Monday, October 12, 2009

How to give three kids a bath

For anyone who has never attempted this, I offer you a tutorial on getting three children clean.

1. Inform said children that it is bath time. Listen to the oldest protest that he's not done building the Lego boat that, incidentally, will never be done. Listen to the middle one insist that he has to take bath first--or is it second? No, wait, he wants to go first. Probably. But he feels very strongly about whichever one it is. Chase the little one as she high-tails it to the bathroom, shouting "Bath!" Try to intercept her before she throws everything she can reach into the tub.

2. Fill the bathtub. Try to find the exact point at which the oldest can easily dunk his head, while the youngest will not simply tip over and drown. Insist, despite many arguments, that no, you don't have to leave the water running through the entire bath. Wish you had never started that when the 6-year-old was a baby, because now you pay for it at every bath. Agree that perhaps bubbles would be nice. Curse the fact that you didn't think to bring dish soap into the bathroom, and if you go get it now, the toddler will plunge headfirst into the tub. Try to convince them that a bath without bubbles is also fun. Lose argument, and finally fill the tub with hand soap, which makes reasonable bubbles. Consider getting some (surprisingly expensive) bubble bath just to prevent these arguments.

3. Tell youngest that she can now put the bath toys in the tub. Help her locate the cabinet that houses the toys and lift out the plastic tub in which you store them. Take a moment to feel good about yourself for coming up with such an elegant solution to the storage of all those wet toys. Have that feeling taken away as youngest child throws all the toys into the bath, including the soap, splashing water all over the floor, then hurls in the plastic tub as well.

4. Tell middle and youngest that the bath is ready. Lift them into the tub and try to keep one ear out for the oldest, playing in the next room. Pray that he doesn't choose this moment to jump off his bed, decide he simply must glue things, or act on any of the other bad ideas he seems to be full of lately. Tell youngest not to drink bath water. Admire middle child's ability to stick his nose in the water, but clarify that it doesn't really get all his hair wet. Tell youngest not drink bath water. Try to get middle child's hair wet, fighting with him about when his hair is actually wet enough to wash. Tell youngest not to drink bath water, and take cup away. Sigh, as she replaces cup with a washcloth, which she then sucks on.

5. Conclude that they are both relatively wet and try to wash them. Agree that maybe they can wash themselves, and besides, the water is pretty soapy anyway, right? Hand middle child bottle of shampoo, and try to stop him before he pours the entire bottle into his hand. Remind him, after he dunks hand in the water, that he was supposed to put that soap on his body and hair and get clean. Try again. Put soap on youngest child's hair while she tries to steal it. Pour a small amount in her hand so she will hold still and get washed. Figure that she's probably pretty clean, and you're losing your patience anyway. Rinse them both amid much shrieking.

6. Tell children that it's almost time to get out. Remind youngest that if she stands up in the tub, she will have to get out. Try not to laugh as she smiles and sits down every time you say this. Insist that it's almost time. Remind them that the time has almost come. Inform them that it's time to get out now, and try to ignore the shocked cries that it can't be time to be done yet! Lift middle child out and dry him off as quickly as possible, while he tries to run away, across the wet and slippery bathroom floor. Tell oldest that his turn has come. Inform him that, at six years old, he doesn't need to be quite so concerned about getting undressed all alone in the room. Give in and remove youngest from the tub so that oldest can get in. Try not to slip on the wet floor as you carry youngest off to get diapered and dressed. Tell oldest that you're running late so he's going to have to get clean right away.

7. Get youngest dry and start getting her diapered. Stop to inform middle child that he has his underpants on backwards, and he's putting his legs in the arm holes of his pajamas. Try to find youngest's pajamas. Swear that you left them here, and tear drawer apart while she tries to get the ball point pen you left on the changing table. Give up and put her in leggings and a sweat shirt. She can wear them tomorrow too. Help middle child find the arm holes in his pajamas. Pick towels up off the floor and brush off the dog hair. Call to oldest that he needs to be getting clean. Get a very noncommittal "Okay!" in response.

