In our house, the very phrase “bath night” strikes terror into the deepest part of my soul. Wrestling two small people into a bathtub, trying to keep at least a notable percentage of water off the floor and in the tub, and ending with clean, generally presentable tiny humans leaves me needing a nap. I used to love baths, but now that they’re a battle of wits and a show of strength, they have lost their appeal.
I’ve lost a lot of who I was now that I’m a mother. My kids are small, so I’m still working on my new identity. Some things have had to go to the side, others have been abandoned entirely. However, I’m very hopeful that a few things can find a new life alongside my mom life. Lately, this bath-loving mama has learned how to put distance between the debacle that is bathing my kids and the joy that is taking a bath myself. As it turns out, you can force kids to take baths and still like baths yourself.
Maybe you love the rest and peace that a good, long bath can provide. Maybe you’ve yet to discover your own 20-minute in-bath spa. Let me help you take the bath toy dominated family tub and make it a teeny little slice of mom paradise.
Step 1: Make the time.
Notice I didn’t say “find the time”. If you try to find it, it won’t exist. I told you to make the time. Pick a night, make sure the kids are safely in bed, and close the door. If it happens during your bath time, it’s not your problem. Deputize the spouse, call over a neighbor, do whatever you have to do.
I love to take Saturday night after the kids have gone to bed. My husband knows that this is my time. I close myself in my room, he watches to make sure our little ninja doesn’t come sneaking down, and I get my designated space for myself.
Step 2: Prep the scene.
You want your space to feel relaxing, calm, and personal. Take the rubber ducks and bath crayons and shove them into the cabinet. Do a quick wipe-down around the tub to remove all remaining kid scum. Scavenge some candles from around the house and set them up in the corner of the bath. Find a towel to roll up under your head while you soak. Do whatever it takes to make the space feel as close to a spa as possible, even though you know full well you just wrestled a couple of naked seal children in that very room just an hour before.
I’m fortunate enough to have my very own bathtub. It’s a jetted tub. Yes, I know, I am obviously hashtag blessed. But this definitely makes it easier for me to claim my corner of the house. It also means I’m less likely to find mystery blobs floating in the water with me. (Please, let it only be an old booger.) It allows me to leave my candles up, my curtains pulled, and my lights off, just like I like it. No one will wander in and bother me. Having more than one bathroom is possibly the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.
Step 3: Gather your gear.
You could just pour warm water into the tub and soak away. But why would you do that? Look, this is your little handful of minutes for yourself just so you can relax and possibly feel like you did a little something to remind yourself that you are worth it. Go ahead and splurge, just a little. Here are my suggestions:
- Get something for soaking. Honestly, I find that you can’t beat the $3 bag of Epsom salts from the toiletries aisle. But you might be more of a bubble bath person, or maybe one of those fancy bath bombs that fizz and make your skin glow could be your style. Have some on hand, plus extras, just in case you need an emergency bath after a particularly long day.
- Get something to get comfortable. You might be able to find a good bath pillow to better cradle your head. Trust me, it will feel better than that balled-up towel.
- Get something to listen to. You could perch your phone on the edge of the bath, but trust me when I say that’s not the greatest move. Find yourself a good waterproof speaker that you can sync with your phone. Then you can listen to some meditations on YouTube, or your favorite music that you don’t remember exists anymore thanks to endless loops of Kidz Bop, or even a podcast where you could, like, learn something.
- Get something to read. Look, this is a dodgy one. Remember that a steamy bath can passively soak your book. If you’re a digital reader, you’re in even greater danger. Proceed with caution.
- Get something to sip. Maybe your jam is a glass of wine, or a cup of herbal tea, or even just a can of sparkling water. Pour it up. It’s time.
Step 4: Go the extra mile.
Spending a good 20 minutes in the bath can help relax muscles, encourage circulation, and promote good sleep. But it can also be the precursor to a simple beauty regimen. Consider a few tools to take your bath to the next level:
- Exfoliating. I have a long, thin, rough washcloth that I got from Target that works great for scrubbing down everything from my back to my toes. You might prefer a body scrub or just a good rub with the washcloth.
- Lotion. You know that one fancy lotion you have hiding in the back of your drawer? Use it after your bath.
- Face. Buy one of those weird-looking sheet masks. Or maybe one of those goofy-looking charcoal masks. Who cares? You’re in your personal bath oasis. You don’t have to impress anyone – at least, not until you take that mask off and glow.
- Razor. It will never be easier to shave than after a long, hot bath. Make sure your razor is clean or recently replaced and get some work done.
Step 5: Reentry.
Eventually, you’re going to have to exit your quiet, calm, lavender-scented paradise. I am so sorry. But remember: you are a better mom when you have had time to rest and recharge. Instead of telling yourself you can’t afford the time or money to take a day at the spa, give yourself permission to take an evening and have something special for yourself. Tomorrow, you can go back to wondering whether or not the kid peed in the tub. Tonight, it’s just you and the bath bubbles.