When you have more kids than bathrooms, you will eventually run into trouble, unless you are one of the lucky few parents who have already established some ground rules and bathroom sharing etiquette. Don’t despair; there are some simple things you can do to make bathroom sharing less challenging and more peaceful. Read on, for some suggestions.
- Consolidate activities when possible – Depending on the ages and genders of your children it may be possible to consolidate some bathroom activities without giving up too much privacy. If you have older kids, talk with them about some of the concessions they would be willing to make for one another.
- Make a schedule – Perhaps a bathroom schedule would work for your family. Each child could be assigned a time slot and they would have to get all their bathroom things done within that time slot.
- Limit bathroom activities – Some activities that take place in the bathroom can be done elsewhere. For example, putting on make up doesn’t need to happen in the bathroom; hair can be groomed in the bedroom.
- Create a space for grooming – Consider putting a nice vanity in the girls’ room. Making space in the bedrooms and providing necessary accoutrements could actually make older kids less likely to spend unnecessary time primping and preening in front of the bathroom mirror.
- Use a timer – Putting reasonable time limits on bathroom use is another way to get kids to share. The timer can be set according to what needs to happen. Parents will still need to monitor the timer to make sure there is no cheating.
- Reward good behavior – Sometimes just rewarding desired behavior is enough to reinforce it. Praising your kids for sharing the bathroom peacefully may be all that’s needed. Kids thrive on praise and attention, and they will repeat behaviors to solicit more of it.
- Teach consideration – Don’t just assume your kids will share or not share the bathroom on their own. Just as you need to teach your kids manners, you will need to teach them to be considerate of one another’s bathroom time. Teaching them consideration in this area will probably spill over into other areas as well.
- Create consequences for not sharing peacefully – Chances are, if your kids find out that fighting over bathroom time results in spending quality time in the bathroom – cleaning it – they will decide to share quietly. Creating consequences for undesirable behavior may work for getting the kids to think twice before they start the bathroom wars.
- Alternate bath and shower times – Bedtime baths and good morning showers is one way to keep some peace around the bathroom. Those who like to bathe and younger kids who are yet using the shower can bathe at night before bed while those who prefer to shower can do so in the morning, since it takes less time.
- Enforce the bathroom rules you create – In order to maintain the peace, you will need to be strict about enforcing any rules that are established around bathroom time. Being lax in sticking to the rules will eventually lead back to chaos and bathroom wars.
It would be nice if everyone could have their own private bathroom space, however, for many families, those days are over; and for others, it’s just not going to happen. The good news is, many large families have gotten along with one or two bathrooms for generations, so it can be done. Learning to respect each other’s space and time is a skill worth developing because it may be needed again later, when the kids go to college or if they find themselves living in other shared circumstances.
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