Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lifts and Toilets

Earlier this week I went out for a bit, on my own, with The Creature.

We went to meet @Motherventing for some tea and cake, then to do a bit of shopping.

I learnt a lesson on that trip: shopping centres are crap for a lone parent with a big pram/buggy thing.

As an able bodied, reasonably fit, reasonably young person, I do not use lifts. I use stairs. There are many reasons for this: lifts contain lift music. Lift music is not actual music, and should be banned. Lifts also contain other people, squished together into a small space. On occasion, one of those other people will fart. Unpleasant.

My final reason for not using lifts is that I don’t know where they are. Lifts (with their terrible music and farting) are like the dirty secret which shops don’t want you to know about, so they’re hidden away. The signs that say “lifts this way” are actually a cunning ruse, and take you further from the lift.

But as a parent with a child in a pram I need to use the lift.

I lost fifteen minutes of my life looking for the lift in Marks & Spencer. I will never get that back, and I could have been using it to do something important, like eating a nice piece of cake. Or anything that wasn’t looking for a lift.

Worse still was House of Fraser. Their lifts weren’t signposted at all. I still don’t know whether there is a lift there or not, I gave up after I’d done a few laps of the floor I came in on. Well played House of Fraser, quite a subtle way of making me feel unwelcome.

Now I think of it, I don’t remember seeing any other people pushing a buggy in there. Perhaps I missed the sign saying I should shop elsewhere.

Once I’d finished the exciting business of looking for lifts the tea I had consumed earlier had made its way through the system and wanted out. The Creature was also in need of a change.

I made a discovery: changing facilities are quite often in the ladies toilets. When they are not in the ladies toilets, they are often a standalone room, without a toilet. Ha fucking ha. At least the baby got a change.

I will share something with you here. My bladder is RUBBISH. It is made more rubbish when my brain gets the opportunity to tell it that there are no toilet facilities available to it.

Question for my male readers: it’s okay to take your baby into the men’s toilets, yes? Have him next to you at the urinal? It didn’t feel like it ought to be okay, I don’t recall EVER seeing another man doing it (although my toiletiquette is perfect, so I don’t look around more than is absolutely necessary). So I thought dry thoughts and made my way back to the car.

What I wonder is how dads on their own are supposed to cope with situations where there is no baby change option outside of the women’s toilet. I suppose you can change a baby anywhere really.


  1. Where do you live? We have Bluewater shopping centre nearby. It has purpose built male, female, disabled & family toilets. The family toilets are like a mini-suite with sink, lower kiddy sink, separate cubicle with toilet & lower kiddy toilet, changing table, nappy bins & some have a feeding chair. There is also a whole room for feeding, warming bottles, heating baby food, etc. There are also easily visible lifts every few hundred yards.

    Trouble is, the whole centre is so baby/child-friendly it is constantly rammed full of prams though. Nightmare.

  2. The lifts in House of Fraser are to the left of the shophidden away with rather small signs just saing "lift" directing your way. On the top floor they are actaully by the electrical stuff. Not where you would expect to find them.
    If you need the loo then use the disabled toilets they are good for prams. At Cabbo they have really good family rooms which are more like small hotel rooms with changing facilties, a comfy seat and even a loo (with it's own door for parental privicy!). I can recommend them if you are looking for a nice day out!

  3. If I find somewhere that's acceptable in a town or city, like I have with Cambridge for example, I always plan my trips and toilet breaks, nappy changes etc, around beinf near place that's acceptable to use. In this instance, John Lewis.
    In my own town, which is much smaller, there is one pub with a baby change facility, hidden in the disabled toilets. Its clean and it's doable. Otherwise there is nowhere else. The gents public loo's in town don't have change facilities and are swimming in piss. And the other award winning loos have these rotten metal things which are cheap to install but fucking horrible and can trap fingers. Like my fingers.
    Weatherspoon pubs are usually okay. The change places are again in the disabled loos and you have to ask for the magic key behind the bar but they are clean and there are usually enough of them about to be called upon in an hour of need. However, the one in Cambridge has a little lift thing which takes you down a few steps. I had both kids in the double buggy once so carrying it down the 5 stairs was not an option. So we used this little lift, designed for disabled people. It broke down while we were in it. We were stuck for about 10 minutes as it was mid descent and the doors were locked. I've never been so embarrassed in my life.
    Good luck. In a few months time you'll be a dab hand at this and people will be asking you where the loos are. Then you'll feel like a don.

  4. If you are in Cabot circus they have brilliant changing rooms. There are 3 big rooms, with plenty of room to push the buggy in, a loo, a changing area and a nursing chair. As they are seperate rooms they aren't for ladies only. I use them all the time because you can;t get a pushchair into regular loos whilst helping a toddler to have a wee. They are on the ground floor next to house of fraser. On the left hand side of the loo corridor opposite the regular loos.

  5. Town and shopping centres CAN be an absolute nightmare, but there are certain chains that are really good. Baby change facilities are in the disabled toilets in places like ASDA, M&S, Debenhams, and a lot of pubs and restaurants/cafes. Mothercare is also always a good place to go. They have feeding rooms, changing rooms and usually have family toilets. Large shopping centres now also have family rooms - and as little un gets older you'll have a little seat to tie him down in(!) so you can pee in peace. ;)And the lift thing? Ask someone who works there - it's their job, and as part of the Disability Discrimination Act, they HAVE to have a lift if the store has two or more floors - even if they escort you in their service lift. W H Smith staff were not very happy with me last Christmas when I insisted that I be taken to the top floor (they'd just had a delivery and had to move a load of boxes) but I was choosing a gift, and it really couldn't "be fetched" for me...
    I have a friend whose husband takes their daughter into the Ladies toilets if he's out on his own with their 3 children. He's had some funny comments, but as he points out "Sorry, but 4 is not old enough to go in a toilet alone, and it's not appropriate to take her into the Gents". No-one has ever stopped him.
    As others have said, a couple of trips and you'll know where all the lifts, change facilities and baby friendly loos are - then he'll be potty training and you'll need the list of which shops will let him use their loo in an emergency!
    Good luck.

  6. Oh yes, a classic example of companies not keeping up with the fact that the modern man may actually want to change his child. If I'm ever stuck I just using the disabled loo, worst case you can put your change mat on the floor as there is more room. I also wouldnt take a push chair into the gents doesnt feel right does it?

  7. I was pleased to notice in our new hospital there is baby changing in the mens and womens toilets..a move into the 21st century at last!