I had to kill a very large spider this morning…out of my children’s bathtub.

Then, I had to dismantle his carefully constructed home, saliva-web-piece by saliva-web-piece, before I could start their bath.

This COULD be considered a sign that I don’t bathe my children often enough.  Or perhaps it’s just a sign that I have the patience to wait for them to properly age before washing away their slime and grime, revealing a perfectly cured child underneath.


Which brings me to a personal observation about parenthood.  There are two distinct theories on child-bathing (particularly regarding pre-independent-bathing children).

1. The Shameful.  These parents tend to think of children like a fine cheese, or perhaps a nice slab of steak.  They appreciate the process of ripening, knowing not to disturb the sensitive process of marination until the time is right.

However, they also are burdened by the weighty assumption that they most likely bathe their children less than other parents, which makes them feel like less wholesome caretakers.  So they either a) don’t mention their bathing choices, or b) whisper about it quietly, and then find themselves overjoyed when they realize that they’re not alone.

We bathe our kids twice a week.  I know we should probably do it more often, but it’s just so hard to get around to…”

Us too!! In fact, we’re doing good if we bathe twice a week.  I think your kids always smell wonderfully – you’d really never know!”

Oh thank you for saying so.  I’ve HEARD that there are people who bathe their kids every night…but surely not!!”

No!  I hope not!! Those poor children…scrubbed until they’re raw, probably!!”

The Ashamed fall into two sub-categories:

a) The Minorly Ashamed, which are typically every-other-night bathers, and

b) The Mega Ashamed: those who bathe their children…less.  But of course they would prefer for me not to say exactly how much less.  Because, after all, they’re ashamed.

(I would tell you which sub-category I fall into, but I’d be mega ashamed to admit it.)

Then, there are:

2. The Clean.  These are the parents that actually do, for some unknown reason, bathe their children NIGHTLY.  These people, I’m sure, disdain The Ashamed with all of their soul, reckoning them to be parents straight out of The Dark Ages.

“I bet they throw their kid’s dirty diapers out into the streets, too!!”

“If they even let them WEAR diapers!!”

However, this category is much smaller than it appears, because it unfortunately also includes a third category, The Liars, who falsely claim to bathe their children nightly due to their deep shame.

I have made it my mission in life (or perhaps a random diversion) to survey the world and determine the exact percentage breakdown between these categories.  So far, my studies have delighted me, as I’ve come to find that most parents actually do fall into category one….and that’s despite the fact categories two and three are mashed together by virtue of definition.

So how about it?  Which category do you fall into? Are you willing to admit it??  C’mon, make me feel better about myself and the spider cohabitating bathtub.

(See?  Even though I know I’m not alone, I’m still ashamed.)

The results of this survey are available here.

72 thoughts on “Pigpen.

  1. I’m ashamed…and I’m ashamed to admit it! We bathe them 2-3 times a week typically. Now, during soccer season, that ramps up significantly, but normally we’re fully on in the ashamed category.

  2. I fall into the “minorly ashamed” category of bathing my 3 year old about every-other night – I skipped last night and wondered if her teachers will be able to tell today. This post was just what I needed – I’m linking to you on my blog…thanks!

    1. I’m glad to have eased your mind!! I hope to have a fully compiled Scientific Report on the matter by Friday – it should make you feel even better!! ;)

  3. I am different with each kid… Abby bathes every night because she has to wash the “school” off. However, she is 7 and pretty much does it all herself. Grayson is hit or miss, basically depending on what we did that day or what he ate, but I would say he gets one every night to every other night. Finn gets a bath when he’s dirty, and at 4 months that’s not so often… maybe 2-3 times a week.

  4. My little boy is 7 months, we usually bath him every night unless he is really tired or we are. But, we bath him sometimes in the sink, so there could definately be spiders in the tub. In fact, I had a spider crawled in my hair one day when I was taking a bath. I screamed and cried… I hate spiders

    1. Spiders don’t bother me too badly. But the time a squirrel chewed through the wall and stuck his nose six inches from my face when I was showering – now THAT was traumatic!!