8. Turn on whatever is on Nickelodeon (please be Spongebob) while you check on oldest. See that he is still mostly dry and has been "swimming" around the tub, sliding on the slanted back of the tub in a way you explicitly told him never to do. Try not to get upset and tell him that he really, really needs to get clean now. Go check on younger two, and take dog bone away from youngest child. Return to oldest child, and see that he's putting soap into dry hair. As calmly as possible, offer to get it wet. While you're there, quickly wash and rinse his hair. Tell him he really needs to get clean now, and go check on the younger ones. Yay, Spongebob! That buys you at least 10 minutes of TV hypnosis; maybe you can check your email tonight before you all fall asleep. Respond to oldest child's calls that he's ready to get out--now!

9. Provide oldest child with a towel to stand on and another to dry with. Agree to dry his hair. Feel a little frustrated that he won't do it. Feel a little grateful that this great big person will still let you dry his hair. Send him off to get dressed and go clean the bathroom. Empty the bathtub and start removing toys. Curse the stupid plastic toy tub, now as wet as the toys it holds. End up drying the tub with a towel and putting it away. Go check on oldest and find him yelling at middle child that he needs "to be alone right now" to get dressed. Giggle a little at the fact that he is naked while yelling at his brother that he needs privacy to dress. Remind oldest that he needs to take care of his dirty clothes and towel after he gets dressed. Go check on youngest and take the dog's bone away from her again. When oldest child emerges from his room, go check and resignedly put away his dirty clothes and wet towel.

10. When all children are dry and dressed, turn on a show for them, collapse onto the couch, and count the hours until you can go to bed.


Sarah said...

Did I already tell you how pretty the new layout is? Very nice!

OH, the flashbacks you have given me, and I was only trying to clean up two of them! Bubble bath really is so expensive for what it offers... drives me crazy to buy it. Ever. My husband actually bought it because he felt like the kids were missing out on an important experience of childhood. LOL! That was too cute. The naked children demanding privacy, the bittersweetness of them being able to do it themselves... I was so torn the first time they bathed themselves! It just zips by, but what do you do? I'm not the queen of nighttime routine type of mommy, so I suffered through it, then immediately regretted not being more in the moment, but with 2+ kids, it's almost impossible for it be anything but hectic!!

Aunt Becky said...


Bathing is overrated.

Mommy on the Spot said...

LOVE your new layour! Where did you find it?

I am exhausted after reading your post! Do you do this every night?

Jasmine said...

I LOVE the new layout!

Kami said...

Ditto on all the new layout comments, Kendra. It's lovely. Also, I'm nominating this post to Five Star Friday, because, well, it should be read far and wide. You are awesome! I laughed, related and am currently questioning my current desire to try for a third kid...

Kendra said...

THanks so much for all the compliments on the layout! I really like it too. (And it probably used up one entire nap time one day trying to pick one.) I got it at They have backgrounds (and instructions on getting them to work) and also lots of little widgets if you're into that. I had a lot of fun picking a layout!

Sarah, that's really cute about your husband and the bubble bath! And yes, I'd love to be the "fully present and engaged" mom all the time. But with more than one in the mix, it's really hard for some things to be anything other than out of control.

Aunt Becky: Amen. I like my kids a little dirty. And I've changed my bathtime goal from "clean" to "reasonably clean."

No, Mommy on the Spot, fortunately we don't do baths every night. I used to, when it was just Zachary. But since more were born, we went to every other night--sometimes we skip an extra night, but we try to stick to every other night. Non-bath nights are like a little present.

Thanks, Jasmine! I really like the layout too!

Kami, thanks! I'm honored that you'd nominate my post! And yes, three kids is an almost insane amount of work. And I can't say what it's like to decide to have three; our third was a sweet surprise. But I can tell you that it's a heck of a lot of work, though not necessarily more than two. And that our family was definitely not full until she arriaved, I now know!

Wendi said...

Oh, my. So funny.

May I suggest a hose and a bar of soap?

Alicia said...

That's familiar, at least it was until the point that I realized mine were old enough to stand in the shower. Now it's turn shower on, scream that it's shower time, stand there in case someone tries to get in with his socks on, squirt soap in general direction of children, supervise rinsing, help with drying and jammies, BED. God bless the shower.

thepsychobabble said...

sounds just about right!

Left of Lost said...

Oooo, I love your layout!
So, this is what I have to look forward to? Shit. It's hard enough w/ just the one!! She dumps every toy in the tub, and splashs the entire tubful of water all over me and the floor. Sigh.