A person running towards the restroom with their arm stretched out in a panic reaching motion.

The Family Bathroom... Lessons from the Stall

You know the feeling. You must find a restroom, now.

Except, you’re not alone.

You have a little one with you - a baby, a toddler, or even someone under the age of 10. You have not just your own stuff, but theirs too - another bag, cups and snacks, a stroller or baby carrier, and to top it all off, they’re very engaged with the toy they just spotted on the shelf.

This was me, last week, at Target with my almost-two-year-old daughter.

Running to the bathroom with a toddler

The ‘drop everything and run to the bathroom’ situation looks and feels different now. It comes with extra stress, and I definitely found myself both clenching my butt cheeks AND sweating as I tried to hustle everything into place.

We got to the restroom, only to find that the handicapped stall was not big enough for the stroller, which I had forced my daughter back into.

Needing to use the family restroom and having to wait

Across the hall, I’d seen a family bathroom sign.

As we un-gracefully darted from the far end of the row of stalls out the door, I was starting to feel more desperate. I couldn’t let my little girl out of my sight, but I also didn’t have much time to get my behind onto a toilet.

I pulled the handle for the family bathroom, and panic started to set in when it was locked. I knocked, and heard “someones in here.”

I was then tasked with squatting down next to my daughter's stroller, explaining to her that we had to wait, and keeping her from getting frustrated about the delay, while at the same time trying to assess how much longer I had before an accident occurred.

Panicked about having an accident in the store

My heart rate was escalating, and my panic was setting in when the door finally opened.

As the individual left the restroom, I nearly pushed him aside as I hurried in, pulling the stroller behind me and racing to get my pants down in time.

As I sat on the toilet making a decent amount of noise, my daughter looked a bit bewildered. Between deep breaths and sighs of relief, I explained in terms she’d understand that I was okay and that I just really had to go to the bathroom.

Because of the pandemic, I haven’t really been taking my daughter out much. As such, I was incredibly out of practice with managing my IBD and my toddler at the same time, alone.

My recommendations for managing IBD in public with a toddler

Here are recommendations I want to give to other IBD parents so when you’re faced with the situation, you’re more prepared than I was:

  1. Locate the restroom when entering the building/store, so you're able to find it in a hurry if necessary.
  2. If you're in the middle of the store, and your kiddo is looking at or interested in something, let them play with it on the way to the restroom. Most stores require you to leave merchandise outside the bathroom, but you can "wave goodbye" and then "say hello" again.
  3. If your child is in a stroller, offer them something to occupy them while you're in the restroom. To be completely honest, I handed my daughter my phone so she could play while I pooped without having to answer too many questions.
  4. Remember that kids diaper bag supplies can double for IBD backups - wet wipes and hand wipes specifically.
  5. If worse comes to worst & time is of the utmost essence, consider leaving your stroller or shopping cart, grabbing your purse/valuables and your kiddo, and darting off to the bathroom.
  6. Try to manage your outward signs of distress. Little kids can pick up on this, and reassuring them while you're trying to avoid an accident can be very difficult.

What other tips would you add below?

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