I don’t think that there should be baby change tables or change stations installed in men’s public restrooms. Hear me out…
On the 9th March 2015 at 8:05am somewhere in the world, the relatively new father of a five month old daughter, Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher updated his public Facebook page with this;
In case you can’t see that screen shot of his Facebook update, this is what it said;
“There are NEVER diaper changing stations in mens public restrooms. The first public men’s room that I go into that has one gets a free shout out on my FB page! #BeTheChange”
Take a look at the amount of likes, comments and shares this got. I know that many of the 1,000 dads and granddads in the Dad Bloggers Facebook group were among those 13,980 (as of 18th March) to share this on their public pages and personal pages, but even if all of us shared it, that’s still over 12,000 other people who feel strongly about this. And then, on the 16th March 2015, Ashton shared a link to his website A+ pointing to an article by Isaac Saul called You May Not Realize How Sexist Public Bathrooms Are Until You’re A Parent.
— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) March 16, 2015
Now it’s nice when a celebrity with 18,717,852 followers on Facebook and 16,754,264 followers on Twitter decides to jump on board with a cause that some of my fellow Dad Bloggers and other dads who don’t have a blog (Joel, yes I’m talking about you) believe strongly about and have been talking about for many, many years. Scotty Schrier from Dads Who Change Diapers who not only has a blog, but he also has a website that lists places in the United States where you can find a change table in a men’s room is a great example. Off the back of Ashton’s viral Facebook status update, Scotty wrote a piece for The Guardian.
“Thanks to Ashton Kutcher, the plight of diaper-changing dads is finally getting heard. In a viral Facebook post, the new dad fumed: “There are NEVER diaper changing stations in men’s public restrooms”. I feel his pain.”
Chris Bernholdt, stay-at-home father, blog editor of The National At-Home Dad Network and writer of his own blog Dad n’ Charge, is another dad who has been campaigning to get change tables in men’s restrooms. Here’s a photo that he shared on his Instagram account which preceded Ashton’s status update by about two weeks.
A photo posted by Chris (@dadncharge) on Feb 26, 2015 at 6:02am PST
Again, if you can’t see this embedded Instagram photo, the caption reads;
“After 3 years of writing “put a changing table in every men’s room” in the suggestion box at my local Y, I finally went right to the branch manager and let her know it wasn’t fair. Check it out!”
Now those are all well and good stories, shares and the like, but as I stated in my opening, I don’t think that there should be baby change tables or change stations installed in men’s public restrooms. Let me tell you why using my own diagram that I produced.
As it says in that meme I created, the reason you can’t put baby change tables in men’s public toilets is because it will reduce the size of the mancave that exists inside EVERY men’s restroom. Many women don’t know that we have this room at the back of our restrooms. Yes, while they often get lounges to breastfeed their babies, and benches to change their child’s soiled nappy, we get a well stocked minibar, a bench with free chips and dips, and LED flat screen television showing sports and vintage pinball machines including all the classic themes spread out in men’s restrooms around the country. Ladies, you didn’t know that? Well now you do.
And that’s the real reason why some dads are leading the “fight” to get change tables in men’s restrooms. It’s so they can take the baby, hang out in that back room watching sport, and the mothers can visit the hairdresser or stay at the coffee shop sipping on their latte thinking that they have the best partner in the world. But, yeah, no. Sure we’ll come out with the baby in a clean nappy and all, but the reality is, we’ll just hand the kid to the bathroom attendant who will do all the hard work while we sip on our beer and catch at least one quarter of whatever game is on the big screen.
But no, I’m just pulling your leg. Of course you don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to know that the mancave meme I created is just a bit of frivolity. But I still believe that putting change tables in men’s restroom is not a good idea. But I’ll go one step further and say that putting change stations in women’s restrooms is also a bad idea.
In my very first post I wrote, Dads Are Parents Too I talked about my own experiences with needing to change nappies (or diapers if you prefer) when out and about with my own children. I included this photo I took;
Where we are lucky in my part of the world is that it’s becoming increasingly popular for new shopping centres to be built with parents’ rooms. And not just new shopping centres. My local shopping that is closest to our house, and where we do most of our grocery shopping has just upgraded all their existing facilities with what they are advertising as “state of the art” family rooms as part of their millions of dollars upgrade.
At my favourite shopping centre, the one I have written about a few times which is the one that I like to take the boys to every Saturday morning for our coffee and babycinos and a play have four parents’ rooms littered throughout the town centre. These rooms have private breastfeeding stalls for mothers, fenced off play areas for the older children who might be waiting for mum or dad to feed or change a little one, microwave ovens to heat bottles and baby food, solid high scalloped benches with easy to reach sinks and bins when changing young children’s nappies, and an internal family friendly bathroom including a children’s sized toilet next to a full sized toilet so toilet training children can carry on their business like they were at home.
These types of facilities are popping up in all upgrades to shopping centres around Australia and I think that a country like the United States really needs to have these types of facilities too. I would take the change tables out of the women’s restroom and have both mums and dads change their children in a clean, safe environment such as a parents’ room. The main reason why I think this is such a great idea is because the only people who are going into these facilities are other parents who are feeding, changing and looking after the toiletry needs of their children.
And when we bring both mums and dads together in facilities such as these, this further breaks down the walls, kills off those stereotypes, and shows other mothers that they can get their partners to help out with the changing of the dirty nappy, and also show those mothers who seem to forget that dads are parents too, what it is that the modern father can do.
But where the gym or other sporting venue, the small shopping centre or fast food outlet doesn’t have the space or money to build a parents’ room, putting a change table in the men’s restroom is a must. And to prove that I am definitely on board with this cause, here’s a meme I created back in October 2014 that I used in my post called A Short List Of Things Dads Will Never Be Able To Do…Or Will They?
As a foot note, in that first post of mine, the one where I first used the photo of the Parents’ Room Dads Welcome sign, I contacted that shopping centre to discuss this with the centre’s management and they told me something that I was shocked to hear. The reason why that sign says “Dads Welcome” is actually for the benefits of dads who do want to go in there and change their child’s nappy. It seems that before that sign included the welcome note to dads, many of the mothers who used the facilities complained that men were going into the parents’ room. Really mums? Really?
And the other place that I mentioned in that post, which I didn’t name back then is the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. I contacted the management to complain about there not being a change table in the men’s restrooms, only the women’s and their lack of a parents’ room, and after a phone call and a follow up email to them, the management wrote back telling me that they were in the process of building new facilities including parents’ rooms at a few locations around the park. I recently spoke to the visitor’s centre and they informed me that all of the baby care facilities (there’s four of them) that they show on the park’s map are accessible to mums and dads.
As Ashton added to his tweets, #BeTheChange.