Why are changing tables relegated to women’s restrooms? Changing diapers isn’t women’s work, and besides, not all families have a mom.
Changing your baby or toddler’s diaper isn’t fun stuff, but it’s necessary for her health and happiness. The good news: Moms can almost always find a changing station in the women’s restroom. The bad news: Dads often cannot. If your partner is out with your diaper-clad tot and she needs changing, Dad is often simply screwed.
Having a changing table available is pretty necessary in a public restroom, especially if it’s a place that families can and do frequent. But the fact that they are often relegated to the “girls’ room,” or the more modern family restroom, is pretty much bull-crap. It helps perpetuate the notion that changing diapers, and as an extension, taking care of kids, is women’s work.
I know that some places do have changing tables in the men’s room. This is amazing. But so many other public places really need to get with it. While men may have not been as active in parenting in past generations as they are now, it doesn’t make sense to continue to leave them out of the equation when it comes to diaper-changing in public.
Take Megan, for example. She works one day a week while her 1-year-old daughter hangs out with Daddy all day, and her husband has definitely run into this problem. “He changes her on benches in the mall, or in the car if it’s not cold,” she tells me. “Over the summer, I was getting tattooed at a convention on the beach. There were no tables in the men’s room of course and he changed her on a bench on the boardwalk.”
What’s a guy supposed to do? “This has happened to David many times,” shares Ashley, mom of four. “He just resorts to changing the kid in our car in a parking lot. Not the ideal place, but better than laying them on a nasty bathroom floor.” While there are other options and they will all work in a pinch, none of these scenarios are ideal.
I know that it’s not a perfect world, and some places specifically make it a point to not cater to parents with small kids (restaurants that have no high chairs and ban strollers, for example). But if a place is going to have a changing table in the restroom for women and not for men, it just doesn’t make practical sense and continues to contribute to the ridiculous notion that only women can wipe a baby’s butt.