The Playful Den


Baths are known for relaxation time, but here’s why they’re also playtime

During my pregnancy with Scout I started a love affair with the bath that is still continuing two years later!

I love the ritual of bath salts, lighting candles, sourcing new products and scents, choosing if I’ll read or listen to music or a podcast or just absorb some silence (crossing my toes a little person doesn’t decide to take the opportunity to sit on the loo and treat it like a therapy session). It is a highly sensory experience. Part relaxation, part play. I like to initially have the water not too hot, but then once I’m in, shoot through hot bursts of water resulting in a makeshift spa. I like to watch the wafts of steam lift themselves from the surface making friends with the scents pumping round the room. I like to add enough salt so my legs float to the top of the bath until they are fully suspended and weightless. I prefer my face above the surface but my ears below where I can enter an audio world of muffled household noises and voices and peculiar noises direct from the belly of the bath itself. Sometimes I like to hold my breath and lie on face down (and also hope no one comes in at this point either, it’s a disturbing sight I imagine). 

Bath play is one of the staple play patterns of young children. Water offers so many ways to play and the sensory appeal is hard for most children to resist. So much learning takes place in water play – gravity, push and pull, volume, float and sink, transporting, movement, it’s endless. And whenever I am in a bind looking for some quick fix playtime activity with a little one, water has always been my friend. As the kids have got older and showers have become compatible with tweens on the go, I’ve always hyped up a weekly bath ritual and kept it going, encouraging them to float away with their imagination and enjoy some self-care. The desire to scoop up bubbles in your hand, hold your breath under the water, or write your name in mirror steam is irresistible for any inner kid to resist and they enjoy their solitary time disappearing in there, evolving their early years playtime into big kid restoration and relax.  

Bringing your attention to micro moments of playfulness can help to increase your overall sense that you are experiencing play in daily life. You might be playing more than you realise, or have moments of playfulness just there ready for you to snatch up, but don’t notice them. So when you’re in the bath, check in with your inner child, maybe you went there to be zen but you may also find your inner joyful kid sneaking out to take a moment to squish, pop, splash.