  5. well ok, I’m going to break the mold here and say that I’m really happy if I get my kids bathed once a week. There is also a definite connection between the number of baths per week and the number of children I’m responsible for bathing. When I had one kid, she had a bath 2-3 times a week. Now that’s logistically impossible, especially when some of those children have impossibly curly hair that needs serious taming after washing!

    Please say you’re going to graph these answers in some way. I’d be disappointed in anything less… =)

  6. Our daughters (3 and 18 months) get bathed every night, except for maybe once a month when we get home too late. It’s just part of their “bedtime routine”, and they LOVE it. AND, Jonathan give them their bath, so I get about 10 minutes of alone time.

    1. I forgot to mention that their hair doesn’t get washed every night, though. Their hair only gets washed on Saturday nights (for church Sunday) and Wednesday nights (for church), unless they get sweaty at the park or get food in their hair.

  7. One thing I love about winter is that my kids aren’t as dirty so I don’t feel as bad about the fact that they only bathe about 2 times a week. During the summer months, however, the only thing that increases is my guilt. How do people find the time to bathe their kids every night? My hubby drags his feet about it and after making dinner, feeding the masses, and then cleaning up there only seems to be time to get the kids in bed. My hubby’s schedule doesn’t help. 6 months out of the year he wakes up at 3:30am. The other six he leaves at 8pm. No one has ever complained about my kids stinking…And I totally get rachelc’s problem with a curly haired child!

  8. Curly hair! Another great excuse! I figure if child is not leaving dirt smears on the sheet, then she’s clean enough.

    I kid, I kid… (but only a little bit). We bathe our two-year-old at least once a week, but not enough to call ourselves every other day. Bathtime also depends on whether or not she got chocolate in her hair that day. We bathe her more often during the summer; in the winter the extreme cold is a factor. I think that daily bathing is hard on the skin. Actually, my mom (a nurse) told us that we shouldn’t be trying to bathe our baby every day – so we didn’t ever get into the habit.

  9. My kids bathe every night, most of the time. On Friday nights, if they aren’t visibly dirty or smell, they can skip the bath, but still have to have fresh clean PJ’s. During the summer, if we have been just hanging out around the house, and have no where to go the next day, we skip baths then, too.

  10. Mine bathe every night but Wednesday, because we get home too late from church. They have the option to skip on Friday nights, and they do sometimes. (They are 10,9, and 6.)

    When they were small, we did it every night but Wednesday because it has always just been part of the bedtime routine. I will admit though that I am LOVING the whole “Everybody go take a shower or bath! Please condition (or not) tonight.” AWESOMESAUCE!

  11. Rachel, I’d be willing to go head to head with you on who bathes their kids less. your random bathing comments have always comforted me :).

    However, I will say the frequency has picked up now that I can stick the older boys in the shower (independently) and bathe them quicker.

  12. Since my kid isn’t outside my uterus yet, I don’t fall into a category, but I just asked my officemate how often she bathes her 8 month old and she said, with no shame in her voice, “once a week, unless he looks super grubby.”

  13. We bathe the kids every night as well. Mainly because it is part of the bedtime routine (and I bathe with the kids, I LOVE baths)! During summer especially, we generally have lots of sand and dirt everywhere (my kids like to be naked), so baths are necessary.

  14. Does hosing the loose dirt off your kid before they come inside count as a bath? How about “porch baths” where we use the hose on the deck, but add a little soap to the hand, feet and butt areas? And then there are “sink baths” where we wipe down hands, bare feet and faces. If so, then I’d say we do daily baths in the summer since my kids play (wallow) in the mud constantly. We bath much less frequently in the winter, though.

  15. Bath time is the highlight of the day, so 8 mo Evie and 2 yo Isaiah get a bath together every night as part of the bedtime routine. How often I bathe myself, however, is indeed a matter of shame….

  16. I used to bathe them almost every night when they were babies. For one thing, it only took 10 minutes. This was when they were babies, caked in spit up and crumbs and sneaky bits of food that somehow found a home under a chin or behind an ear. Babies are cute – but gross.

    Now that they’re older, they get a bath twice a week. Sometimes, if they’re visibly dirty, they’ll get an extra. And if I miss one? No big. Little kids don’t really smell. Once they start getting all pre-teen stinky, we’ll probably revise.

