Those of us raising small children are able to escape into our own backyards to enjoy the authentic sauna experience – with and without our children.
Sauna with young children
In Finland, on islands in Northern Minnesota, and countless other places, parents are known to bring their infant children to sauna as early as a couple months old.
An infant joining the family in sauna is not weird or dangerous. It has been done for generations. For many, a dishpan filled with temperate water is all that’s needed. An infant can splash around happily down low, as other children and adults relax on the sauna bench.
A sauna bath is often the best way for an infant to be introduced to sauna.
I remember fondly when our youngest would splash around down low, looking up, giggling along with his older brother and friends enjoying their sauna rounds. For cool downs, before he could walk, I would carry our child down to the lake at our cabin sauna, or underneath the outdoor shower in our backyard sauna, helping him keep up with the sauna action.
Sauna are great for children of all ages
What is important is an understanding that for children “their rounds tend to be shorter and more frequent.” Children heat up and cool down faster than adults. As infants get a bit older, kids’ sauna parties can evolve into a parade of youth in and out of the hot room. It’s not uncommon to have a water trail from the shower or dock outside, back into the hot room and onto the sauna benches.
We want to provide a sauna hot room with a drain. We want to allow and encourage a free flow of water, warm or cold, so children can feel free to dump water over their heads at will.
And they may end up splashing water over each other. Sometimes by request and other times by surprise. It’s up to you, whether to allow this, or start working for the clampdown. Cold water splashing can be fun and it can be a teaching moment (of empathy). “How would you like it if someone tossed cold water over your head?” As you do the same to the antagonizer.
A parent sauna without their children
Another great thing about our own backyard saunas is that, with newborns and small infants, we can escape to our own health and wellness retreats in our own backyards without our children. 30 feet from their crib, but it can feel like 300 miles away.
We can slide quietly out the back door and completely restore, rejuvenate, and recover from the intense rigors of parenthood with a great sauna session, while our child or children are napping or tucked in for the night, safely stowed in their upright, locked position.
You will not be turned into Child Services if you bring your baby monitor and a couple beers out to your backyard sauna
For many, our sauna time may be our only time in the day that we can claim for ourselves. We feed them, wipe their butts, and sweep Cheerios off the floor. As we step out into the night, feeling that fresh cool air on our face, we rejoice in our moment of freedom. We embrace the fact that we have chosen a couple of hours of sauna time as our time.
That little monster inside owns your time all the other time, but right now is your time: The music you want. The heat as you want it. Cool downs looking up at the night stars is your time of freedom to reconnect with yourself. (“oh, I remember who i am!”).
Enjoy a few deep Wim Hof breathes and repeat after me: “millions are new parents just like me. I’m going to get through this boot camp stage. This kid will grow and I WILL get to sleep through the night soon.” And then douse a bucket of cold water over your head and I dare you not to get a big grin on your face and be filled with a wave of euphoria, living in this stage of the boot-camp-parent-moment.
It’s sauna time: with or without your young children