Rubber Duck Bathroom. Children are not generally the cleanest of people, what with all the falling over in the mud, rolling about in the garden, shinning up trees, and crawling about the floor into dusty corners. It is therefore a necessary fact that they need regular baths. Unfortunately, they don’t always agree, and so trying to make bath time fun whilst you scrape the dirt off your child to discover them lurking underneath is important.
Fortunately today there is a wide range of bath toys, and we are not stuck with having to stare at one bewildered looking plastic duck bobbing away through the foam. Rubber ducks are still very much a popular item, generally coming in family packs of four of five it seems now though, but there are many other toys besides, some of which are designed purely to make bath time fun, others to be a little educational. After all, water can be educational in itself when you think about the amount of science that uses it.
For example, there are some toys which use rubber suckers to stick to the bathroom wall – usually as this is tiles they stick very well. These toys then allow a bucket or can of water to be poured in to the top, which then causes a variety of effects as it trickles down and runs back into the bath. In some cases it makes a water wheel turn round, which is both fun and helps them to understand the idea of a waterwheel. Others have animals on whose eyes, hands or head rocks backwards and forwards as the water runs through. Almost always the mechanics of this movement are visible, so that whilst to begin with the child may simply be satisfied with seeing the effect, after a while they may show a natural curiosity to try to understand how falling water can achieve a sideways rocking effect.
Another popular toy along a similar principle relies on suction, rather than gravity. Again, it sticks to the bathroom wall, and looks just like a shower head. A rubber hose drops down into the bath water at the bottom, and in the middle there is a big button. By pressing the button, water is sucked up the hose, and eventually comes out of the shower head – a bit like siphoning the water through a shower system.
There are also many toys which help to teach other principles – such as volume. A series of cans or other containers which vary in size can be used to explore how many of one cup it takes to fill a big cup, and so on. Still another is a small submarine or diver with a long hose attached with a bulb at one end. The diver sinks to the bottom, but when you squeeze the bulb, he rises to the surface. This principle works on exactly the same principle as submarines use to surface or dive, and simply uses air pressure. This can appear to be a magical effect for children, and it will be many years before they really start to understand the principle of it.
So as well as being fun, there’s no reason at all why children can’t be learning even at bath time. But of course, don’t tell them that!
I was recently looking around at a number of fitted bathrooms in Manchester, as they have several excellent showrooms there that provide tremendous inspiration. Perhaps that’s rather fitting, because I always find many of my best ideas come to me in the bathroom, and so looking around a bathroom showroom for inspiration seems to work beautifully for me.
But the truth is that my bathroom has been in fairly urgent need of a major overhaul for quite some time. I think deep down I knew that. I just didn’t like to look around me with too critical an eye. In fact, not looking around at all became something of a habit.
I think I realised that something had to be done when I found myself admitting that even a single small tea-light was failing to add any inspiration, and was still casting far too much light on a room which had ceased to imbue me with energy or inspiration for quite some time.
The problem with bathrooms, and I don’t think I’m alone in this, is that they tend to be seen as functional rooms, rather than public display rooms such as living rooms, halls, dining rooms and guest bedrooms.
These rooms tend to be dressed up nicely, decorated tastefully, cared for, loved and embellished so that the right appearance and impression can be made for when guests come round. Bathrooms and toilets can be forgotten, because once the door is shut, we don’t tend to talk about them much.
You don’t tend to find that once a guest returns to the living room to join in the conversation having visited the bathroom they begin discussing the sorts of things they saw whilst sitting on the toilet. Bathrooms don’t get discussed. But that isn’t to suggest that they don’t get noticed.
So I set off for a trip through the various fitted bathrooms Manchester showrooms had to offer, and one thing struck me. Well, two things really. The first was of course how ghastly my own bathroom really was in comparison with the fantastic range of bathrooms on display. But the second thing that struck me was how many really useful new ideas and features have been created to make the bathroom that little but nicer.
For example, one of the perennial problems I have found with bathrooms is storage. There simply is never enough of it. Yet despite presenting a distinct lack of storage in a bathroom, they are often one of those rooms requiring the storage of more glass bottles, glass jars and containers full of liquids, gels and lotions than any other house.
With so many liquids and potions, and so many glass bottles, it suddenly seemed very odd that to date bathrooms have generally offered very little in the way of sensible storage.
Of course there has always been the mirror cabinet, but these are often quite small. I have one of those already, but even my shaving lotion doesn’t fit in it standing up, so it’s not terribly useful.
But wandering through the various bathrooms in Manchester it became apparent that bathroom designers have been faced with the same problems as us real people. Perhaps they’re human after all!
With a whole range of stunning storage ideas, and many beautiful bathroom suite designs, including classic, Victorian, modern and contemporary, the inspirations came flooding as though someone had packed them all up tightly into a cistern and then flushed them on me. There – another little idea inspired by the bathrooms of Manchester! Now the only thing missing is a rubber duck.
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