Few things are as stressful as being out and about when nature calls your little one. Getting them to use the potty at home is difficult enough without the added stress of other people’s grossness and squeezing into a tiny stall. Unfortunately, it’s just a fact of modern life that you will end up in public restrooms with your toddler more often than you’d like. Here are 10 easy steps to guide you through the trip:
1. Be as far away from the bathroom as possible when they realize they need to go.
If you’re grocery shopping and the restroom is in the front of the store, be somewhere near the back corner reading the ingredients on a carton of Ben & Jerry’s and talking on the phone with your mother-in-law. If the restroom is in the back, be outside in the parking lot trying to load your kids in the car. Actually, just be on the other side of the street and stopped at a red light. Convenience is key here.
2. Assess how badly they really need to go.
Did they just pee ten minutes ago but really want to explore an uncharted bathroom, or did Grandma just give them a Big Gulp laced with laxatives? Process the situation and decide how fast you need to run.
3. Race to the bathroom while spouting off orders like a drill sergeant.
“We will go into the bathroom and we will not touch anything. We will not look under the stalls or play with the toilet paper. We will wash hands and again you will not, under any circumstances, touch anything.”
4. Enter the bathroom and walk to the largest stall, which will be occupied by someone with diarrhea.
Sorry, it will. It’s a rule of public restrooms. Drag your kid to the next available stall while they laugh and shout, “Mommy, that lady just farted!” followed by an embarrassing comment about the way the bathroom smells.
5. Wrangle yourself and your kid(s) into a single stall and start helping them with their pants.
At this point they’ll probably decide they don’t need to go anymore. Ask them if they’re sure at least 27 times and even sit them on the toilet once to make sure, then realize you have to go and think maybe it will encourage them if you do it first.
6. Sit down to pee.
While you do this, your kid will peek under the stall at the person beside you. You’ll reprimand them and they’ll immediately shove their hand into the feminine hygiene product disposal bin and say, “Mommy, what’s this?” You’ll gag and they’ll move on to playing with the lock on the door.
7. Stand to pull up your pants while they open the door and expose you to the world.
You’re quick, but not that quick. At least you shaved last night?
8. Ask one more time if they need to go to the bathroom.
They’ll scream no and beg to wash their hands please, please, PLEASE. Hold them up to the sink while they splash water all over themselves and your pants, then try to wash your own hands while they violate every rule you’ve ever set for them.
9. Answer 17 questions.
About the trash cans, soap dispensers, and hand dryers, then exit the restroom and attempt to get on with your life. It was morning when you went in, but now you’ve only got a few minutes left before sunset.
10. Laugh to keep from crying once you get 20 feet away and your kid says, “Mommy, I have to go potty,” and then abruptly pees his pants.
(Photo: momente / Shutterstock)