Are you on a constant quest to find little tricks and gizmos that will make being a parent easier? I am. A constant quest. We all battle with the same stuff – tantrums, refusal to play ball, refusal to eat, refusal to go to bed – basically, these little tykes are getting a mind of their own and dammit they want you to know about it. Which, of course is amazing in so many ways and you get to see their personalities show through and you get an idea of the kind of person your child is growing into.
But… it’s also bloody hard work. Bath and bedtime can be one of the trickiest challenges of them all, so here are three tips on making it as smooth as a baby’s bottom:
1. Buy a Tangle Teezer
Do any babies and toddlers like having their hair brushed? Whether you’ve got a boy or a girl, they’ll usually have a matted mop of wet hair after a bath, and at around 7pm each night, up and down the country there are screams of objection as parents try to pull a brush or comb through their child’s knotted hair. Without fail, my little monkey shouts “No, mummy, no!” and bats my hand away, before messing her hair up even more, in a sneaky act of defiance. But those in the know use a Tangle Teezer to brush their little one’s hair. I have no idea how it works, but it genuinely does! (OK, I’m not going to lie to you – my daughter does still shout “No, mummy, no!” but providing I distract her with something like Mr Tumble on the iPad, she soon lets me brush her hair.) Which brings me nicely onto tip number 2.
2. Get involved with an iPad
When iPads first launched, I’ll admit, I didn’t see the point in them. (“They’re just big iPhones but without the phone bit, right?”) Then we were gifted one by my generous software engineer geek brother and I changed my mind. Now, we couldn’t survive without it. As a distraction tool, it makes the transition from bathtime to bedtime much easier – our BBC iPlayer app has six of the little one’s favourite CBeebies programmes listed under ‘Favourites’ and she can choose to watch what she fancies while we dry her off, blowdry her hair, put on her night time nappy and pop her PJs on. I still smile when, at aged 22 months, I see her unlock the iPad, swipe the menu pages until it gets to her page of apps, choose iPlayer, click on the ‘Favourites’ star and then select her show of choice (this week, it’s mostly been a toss up between Baby Jake and Timmy Time.)
Being able to watch CBeebies in our dimly-lit, calm bedroom, before saying goodnight to Jake or Timmy (or Mr Tumble or Justin or Rastamouse) is a brilliant alternative to still being downstairs where all her toys are there to whip her up into a frenzy of excitement (never a good thing just before bed.)
3. Mix up the bedtime reading
Reading a bedtime story isn’t exactly a groundbreaking new parenting technique, granted. But reading something different every night helps keep me sane, even if our toddler isn’t really that aware of which story I’m reading to her tonight. I got so bored of reading The Little Mermaid/Beauty And The Beast/Hansel And Gretel over and over again, so we now have a fab selection of story books to choose from, in her room. My current favourite is The Fearsome Beastie by Giles Paley-Phillips. Giles kindly sent me a copy of the book – which has been shortlisted for The People’s Book Prize – and it’s been well read in a matter of a few weeks. Telling the tale of a beastie on the look out for girls and boys to gobble up, but then meets his match in the shape of little Pete’s gran, the book is written in rhyme and Giles says he took inspiration from Roald Dahl (another author whose books we read at bedtime.) This book definitely gets our stamp of approval.