WHY WE NEED FAMILY ROOMS FOR DADS
I recall when our son was just over a year old and we ventured down to Durban on our first long road trip as a family. Everything was great until it was time for us to change our son’s nappy. We stopped off at the Engen 1Stop filling station halfway to Durban and a bit of a leg stretch. We were disappointed to learn that although there is a change room, it’s definitely for moms only to change the baby’s nappy, as it’s within the ladies loo. Dads, like us wanting to change their child, are expected to find their own solution. How unfortunate! We ended up having to change our son on the back seat of the car. A few trips later and it’s sad that nothing has changed.
It’s not only the filling stations on long trips that are a challenge. For the longest time, it’s always been mom’s that did the raising of our children, while dad brought home the “bacon” aka money. Times have changed and more and more men are more actively involved in the raising of children today.
— danniel badillo (@oscar_danniel) October 26, 2018
As life demands more from married couples in order to maintain a level of standard that they were accustomed to as individuals, so has the realisation from men that they need to be more active when raising their children compared to the dads of the years gone by. Men are changing nappies, because they want to be more involved in the raising of their own children, or perhaps because the wife expects more from him. Men are raising children alone or in same-sex relationships too.
For a moment imagine you’re a dad at the local mall with your nappy bound baby or toddler, but like Donte Palmer from the infamous photo that went viral in 2018, in many instances, you have no changeroom to change your child’s soiled nappy. You’re expected to “make a plan bru” … uncomfortable as it may be for both dad and child, you’re forced to either ignore the soiled nappy for longer than you should, or you make a plan. None of these scenes involves you changing your child’s nappy in the men’s loo on a nappy changing table. Why?
A dad has children that are a little older. Primary school age. As a dad, you can’t take your child in with you into the men’s toilet. Your child is a girl child. She’s not comfortable anymore in going into the men’s toilet. Or she goes in with you, but all the cubicles are full. Mom’s not with you or dad. S/he’s at home or elsewhere. What’s a father to do? With the number of horrible incidents reported in the media of harm towards children, parents are extremely paranoid about sending their kids into public toilets on their own. So, what exactly should dads do?
On June 10, Pampers announced adding 5,000 changing tables in public restrooms by 2021, in the USA and Canada. They have partnered with popular changing table company Koala Kare to install these nappy changing tables at parks and recreation centres, community centres and libraries. Pampers are calling the initiative #LoveTheChange in response to Palmer’s original hashtag #squatforchange and have partnered with Donte Palmer too, as well as dad musician John Legend, to help spread the word. It’s a great start for the US and Canada. Will the rest of the world see the need to follow suit?
.@Pampers has committed to installing 5000 @KoalaKare changing stations in public restrooms, but we want more. For every person who posts a special moment w/ their kids using #LoveTheChange, Pampers will contribute toward installation of additional changing tables #PampersPartner pic.twitter.com/G2Ew4YNtFz
— John Legend (@johnlegend) June 13, 2019
December 2017, South African dad blogger Don from The Don Father began the #includedads initiative. In his words, the initiative is an effort to challenge malls in South Africa to get on board and change their parking signage to include dads. Through the use of the hashtag, Don hopes to inspire other parents and add a voice for dads when it comes to parking signs across South Africa. Often, dads today are accompanied by their children varying in age to restaurants, shopping centres etc. Have you noticed how almost every mall or shopping centre you visit has a parking bay for moms with kids? Yet dads with kids are expected to park with the masses.
— The Don Father (@thedonfathersa) December 1, 2017
I’m all for adding nappy changing counters in the men’s toilets and parking bays that are unisex as long as you’re a parent with a baby or toddler, but we need more! These two amazing initiatives are the bare essentials for dads to be able to comfortably support their wives or husbands. There is however a need for more. Like I mentioned above, more malls, and the likes of Engen 1Stop and Shall Ultra City stations, Food Courts need to have unisex or family toilets with a changing counter too. Karabo Motsiri one of the editors at Parenty highlights it too in her post. The need to accommodate dads doesn’t stop at changing nappies or parking bays closer to the entrance, dads need to be thought of a little longer. Up until the child is in grade 3 it’s very likely that as a parent you will need to accompany them to the toilet, for your own sanity. Family toilets will allow the parent of the opposite sex to comfortably accompany their child to the toilet without them or the child feeling awkward about it. Install the family toilet so that at any one time only one set of parent-child can be in it without interruption or being surprised by the door suddenly opening.
This needs to become the norm not the exception for the safety of our children and the sanity of all parents regardless of their marital status.
Bravo @KyalamiCorner on your gender neutral toilets 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽
— Two Dads and A Kid (@twodadsandakid) March 24, 2019
In addition to Kyalami Corner, special mention too, to Ocean Basket at Montecasino for being inclusive with gender-neutral signage at the baby changing room and Cresta Shopping Centre for remembering that dads too, spend time at the mall with their kids, while mom takes a break at the SPA or takes a well-deserved break, so a little extra space to get the baby and toddlers out the car is welcomed. Bravo! Bravo!
👏🏽 👏🏽 @TheOceanBasket for having an inclusive loo with a nappy change table, allowing moms and dads to accompany their kids regardless of gender, until the kids are old enough to go into public loos alone!#includedads #SquatforChange pic.twitter.com/9Q5KeMa2oP
— Two Dads and A Kid (@twodadsandakid) June 30, 2019
New York has passed a new law (2019) that requires all new or renovated buildings in New York with public toilets to include changing tables for both men and women, surely South Africa or at the very least our main cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and adapt too? Or is that too much to ask?
Featured Image Source: www.abc.net.au