If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this parenting journey it is that sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones. These are the solutions that, once realized, make you slap your forehead and say, “Why didn’t I think of this years ago??” I’ve posted about simple solutions here and here. I rejoice when I find a simple solution that works for our little family.
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Last night I posted a photo of Seuss at tub time, with a quick comment about our simple solution for tub drama. Folks, so many people either commented or messaged me that I felt a quick post was warranted. The comments and stories made me realize that there is a whole lot of tub drama out there! Our tub drama solution is so simple that I feel silly even posting about it, but I’m posting anyway. Why? Let’s be honest here: we’d all like tub and bedtime to go more smoothly, right? So if this post helps even just one mama out there to do the “Why didn’t I think of this years ago??” forehead slap, it will be worth it.
Here’s the back story… As many of you know, our eldest son has some sensory stuff going on. These sensory challenges have changed over time. When he was a baby, he hated the tub. And when I say, “hated the tub” what I mean is that he screamed holy hell from the moment he realized a tub was going to happen to him until long after the tub had ended. We had a lot of tub drama with little Leo.
During that time, whenever we’d attempt a tub, I’d put on my game face and think to myself, “This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This! Too! Shall! Pass!” and try to both clean and comfort my beloved, flailing, red-as-a-tomato-angry little child as fast as humanly possible, all the while wishing for those Bose noise-canceling headphones.
Now, years later, I understand that the tub was just one of many sensory challenges Leo has faced in his six years. If you think about it, a tub is a whole lot of sensory overload if it is happening to you. The poor sensory-challenged kiddo has so little control. Think about it- you’re stripped naked, plunked in water at a temperature that you did not choose, and scrubbed from head to foot before having water repeatedly dumped over your head. And that doesn’t even touch on the acoustics. Sitting in a tub sounds funny and echo-y, sitting in a tub with the water still running is pretty darn loud, and sitting in a tub with water running while you are screaming your little head off is downright deafening.
Well, Leo got over it, just as he eventually does with every sensory challenge he encounters. Miss T never had any major issues with the tub but our littlest guy, Seuss, has hated the tub for a while now, just like as his older brother did years ago. But, this time, I have a simple solution:
Folks, I was captain of my high school swim team and it took me six years, three kids, and a whole lot of tub drama to come to this simple parenting hack. It works!
Want some other tips from a mom who has had years of tub-induced drama?
- You don’t have to bathe your kids every night. Despite what They Say, it doesn’t have to be a part of your bedtime routine.
- If your kiddo is filthy and needs a bath, try sponge baths for a little bit. Give yourself and your child a break from tubs for a bit.
- Run the bath before putting your child in it. Sometimes, just having the faucet off can make a little bit of difference. The bathroom is so loud when it is on.
- Put yourself in your child’s shoes and try to see where you can make a difference. I know I wouldn’t enjoy a bucket of water dumped over my head. Try to give your child more choices and control. Give the child control of the bucket. Ask if the temperature feels okay. Provide your child a wash cloth or a bath poof so that he or she feels more in control of the situation.
- I once had a successful week (alas, some things don’t last) during which I played soft music at tub time. Maybe this will work longer in your house. It certainly doesn’t hurt to try it.
- Rub a dub dub, more kids in the tub. Sometimes the more the merrier works. T is very good at calming Seuss, so they often bathe together. When the kids were younger, I would also take them into the shower with me.
- Make the tub more fun and interesting for your child. This worked for a bit in our house. We had tub toys, tub crayons, and would occasionally do a “color tub” with a few drops of food coloring. We didn’t do all of these things at the same time, but rather I staggered it so that every night seemed a bit different. That said, I have three kids and in addition to tub drama, we have tub bickering. Call me a meanie but I donated all tub toys over a year ago. Like most hacks, it worked until it didn’t.
- Try a shower. That’s actually what Seuss was about to do in the photo above. We have one of those hand-held shower attachments. The attachment is gentler than a bucket of water over your head, plus he is in control of it.
- Incorporate other, more pleasant, water experiences into your child’s life. Fill a bucket with water and add some toys for a fun sensory experience.
- Swim lessons! As a former lifeguard and swim instructor, I can tell you that many children hate getting their faces wet. Swim lessons help mitigate this fear. It’s a big deal when a little swimmer puts his or her face in the water to blow bubbles for the first time!
- If you think your concerns are sensory-related, read about sensory processing disorder so that you can understand it and work with it.
- Remember that, like most struggles, this too shall pass.
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So, tell me… have you experienced tub drama? Do you have any tips to add here? What about other simple solutions? Share your favorite here.
Sorrow can be alleviated by a good sleep, a bath, and a glass of wine.