During a recent visit to a family restaurant, as I stood in line waiting to place my order, a dad rushed up to the counter holding a cherub-faced child and hurriedly asked for the key to the men’s room. As the server at the counter handed him the key, the man asked if the men’s washroom had a change table and the server, looking perplexed, replied, “No sorry, we only have one in the ladies’ room.”
Frustrated, the dad stormed away, holding his soiled child with his arms outstretched, as if the tot’s diaper were about to explode.
I’ve often encountered restaurants, tourist sites, and coffee shops that make toilet time tricky for diaper-dependant babes, but it hadn’t crossed my mind that finding change tables would be even more of a challenge for the dads on diaper duty.
Last year, a dad in a Calgary Dairy Queen was shocked to discover that he had no options when it came to changing his daughter while out on a father-daughter walk. In an interview on Global, he shared, “I’m going to a family establishment with my daughter (for some) daddy-daughter time, so why can’t I have a place to change my kid’s diaper that’s safe and clean. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”
My social media feeds are often filled with photos and videos of dads having to change their child on stinky, stained, washroom floors, left with no other option when out with their child.
And the idea of putting change tables in men’s washrooms isn’t a new one. Back in 2015, Ashton Kutcher took to his Facebook page, stating “There are NEVER diaper changing stations in men’s public restrooms. The first public men’s room that I go into that has one gets a free shout out on my FB page!”
With over 18 millionfollowers, and over 11,000 comments (most of which listedspots that offer diaper change options for dads),Kutcher was definitely able to shine a spotlight on the issue, but there’s still a long way to go.
We need to make change tables in all washrooms the norm, but one dad proposes taking it one step further.
On The Good Men Project, writer Jonathan Church shared his thoughts on the problems with having changing tables in men’s restrooms, expressing his appreciation for the inclusion of change tables in the upgrades to the arena washrooms where he often attends Washington Nationals baseball games, but he doesn’t think that merely adding a table is enough.
In his story, Church describes his experience of having to change his infant daughter “in a crowded area between a sink and a row of urinals, pulling down a changing table attached to the wall, realizing that (he) was being forced to conduct, in a very public and very crude setting, what, in (his) view, should be a private affair.”
I agree. We’re offered stalls with doors to do our business privately, can’t we offer the same option for our little ones when they “do the deed?”
I’d love to see public spaces that are open to all parents, offering a chair, a table and a curtain for privacy. One that is accessible, clean, and inclusive. Changing diapers is no fun, but that doesn’t mean that the place where we perform the act has to be sh*&ty too.
Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, writer, editor and marketing consultant. Find her online at @bitsofbee.