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Navigating Public Restrooms with Children: Starting a Revolution

Most parents are ecstatic when their children become potty trained.
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A whole new level of independence!  No more diapers.  No more wipes.  Life is good.

Once diapers are a thing of the past, however, you must now deal with taking your child into restrooms while you are out and about.  PUBLIC restrooms.  As a self-described germaphobe mom, it’s not something I get excited about.  With my little boy, it wasn’t a huge deal because boys, well, you know…they can stand up.  But, with my daughter, that just isn’t the case.  Sigh.

We’ve got the restroom drill down at this point.  She does a great job and I take deep breaths as we try to navigate the tiny stall together, one toilet seat protector at a time.  We get it done.  We just got back from a trip to Disneyland and a camping trip where we just couldn’t avoid the bathroom.

While at Disneyland, I had an “a-ha” moment.  Why is it that all restrooms cater only towards adults?  Why is it that in a place that was made for children only has humongous toilets?  It got me thinking.

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When you have children, you start to think from their perspective.  Life would be so much easier if restrooms in restaurants, airports, amusement parks, and every other place kids might go would have one or two short bathroom stalls with toilets that aren’t so high off the ground and huge.  While we’re at it, why don’t we also provide shorter sinks that kids can actually reach as they’re trying to wash their hands?  It baffles me that this is rarely found.

While at Disneyland, we did come across a few short sinks throughout our time there, but not many.  It made life so much easier when there was one because my three-year old could be much more independent about doing what she needed to do.  It is no easy task to hold her up to the sink, lean her over so that she can get her hands wet, and then actually help her wash and rinse.  Water ends up getting everywhere and she hates it when I hold her like that because it just isn’t comfortable for anyone involved.

I’m not sure what needs to happen to make a change like this.  I know this isn’t a monumental idea for most.  I know that there are more important things to worry about in the world.  But, for anyone with children, it wouldn’t hurt to think of them (and their parents) once in a while.

What do you think?  Would this make your life easier as a parent?


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When a medical prognosis disrupted Elisabeth Williams’s dreams of motherhood she decided to focus her education, love and attention into working with children in need. Read more about Elisabeth’s work with abused and neglected kids and her next big dream – becoming a mom herself.