The Taking Boys in the Women’s Bathroom Dilemma


Public Restrooms. Ick. Ick. Ick.  I avoid them at all costs, but sometimes when you’ve been out all day, you have no choice.

Which leads me to a dilemma when I’m out and about with the boys.  Usually I’m comfortable with them going as a group or in pairs at this age (they just turned six) if they need to goHowever, I’m unsure of what to do with them when it’s my turn. {I know I just sunk to a new low by making a blog post about my bathroom habits.  But just “flush” this out with me…}

Do I take them all in with me and have them huddle next to the hand dryers and dodge a few nasty looks from strangers {who apparently have never been in the same dilemma}? 

Do I have them stand outside the door together? 

Do I start wearing Depends when I’m on the go?

No really…what is  socially appropriate for this age and a sound safety decision for this age?   I don’t worry about them wondering off…I think being multiples is to their advantage on this one, since we’ve stressed from so young that they HAVE to stay together. However, it makes me uneasy to not be able to hear/see them for a few minutes.  Is this just me being overprotective?  Does it make YOU uncomfortable when there are young boys in the restroom while you are behind the stall?

I’d love your input and advise for public bathroom with boys protocol. And thanks for allowing me to “relieve” some of my thoughts…


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24 thoughts on "The Taking Boys in the Women’s Bathroom Dilemma"

  1. Amy says:

    I wouldn’t think twice about taking the boys into the ladies room. I do agree with the “safety in numbers” but the world is so different from when we grew up, you just never know what kind of wacko is lurking around. I think making a stranger mildly uncomfortable for a few minutes is a much better option than something happen to them. And if other ladies give you nasty looks, they apparently don’t have children and/or don’t watch the news! 🙂

  2. RobinS says:

    This is a dilemma for those of us caring for aging parents (with dementia) also. And we don’t have the option of letting Dad hang out by the hand dryers. I’m a strong advocate for “family bathrooms” in public places.

    1. QuatroMama says:

      Robin, I had not even considered this scenario…I’m glad you brought this to our attention. I admire you so much for taking such great care of your dad. Family bathrooms are SUCH a great idea…just wish there were more of them!

  3. Stephanie says:

    My boys are only 4 so I haven’t really had this problem yet. Our public pool has a sign on the locker room/bath room doors that says something like this, “Children of the opposite gender kindergarten age and younger only.”

  4. Ellen says:

    I have 3 little boys- ages 6, 3, and 18 months, and I always take them with me to the bathroom. I think 6 is still a little young to leave a child outside the bathroom while you’re in there. Most women should understand why a 6-year-old boy is in the bathroom, especially if you live in a city. If they don’t understand, they need to, and I wouldn’t feel bad if you get a dirty look. But I am thinking I may need to leave the oldest outside the door when he’s 7. He’s got a powerful set of lungs, and he could scream if something happened… This is a tough one.

  5. Lisa~ says:

    I don’t have quads, but my last 4 are boys and I always take them in with me when I had to go. The oldest of that set is now 14, so he gets to stay right outside the door and not move. But the rest still go in with me…even the 11 year old.

    I told a lady once when she scoffed at my little boys in the bathroom, “I’m sorry if it makes you uncomfortable, but I place their safety over your comfort.” (And by the way, why did she care? They weren’t watching her pee!)


  6. I take my boys in with me. We just take over the bathroom. Family or handicapped stalls are best, but you make due with what you’ve got, and if that’s a full bladder, you go! I don’t mind if anyone else’s kids are in there either. I love what Lisa said, their safety is much more important than anyone else’s comfort.

  7. Janel says:

    My oldest son is 8 and I make him come into the bathroom with me. If we are at a place I trust I do let him go to the bathroom by himself. The 4 and 2 year old always come with me to. We love family restrooms.

  8. Jen Deniston says:

    I think it is a personal call on your part. It has to be what you’re comfortable and what your kids are comfortable with. Since there are more than one, I think they would be okay to wait outside. We have talked with our seven year old twins about what to do if someone tried to do something to them (They like to go to the restroom by themselves at restaurants.) I know I am probably too trusting, but I have to have some faith in my kids and in humanity. I don’t want my kids to fear the unknown. Moms look out for each other’s kids too, whether they are asked or not. 🙂

  9. Rosalind says:

    i take them with me (ages 5 & 6). if someone doesn’t understand, too bad.
    not trying to be mean but i care more about my kids than them having a problem with it. like someone else said….not like they are in an open room and my children are watching them potty!

