My husband and I received a nasty letter this week from our real estate agent. You see we belong to that second-class group of citizens known as renters, who live at the mercy of our landlords and we received that notice we live in fear of – that the rent is going up… again. And whenever we get one of those letters I find myself thinking about all the things we don’t have in our very basic three bedroom house – no dishwasher, no air-con, no built-ins, no lovely ensuite. But there is one thing we have that I appreciate more than all those other things put together and that is the humble bathtub!
The bath is just such a great way to keep small children occupied at the end of the day when they’re getting to that ratty, “I’m bored, I’m hungry, I’m tired” time of day known to many parents as ‘arsenic hour’. There have been many occasions when I’m looking after my niece and nephew and I’ve reached the point where if I have to adjudicate one more squabble I’m going to pull my eyelashes out one by one, so I’ll just chuck them all in the bath together and buy myself half an hour of peace.
There seems to be something about the bath that has a natural calming effect on kids. You know yourself how at the end of a bad day a warm bath can be really soothing. It’s the same for kids, all that warm water seems to calm down their overstimulated little nervous systems and help them relax. Also, so often when kids get ratty it’s because of some physical need that’s not being met. If they’re hot, you can throw them in the bath to cool down, if it’s a cold day you can throw them in a warm bath to warm up. If they’re hungry, it distracts them until dinner’s ready. It’s a win-win situation.
The bath also helps bridge the age gap between kids. There’s almost five years between my girls, but when they have a bath it’s one of their best play times together. Water play really isn’t that different whether you’re five or three or one. Before we had Molly I used to feel quite sad that Birdy had nobody to play with in the bath, so now I get a lot of joy from seeing them playing and laughing together. And for babies, it never gets boring! They learn so much from playing with water – splashing, pouring from one thing into another, learning what floats and what sinks, blowing bubbles, watching the water disappear down the plug hole – what a great mystery that is for a baby! The properties of water are endlessly fascinating.
So yes, bathtime is now one of my absolute favourite times of the day. It probably comes a close second to Mummy’s quiet cup of tea time, while Molly takes a nap. That’s also a pretty special time of day.