From the Archives: Bathtime Meditations

Today I’m revisiting the Simple Kids archives to share one of the first articles I wrote after taking over Simple Kids last spring.  We have added so many new readers to our community since that time!  Now that the summer season has drawn to a close and many families have settled into familiar rhythms and routines, I thought it would be timely to revisit a universal aspect of parenting: bathtime.

bathtubfunphoto courtesy of Ernst Moeksis

Bathtime is an important part of our evening ritual. For both of my daughters, time in the tub signals the end of the day, and they know the pouring and splashing and washing and rinsing will soon give way to pajamas, storytime, and lights out.

Now that my girls are older, I bathe them together every night.  This works nicely for me because they love to play together in the tub, and I find I can bring a magazine, book, or my daily docket for the following day to keep me occupied as I sit closeby to supervise the bathtime play.  While this does offer some much-needed wind-down time for me, it occurred to me a few weeks ago that bathing the girls could also provide me with just a few minutes to be mindful in my end-of-the-day connection with my girls.

What does a bathtime meditation look like?  Here are three ideas to get you started:

1. Prayer

As I bathe each daughter, I might say a simple prayer like, “Thank you, God, for these sweet little feet.  May they carry her to exciting places to do life-changing things someday,” or “What a blessing this chubby cheeks are to me.  May her smile be an encouragement to everyone she encounters.”

Even if you aren’t a participant in organized religion, you might think of ways to speak positive thoughts over your children as you spend a few mindful minutes bathing them.

2. Gratitude

Whether your child is six weeks or six years old, I think it is important to model gratitude.  You might say something like, “I’m so thankful we got to go to the library today!  We have so many new books to read!” or “I am so thankful for the visit from Grandma and Grandpa.  They love you so much.”

As your children get older, encourage them to offer their own words of gratitude and appreciate for the day.  The things my four year old comes up with to be thankful for always bring a smile to me.

3. Affirmation

This is particularly important to me at the end of the of a day that has been filled with more tears than giggles and more correction than encouragement.  My oldest daughter went through a phase where one hundred was absolutely the biggest thing she could imagine, so I might say something like, “You know, I love you ONE HUNDRED!”  Or I might tell my toddler, “Even if you marked on every wall in every house on every street, I would still love you so very, very much.”

Sometimes we get silly and say things like, “I’d love you even if your elbows looked like your knees and you had horsey breath!” and “If your hair looked like a rainbow and your nose looked like a blueberry, you’d be my most favorite rainbow-haired, blueberry-nosed person in the whole world!”

Now certainly, there are evenings when I really do just lose myself in the glossy, perfectly put-together pages of Real Simple or enjoy a few precious minutes with pen and paper and no one trying to grab them from my hands.  But every now and again, I pause and remember to turn the time spent kneeling beside the tub into a mindful, intentional, reflective celebration of my daughters and our day.

What makes bathtime special for you and your children?

Bathtime Meditations

bathtubfun1

Bathtime is an important part of our evening ritual.  For both of my daughters, time in the tub signals the end of the day, and they know the pouring and splashing and washing and rinsing will soon give way to pajamas, storytime, and lights out.

Now that my girls are older, I bathe them together every night.  This works nicely for me because they love to play together in the tub, and I find I can bring a magazine, book, or my daily docket for the following day to keep me occupied as I sit closeby to supervise the bathtime play.  While this does offer some much-needed wind-down time for me, it occurred to me a few weeks ago that bathing the girls could also provide me with just a few minutes to be mindful in my end-of-the-day connection with my girls

What does a bathtime meditation look like?  Here are three ideas to get you started:

1. Prayer
As I bathe each daughter, I might say a simple prayer like, “Thank you, God, for these sweet little feet.  May they carry her to exciting places to do life-changing things someday,” or “What a blessing this chubby cheeks are to me.  May her smile be an encouragement to everyone she encounters.”

Even if you aren’t a participant in organized religion, you might think of ways to speak positive thoughts over your children as you spend a few mindful minutes bathing them.

