About half an hour on a Sunday night before bedtime.
A large bucket of warm water, with a few squirts of soap or whatever you normally use. Stand this on an old towel or a tablecloth that's going in the wash anyway, or a bit of oil cloth (available from Beyond Fabrics).
A wash cloth or sponge.
Some source of heat, ideally a wood-burning stove, but a radiator will do - just don't do the Bucket Bath in a cold room. Make sure nothing is too close to the fire - especially any flammable materials. If you are having a "no electricity night", you could use candlelight but again, make sure there is no danger.
Bath towels and ideally somewhere to hang them.
Your children, their nightwear and clean undies.
Luckily I picked a fabulous printable Undies pattern from Elysium which goes from size 6-9 months to 8 years and provides a pdf template for each size - so much easier than following different kinds of dotted lines as you attempt to cut out. The instructions are illustrated clearly and explanations are just at the right level, not assuming anything. This is the kind of detail I need - a reminder to use a ball point needle for example - and there are a number of ways to adapt the pattern if you want to add a faux fly or use elastic. You can see my results on the right.
Secundus was fairly pleased with the result, as much as he is ever pleased about clothes I've made him. He says they are comfortable and he is at least deigning to wear them this evening. I think they aren't bad for a first attempt; I'm not sure they are as uneven-looking as the photo suggests. The errors are all mine - the Elysium pattern couldn't be better; this is definitely a project which takes time and is more a labour of love than a money saver but it is a great way to re-use jersey knits.
Anyway, back to the bucket. Get everything together, including your children, before you start. Make sure there are no obstacles or children in your path when you are lugging around a bucket of hot water. It is a good idea to explain what you are going to do before you start the Bucket Bath for the first time, and lay down ground-rules like: No Running Around once the bucket of water appears. The oil cloth is not a Skating rink etc.
Wash the child from top to bottom as he or she stands up in the bucket of warm water in front of the fire. Don't even think about trying to wash their hair, that will have to be another night. Make sure you squeeze the water out of the sponge before you wash them with it or the water will run everywhere, including down your arms. Be gentle and calming; they will like having your undivided attention. Holding their hands, let them clamber out of the bucket and wrap them up in a towel to get dry while you wash the next child. Once they are in their jamas, let them watch something like The Blue Planet and drink hot chocolate. Use the bucket of water to flush the toilet or wash down the front step, rather than just pouring it down the drain.
I'm planning that one day we'll graduate to a tin bath, but in the meantime, I hope your little ones enjoy the Sunday night Bucket Bath as much as Prima and Secundus do.
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