With most schools having re-opened this week and the Christmas decorations packed away once more into the attic, the chances are your family is now back into its old routine.
This can be a welcome relief after the frivolities of the festive season, but it can also feel a little tedious, especially with warmer weather still so far away. Mealtimes, bathtimes and school runs seem to merge into one as we struggle to get everything done before it's time for bed again.
If you've got a touch of the January blues, why not alleviate them for at least part of the day by making your children's bathtimes an opportunity for extra play? Of course, you'll still have been bathing your offspring over Christmas, but these ideas should ensure everyone has a splashing good time in the bleak mid-winter - and it's the perfect way of distracting tots who are somewhat reluctant to get into the water!
Colour the water
This is a fun way of livening up boring old ordinary water and should have kids longing to cast off their clothes and jump in the bath. You can do it easily and cheaply with food colouring too - just add a few drops as you run the water for instant brightness. Alternatively, you could freeze a mixture of food colouring and water in an ice cube tray a few hours before and then drop the tabs in the bath for a melting blend of colour. And don't worry - the dye won't affect kids' skin and turn them into miniature Smurfs.
Have fun with foam
Foam is a great bath toy as it will get wet without disintegrating. You can buy foam letters that older kids can use to make words on the tiled wall, or stick to shapes for younger ones. You can even make your own using craft foam sheets, which as inexpensive and available from shops like Hobbycraft.
This is a good one for toddlers who usually don't want to stay in the bath for too long. All you need is a plastic stick, some wool and a magnet, which you can easily turn into a fishing rod. Next, throw some magnetic fridge letters into the bubbles and ask your little one to see what they can fish out. It's a good way of ensuring they get a good soak - just remember to supervise closely when it comes to the rod to prevent injuries.
Glow a light show
Anything that lights up is usually a winner with kids, so why not get hold of some party glow sticks from the pound shop? You can crack them, toss them in the water, then dim the lights and watch them illuminate the bubbles from beneath. It might give you the chance to wash hair while the child is distracted.
Plenty of props
You don't want the bath so full of toys that there's no room for the child, but adding a few props will distract them from the rather boring task at hand and provide some really fun play opportunities. Anything that can pour water is ideal, so look out for mini watering cans and plastic cups in the sales. Sponge balls and tiny boats should also go down well, while goggles can double up as a useful tool to prevent the dreaded soap-in-eyes scenario. You can even make the toys educational by asking the youngster to guess which will sink and which will float, getting them to identify colours and asking them to pick one and then describe it for you to identify.
Bathtime is a great way to squeeze a little more fun into your day - and that's something we could all benefit from in January!