A Friendlier Family Outing.

Before Abby arrived, I must admit, I never paid much attention to baby changing tables in public facilities – I just assumed, as a woman/mom there would always be one. After all, Daddy Doin’ Work (one of my favorite parenting bloggers/Internet personalities) had called into attention that more men’s restrooms should include them (or at least have a family restroom accessible), so I figured I wouldn’t have a problem when I was out and about.

Right?

Well, I don’t know if it is just where I live, but it seems – not so much. This really surprised me – I mean, I know I live in Retirementville, FL, but there are lots of grandkids around, right? And it’s not like there are no kids around at all…

So, over the past few months, I’ve started taking mental notes on the places that have friendly places for me to change Abby, other than the trunk of the car – which works, but isn’t entirely ideal, especially as it starts to get hotter out. I’ve also been talking to friends, and networking with other parents online to see what they do/what their situation is like…and the consensus seems to be this:

  • Lots of places people go don’t have changing facilities.
  • If they do, they’re dirty/unmaintained.
  • Many parents are left changing their kids in the car, outside, or in other not very comfortable positions (on laps, awkwardly in toilet stalls, etc).

This, honestly, is crazy to me. It’s not like kids, or their need to have diapers changed, is new. Additionally, people don’t really seemed phased by this either, which led me to think – am I just being a diva about this? Or, is this an actual issue that should be addressed?

So, with this thoughts bouncing around my head this past Friday, I found myself at my local mall, Westfield Sarasota Square, needing to change Abby’s diaper. Since the last time I had visited I had only shopped on one half of the mall that did not have diaper changing facilities (I had to seek one out in JCPenney), I assumed that the other one would not have one either…

But, I was wrong. WAYYY wrong!  And it was an AWESOME discovery!

This restroom area, adjacent to the mall food court and movie theater, features three distinct restroom entrances: Men, Women, and this “Family Lounge.” fam3

I was pleasantly surprised to find this, but when I entered, I was BLOWN AWAY! Where I had expected a family restroom and a changing table or two, I discovered so much more – truly a LOUNGE, including:

  • Restroom (private, with adult and kid potties and sinks)
  • Changing table area – nicely designed diaper changing tables and sinks integrated into the vanity, as well as pull out drawers for diaper/wipe disposal
  • A play area with toys, tables and a flatscreen video monitor
  • A counter area with outlets for bottle warmers
  • A Microwave
  • Three curtained/private nursing stationss
  • Comfortable seating for kids and adult
  • Easily accessible call buttons for mall security
fam2

Kids play area

fam4.jpg

Private Nursing / Feeding areas

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True Family Restroom! Large room with two potties and sinks.

Like I said, I was very happy about this set up – the way it was laid it, I felt like it was very friendly for families with kids of different ages, or even for disabled individuals and their caretakers that might need extra help in a comfortable environment.

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The facilities were very clean and well-maintained, and the decor was tasteful without being too “baby-ish” too, which I think was a nice touch.

Obviously, not every store/restaurant can devote this kind of space or resources, but it was much appreciated and enjoyed by us, and I felt like I had to share this experience!

Now, like I said, I happened to stumble upon this great set up, but I wanted to give a shout out to Westfield. The family lounge is mentioned on the site, though I really think they should talk about this more! Getting out and about with kids can be a challenge, but knowing that places like this are there to make things easier and more fun is definitely an incentive to get out of the house.

Do you find locating changing tables/family restrooms a challenge? Where are your “go-to’s” for family friendly places, or your tips for when you can’t find a good place to “go?” 🙂

This post was not sponsored by, endorsed, or compensated in any way by Westfield – I just want to give them kudos!

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