We’ve been talking this week about the best parenting advice you’ve ever received (and the worst parenting advice), and out of those discussions came a shining gem that I could not, in good conscience, keep to myself. And that is a reminder of the ultimate — and most natural — of all parenting hacks: water.
It’s easy to forget that water is among the most effective parenting tools, especially during the cold winter months when dumping little kids into the backyard baby pool, turning on the sprinkler, or filling up water balloons isn’t an option. But, as one parent in our Offspring Facebook group reminds us, when a young child is freaking out, losing control, or just otherwise having a crap day, what they need is some form of H2O. As Shruti says:
If someone is having a day, just add water. Glass of water, sensory bin, bath, whatever. Glass of water is especially helpful to us when the 4.5-year-old is scream-crying. Sipping forces her to breathe.
Some kids will happily chug water all day, while others would rather shrivel up like a raisin before giving up their milk or juice and succumbing to the wet blandness that is plain old water. Once a kid has juice, they tend to prefer juice (who wouldn’t?) — but even...Read more
Shruti is right; we should listen to Shruti. Water, in all its forms, can be a calming, sensory experience. When my son was three or four years old, and I reached a point in the day where I just didn’t know what to do with him anymore, I plugged up the kitchen sink, filled it with water, pulled over a stool, and let him happily splash around in it, dunking his toys to his heart’s content.
Water play can be a year-round experience, and there are lots of ways to switch up their regular bath or shower to make things a little more interesting. For example:
- Let your kids take a LEGO bath
- Make a baby tub in your shower with an inflatable pool
- Read to your kids while they’re in the bathtub
- Set up a toy-cleaning station
- Let them have a glow bath
- Pull on their swim suits and let them “swim” in the bathtub
- Or my personal favourite: Give them a popsicle in the shower (or bath)
Another easy idea I busted out on occasion when my son was little: a “colour bath.” Fill up the tub, add 4-6 drops of food colouring, swirl it around to evenly distribute, and now your boring clear bath is a red bath, a green bath, or a blue bath. (I never did yellow, lest it look like my child was taking a “pee bath,” but hey, everyone is different.)