Most kids hate the bathroom. It’s not as fun as their bedroom. There’s no CBeebies in it, like there is in the living room. They can’t make a giant mess, like they can in the kitchen. Parents across the globe face a daily battle to make their kids brush their teeth, have a bath or shower or generally do anything hygienic. This is because the average child’s brain filters information by asking one simple question: ‘is it fun?’ If the answer is no, then forget about it. But winning the bathroom battle is definitely not about erasing this mindset; the blissful days of childhood should be full of fun and laughter. Instead, we should all work on making our bathrooms a bit more fun for our little tykes. Here are a few ideas.
Invent some games
As mentioned before, any activity proposed to a child first needs to pass through their fun filter. The best way to bypass this filter (although it should be mentioned that this is by no means an exact science) is to make everything boring into a game. You can turn anything into a game – brushing teeth, having a bath or ahem doing your business. The theme of the game is up to you, but it needs to fit 2 criteria: it needs to be fun, and it needs to give your child a sense of achievement. For example, brushing your teeth I used to hate it as a kid. It wasn’t fun and it tasted weird. That was until I was introduced to General Plaque and his army of minions. General Plaque was an enemy invented by my mother, and he could only be defeated by brushing my teeth. My enterprising mum put together a sticker chart to map our progress against the evil general – every time we both brushed our teeth, we put a sticker on the chart. A missed day meant that General Plaque got stronger – in my child-mind, at least.
The game, if a tiny bit scary, was fun and the sticker chart gave me a sense of achievement. A full sticker chart was a victory, and brushing my teeth was the route to victory. As long as it’s fun and carries a sense of achievement, your imagination is the limit when it comes to devising games. Make your bathroom child-friendly. The bathroom is undoubtedly the least child-friendly of all the rooms in a home. It has neutral shades, it’s cold and the surfaces are tough. There’s no visual stimulation to be had, making it particularly boring for children. Now, it’s important not to design your entire home around your children – they grow up quickly and you’ll be changing bits every 5 minutes – but adding a few new features to your bathroom can improve the time your child does spend in there. Adding a bit of colour to a single wall, for example, can make the bathroom more appealing to a child’s eye. Child-specific accessories, such as removable shower screen stickers, can make taking a bath or showering more fun. Even something designed specifically for adults, like an illuminated mirror , can distract a child with pretty lights long enough to brush their teeth without throwing a tantrum.
Let’s be honest: having a bath is boring. Okay, so it’s good to soak away stress but after 10 minutes or so? Nah, I’m bored. And I say that as a fully grown adult how must a child feel. Entertaining your child while they bathe is difficult in this era of iPads and Moshi Monsters but there’s plenty to be said for the range of bath toys on the market. For younger kids, Tomy’s Octopals are pretty great; it’s a big, engaging toy with cute little octopus characters that – take a deep breath squirt water. Great fun, but remember to put up a screen before hand. I don’t think there is much cooler than this Aquafun Pirate Ship (yes, it also squirts water I apologise for the wet floors in advance). Team up a couple of these and you’ll have your kids engaging in epic naval warfare while you wash their hair. With any luck, they won’t even notice you’re doing it. There are plenty of cool bath toys out there, and the key is finding one that suits your own child’s interests and that can be used in some kind of game. In all honesty, no amount of fun and games is going to turn kids into well-behaved bathroom-loving angels but that doesn’t mean you can’t make things easier for yourself and maybe have a bit of fun yourself along the way. If you’ve got any tips you’d like to add, let us know in the comments. Chris is a writer who is incredibly jealous of kids who get to play with pirate ships in the bath. He writes for a range of publications, and works closely with a number of companies.