Your evenings are supposed to be a time to relax and catch your breath. But when you're raising young kids solo (or swapping nights with a co-parent), evenings can feel like your worst nightmare -- especially if your kids are fearful or resistant about taking baths. Use these tips to take the stress out of bathtime so you can start enjoying this part of your family's evening routine:
Create a consistent bathtime routine.
Kids don't necessarily need to bathe or shower every day. So you can create a system that works with your schedule. For example, designate three nights a week -- such as Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays -- as your kids' bath or shower nights. Usually, washing up at the sink will suffice in between. And if you share custody with your kids, be sure to have a conversation about the schedule, so that you can both share the responsibility without overlapping or giving your kids a pass without realizing it.
Make it fun. Especially when the kids are little, I think we all envision bathtime as a half-hour of non-stop giggling. But not of our little ones enjoy the experience. Do what you can to make it fun with age-appropriate bath toys like stacking cups, boats, and squirting toys. And if your kids are old enough to draw, consider picking up some washable bath crayons. (A perfect way to distract them while you rinse the shampoo from their hair!) And remember that bath toys don't have to be purchased.
You can reuse bowls and cups from the kitchen or let your kids play with plastic take-out containers. Model pouring water from one to the other, and they'll catch on.
Keep it safe. When your kids are in the bath, there's nothing more important than their safety. Never, ever leave a young child in the bath alone -- even for a minute to grab your phone or answer the door.
And always test the water temperature before you put your children in the bath. While your kids are infants, be sure to use an infant bathtub or bathe them in the sink. As they get older, you can transition to the bathtub. (Several companies make special bath seats just for little ones who've outgrown an infant bathtub, but aren't ready to sit on their own in a larger bathtub. Just be sure to check the safety ratings before you choose one for your kids.) Take a look around your bathroom, too. Do you have a non-stick rug next to the bathtub? And what about a bathmat inside the tub so they don't slip when they stand up? Are all electrical appliances turned off and kept out of reach? Take a look around and see what else may need to be moved.
Ease bathtime worries. Lots of kids have legitimate anxieties about having water poured over their heads. If your children usually cry when you wash their hair, this could be an issue you need to be sensitive to. Make sure the water you're using is a comfortable temperature, and always warn your kids before you start to pour it over their heads. Consider buying a bathtime visor (a special foam hat that protects your kids' faces while you rinse their hair), which can help minimize the amount of water that gets into their eyes.