This is going to be a bit of a compare and contrast exercise. So, first up, how I used to take a bath.
When its just you and maybe your partner or parents in the house. Taking a bath is simple. You pour in some bubbles, turn on the taps, grab a towel and a book and lie there for a good long soak. My dad’s been known to fall asleep in the bath. Mine used to be a regular Sunday night feature, at least a 45 min soak with several hot water top ups.
Sounds nice and relaxing right? well, think again…
Step 1: Opportunity
Find time to even consider spending more than 10 minutes by yourself. Then get distracted by washing, a covertly defrosted freezer, a phone call, Twitter or a child with a stubbed toe. Put it off. Wait. Think you’ve found time again only to be required to investigate a different TV package or remember that you haven’t yet thought about the shopping list for tomorrow.
Finally, you find the time for a bath. The kids are in bed, no one is asking you to do anything and the chores that you could be doing can all wait. Success.
Step 2: Preparation
This is the key part, you don’t want to be getting in and out of the bath to find the things you need. Every time you do that the risk of the kids hearing that you’re attempting to secure some alone time relaxing, increases. So chuck in some bubbles, if you really want to splash out maybe even use “grown up” bubble bath rather than Head to Toe baby bath that needs using up since the kids are allergic to it and its been sitting in the cupboard for at least 5 years.
No wait, I missed a step. First empty the bath and its little shelf of all the kids bath toys, empty them of water and put them somewhere else. Do this before you add your bubbles or run your bath because they will inevitably be full of cold water and maybe even black scummy bits and you don’t want that in your bath.
If you want to read in the bath, find you book or eReader (preferably charged) and put them within arms reach. Also find a hand towel and put it next to the bath so you don’t soak your book with wet hands. I’m recommending this from bitter experience, climbing out of the bath to dry your hands so you can read will act as a siren drawing in your children who, alerted to your attempted solitude, will have deep and meaningful questions requiring long discussion.
Then turf the kids’ towels off the radiator and put yours on there so its nice and warm when you get out. Believe me, this will pay off with the most comforting moment later.
See, I said preparation was key.
If you’re feeling extravagant, grab the razor and shaving foam and you might even deforest your legs while you’re in there. Or for true indulgence, light a candle.
Step 3: Get in and enjoy
Nothing can stop you now. All is quiet, you left your bath preparation until 20 minutes after the kids went to bed so all their post-bedtime ablutions are over. The bath is a foaming steamy fragrant pool ready to relax in, you can safely remove your clothes and get in for a soak.
Mmmmm, isn’t that nice. Its hot but not scalding, your muscles instinctively let go and you’re lying on your back so your tummy looks flatter than usual too. You have a few minutes peace, savouring the warmth and the quiet. Reach out and grab that prepared hand towel and dry off, ignoring the blob of toothpaste but making a mental note to put it to the wash when you get out, then take your book and open it.
At this point you discover that vital preparation step that you missed out. You did not lock the door. There’s the quietest creak of floorboards outside the bathroom and then the door swings ever so slightly, you can’t fail to notice it though. “Yes? what’s up?” is all you can say.
“Muuuum, I need a poo.”
It was inevitable, unavoidable, fated, predestined and all but foretold.
With destiny in mind, what else can you do but let them in to answer nature’s call. But in this moment, your relaxing bath has evaporated. Your child expects a nice chat while they sit on the loo next to you, they tell you all about their computer game character and give progress reports on their bodily functions. You steadfastly keep your book in your hands and try hard to focus on the written words. Finally, they’re done, cleaned up and packed back off to bed, leaving only a terrible stench and an open door letting in a draught to cool your hot water and chill your skin.
Step 4: Up and out
You finish your chapter and give up. Sod the hairy legs, they can stay that way for extra warmth. You loosen the plug, step out, push the door closed for some semblance of privacy and grab your lovely warm towel (see I said preparation was key).
It might not have been a 45 minute, 5 chapter indulgence but just a bit of alone time feels like a treat. Now, to get into your good pyjamas, brush your hair and then set about those evening chores – first up, that toothpaste-y towel goes to the washing basket.