Monday, May 31, 2010

Tubby Paints to the Rescue

I just thought I should let everyone know that not all challenges in our household center around special needs. Increasingly as our twins come into their own as complex individuals with distinct personalities (i.e. they are two now!) my mommy skills are stretched on three sides. Sometimes one child's struggle will have ripple effects on the other two, and on it goes.

Our youngest girl seems to have developed some phobia related to bath time. For a while I was giving the twins baths together because that helped her be more comfortable, but then her brother started confusing bath time with potty time. Enough said. This was not the companionship that she wanted, so we tried separate bath times, but her phobia came back with a fury. Initially when we tell her it's bath time she seems excited. Even as I run the water and get everything ready she seems eager to participate. As soon as I try to lift her into the tub she begins to resist, to cry, to cling. She is not interested in playing with toys. She will not sit down in the water. She just wants to get out. It becomes nearly impossible to wash her in any way that feels nurturing and comfortable. Her brother and older sister pick up the resistance vibes and complain their way through some portion of their baths, too. Bath time has therefore been a real struggle around our house.

I mentioned all of this at our "Mommy and Me" toddler class a week ago and one of the other parents suggested using tub paints to help her have more fun in the tub. Later that same day one of my friends on Facebook talked about using homemade tub paints to cheer up one of her kids, and I asked her for the recipe - divine intervention! Hooray for parent networks both real and virtual!

The recipe:
1/3 C. clear soap (mild dish soap or liquid hand soap)
1 T. cornstarch
food coloring

Mix the soap and cornstarch together. Pour into an ice cube tray (or egg tray). Add 1-2 drops of food coloring to each portion and mix well. Serve to child in the bathtub.

I started by telling my little girl that I had a special treat for bath time tonight, but that she couldn't have it until she was in the tub. Either she had already decided to be a brave girl or the idea of a special treat was super appealing. She went into the tub without a struggle. She played with the paints and other toys for several minutes. She still didn't sit down, but did let me wash her with just a few wimpers, and no real tears. I also pulled out a couple of other tricks from my parenting toolbox: lots of pre-emptive praise, and melodic intonation...also known as sing a song about what you're doing to a familiar tune. (This is the way we wash our tummy, wash our tummy, wash our tummy...) All combined we had a mostly fun bath. Brother and sister also enjoyed the paints. It was the first completely enjoyable bath time in quite a while. I hope that will make next bath time even more fun.

Some additional notes:

  • Corn starch or certain soaps might be a problem allergy-wise for some kids, so beware.

  • I think I "decluttered" our ice cube trays a few years ago because we have an automatic ice maker in our freezer. We don't use our egg trays to hold eggs, either, but thankfully I had not decluttered them. Being a pack rat can sometimes be a good thing.

  • The tray CAN float in the tub with your kids (see 3rd photo). With the twins I held it by the side of the tub for them, partly because I wanted the paints to still be usable when big sister took her turn.

  • These paints can be used on tummies (2nd photo) or tubbies (4th photo) and wash off of either with ease.

  • I used two drops of food coloring in each portion. I didn't have any blue coloring, so my colors are red, orange (one drop red, one drop yellow), yellow, light green (one drop yellow, one drop green), green, brown (one drop red, one drop green).

  • Next time I may put less paint in each container. We had a lot left over and there wasn't a very good way to store it on the tray. I will add a note here later if I come up with a good storarge system.

  • This post is participating in the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge.



Jenny Rebecca said...

What a great idea!! Can't wait to make some myself.

Just Me said...

Love this idea! I must try it with our boys.


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