  17. My 2 year old gets into a tub of water pretty much every night. We don’t use soap unless there is visible dirt – we just get him wet – his hair gets washed about 2X a week. If we go swimming in the evening it counts as a bath. When he was an infant we bathed him about once a week. We use bath time as a transition to bed.

    1. IMHO, a swim definitely counts as a bath! It’s sanitized water, after all (assuming we’re talking about a swimming pool) AND they soak in for a while. That probably gets them much cleaner than plain ol’ soap and water ;)

    2. I’ve heard a lot of people using bath as a transition to bed. Maybe I’m just too lazy to make that happen.. but it sounds like a very feasible way of getting it done!

  18. Mega-ashamed here. Except that I’m not. My teenagers need to shower regularly, but the little ones just don’t have overactive oil glands and I’m quite sure that too much time in the bath would just dry them out. (In fact, my 3-yr old has excema and his Dr. wants him to bathe pretty infrequently.) They don’t stink. They get plenty of surface cleaning on a daily basis.

  19. My girls sweat A LOT! Ella (almost 3yr old) gets bathed every other day. Maggie (9 months) gets bathed everyday now, but it is because her head stinks from wearing a helmet. When she didn’t wear it, she was bathed every other day.

  20. Wow…this is interesting. I had no idea that some people bathe their children so infrequently.

    My oldest son (2-years) gets a bath almost every day, except we do it in the morning before he takes a nap. We never have been one for night-time baths. My 12-week old gets a bath every other day-sometimes more depending on whether or not he stinks.

    And I do not fall into the category of The Liars. :)

  21. Well according to your categories I’d have to say Mega-Ashamed… except I’m not even remotely ashamed. They bathe once a week basically. If they’ve been playing in the dirt (hello, mulch mountains!) then they clearly earn an extra bath! I think we have a warped sense of cleanliness as a culture and I’ve got no problem being counter culture. We bathe when we’re dirty…. and we work hard to get dirty!

  22. we bathe the girls 3-4 nights per week BUT hannah’s almost 9 now and has PE at school, then plays REALLY hard at recess and depending on the season either has soccer or gymnastics (we’re a one at a time extra curricular activity family). we just stuck to that schedule because of their activities and needing to fit it in because AWANA night also means no bath night.
    BUT when they were younger it was more like 2-3 times. no shame in that :)
    heck, i’ll even admit on here i don’t shower ever day!!! GASP! unless i make it to the gym, but i’d be lying if i said i made it there everyday :)

  23. Wow – what varying answers! I’m an every-other-night bather – unless we have a really messy supper or nasty diaper, or some other disaster after which I’d be hesitant to put them in their bed after. Which begs me to ask — how often do we change the SHEETS?! Haha : )

  24. We would definitely be Ashamed, if our 19 month old son wasn’t of the Clean persuasion. He loves to take a bath and will follow me around the house signing “water, water” until I turn on the tub faucet. If that doesn’t work he proceeds to rub his food through his hair so I have no choice! Perhaps it is a phase, or maybe the ultra-clean inclination just skips a generation! I am more in favor of just bathing him when there is visible or olfactory dirt and conserve some water.

  25. this actually made me laugh out loud! with our 2 year old, we do try to bathe him nightly. he is messy. like, super-messy. so if doesn’t have a bath at night, he showers with his daddy in the mornings. with our 4 month old? he’s lucky to have a bath twice a week. what? baby’s don’t smell! (ha!)

  26. Our 4 year old girl is in Pre-K everyday, and tends to roll in the dirt. :) She gets a bath pretty much every school night, unless they didn’t play outside much that day. Before she started school, it was 2-3 nights per week, tops, possibly more frequently in the summer. Our 1 year old gets a bath typically 3 times per week, usually Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, unless she specifically needs one on a different day. The schedule is mostly so I don’t forget to bath her. :)

    1. The forgetting part is tough – I need to steal one of those Bathroom Cleaning Schedules off the door at Target and use it to sign off when I give my kids a bath!