  10. Josephine says:

    Personally I think it depends on the situation! Some places we are comfortable and my son goes solo or stands by the hand dryers while I go…other places not so much! He comes with me…into the stall! I work hard at finding family bathrooms. When we travel we take the whole family into the family bathrooms, and NOBODY is ever left alone (but I’m paranoid about that!) good luck on your decision!!

  11. Anne says:

    A couple of years ago, a pedophile took a girl from the children’s section of our library, locked himself and the child in the bathroom, and molested the little girl until it was discovered the girl was missing and they could break down the bathroom door. Since that time, I never leave my children alone in public places. If I go to the bathroom, they come with me. My oldest boy just turned six. I do not let him go into the men’s room by himself. Maybe I’m a little paranoid, but I’m okay with that. 🙂

  12. Corrina says:

    At age 6 it was not a problem for me to take either of my boys to the ladies room. I never had another woman give me a second glance, my boys were singletons almost 6 years apart and no way would I have let one of them go to the men’s room alone at age 6 or wait outside for me.

    Like Robin I have the issue of caring for someone who has medical problems. Clifford is nearly 16 and while he can wait outside the bathroom for me when I go, he often can’t navigate a public restroom by himself. I do get dirty looks now and in one instance a restuarant employee came to “check” the restroom while we were there. His orientation and mobility teacher is working with him on navigating public restrooms on his own now.

  13. my hubby has this problem when he is out with out 5.5 year old girl. women’s bathrooms are easier with boys b/c there are stalls. what is he to do when he’s alone with her? the men’s is OUT…there is NO WAY i want her exposed to all the men all out in the open. but he can’t go into the women’s. FAMILY BATHROOMS are a NEED!!! for some many scenarios! you do what you have to…personally i wouldn’t care what anyone thought.

    one problem i did have was boys in the women’s locker at the Y with thier moms changing them. that was ackward…b/c up to the 3 year olds the moms where changing them out in the open. it traumatized my daughter for awhile. 🙁

  14. however if they had changed in the provided stalls/dressing rooms we wouldn’t have had a problem.

  15. Crystal says:

    This stance might not be popular, but statistically there is no safer time to be a kid in America than now. Crimes rates are at their lowest in decades. The reason we see so many kidnapping/abducting stories on the news is because they prey on people’s worst fears and sell air time and are so rare. The VAST majority of abductions are by family members/trusted friends. True stranger kidnappings are incredibly rare, thankfully.

    So my two cents: do what works for you. You have 4 boys who stick together and obey. If you want to leave them outside the restroom while you go, that’s fantastic. If you feel you should take them in, then that’s okay, too. Trust them and yourself. You’re doing great! 🙂

  16. Allison says:

    I have three boys ages 5, 4, and 18 mos and I’m amazed I haven’t come upon this problem yet — perhaps I just don’t go out enough! My oldest will be 6 in a few days and I already let him go to public restrooms by himself. I almost never fear for his safety — even in a big city — what I worry about most is him not washing his hands! But usually when I need to go, I am with a friend or my husband who can watch the oldest boys while I run in to the restroom.

    It sounds like you have four well-behaved boys you trust to stay together. If I were in your position I would leave them outside the door or at a designated place close by, especially if you are going in for a quick moment. Feel free to do what feels best for you, but I think fears of kidnapping are unfounded. I agree with what Crystal said above. We live in a broken world, where bad things do happen, but I also don’t want my kids to mistrust every single person they “don’t know.” It’s a balance.

    Once I did have a cart full of groceries with two kids in the cart and the oldest standing by and I had to really go to the bathroom — and since I am in that store frequently, I asked an employee to stand with them. It was that bad of an emergency! But she had a great time talking to my kids and now knows them by name when we visit! Even if you are out by yourself, perhaps there might be someone (another mom, etc.) who you could ask to keep an eye on them while you run in if you feel uncomfortable leaving them alone. We do live in community, even if we don’t always know each other’s names like they do in my small hometown.

