We were just wrapping up dinner at a new restaurant enjoying a lovely family evening together. My 1-year-old son, John, had eaten well and managed to get most of the food we offered into his mouth, avoiding the floor. My wife and I managed to complete at least half of a decent conversation. Nobody was screaming yet.
As I was signing for the bill, she was wiping a tiny pair of hands and some chubby cherubic cheeks. She sniffed the air twice and then lifted John out of the seat and went in for closer inspection. Scrunching her nose, she looked at me and said,
"He needs a change."
We paused and looked at each other with the same concerned expression on our faces.
"Is there a changing table in the restroom?"
We tend to focus our lives on the things that matter most; when it comes to the day-to-day kind of stuff, we don't often pay attention to the things not relevant to our immediate needs. Before we had a child, I wouldn't have thought twice about the layout and accessories inside a public restroom. Now, I keep a mental list of which locales provide the best and worst options for taking care of some often dirty but very necessary business.
Rather than list the best accommodators and worst offenders when it comes to family-friendly bathrooms, I thought it would be more productive to list some basic requests to bring all restrooms that serve families up to a certain level of comfort.
Parents' Bill of Rights for Diaper-Changing Stations
1. Have one
Without a place to change a diaper, my three options are change the baby on the dirty, diseased bathroom floor; try to get him to hold very still while I balance him on the edge of the sink; or change him out in the restaurant where his bright baby bum is on display for everyone to see.
2. Have one in the men's room too!
This is 2015 -- men change diapers too. Some guys go out in public with small children and don't bring a woman along. Having the women's restroom as a default location for a changer is not okay.
3. Put it in a reasonable location
Don't put the changer in the doorway so everyone has to uncomfortably squeeze by me to enter or exit the bathroom. Don't put it in a bathroom stall. This is all too common and makes no sense. Having it within arm's reach of a sink and a trashcan is really the most practical.
4. Provide a trashcan nearby
My free-throw percentage is awful. Challenging me to toss a stinky diaper across a crowded bathroom with one hand on my child, keeping him from rolling off the table, is a sure way for all of us to lose badly.
5. Check it every once in a while.
Make wiping it down a part of the regular bathroom cleaning routine. If that strap is broken, consider fixing it because a broken strap just becomes something new and disgusting for my child to put in his mouth. Consider fixing that broken hinge, so I don't have to balance on one foot to hold up half the table with my knee.
Trust me, any parent can tell you that these are really just the bare-minimum requests to ensure a safe, clean and comfortable diaper change for baby and us. It's not much to ask, is it?
Even if you are not a parent, you probably know someone who is! Please comment and share this post with others, so we can get some traction around this!