Let’s face it: a public restroom is a veritable landmine of things that could go wrong when you dare to enter with young children in tow. From the icky, sticky germy floor that seems to emanate a gravitational pull for little hands, to the monstrous automatic hand dryer, every second you spend in a restaurant or super store loo takes moments off a mom’s life. Here are five ways to ease the stress of using a public restroom while out with your kids:

  1. Dull the noise – Why is it that kids seem to get louder the smaller the bathroom? Is it the rad acoustics a tiny space with a tile floor and cement walls seems to create? While you can’t mute the noise completely, you can encourage your bellowing babes to take the edge off the volume. Try promising them that as soon as you get outdoors in the fresh air, they can scream as loud as they want but while you’re taking care of business, they need to keep it to a dull roar.
  2. Fend off germs – Do you feel a rising sense of panic as you watch your toddler touch the toilet seat in a public restroom? Does the feminine products disposal bin beckon to your preschooler? Why do those germy hands always seem to find their way into a mouth moments later? And WHY is the soap dispenser always empty when you need it most? While we may never learn the answers to these questions,  here’s a great tip: Carry a sample size of hand soap in your diaper bag or purse so that you never have to forgo a thorough hand wash.
  3. Lower the chances of flight risk – Kids love to open the stall door at the most inopportune times. Plus, what kid doesn’t want to catch a glimpse of what is happening underneath the door in the next stall? So that you don’t have to dive for little ankles with your pants around your own, occupy kids with a task while you finish up. Sing a favorite song quietly or ask a preschooler to count to 10. Tell a quick story. Anything to keep your child from escaping the stall too soon.
  4. Steer clear of the hand dryer – Why is every child deathly afraid of the automatic hand driers in bathrooms? Another patron innocently dries her hands just feet away, and your kid is shrieking uncontrollably before you know it! Remind your child that the drier cannot hurt him or her before you even step foot in the bathroom. Having a pre-potty prep talk can help curb a crazy meltdown.
  5. Guard the toilet paper – Most children think pulling as much toilet paper off the roll as possible is a great way to pass the time in the stall while siblings and mommy go. This is where distractions come in handy again. Songs, stories or talking about your favorite parts of the day are all good plans. Above all else, stay strong! You will survive the bathroom!