Dad’s Gonna Lose It
Turning the Changing Table
Bonding time with the children is vital to fathers! Whether you’re taking your kid out fishing or to a movie, or even just getting a bite to eat, getting time alone with your kids is important to you relationship. You’re out enjoying yourself, building memories, laughing and listening to them tell you all about their life, then the storybook day ends. You pick up your little tyke to secure them in their car seat, and you smell it. Little Johnny strikes again.
You gather up the tools you need for the jobs: diaper, wipes, gloves and vomit bag and head back inside to restore your child’s dignity. But, upon walking into the restroom you realize there’s no changing table! While you want to take the dirty diaper and write “Dad’s change diapers too!”, on the mirror, with its contents you stand them on the counter and do the best job you can. And you leave, vowing to never return without your wife.
Over the course of the past three years this scenario has played out for me several times. We are currently in the midst of potty training our son, but he still wears a pull-up while we’re out just in case of accidents. Usually my wife has to take care of these, because, in my estimation, 50% of the places we go do not put changing tables in the men’s room.
I can’t help but ask what the hell business owners are thinking? In 2017 there are plenty of fathers taking on the role of stay-at-home parent and plenty of single fathers to necessitate changing tables in men’s rooms. I’ve noticed trends in certain venues to offer a family restroom where mothers or fathers can go to take care of the little ones, but they are rare enough. Restaurants and many stores simply don’t have room for these, and I can understand that, but what’s the excuse for not having a fold away changing table?
I understand that the tables can be cost prohibitive for small businesses (upwards of $1000 for two), but in today’s society it seems to me that not having a convenient changing area in the men’s room might end up costing you more money through loss of business. While it’s not often my first concern when deciding which businesses to frequent, being able to change my child is on the list and has become a factor in the past.
At St. Louis Zoo, for example, I was impressed by the accessibility of changing tables to fathers and they even had tiny toilets that catered to toddlers! But a few miles away at Six Flags St. Louis, no such luck. The takeaway there? We go to the zoo, probably, 2 times a year minimum, and often more. We’ve taken the little guy to Six Flags once.
We don’t carry a diaper bag anymore. I know that’s our choice and we have to suffer the consequences. I know that business owners provide changing tables as a courtesy. I’m just asking them to be courteous to everyone! If my wife has her purse we’ll tuck a diaper and a small pack of wipes in there, but carrying a fold-up changing pad is inconvenient. And, depending on what we’re doing or where we’re going, might be unfeasible.
So what do I do? These days I don’t worry about it so much. He’s old enough to stand if need be, and it’s not a frequent thing. However, when he was a bit younger I would do what was necessary. The backseat of the car can replace a changing table in a pinch. Or the trunk, just remember to get the child out before you close it! I’ve used park benches and blankets on the ground. Once my give-a-damn broke and I changed him in the booth where we were eating. You do what you have to do.
There are times, in truth, when I’ve been more than okay with businesses not having changing tables in the men’s room. My hands stayed clean and I was free to go while my wife found herself elbow deep in shit. Literally. It’s a convenient excuse if I’m out with my wife, but an inconvenient reality if it’s just me and the boy when the need arises. We are long removed from the times when dad worked to support the family and mom took care of the kids, shopping and laundry. Isn’t it time for businesses to catch up with the rest of us?
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