  17. Tracey says:

    It doesn’t bother me one bit to see boys with their moms in the bathroom.

  18. Tara says:

    I am a nanny for two boys ages 4 and 8. I take them in the bathroom with me and put them in their own stalls and they know they are bit allowed to come out until I stand outside their door. Yeah we take over most bathrooms but it keeps them safe and that is the most important thing to me.

  19. Sarah says:

    This is an issue that I have thought a lot about. Mostly I have questions.

    First, what I don’t question is that it is actually safer now than when we were kids ( Statistically your boys are more likely to be hit by lighting than be kidnapped. And the few kids that are kidnapped? Mostly done by family members or people they already know. The most dangerous thing you do on an outing is driving your kids there!

    Our culture has changed/is changing into a culture driven by fear (just read the comments above!).

    How as a Christian am I supposed to respond?

    Am I living a life driven by fear of man or love of God (and His people)? Where is the balance of trusting God with my children and being wise in my care for them? Is it wise/loving to view every man as a potential paedophile and every person as a potential kidnapper? How does my view of/actions towards strangers bring glory to God—particularly in front of my children? How do I teach my kids to love their neighbour when I tell them they can’t trust anyone around them except Mom and Dad? Am I being prideful (and not trusting in the Lord) to assume that my children are ONLY safe under my direct supervision? Am I being overprotective (paranoid) because that is the culture or because I take my responsibility as a mother seriously? Are my actions helping to build community or inadvertently tearing down trust between neighbours? Do I love my kids so much that I am “bubble wrapping” them from life’s potential hurts instead of trusting God to care for them (In action do I think I can do it better than God)?

    These are some of the sincere questions I wrestle with.

    I would love to hear what you finally decide to do and how you reached your conclusion.

  20. Richelle says:

    I have two kids; a boy and a girl who is 18 months younger than her brother. I will admit to taking my son to customer service to be “watched” while I handled his sister’s (and my) washroom needs. I will also admit to sending my son into the men’s room alone while I stood at the door making loud (and possibly awkward) conversation with him. My son thought it was hilarious until he decided it was embarrassing. There was the time that he needed “help” while in the men’s room…. I had another customer notify customer service of an “incident” in the men’s room that required immediate attention, and when the store manager showed up, I had him clear the men’s room and stand guard so I could go in.

    And then I got smarter. I would holler into the women’s rest room, notifying everyone that I was about to enter with my two children and they should “speak now or forever hold their pee”. I carried a laminated sign that I then posted on the washroom door that said “I have a son and because this store does not provide the option of a family washroom, he is in here with me. We’ll just be a few minutes. Please don’t mind us.” I had another one that said essentially the same thing, but ended with “your perception is less traumatic than his puddle”.

    Anyway, there are now a couple of family washrooms in stores that didn’t used to have them, but now my son is 12. A lot of good they’ll do me now! 😉

  21. Chelsa says:

    my oldest is 8 and my youngest is 3! it is awkward to take my 8 yr old in the bathroom with me, but there is NO WAY i’m leaving him alone outside the restroom and my 3 yr old is too young to leave them together. i say to everyone who is giving dirty looks to get a life! give yourself grace- you are doing the best thing for your kids by taking them with you. i work in the prosecutor’s office (of our very small county) and i’m just amazed at the horrible things that happen to children. i in no way want to endanger my children’s lives for any reason (as I’m sure you don’t or you wouldn’t of written this post!).

    the dilemma’s of being a “boy mom” : )

  22. I have no problem with moms bringing their little boys into the bathroom. I think 9 or 10 is big enough to wait outside the door, but 6, no. My 6 year old is quite mature, but there’s no way I’m leaving him in the hall on his own. No way.

    And to the person who says kids are more likely to be struck by lightening… I keep my kids indoors when it storms. Just like I take them into the bathroom with me in public places where they are likely to be taken advantage of.

    My husband works with the local police station. I used to be a lot more lax about watching my kids, but since his involvement there I’ve cracked down on protecting them in public places.

  23. momtaxijulie says:

    I took my son in the bathroom with me until HE felt uncomfortable with it. Now he stands outside the door and waits for me with firm instructions to stay there (he’s 10).

    I wouldn’t worry about other people. I’ve never had anyone say anything. Anyone that has a problem with it is just plain dumb.

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