  27. When our oldest was a baby, he had eczema and the dermatologist told us to bathe him daily and smear on cetaphil and it worked so well that we actually kept up with it…till we had another one baby. Lucky for him, he outgrew his eczema. Now, it’s every other day in the summer and more like 2 times/week in the winter (which is 9 months out of the year). So…I’d say it averages to 2.30493 times/week. Will that work with your graph? :)

  28. I try to bathe mijo every other day. Most of the time we do that, especially now that he plays harder. Before, when he was under one we bathed him less.

  29. Ally doesn’t take a lot of baths anymore because she likes to take showers with me. I don’t bathe her even every other day unless she gets really dirty. It’s about every third day, but I don’t worry too much about it because her skin is dry like mine so she doesn’t need a bath every day, in fact it’s bad for her.

    Her hair is also curly and if it weren’t for that I would actually bathe her less… trying to brush her hair when it hasn’t been conditioned in a few days is horrible!

    Mostly, if she starts to stink, she gets bathed. Otherwise her hands, feet, face and butt get a “wipey” bath every day. :)

  30. My boys, ages 8 and 10, get baths every 2-3 days unless it is winter then we spread it out even further. Their skin just can’t take the dryness from the water, soap and the dry climate we live in. They do get “bird baths” in between and I don’t feel like they are dirty, unless of course, it is after soccer.

  31. Fascinating! Aubrey gets a bath every night (hair washing every other night). I thought all kids were bathed every night. My eyes have been opened — this is revolutionary for me! I think in honor of my newly discovered liberation, I’m going to declare NO BATH TONIGHT! Ah…it feels good. :)

  32. It definitely varies by age at our house. The oldest is 6 and has to bathe nightly because of school germs. He takes care of bathing himself tho. Our girls are two and three. They sit in the tub and play most every night. But I only bathe them every other night. The time in the tub is a lot more for mommy to get a break and they have tons of toys so they beg to get in. Our baby is 6 months and I only bathe him about every third night bc I don’t want to dry out his skin…. And maybe a little because I actually have to do work to bathe him…. But mostly because of his delicate skin and all ;). Please do make a graph. As a fellow excel geek, I love them!

  33. I’m a once a weeker! I guess you could say I’m ashamed…I don’t like to tell people about it, but I’d like to say that’s because everyone thinks ALL my parenting methods are weird so I’ve just learned to keep my mouth shut.

  34. I (my 3 year old) used to be an every night bather but lately that’s become every other night, only RARE occasions does she get less baths than that.

  35. The “big kids” (ages 2.5 and almost 5) – every other night generally, but more in the summer when they are constantly dirty and less in winter
    The baby (4 months) – she’s lucky to get bathed weekly; most of the time I have no idea when I last bathed her!

  36. Before the baby was born, my oldest got bathed nightly. We maybe skipped one night a week, but that was rare. With the baby being here now, they get baths 2-3x per week. Unless they’re dirty in between. :-)

  37. As requested, I am compiling all of this data for a Scientific Report, complete with charts and graphs, that I hope to present to you by Friday. The data I am specifically tracking is:

    – # of kids in family
    – # of baths per week
    – ages of kids
    – # of baths per individual kid (if they don’t all have the same bath schedule).

    The final report will be splendid – I guarantee it!!

  38. 2 little boys. When they were teeny I did every other day, now it’s about 1/week, twice in a good week (or dirty week). Sometimes they get to shower with me because that way I get clean too, otherwise I’m also, sadly, down to about twice per week. But the oldest is definitely getting too old for that. To add to your research numbers, I happen to know my neighbor also bathes her kids only 1-2 times per week, tho I think that may have changed for the 5yr old because she started public school this year.

  39. My 10 day old was bathed at the hospital once by a nurse and at home once by me and my husband. So….once a week I guess would be our category although certainly not ashamed since he’s brand new and requiring other things like food more often than baths — plus all the wipes used for a clean diaper every 2 hours or so keep him clean, right? =)

  40. I fall in the ashamed category. 2-3 times a week. Hopefuly. And that is only because my two year old is currently bath-obsessed.