2. Gratitude
Whether your child is six weeks or six years old, I think it is important to model gratitude.  You might say something like, “I’m so thankful we got to go to the library today!  We have so many new books to read!” or “I am so thankful for the visit from Grandma and Grandpa.  They love you so much.”

As your children get older, encourage them to offer their own words of gratitude and appreciate for the day.  The things my four year old comes up with to be thankful for always bring a smile to me.

3. Affirmation
This is particularly important to me at the end of the of a day that has been filled with more tears than giggles and more correction than encouragement.  My oldest daughter when through a phase where one hundred was absolutely the biggest thing she could imagine, so I might say something like, “You know, I love you ONE HUNDRED!”  Or I might tell my toddler, “Even if you marked on every wall in every house on every street, I would still love you so very, very much.”

Sometimes we get silly and say things like, “I’d love you even if your elbows looked like your knees and you had horsey breath!” and “If your hair looked like a rainbow and your nose looked like a blueberry, you’d be my most favorite rainbow-haired, blueberry-nosed person in the whole world!”

Now certainly, there are evenings when I really do just lose myself in the glossy, perfectly put-together pages of Martha Stewart Living or enjoy a few precious minutes with pen and paper and no one trying to grab them from my hands.  And yet some evenings, it really works for me to turn the time spent kneeling beside the tub into a mindful, intentional, reflective celebration of my daughters and our day.

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photo courtesy of Ernst Moeksis

Let Go, And Go With It

bouquet

One of the most powerful, inspiring, and helpful books I’ve read in the past year is Amanda Blake Soule’s the creative family.  Chock-full of ideas and brimming with beauty and delight, it has become a sort of guide book for the way I want our family to approach creating.  We’ve got a long way to go, of course, but this book is an endless supply of inspiration.  I’m sure I’ll reference it many times here at Simple Kids.

In Chapter Seven, “Exploring Through Nature”, Amanda describes the sweet wonder of creating fairy houses with your children.  I was captivated by this magical and imaginative idea, and so Dacey and I began working on creating fairy houses last summer when she was three.  I had an idea in my mind of what I wanted the fairy house to look like, but her ideas always took a very different, definitely less constructed path.  I found I had to step back and remind myself why it was we were building fairy houses, and it wasn’t so we could be featured in a minature version of Town&Country magazine.

A few weeks ago when the weather turned warm and wildflowers began springing up in our yard, Dacey and I were enjoying some quiet play time in the backyard.  I can’t remember who it was that first suggested that we build our first fairy house of the season, but we were soon hard at work collecting our materials – sticks, handfuls of grass, the odd pinecone here and there, and lots and lots of flowers.  In no time at all, Dacey was more concerned with her wildflower harvest than with the building of a fairy house, and once again I found I had to make the mindful choice to just step back and follow her playful lead.

Eventually, Dacey decided that what “Taluah” (our resident backyard fairy) would want more than a house would be a little garden.  This meant, of course, grabbing a shovel and digging up earth.  In my grown-up mind, this was a good start on a flower garden.  What I didn’t foresee was Dacey deciding to completely bury the flowers under the mound of dirt she dug up.  In her mind, that was planting flowers and that was precisely what she intended to do for Taluah, despite my gentle protests and attempts to persuade her otherwise.

plantingflowers

After the flowers were “planted” and we had gone inside and thoughts and talk of Taluah were put away until another day, I thought about how often I want to step in and direct my daughter’s imaginative play.  Is it the dormant teacher in me awakening to see the lesson plan is not being followed?  Maybe it’s the big sister within who never really recovered from being so bossy in play.  Regardless of the reason, the urge to insist on doing things the “right way” in play is something I have to intentionally resist.

It’s just play.  It’s just for fun.  Playing is learning.

These are mantras I find myself repeating.  Hopefully one day, the stepping back and letting go will be my first response.  In my heart I know that when it comes to play, the most important rule to be heeded is to just go with it.

Am I alone in my bossy tendencies?  Anyone else have to be reminded to let go and go with the flow?  Or perhaps you can share some gentle pointers for the rest of us on how to step back and let play unfold in a wonderfully organic way.  I would love to hear your thoughts!