Rub-a-dub-dub, three kids in a tub

There were three little kids in the tub: Kieran,7, Alana,5, and Patrick 15 months, aka Paddy. Their mother, my daughter Hannah, was giving them a bath. My only job was to pass the towels. As the cleanest of the three, Paddy was the first out. The other two had used their arms as canvases and had covered most of their arms in texta drawings.  Luckily, it was nearly winter and they were wearing long pants; otherwise, their legs would have been used as additional canvases. 

With Paddy out, there was more room for the other two to have a serious scrub rather than just a play in the bubbly water.

“Mum, can you get a couple of towels out of the dryer?”

I dutifully ran to the bathroom with the warm towels to see my daughter kneeling on the floor, leaning over the bath, trying to get the youngest to sit down before he fell down. Hannah was drenched from head to toe, looking like she had taken a dip herself.

As I was standing there with the towels, Hannah lifted Paddy out and handed him my way. I tried to grab him, but he was wet and slippery. However, I managed to intercept him before he made a dash out the doorway.

“Gotcha”, I declared, wrapping him tightly in a towel like a little burrito.

The other two thought it was hilarious. Kieran was sporting a bubble crown and a Santa beard, while Alana was inspecting her fading arm art like a disappointed tattoo critic.

Thirty-five years ago, this was my reality

My mind drifted back to when I was a young (single) mum raising three little kiddos single-handedly. I was once asked,

“How do you get them all bathed?”

“Well, it’s like this”, I started.

Before multitasking and blogs

It was something I had to do, and it made me quite the expert in multitasking. This was before I knew multitasking was a thing. Occasionally, I thought certain experiences were worth a diary entry and bath time was one of those.  So, at 2 am, when I occasionally had a spare half an hour to myself, I wrote a diary entry about it in an old exercise book. This was before blogs existed, and here is the unedited entry from February 1987.

Rub-a-dub-dub, three kiddos in a tub

Getting three babies in the tub is no problem. They all have reserved seating. Adam’s at the tap end, Sarah’s down the other end and Hannah’s in the middle.  Sarah is now eight months old and can sit unaided in the big bath with her three-year-old brother and two-year-old sister. They are all having a wow of a time, splashing wildly, eating soap without wincing, guzzling the sudsy water, throwing their rubber duckies at me and much more.

I try to stick to the once-a-day bath, but to be honest, it’s bloody hard work and takes a lot of time. Given the severe eczema, especially with Adam, bathing too often is not good because  it dries the skin and causes it to crack. And, unfortunately, some dirty little people need to be bathed more often because I can’t deny them a romp in a muddy puddle. It’s all about experiences. Anyway, an average-sized bath holds all three, plus a few rubber duckies, plastic sieves and small beach buckets with a bit of a squeeze.

A dry solution – a refashioned Glad bag

Bathtime isn’t just a wet time for the little ones: I  get soaked too. That all changed when I discovered a new use for the extra-large Glad bags. They make an amazing neck-to-knee cover. All you need to do is cut a hole in the bottom for your head and holes in each side for your arms. And that’s it. It’s reusable – just hang it out to dry after each bath session. While the colour choices aren’t great, it’s a cheap solution that saves you from having to change into dry clothes after bathing the little ones.

Which child do you get out of the bath first?

My biggest dilemma was always deciding which child to get out of the bath first?  In most households, this should not be a problem. You can simply close the bathroom door, and detain all of them in the bathroom until they are bathed and dressed. Even easier, if you have another adult to help. Sounds easy right?  But once they’re out of the bath, good luck getting them to stay put.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a bathroom door for a few years. Yes, you read that right. Our home was a home improvement project, that didn’t have an end in sight.  It was like living on a construction zone.  However, we eventually got a bathroom door when the grandparents came to stay, and naturally enough demanded a bit of privacy.

I once made the mistake of getting the youngest out first. By the time I had the other two out and dressed, Sarah was ready for her next bath. She was a very agile eight-month-old, crawling rapidly. She had quickly made her way out to the lounge room. Dad had been to visit earlier in the day to clean out the firebox and had left the door slightly ajar. There she was, sitting on the hearth having a lovely feed of soot. She was black from head to toe. Thankfully, she eventually came clean, but I never did quite manage to get that little smocked frock looking the same again.

Image: Thanks to Jason Richard from Unsplash for the featured image.

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