How often does a four year old need to wash? More often than my daughter, I’d imagine.
Maya does not like getting clean.
She used to look forward to baths. Showers were a real novelty for about a week. And then, all of a sudden, the love affair ended and Maya and hygiene went their separate ways.
I realised things had got bad when she went for a week recently with nothing but a strip wash. I put all her bath toys in the water. I went mad with the glittery Elsa bubbles. I got in the bath myself and begged her to join me. She just left me hanging. Damn, I’m stupid. I should’ve banned Paw Patrol.
Then we went seaside camping (think rolling down grassy hills / getting sand in your bits on the beach). She had one shower in six days. James and I set a pretty poor example but come on. That is some Olympic scuzzery.
Some might conclude that we are reeeeeally bad parents. But they don’t know Maya. She’s got a will of iron. Plus, there’s something very unromantic about feeling clean when you’re camping. And I knew we’d be home on Day 7. Okay, please don’t judge me.
Maybe it’s because I’m an escapist and a dreamer. Maybe it’s because I’m an impulsive person whose fancy does a u-turn on a whim. Either way, I’ve never been good at routine. Rewind. I HATE routine. Morning coffee? Yep……….. aaaand that’s about it. Routine makes me want to rip my skin off and scramble away across the rocks.
Unlike many (very lovely) people I know, I don’t get anxious without routine. I get irritable with it. Nothing depresses me more than the thought of doing the same thing at the same time every day. In my world, there is always something more interesting to do than that thing you did at Now O’clock yesterday. Even if it’s just staring at a wall wondering why cockerels have combs.
As a result, I have been pretty laid back when it comes to getting Maya washed on the regular.
But I’ve got to wondering lately – how often does one really need to bathe and to what degree?
When I shower, I wash my hair and let the shampoo lather nicely. It ends up all over me and only a brisk personal scrub is required to get me what I regard as ‘clean enough’. (Once I looked down while washing my hair, by the way, and saw a spider slithering down my chest. The arachnids love me, but there’s a whole other post there so I’ll just leave you with the spider-on-the-torso anecdote for now).
I also soap up my armpits before shaving (which I do every time – nature made it a must) and I even run a soapy finger around my outer ear. But I don’t rub shower gel all over my body. I don’t get why I need to.
When I was little, kids had a bath once a week. In my case, this was in my brother’s grey, lukewarm, second-hand water. I was far too busy watching Swap Shop or Saturday Superstore to go first.
We didn’t even have a shower till I was 16. A bath more than twice a week would’ve been considered an outrageous waste of natural and parental resources.
And were my folks really wrong about that?
I mean, if you’ve got Pritt Stick and cake mix all over you and you’re picking up fluff and hair like you’re sellotape, then yeah, it’s time to run a flannel over your epidermis.
Or if you’re a teenager (especially a boy one) or you’ve just bowled 15 overs at 90mph in Calcutta, you definitely need to get washing.
But what if you’ve just had an ordinary day in autumn with very little going on under the armpit and only the lightest of sub-waistband perspiration?
Same goes if you’re just a bit inert. I’ve been mesmerised by the Derny riders at the Rio Games but I’m pretty sure those old boys don’t need a post-race soak in the same way that Jason Kenny does.
Despite her protestations, once I’ve hustled her into the bath, Maya actually loves it. Out come Mrs Froggy and her froglets, who invariably all need a wee and a poo in the water.
Then there is the inviting profusion of bottles around the bath: whole cans of overpriced shaving foam to lay waste to and Mummy’s only expensive bubble bath to sniff out with your mysterious divining skills and empty inside of a minute.
It’s the getting-her-in bit I’m so bad at. So am I neglecting my child when I don’t succeed? Am I disregarding sacred bathlore by not dunking her in water every day?
A quick bit of Googling suggests not.
Check this article from The Independent to find out why showering every day might be bad for you. (I knew it. Get in!)
Read this to learn how antibacterial products could be reducing our immunity.
Try this one from the Washington Post to read why many medical professionals link bathing every night with eczema and other allergies.
Turns out too much washing can be bad. My poor bath-enforcement might not be so awful, after all.
Still, I would like to get my daughter de-grubbed at least twice a week without a meltdown if possible. Are there any glaringly obvious strategies I’m missing? Or something more unorthodox perhaps? I’d love to hear how it’s done.
Over and out