Saturday, August 25, 2012

Personal Hygiene

Alright mamas, tell it like it is. What kind of mama are you in the area of your kids' personal hygiene. At what age do you stop bathing them yourself? When do you stop washing their hair? Do you inspect behinds the ears and give underarms and feet the sniff test?

I'll admit it, I'm a super clean mama. I bathe my kids, at least my youngest, but I've bathed my oldest to teach her a thing or two. I made sure to check on Sissy from the start and she is in training right now for washing her hair. Tonight was supposed to be her first solo, but when I peeked into the shower, half her hair didn't have suds and the other half had too many, then she got it into her eyes so another lesson and help ensued.

I also admit that I've handed my girls a mirror and told them to inspect their nether-regions and gave them the how-to on washing those regions. My daycare kids have to say the entire alphabet while scrubbing their hands before they can rinse them.

If Jie Jie had a perfect body, she could do a great job bathing herself, but with her special need, I have to manage some things for her right now. She also still can't wash her own hair because it's really long, past her waist now, but if it was short, she'd be fine. Sissy does a passable job bathing, but needs more work with the details. I'm just glad she is used to using toilet paper as so many children from China have never seen it before. Sissy also has been taught excellent germ prevention, like not double-dipping foods into shared sauces like salsa, sharing eating utensils and water bottles, but she constantly has her fingers in her mouth or is touching her face with her hands. She's getting so much better, but still needs constant reminding.

I didn't realize until I started my doula work that I have a reputation for giving super baths. I was under the impression that when one bathes a baby or child or themselves, that one washes everything so that it's clean. This includes creases, crevices, fingernails, toenails, and ears. What I've seen a lot of moms do, is put the child in water, let them play, then get them out. Or, do that, then dab at them here and there with a bit of soap. Most people I know don't dry feet, especially not between the toes. My dad taught me to dry between my toes when I was about 10 and had stinky feet. We lived in Florida where it was hot and humid so feet can really ripen there. When I bath a child or myself, I take a soapy washcloth and go over every inch starting at the top and working my way to the feet. I don't wash hair every night, though, or even bathe the kids every night, unless needed, but certain parts get washed every day.

Also, what about shaving? Not moms shaving, but do you want your girls to shave? Many Chinese girls have less body hair than Caucasian women do. I hate shaving. This last winter I actually went au natural with my legs for the first time ever. I loved the freedom, but loved the look and feel of shaved legs more when spring came, but a lot of that had to do with being more socially acceptable, too. One of my girls will probably not need to shave, or at leave shave much. The other might choose to do so, again, for social reasons. I don't mind either way since I consider it a personal choice.

What about brushing teeth? When did you leave that up to your child? I let Jie Jie do her own almost exclusively since her last dental cleaning and she takes forever. She diligently uses the timer the last dentist gave her, which has yellow sand that runs through a mini hour-glass. Last week at her check up, she only needed to learn to reach her two back most upper teeth! Great job for her!

As for Sissy, I had quite a shock. She has a filling or more in every single tooth in her mouth except the two new 12-year molars that just grew in. She's had a molar extracted and has had a root canal. The root canal was poorly done and one side of the root not filled in at all so it needs to be redone and she needs a filling between two teeth redone. Come to find out, she wasn't given a toothbrush or expected to clean her teeth until she was 9 years old! If you want to know what gifts to bring to the orphanages in China, I have to say, "Toothbrushes and toothpaste for all!" Sissy is now is teeth brushing training. The dentist said she cannot have braces until she learns to brush well.

My dentist put red dye on each girls' teeth to show them how effective their brushing was or was not, then she got out a toothbrush and mirror and gave them a detailed brushing lesson right there in the chair. She did it with Jie Jie the last time we were in there, too, which was our first visit. She shows them how to brush their gums and Jie Jie already knows to brush her tongue.

I'm very interested in your how you do things with your kids in this area. It's so personal and is one thing I don't really hear moms talk about with other moms, especially about their teens.


Nicole said...

I wash my boys as you describe. They are 5. I put one in the tub, let him play for about 10 minutes, and then I wash hair and body as you describe (head to toes, crevices, between toes).
As for brushing teeth, our dentist said parent should do it until about age 8 or 9. (But child is encouraged to brush first independently, each time followed by the parent.)

Joannah said...

Michaela gets a bath almost every day. I wash her hair each time I bath her. Now that I've read your post, I think I could be more detail oriented! :P

AandAsMama said...

My 3 and 6 year old boys boys geta bath or shower every day or every other day. My 6 year old does it all on his own now after many sessions of me teaching and supervising. I still peek my hean in once in a while to make sure he is washing everything the right way. We wash hair with every bath or shower. I still do it all for my 3 year old. We also was every part, crack and crevice around here.

I think it's wonderful that you gave your girls a mirror so they can see all parts of themselves. I think there are a lot of grown women who have never done that and it's so important to know your body and know it well and not be afraid of it! I think this will help your girls to have a healthier body image and also open communication with you about all things body related. I was lucky enough to have that openness with my mom all of my life but I know so many of my friends didn't.


Carrie said...

I have a five year old little girl. She takes a bath every night except Sunday....we are busy on Sundays so the bath has to wait. I wash her hair every other day. I am just now teaching her how to run her own bath and to begin washing herself. I wash her every other bath and allow her to wash the other days. I figure what she misses while learning to wash herself, I can get the next night.
As for her teeth...we brush twice daily, morning and evening. Sometimes I brush and other times she brushes.
I believe in pampering and spoiling...and I do my share....but I also feel bringing up a child to do for themselves makes for a well rounded responsible individual.
I enjoy your blog very much!

mom and girls said...

My girls bathe themselves now. They all take showers, even my youngest who is 8 (almost 9). They can all wash their own hair well and brush teeth.

I laugh about your thorough cleaning though. I sent my oldest (now 15) to sleep away camp last summer. She came home with a full bottle of shampoo, never once took the paper off the soap bars, and told her dad she lost her toothpaste. For 28 days!!!!!!!!!


I have lax standards I guess now. As long as my girls don't go to bed with dirty feet or teeth we are good.

Vicki said...

My 9 year old and two 7 year olds take their own showers or baths. Jilliana is 4 so I still bath her. Lily (9) washes her hair every night.( It is thin so it looks stringy if she doesn't) Emma and Meilynn take a shower on the nights they wash their hair, which is every other night. They take a bath on the nights they do not wash their hair. They do it all themselves but I supervise in the bath, but not the shower. They all brush their own teeth, but I do Jilliana's after she does hers. Randomly I will brush the other girls also, just to make sure they are not taking short cuts and to remind them of the proper way to brush. We use timers also.
Where I noticed needing more instruction is in the area (sorry if this is too private) of using toilet paper, front to back. Very important for girls and women.
We will be up your way for a wedding next week We will be staying at the Rock Wall Winery in Alameda.