you can probably get without inflicting actual bodily harm.
Why do I do it? Because sometimes, a mum needs to wash, and it is also a lot easier to stop the baby from drowning as he does not stay still for a second.
This is how bath time goes in my house.
Me, as dinner finishes: Right. Thank goodness that’s over with. Bath time!
After all, how else would I fill this portion of time before Daddy returns, fondly known to many parents as the witching hour, the whine before the wine, and hold on to the loose threads of my sanity?
So dinner gets cleared away and I wrangle both children into the bathroom, negotiating the stairs with a toddler dawdling in front of me and a dog behind trying to overtake, holding a baby in one hand and sometimes, when I fancy a real challenge, a potty full of wee in the other.
Once the children are successfully herded upstairs, I run the bath, complete with dreamtime bubble bath which I am not foolish enough to believe actually makes my children sleepy, but for some reason I persist with it just in case.
I test the temperature of the bath so as not to scald my children because I’m good like that.
I position the bath mats to stop the toddler from falling over and concussing herself and empty a ton of brightly coloured plastic bath toys out into the water.
I undress the toddler amidst screams of GET IN GET IN GET IN, as she has decided it is bath after all, and in she goes.
I then get myself ready and lastly the baby, who is by far the most likely to wee up the walls in the nanosecond between being disrobed and getting into the tub.
Just kidding. My primary task is to stop the baby from pulling himself up on the taps or drowning, which sadly cannot be done from a lying down position, so we are all sat up, and this isn’t a big bath so I generally have feet in uncomfortable places.
I have two other tasks that must be undertaken – namely washing the toddler’s hair and brushing her teeth.
Currently her toothbrush is the shape of a crocodile, which she calls a ‘nezza smile’ (after the song, obviously). It’s so goddamn cute I can’t bring myself to correct her.
The teeth are a pin down and just get it done affair, and most days it’s only moderately challenging.
The hair however….
Washing a toddler’s hair is a dangerous and thankless task, but one which must be undertaken regularly when the toddler question has a mess of tight curls.
I’ve recently discovered a 2in1 shampoo and conditioner for toddlers which has halved the trauma but it is still a job I’d prefer to outsource.
Me, calmly: Can I wash your hair?
Her: NOOOOO MUMMY NO WASH THE HAIR
Me: I’m going to wash your hair darling, can you stay still for a minute?
Her: NOOOOO GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT
Me: Please come on, let me wash your hair, I’ll only be a minute
Her, red faced and indignant, crying real, actual tears: NOOOOO MUMMY NOOOO GET OUT GET OUT etc
Repeat until hair is successfully washed and rinsed.
She will continue this until I manage to distract her with something like a plastic duck, at which point the torture will be forgotten (by her) although by this time, I’m cold and bored, the baby is trying to perfect his pincer grip on parts of me that I wish he wouldn’t, and it’s time to get out.
So first the baby is removed from the bath, then I get out myself.
While I get us both dry I usually pass the time telling by the toddler not to jump in the bath, use her toothbrush to clean the tiles or throw wet flannels on the bathroom floor.
Once dressed it is time to get the toddler out, usually to shouts of NOOOOO MUMMY NOT YET. NOT GET OUT. She has a real love/hate relationship with the bath.
If I’m very lucky, I’ll get them both out before one of them does a poo.
You know you’ve hit a new low when you are scooping shit out of the bath with your hands, but at some point as a parent, you will have to do it.
It’s basically a milestone, but one for which they don’t make a nice card for the baby to hold while you photograph the evidence.
They should (and I’ve suggested them here, just FYI).