Occasionally I find myself a casual observer in people’s lives. Like a fly on the wall, I watch as life unfolds around me, making observations, and meditating on the little details that separate my life from others. The other day I was in an acquaintance’s home relatively early in the morning; she just so happens to live in the city.
Their morning routine was well underway by the time I had arrived. A bread machine was kneading the dough by the tell-tale thumping noise rising from the kitchen. The coffee pot held the last cup warm in the carafe. Breakfast dishes sat unattended on the table. The small children were in the bathtub getting ready for the new day.
I was struck by the latter because it was a striking difference from our family’s life in the country. It’s not because we don’t have a bathtub. For clarification, We do not bathe “Little House on the Prairie”-style by dragging a tub into the kitchen on Saturday evening and filling it with warm water. And, we certainly do not share bath water.
It was not the way in which they bathed. The striking difference for me was the time. The only day that we bathe or shower in the morning is on Sunday. We go to church early in the morning and want to be clean and look our best.
If you cannot figure out why we would not do this the other six days of the week, I would guess that you don’t work outdoors. Out in the country, especially in the summer, there is so much work to be done outside. It is almost a guarantee that you are going to be dirty and sweaty before lunch. There simply is no point in bathing at the beginning of the day.
Even on days that are not filled with labor intensive work, we go swim in the lake. Contrary to some opinion, we do not feel that this activity qualifies as a bath. In fact, it almost requires one. Or, we ride horses and get covered with horse hair, dust, and sweat. Or on a day like today, my boys spent the afternoon riding their bikes through mud puddles down the worn path through the pasture. They came home covered in mud splattered from head to two, but concentrated in a strip down their back.
Again there is just no point in bathing in the morning on a typical day. I never thought much about it until I realized that not every family has the same routines. For us not bathing in the morning leads to tanned arms, necks, and faces. It leads to freckles on full, healthy cheeks. My daughter gets free highlights as the sunshine lightens her light brown hair with blonde streaks. It also leads to my kids being active and receiving all the vitamin D there bodies can absorb.
You might think I am drawing conclusions or placing too much emphasis on the baths themselves. On Sunday mornings once the kids are bathed/showered, I immediately hear myself repeating, “Don’t get dirty.” I think it would be true any day whether it be Wednesday or Tuesday. Once you are freshly clean, you want to stay that way.
Therefore, the key to having healthy, active, outdoor kids is to cut out bathing in the mornings and institute evening baths. It would be interesting to do a little, unofficial experiment and see if my hypothesis is correct. Regardless of whether you live in the city or country, you can see if when you bathe affects how active you are during the day. Let me know if you actually do it or even if you think theory is all rubbish. Until then, I’ll be outside getting dirty.