Welcome to the Bad Parent blog post series.
I am FED up of the way parents, and actually mothers, to be honest, are put under so much pressure, to be perfect and to have this parenting thing under control and be able to do it all, and the constant judgement we are under. This parenting job is HARD, we get no training, we don’t get paid, and we do it because we want to and love our children. Sometimes we don’t get it right, sometimes we get it more than right. We are all mostly just trying to do our best. I am tired of the “how to be a perfect wife, mother, craft provider, cleaning lady, cook…” stuff that gets flung at us every day. We need to take the guilt and throw it away and enjoy parenting, but also be able to admit when it’s not going so well, or might be a bit tough…
My confession this week is I hate bathtime….
Ok, there, I’ve said it, on my blog, for all the world to see. I know, I’m a horrible mother, because of course, I should love bath time. Bath time is supposed to be the calm, relaxing, preparing for bed at the end of the day, fun time you read about in all the parenting books (not that I read those much, anyway) but to be honest, I don’t find it any of those things.
Bathtime has always been LSH’s job. From the very start, he has been a bathtime expert. When we brought Big Girl home from the hospital, I showed him how to bathe her, and he got on with it, and with military precision and thoroughness, he did bathtime with her, and then with Small Boy when he came along, and now does them both. When they were babies, he would rush home from work, because bathtime was his favourite part of the day, and he didn’t want to miss it, and because it was one thing he could do, that didn’t need me, it was and still is, his special time with them. He HATES it when I interfere with his bathroom routine, or if I don’t do things his tried and tested way, and to be honest, he is so good at it, the children prefer his presence to mine, and it means I can do other things (like take a few minutes to drink a glass of wine and write blog posts – when I am “supposed” to be doing the tidying and getting supper ready, shh, don’t tell him!) so I am very happy to let him get on with it! He plays games with them, he makes bathtime fun, and he seems immune to the stress of it all.
BUT, occasionally, I have to do bathtime, if he is out for the evening, working late, or away. I dread it. That sounds awful, doesn’t it? I have occasionally skipped it, if I know it’s only a day until he can do it, but sometimes, the little blighters get so dirty and grimy, that they NEED a good soaking and some suds and it is unavoidable.
I don’t mind bathing small, tiny babies, in my previous existence as a nanny, then a children’s nurse, I used to bathe babies regularly. I don’t even mind when they yell the house down or pee all over me.
I just find the whole process of getting two tired, grumpy, not really wanting to end their day, children, into a bath, get them clean, battle with hair washing, (Small Boy screams the house down, no matter what tricks we use, it’s a case of getting it done as fast as possible and over with, and Big Girl’s hair is a nightmare to wash, brush, de-tangle and dry, because it is long, thick and wavy, like mine) deal with squabbling over bath toys, having to supervise them closely, because Small Boy is like a mini dare-devil, and will clamber about the bath, reach for toys, try to turn on the taps, and Big Girl likes to borrow my soap (last week, both children came out of the bath smelling very fragrantly of Chanel No 5) and the amount of water that seems to start of in the bath, but ends up on the floor, and on me, is mind-blowing, to say the least.
I usually am gasping for a glass of wine, by the time both children and bathed, in their pyjamas and looking suitably cherubic and ready for bed, while I mop the floor, scrabble to find the remains of my soap, and curse the silly bath toy net things that won’t stay stuck to the side of the bath.
We’ve started letting Big Girl shower, by herself, and let Small Boy bath alone (well, not alone, an adult supervises him, you know what I mean!) This seems to work better, and is less fraught for all involved. Small Boy still gets almost the whole bath of water on the floor, and Big Girl still steals my soap, but it is calmer, and less wine is needed afterwards. One day, they will disappear into the bathroom and not need my assistance, and I am sure I will think fondly of how small and cute they were, and how much fun bathtime was, who knows? I may even offer enthusiastically to bathe my own grandchildren, but for now, I still hate it?
Don’t let me writhe in un-motherly shame, share your worst bits of the parenting day or week and I’ll pass you a glass of wine….
This blog post was originally shared in 2013. I revived it and thought it would fit within the Bad Parent Series.