    2 kids in family
    2-3 baths per week
    1 and 5 years old
    3 b/wk for the 1 year old, 2 b/wk for the 5 year old

    Even more mega ashamed to admit that at least one of those times is me pulling the kids into the shower with me in the morning when I realize they are a bit too ripe to send to daycare.

    Communal showers. They are going to be so damaged later in life. /shame

  41. We bathe our 2 year old 1-2 times per week on doctor’s orders. He has dry skin and is prone to eczema. However, we do get wet washcloths and wipe down his hands, feet, and diaper area very frequently throughout the day. He does not smell and is not naturally sweaty. I should also add that he rarely gets sick. I do think that, as a previous poster said, our culture skews towards being overly cleanly and we are literally washing away our bodies’ ability to build an immune system (in my humble opinon).

    To summarize for your graph:
    1 kid
    1.5 baths per week
    2 years old

  42. Okay girl-you crack me up.

    I have four kiddos-three are big kids-10 and up. They get a shower everyday or at least almost every day. If we have a really late night they will skip. The 13 year old boy however sometimes takes two a day. Even when it is not needed. I still haven’t figured that one out yet and not sure that I want to.

    The four year old boy however-he gets a bath everyday, sometimes twice a day in the summer. Unless we have been to the pool. The pool totally counts as a bath, right? No joke about the two baths though in the summer. But, that makes up for the winter when he gets a bath about three times a week. Definetly before church on Sunday and then as needed the rest of the week. He is a yard ape who lives to get dirty-even in the winter. I figure that all the extra baths in the summer kinda average out the non-existent ones in the winter so yes, averagely speaking he gets a bath everyday!!!! I am a good mom after all :)

  43. On average my 4yo boy gets 2 baths per week during the ‘summer’ months (April – mid October her in Alabama). Once it cools off it is generally once a week. Let’s keep it real people, WWJD, do you think he bathed every day? My parents and even myself as a child only bathed once a week and we are all healthy, well-adjusted adults who manage to bathe before anyone starts to smell. :)

    1. I’m impressed that you remember how often you were bathed as a kid. I’ve actually been trying to remember all week, and I haven’t a clue. I guess I COULD ask my Mom, but that’d be too easy…

  44. We have one child, a four-year old boy who is in Pre-K. He gets a bath or shower every school night, but we usually skip Friday nights, and sometimes Saturday nights too unless he’s really dirty.

  45. This is so embarrassing, I’m surprised I’m even writing this.
    Three kids. 4 (girl), almost 3 (boy), almost 1 (boy). And it goes something like this.
    “Should we give the kids a bath tonight?”
    “I don’t know. Do they need it?”
    “Hmm… Oh my goodness! Was it really THAT long ago? Yikes. Yeah, let’s give them a bath.”
    This conversation happens randomly. Sometimes once, twice a week. SOMETIMES, once every TWO weeks!!
    I can totally defend myself. With my first, we bathed her religiously every night. Part of bedtime routine. We started the same routine with #2, who came down with every baby skin issue imaginable. So, we stopped including bath time in bedtime routine. His skin wasn’t so dry, issues cleared up. When the kids were a bit older, they’d bathe together for fun, so some weeks they’d take a bath every other day, just to give me a small break (I’d sit in the bathroom with my laptop and they’d play). Baby #3 came along. It just goes downhill from here. Except that baby #3 stinks (or maybe my nose is closer to his head more often?), and so this is a good reminder to me to bathe the kids from time to time. So, so ashamed.

  46. My oldest (8) takes a shower 2-3x a week. The younger two (4 and 3) are lucky to get a bath once a week… Sometimes I’ll be sitting there unable to remember when the last time they bathed was… I’m trying to be better!

  47. I’ve got you all on a pedestal:
    *in the summer, swimming in a pool counts as a bath
    *got nasty feet from playing outside? No need for a full bath. Use a wipey.
    *Really nasty diaper? Use a scented wipey.
    *Got kids asking begging to take a bath but you know you are to exhausted to bathe four kids? Tell them they can do that first thing in the morning (even though you know that they will forget by then).
    *Love when Nana comes to babysit: guaranteed bath.
    (Rachel, proud “no shame” mother of Jorge-6, Alex-5, Eva-3, Isaac-1)

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