Lady's Bathroom Survival Tips for Stay-at-Home Dads Who Don't Stay at Home
I have been a stay-at-home dad for over ten years and I have a confession to make: stay-at-home dads do not stay at home. Oh sure, we’re home in the morning when the wife goes to work and home in the evening with dinner ready when she returns, but in between we are pretty much out of the house with a child in tow either visiting the pediatrician, shopping for food, going to the park or looking for yet another new tool at Sears Hardware because guns are not allowed in the house.
Stay-at-home dads know that being out of the house is a good health decision on par with eating broccoli, drinking 6-8 glasses of water and avoiding daytime talk TV. Plus, most accidents happen inside the home, so it’s just a matter of simple statistics that the more time you spend outside the home, the safer it is for you and your kids.
However, the down side to being away from home means that you are also away from your bathroom. Tiny bladders and too much fluids (remember now, we are on that recommended 6-8 glasses of daily water-boarding treatment) means that unless you want the hairy eyeball from every mom who hears your child wailing, “Daddy, I need to go potty NOW!” you have to either beat a hasty retreat home, buy a toy to distract their bladder, or decide on whether to use the nearest ladies’ or men’s room.
Choosing the sex of a bathroom is not easy:
Guys don’t flush. The seats are up—which is a good sign, but requires touching the seat to lower it. The seats are down—which is a bad sign and requires a look into the next stall. And the writing on the stall walls is full of curse words. But, you are a guy and it is the men’s room.
In the ladies bathroom the toilets are flushed. The seats are almost always down, which I have yet to figure out the why of the “almost” part. And the writing on the stall walls is in cursive. But, you are a guy and IT IS the ladies room.
The deal breaker, however, is typically how you personally feel about some dude or dude-ette walking in on you while you are helping your child take care of their business. My personal experience has been that choosing the ladies room is the lesser of evils. Most women will wait until your child is done. Some will offer to help - especially if you appear particularly inept or clueless on what to do. And only a rare few will call for Security.
However, if you just have to have complete privacy to get through this, here are a few tips I’ve figured out that will help you avoid or lessen the embarrassment:
• Some restrooms have a cleaning closet nearby. Block the restroom door with the cleaning bucket and mop—it works like a magic barrier.
• Make a big X with duct tape across the doorway—most people will turn around and go somewhere else.
• Write “Out of Order” on a piece of paper and tape it to the door.
• Get a yellow tape that reads “Crime Scene” on it and place it across the doorway.
• Ask an employee to “guard” the door until you are done.
• Hire an Au Pair (my favorite choice).
• Get a job and let mom be the one to stay at home (not my favorite choice).
The point of this (with the exception that guys tend to wuss out when it comes to bathroom issues) is that when nature calls, an empty bladder is a happy and a healthy child. Prolonging “holding back” is a risk for a urinary tract infection and can make “going” outside of the home a needlessly stressful event for a child. It’s okay to be a stay-at-home dad and be slightly embarrassed by some of this child care stuff. And yes, your kid is absolutely guaranteed to say, “That’s not the way mommy does it!” But when you are a stay-at-home dad who does not stay at home, it’s just part of the job. And I love my job.