Are Family Washrooms Necessary?

My husband went shopping with our oldest daughter this afternoon to get a present for her cousin and to run some other errands. They ended up going to a very popular toy store here in Canada (and probably in the US too).

I stayed home to get some things done and to spend some time with our youngest. One on one time now and then is good for everyone.

About 45 minutes after they left, they returned. Why? So my husband could use the washroom before they continued with their shopping.

Apparently, the toy store did not have a family washroom. In most instances, this is no big deal, but what about dads who are out alone with their daughter? What do you do then?

Everywhere I look, family-focused companies cater to moms. The majority of shoppers are women, so why wouldn’t they? But there needs to be a balance because there are a lot of single dads (of daughters and infants specifically) who need to be taken in to consideration. Or, in my husband’s case, dads who just love spending time with their daughter and feel comfortable hanging out on their own.

Tonight, my husband said “As a dad, I find it difficult to take my daughters out on my own because of the lack of father-friendly family washrooms or family washrooms at all. At 3 yrs old, I don’t feel comfortable taking our daughter in to the men’s washroom.” And I don’t blame him.

Now, it isn’t because I think that something is going to happen to her (although, since I’m her mom, there is always a fear that something will). It is because there could be questions from our daughter, awkward moments, her feeling uncomfortable, or even other men coming in to use the washroom feeling uncomfortable.

Personally, I feel that family-oriented establishments need to have family washrooms, and they need to cater to as many needs as possible. There should be a small room with a change station, one stall and a sink. And the outside of the family washroom should lock. Including a chair for people who need to breast or bottle feed would be a big plus (as they can do that without locking the door to allow others in to use the facility). So in this instance, my wonderful husband who loves spending time with his daughter, could go in to the washroom, sit our daughter on the chair, lock the outside door, and go in to the stall and do what he needs to do while feeling his daughter is safe.

And to top it all off, the women’s washroom in this store had a change station, but the men’s washroom had nothing. So what is a dad, on his own, to do if the child was younger and needed a diaper change? Should he go barging in to the women’s washroom just to get access to the exclusive diaper changing table?

Let me ask you what you would do. If you were a single dad, hanging out with your three year old daughter and you were in this store with no family washroom and you had to go, what would you do? And, would you feel comfortable taking her in to the men’s washroom to stand there and wait for you? And this is even more of a personal question; what if you needed to use a stall? Would you take her in with you, or leave her out in the washroom on her own to look around?

What would you do? I’m curious because both my husband and I were at a loss as to a good scenario. (Keep in mind, this toy store had no family washroom, just women’s and men’s).

Sheri Landry
Sheri publishes, and writes at This Bird's Day where she shares all of the thoughts in her head without the voices. Sticking mainly with content for Canadians, Sheri shares family stories, product information and anything that fits into her (and her family's) daily activities.
Found in Parenting