- Make sure they are well rested
- Make sure to bring plenty of snacks
- Make them use the bathroom before leaving the house and at every convenient interval thereafter, whether they think they have to go or not. And especially if they insist they don't need to go.
These rules are not just for kids, but for dads and moms and aunts and anyone else on the outing. And they are especially important when all of your children are female and require an actual toilet to relieve themselves.
I recently was very, very pregnant, and therefore had to use the bathroom quite often. Pretty much every time I left the bathroom I needed to turn around and go back in. After my baby girl arrived I was overjoyed to have my bladder return to its former capacity. And I got cocky. One super busy day I failed to adhere to rule #3 and found myself stranded on the freeway behind a car accident trying very hard to not think about the fact that I hadn't used the bathroom in 8 hours. I recommitted to stick to rule #3 in the future.
My little sister came out to visit after Christmas and we decided to take a trip to the city. We rode BART into San Francisco with all the kids. We explored Union Square, then rode the trolley down to Fisherman's Wharf. I kept the children fed and pottied (though they continually complained, through mouths full of food, that they were starving). We had a delicious lunch, then wandered over to look at the seals on Pier 39. As we headed back toward the Musee Mechanique, we passed the fully automated, free standing bathrooms. I've always given them a wide berth, not fully understanding how they worked and fearing for their cleanliness. However, this time, despite the hordes of holiday crowds, there was no line. As I realized that it was time for a potty break, and this was our best option in the area, I decided to give it a try.
I pushed the button on the wall, and the mechanical door slid open. Leaving Maggie with my sister, with Rosie strapped to my chest in her carrier, Chloe, Addie and I entered the bathroom. It was very clean, and full of all sorts of buttons, ones to open the door and turn on the water, and a kickplate to open the door for those who prefer not to touch the buttons. However, after Chloe relieved herself, I realized there was no button to flush the toilet--it would only flush after the room had been vacated. (Cue ominous music) Since we were already in, I had Addie go. Then, remembering rule #3, I also decided to use the bathroom.
Perhaps it's better that you don't know this wasn't the first time I had used the bathroom with my baby attached to me, but I figured this was my best option for the moment. And I have often shared a stall with my girls, though every time it's a race to get my pants back up before they decide it's time to unlock the door. As I quickly did my business, the girls started getting restless. Chloe started dancing around. I watched in horror as her foot, seemingly in slow motion, banged into the kickplate. Frozen in terror, I was helpless to stop the large door from sliding open, exposing me, quite literally, to the crowd that had gathered to wait for the bathroom.
Time stopped. I aged several years as we tried to locate a button that would close the door before discovering there was no button that would close the door. The only way to close the door was to get off the pressure sensitive floor, which could only be accomplished by leaving the bathroom. And I was literally caught with my pants down. The line of people politely backed away, out of sight. I called to my sister and had her move my double stroller in front of the door to give me a little bit of a shield. And I thanked my lucky stars that I had chosen the bathroom that faced the ocean, and not the one that faced the street.
As quickly and discreetly as I could, I got my pants up and got out of there. One of the people waiting, another mom, commented on how calm I was. She said, "I would have been screaming at my daughter." Oh, I was definitely screaming inside, but I didn't want to do it out loud because I really didn't want to attract more attention. So I laughed. This was the sort of thing that could only happen to a mom, and because I've been a mom for some time now, it hardly even phased me. Easily the most embarrassing moment of my life? Yes. But was it something that in future years I would look back on and laugh about? Yes and no. Because I really couldn't do anything but laugh about it right then. It was hilarious.
Not that I want to repeat the experience anytime soon.