I don’t know about you, but bath time can be chaotic in our house. I have three boys three and under who still completely rely on my husband and I to bath them. As if that wasn’t enough work, they are often tired, cranky, and put up a fight during the evening routine. This combination is a recipe for power struggles, meltdowns, raised voices, and counting to three a bazillion times. I think you are starting to get the picture: if you have young kids, you know it’s a jungle out there.
I learned very quickly that it is easy to fall into a power struggle with a toddler and I hate to break it to you, but they often win. Those little turkeys know how to wear you down and usually it’s just not worth the fight. Here’s a tip parents: we can totally out smart them! I know I’m being cheeky, but seriously, don’t take the bait. Take a step back, rethink your strategy, and get ahead of the meltdowns and power struggles before they happen.
Given that bath time is one of the challenges in our evening routine, I like to use fun creative ways to get the boys on board, rather than threatening to take away Christmas every time they don’t get undressed and in the water. Don’t get me wrong, some days I am off my game. I get tired, kids get sick, everyone is cranky and I get frustrated: we are all human. But when I do have those days, I find my kids react by pushing back even harder, power struggling even more, and raising their voices to match mine. It’s no fun for anyone. That is why I try my best to use creative and fun activities as motivation through challenging transitions. You’d be surprised how quickly a toddler can undress themselves and run for the bath when it is something THEY want to do because they are CHOOSING to do it themselves.
If getting your munchkins in the bath is a challenge, or you just want to add some fun and variety into the evening routine, here are our 5 favourite bath activities:
Tie Dye Bath
I love this activity because it is super simple and doesn’t take any prep. Keep a box of cheap food colouring in the bathroom cabinet and add 15 drops to the water. I get the boys involved by letting them take turns choosing colours, and often mixing them to see what they can create. If you want to go all out, you can add many colours to make a rainbow or tie dye bath, and they can enjoy swirling all the colours around in the water. We have done this so many times and it doesn’t seem to get old. The food colouring is diluted and we’ve never had it dye the boys skin.
Glow Stick Bath
Again so simple and so much fun! This one takes a bit of forethought to purchase the glow sticks ahead of time, but next time you’re at the dollar store, grab a few and keep them on hand for a challenging day. Simply toss them in the bath, and watch your kids come running.
Mega Blocks Bath
If you have mega blocks or lego duplo, this bath idea is for you! My boys LOVE when we do this. They could stay in the bath for hours building and playing with the floating blocks. The blocks are all plastic so the water doesn’t damage them ….plus they get a good wash too! #winning
Look around your house, see what toys or objects you have that are safe to go in the water, and run with it. We did a Christmas themed bath as part of our advent activity calendar, and all it consisted of were felt ornaments, pom poms, and food colouring. The boys had a blast! They discovered that wet felt ornaments could stick to the tiles, and spent the rest of the bath “decorating” the bathroom. So much fun! If you have plastic farm animals do a farm themed bath, if you have dinosaurs do a dino bath. Can you tell I have boys? Do a tea party bath or a Barbie bath. Make up a random theme and run with it!
Bath Toy Rotation
The power of a toy rotation never ceases to amaze me. I tell the boys that I have a fun surprise: I changed up the toys in their bathtub, but they have to get undressed and in the bathroom before they can see them. Bam! Naked toddlers running down the hallway. Keep some bath toys out for use, and keep a few tucked away. Then rotate them every so often, particularly on nights when they are resisting the bath.
It is important to keep in mind that adding an activity to the bath is new and exciting, so make sure to give your child a bit more time to soak it all in. I try not to do involved bath activities if we are short on time or it is getting late. Try to either start bath earlier to give them extra time to play, or save something like a mega block bath for a weekend when there isn’t as much of a time constraint. I find the Tie dye bath great for getting the boys in the bath and not making it longer than normal. Once they mix the colours. we go about their bath and they don’t generally resist moving on with the routine.
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