I can't stress how important preparation is the entire process. Once bathtime starts, there's no going back, and I have to either improvise or get my husband to relieve me while I fetch any important items that I forgot. Most nights I don't have my husband to help me, so I have learned not to care if I can't actually WASH the kids b/c I forgot the washcloth (cough). Anyhoo...
I usually start running the bath while my husband and the kids are finishing up
My kids have their own bathroom, with a bathtub, but they rarely (if ever) bathe there. Unfortunately, they have invaded our master bathtub, which they refer to affectionately as "Mommy's Pool." So I have to make sure I have all the bath toys, kid's shampoo, and powder in my bathroom. I usually set up a kind of "triage" area next to the closet for drying/dressing the kids.
VERY IMPORTANT: at this point I also turn on the TV in our room to Nick Jr. This way, as each child finishes up in the tub, they happily crawl up into our bed and watch TV as I continue on with the next child, and the next.
Most of the time by now, Kate is already naked in the tub. No, really -- you can't keep the kid out of a water-filled aparatus. So I either holler down to my husband to bring Charlie up or, if he's not home (and knowing I will have this issue) Charlie is in the room already, and I just strip him down and plop him in. Jack will show up shortly, as well, b/c he loves his "tubbies" also.
Once the kids are in the tub, the toys come out, and the game of "try to wash the baby" begins. I have to be honest -- I don't spend a lot of time worrying about actually making washcloth-contact with every square inch of each child's body. I generally focus on two areas: above the water line, and hair. I figure that with the amount of wriggling and swimming each kid does, anything below the water line will take care of itself. Oh, and I also fill the tub up to somewhere around the top of Charlie's belly while he's in the tub. I'm not one of those mommies that puts an inch of water in the tub, b/c that would just mean more chasing down of kids to try and scrub those elusive body parts. So I fill it up high, and watch them well enough to prevent drowning. Once Charlie is done with his bath, I fill the tub up even higher, so that the Big Kids can now swim in the tub.
Bathing Part 2: Hair
My kids love to play with their shampoo. So I wash their hair by letting them apply the shampoo, and supplementing their lathering process with my own assistance. This isn't easy, btw. Picture each child spending most of this time trying to get away from my grasp, and because my bathtub is LARGE, and deep, I usually come damn close to falling in. But I get it done. Jack and Kate both swim now, so they will rinse their own hair by going underwater (I'm not kidding -- I fill the tub up DEEP). They also like to "help me" get the shampoo out of Charlie's hair by dumping water on his poor head. Whatever -- he usually doesn't cry, so we both get over it. During the entire hair-washing process, I also take the opportunity to run a quick washcloth over the body parts above the water that I can reach.
Once the hair-washing is over, I relax for a brief moment while the kids
The Wrap Up:
Charlie comes out of the tub first. I have to chase him down to get him out, and then I wrap him up, towel him down, powder, diaper and pajamas while the other two are still in the tub. Luckily my bedroom is a whole open-floor plan concept, so even though I'm in the closet area, I have full view of the tub. I then let Charlie have full run of my (nope, not babyproofed) bedroom while I finish up the other two (stopping, from time to time, to keep the cat from biting him, or taking my phone out of his hand, or generally preventing him from killing himself). Again -- thank goodness for open floorplan. As each of the other two come out of the tub, they get toweled, powdered and dressed, and sent to my bed to watch Dora. Now, the only thing I have left is to
If you broke out in a sweat reading this, have no fear. Once the plan is down, it becomes routine. Add in some silly games and the promise of a glass of wine after bedtime, and you're golden!