Grab some yellow duckies and rev up your bubble bath machine – your bedtime routine is about to get 100x better.
Lately I've become obsessed with improving my bedtime routine.
Last month I experimented with the idea of giving myself a regular bedtime as part of a Sleep Training for Moms exercise. I learned I need roughly nine hours of sleep to finish all my sleep cycles and feel rested the next day. Nine hours!
Now I'm practically huffing lavender oil before bedtime. It's stained all over my pillow and I don't care. I can't sleep without it.
Also, I can't fall asleep without listening to the soft, whispery, Australian accent of Jason Stephenson. I realize how terrible this sounds, but I promise the relationship is purely platonic. His guided meditation videos put me to sleep on the regular. Sorry Ken.
But I can't stop there. I want more.
Being the busy Mom that I am, I've been thinking about an alternative, albeit realistic bedtime activity.
Enter: Co-bathing with Your Baby
If you’re like me and struggle to “shut down” before bed, consider co-bathing as a way to relax and make good use of your multitasking abilities.
Staging bath time with your babe is as easy as 1-2-3.
- Draw your bath at a temperature appropriate for a baby. Use your wrist or elbow to make sure it's not scalding.
- Resist the temptation to add bubble gel. Bubble baths aren’t recommended for kids younger than 3 years old due to the risk of urinary tract infections.
- Plan a safe “escape route.” Lay a towel on the floor next to your tub to prevent falls. Likewise, plan to have a few extra towels handy because you’ll both be dripping everywhere 🙂
Now plunk around in the water as you wash off the rainbow of mysterious colors known to reside near your baby’s orifices!
Save your bath water, because after your child is asleep, you’ll repurpose it for your bedtime needs. Turn on the hot water spigot and add a bath bomb or essential oil to really enhance the spa-like effect!
My Co-bathing Experience
One of the best things I did while recovering from a third-degree tear was to take a bath with my colicky son when he was just a few weeks old.
I was desperate to get him to stop crying. My doctor said I should be taking sitz baths anyway, so I planned to reuse the bath water later when he was asleep.
As soon as we got into the bath, Evan was a completely different baby. He looked like a blissful little angel as he drifted around in the water. He was back in his little happy watery cocoon with mama's voice nearby.
It made me feel better, too, seeing him so content for a change.
Now that Evan is almost two and I see how murky the bathwater becomes after a thorough scrubbing, I'm not as apt to share the tub. However, I think it would be perfectly acceptable for me to refill the tub after he's asleep since I have to go in there to clean up anyway.
The Many Benefits of Co-Bathing
A shared bath promotes mother-child bonding, meditation, relaxation, and even passive productivity.
According to Dr. Sears, it’s perfectly safe to breastfeed while you’re co-bathing as long as the tub is filled below breast level. Use the warm water to your advantage, as it helps to support the weight of your baby and facilitate your let-down reflex.
Skin-to-skin contact is another nice perk of co-bathing. It keeps baby warm and encourages the release of bonding hormones.
Last but not least, it's fun!!!
Use Solo Bathing at Bedtime to Enhance Your Productivity
The best way to manage your time as a mom is to maximize your efforts during your most productive times of the day.
According to scientists and productivity experts, this "prime time" is usually the first three hours of the day and right before we go to bed.
Our body clocks are thus designed to take advantage of bedtime meditation for passive productivity. Just because we're not engaged in grueling academic pursuits doesn't mean our brains aren't firing away with creative ideas. In fact, you've probably noticed a lot of your best ideas happen while you're relaxing in the shower.
The Three R's of Bath Time Meditation
While you're lounging in your bath, read a book or take some time to meditate. Meditation is a key component of self care. It doesn't take a lot of time, but it comes with an endless array of benefits. I like to think of it as holy triumvirate of sorts:
Review. Replay the events of the day in your head. Think about what went well and what didn't go well. Doing this now prevents you from lying in bed ruminating over these events when you're trying to fall asleep.
Re-evaluate. Set three goals or areas to focus on tomorrow. Choose more than three, and you'll be less likely to accomplish them all. I like to pick three goals based on different aspects of my health (exercise, work, family, etc.)
Reset. Now that you're done focusing on the past and the future, focus on the present. Just be in the moment. Take a sip of wine and let your thoughts drift away to your happy place. I like lavender oil because it makes me feel like I'm twirling through a field in France.
Okay, so I lied. There's a fourth component and this is to refuel. Taking a bath is a welcome distraction because you're removed from the pile of bills waiting in the kitchen. There are also physical benefits, such as:
- improving circulation by causing blood vessels to dilate. This same process lowers blood pressure.
- burning calories as a passive form of exercise. A study conducted last year at Loughborough University revealed that one hour of sitting in a hot bath causes the body to burn approximately 140 calories.
- reduces pain by improving circulation. I notice it really helps relieve pain from varicose veins.
- helps to relieve postpartum constipation and hemorrhoids, especially if you add Epsom salts.
- helps to relieve achy joints during pregnancy (just don't add piping hot water. Keep it 100 degrees or lower).
Even if you don't live somewhere with access to mineral hot springs, you can still simulate the hydrotherapy experience and enjoy all the same benefits.
When You Shouldn't Co-bathe With Your Baby or Toddler
Pediatricians note there are certain times when you shouldn't take a bath with your little one. These times are as follows:
- before the baby's umbilical cord has fallen off. Stick with sponge baths until then.
- if you (or the baby) has defecated in the water, you'll want to exit the tub immediately.
- when you're on your period.
- if either you or your baby have areas of skin breakdown. Bathtubs contain bacteria that can cause infection if you have any places where your skin is not intact. For example, nicks from shaving or an unhealed circumcision.
- if you're so tired that you're at risk of falling asleep in the tub...maybe not a good idea.
Note: if you have any postpartum complications, it would be a good idea to discuss co-bathing with your doctor beforehand.
Establishing healthy sleep habits is an important part of being productive as a mom. It affects our mood, our hormones, our energy levels, our appetite, our relationships and so much more.
So dip your toes in the water the next time you feel the need to up the ante on your bedtime routine.
Now excuse me while I teleport to France via bathroom fumes...
Thinking about your morning routine too? My friend Dee over at Morning Coffee with Dee is sharing tips for creating a realistic morning routine that she's actually tried herself. We’re doing a blog hop today and I encourage you to see what she recommends!
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