I look at my two little munchkins splashing water on each other in the bathtub and smile. I am taking this time to breathe and enjoy time not refereeing a fight between the two. Bath time has a way of uniting these almost sworn rivals as they seek to extend their stay in the water.
Splash! And the younger one tries to wipe a stream of water from her face. Little Missy is receiving a little too much of the rough play from the brother who has more splashing capacity and accuracy. I warn the little chap to play gently as a duckie goes splashing through the water narrowly missing Little Missy’s head.
I watch the water puddle on the floor grow bigger from all the splashing but right now, I am not complaining. Because for the next ten or so minutes, this bathtub is my best baby sitter and entertainer. The children will be busy, happy and warm as they chase after toys and splash water on each other and me and create bubbles. The bottle of Johnson’s Bubble Baby Bath and Wash that I impulse bought is well worth the look of glee on my three-year-old’s son when he finds a tub overflowing with bubbles.
But bath time isn’t something we always looked forward to. Both of my babies were scared of water when they were newborns. My son would scream the roof down and leave me all sweaty and frazzled longing for my mum-in-law to come and give the bath. One day an older neighbour found us basking in the sun and seeing the little tot in my hands she commented: “Is this the little person who cries that much every night?”
I explained that he hated bathtime.
“Do it when you are both relaxed and keep the room warm. Then before you dress him, wrap him up in a towel and breastfeed him,” she advised.
Soon after my friend found us bathing and when she saw the basin she lamented, “Is that the water you are washing him in? No wonder he is crying. Add the water.”
And she was right. Immersed in a basinful of water, the little chap saw his legs float and started kicking in excitement. There was enough water to play with and swallow. Thank God for that zealous shopping attendant at Biashara Street who insisted I buy the Head to Toe No Tears wash. It really meant no tears from soap.
I wash my children just before bedtime because that way, I can let them mess their clothes and hair while eating knowing we have time to remove the grime. I have also found that they sleep faster after their bath.
Because bathtime is mummy time, I have to ensure I am home early to avoid rushing or even skipping the bath. This is our time to bond, talk about what is going on in their little lives and inspect their bodies for hits and accidents they may have had at school or while at play. This way I am not surprised by scars on little ankles or scratches on the neck.
Getting my children dressed still remains one of my biggest challenges because no sooner are they out of the tub, toweled and oiled than they slip off my fingers to run around the house naked, telling me how I can’t catch them.
“You can’t catch me! You can’t catch me!” The chorus rises.
I manage to put on a diaper on the little one, almost holding her down with one foot to stop the wriggling. But as I grab a vest she runs off again, giggling. It drives me crazy and despite the threats I issue, I know I will sure miss this when they are grown up. I remind myself to cherish these moments. I run after Litle Missy, tickling and distracting until I can get her into a warm romper.
With one down I hoodwink the older boy to stay still by promising him a massage. He quickly lies down and I slurp fragrance-free aqueous cream all over his back and massage his head and shoulders and legs. Because he particularly has dry eczema-prone skin, I prefer to use this to avoid flare ups.
His sister meanwhile has received a generous coat of baby oil that leaves her looking all shiny like a new coin.
Soon everyone is dressed and I take the older boy to bed, read a Bible story or poem, pray and tuck him in. His sister stands by the bed watching. Then it’s off to cuddling and booby time with her until she drifts off to sleep soon after.
This article was first published at Mums Village.