The Bath Time Struggle

Imagine saying once “go take your bath” and then immediately after, imagine your children marching to the bathtub like soldiers. Cleaning behind their ears without even being told. Now imagine unicorns, dancing fairies, and a lot of other things that you will never experience in your lifetime.

For me, bath time is a struggle. My oldest is eight and is creeping towards that adolescent age.

Every night I tell him to take a bath, and every night he turns into a Nascar bather who only knows how to wash his stomach. Most times, he whines about not needing a bath and invites me to smell his armpits to prove his theory. After turning the tables and instructing him to smell his own armpits, he reluctantly agrees to take a bath but not before spewing hundreds of “whys.”  

Just when I think I have won and start dreaming about my celebratory glass of wine, my son walks out one minute later claiming he is finished. And so the struggle continues.

Because I’m a techy, I turned to my trusty ole friend, Google. I was amazed at the number of toddlers who hate baths. My two year old loves baths and jumps at any chance to take one. In fact, when she hears the bath water running, she drops what she’s doing and runs into the bathroom with her diaper already at her knees.

Since I couldn’t find much about getting a school-aged child excited about baths, I figured I’d try the top parent-tested methods for toddlers. Epic fail. The top method was investing in a bath-time visor. My son looked at the visor then looked at me, and I knew it wasn’t happening. Others suggested buying a bunch of glow bracelets. That actually got him in the tub willingly, but it didn’t help with his lack of cleaning.

Another suggestion was adding color to the bath. For Easter, each of my children received finger paint soap. It was a hit amongst all of them. There were even suggestions of putting colored ice cubes or water balloons to encourage bath time fun. But just like the glow bracelets, they didn’t help with his lack of cleaning. They also left colored spots in my tub so I would have to vote “no” on the color.

Another suggestion looked to be very promising. A parent suggested getting creative with a bar of soap. I tried dropping the soap into a bath filled with bubbles and betting my son that he couldn’t lift the soap without using his hands. That method definitely helped with his overall cleanliness, but it didn’t focus on his “problem areas.”

Skipping the bath all together was also suggested by some parents, but they have not met my son. Two days of that and my house quickly becomes a hazmat mask required area.

Since my friends at Google didn’t provide much help, I decided to take matters into my own hands and go with my secret weapon: bribery. My son now gets 15 minutes of screen time for each clean armpit. I’m sure all of his future girlfriends will thank me for that.


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