If you really stop to think about it, bath time is actually a really gross occasion for an activity whose primary goal is to achieve cleanliness. Part of the reason why is simply the practical realities inherent in the act of taking a bath, but there are certain gross things that happen when you bathe your kid that, well, can make the entire act seem counterintuitive at best, and a complete waste of time, at worst.
It’s not really our kids' fault, of course. By its very nature, a bath requires a person to put a dirty body into clean water, and scrub and wash themselves until they become clean and the water becomes dirty. That person becomes dirty again, for the most part, simply from being in the tub with all those dirt particles and dead skin cells and weird mess just hanging in the water and clinging to anything that touches them. I mean, you can actually see it happening. That's why when I want to take a relaxing “me time” bubble bath with a glass of wine, I always shower and exfoliate first. Or I just bring my glass of wine in the shower and just skip the bath entirely. (A Shower Happy Hour is an amazing thing, and if you’ve never experienced one, you should try it as soon as possible. Don’t say I never told you anything useful, folks.)
Sure, maybe I'm kinda, sorta possibly overthinking this bath thing. Still, it is indisputable that when the person in the tub is a child, the "ick" potential of the whole experience goes way up. While I pride myself on remaining cool, calm, and collected in these moments because I don't want to freak my kid out (or worse, encourage grossness on purpose because look at mom's hilarious reaction that's so funny let's do this again), it must be said that bath time can sometimes be, well, challenging.
Lots of signs that my child’s all-too-quick childhood is passing by make me sad just to contemplate. I cried when he outgrew his first set of baby clothes (though that was probably mostly hormones). I winced when my week-by-week baby emails began calling my little one a toddler. However, the day my child becomes old enough to reliably clean his own body in a shower, I will rejoice. Sorry not sorry, because as adorable as bath time can be, it can also be really disgusting and we all just need to be honest about things like this:
They’ll Pee In The Tub
Normally, my son’s favorite move is peeing outside the tub and as soon as I take his diaper off. Fortunately or unfortunately, I’ve gotten so used to this ritual that, at this point, that I don’t even flinch and have a spare towel and some cleaning stuff at the ready, to take care of it right away and keep things moving. Sometimes, however, he’ll do it as he’s getting into the tub or while he’s playing. Eek.
They’ll Poop In The Tub
In our early days before solid foods, when my little guy would poop basically after every nurse, I used to take pride in timing his baths right after one of the poops so it wouldn’t happen in the tub. Still, when it comes to tub poop, virtually everybody gets got eventually. Be on the lookout for an excessively gassy child right around bath time. Farts are not to be trusted.
They’ll Puke In The Tub...
Bathing your messy child after a fun day of sweets and cake at a friend’s birthday? Yeah, you’re totally asking for it. It's a setup.
...And You’ll Probably Try To Catch It
No matter how gross all of that is, your disgust is dwarfed by your annoyance at even the thought of having to drain and clean and refill the entire freakin' tub, only to start this whole thing over again. Nope. Easier to clean my hands than clean all of this.
They’ll Drink Bathwater
I don’t know why parents spend so much time fretting and arguing about breastfeeding versus formula feeding. Once a baby is old enough to sit up on their own, and especially in the bathtub, their diet becomes something like 50% bathwater anyway. Small Child! Why, why, why do you insist on drinking your own filth?
You’ll Discover Mold In Their Bath Toys
Whooooooosah. Nope. Not today, Satan. #ProTip I received from another mom: use a glue gun to close up the little holes at the bottoms of certain water toys. They may no longer squeak or squirt or whatever, but that’s a small price to pay to, you know, not bathe and play in mold.
The Water Changes Color
I don’t know. A visual measurement of just how much filth my child was carrying around until he got in the tub freaks me out. For the most part, he didn’t really look that dirty when we were snuggling and giving kisses and cuddling and whatnot. However, when the water goes from clear to grey or even brown after he gets in? Yeah, now I’m sitting here trying to count how many times he stuck his fingers in my mouth while nursing, or how many times I pretended to “eat” him as the "lunch monster," in between this bath and his last. OMG. Gag.
They’ll Splash You
Maybe this only freaks me out because I’m the kind of recovering clean freak who showers before taking baths of her own, but I have to do a lot of (trying-and-failing-to-be) positive self-talk when my little guy splashes me after he’s spent a little while in the tub.
It’s not a big deal. Yes, you can see exactly how much the water has changed color since he got in, and thus how much dirt and god knows what else has transferred from his skin, and from under his little finger and toenails, into the water that is now seeping into your previously clean clothes. Sure, someone else’s dead skin cells are now lingering on the tip of your nose in that drop of water, and that feels weird, but look at how much fun he’s having. So cute and delightful and nope, not horrifying at all.