Updated: Sep 9, 2021
Megan Salole is mother of 7 Year old Aurora, and we asked her to share some experiences of traveling with her young baby daughter.
Who would have thought becoming a new mum would have you thinking so much about toilets, and clean and private places to change or feed your precious wee baby. Some new parents choose to keep close to home for the first year, and others choose to be active and out and about in. This was me. In the first 9 months of our babies life, our family traveled the fullest extent of Aotearoa New Zealand - to every city and most major towns. We took her to Australia, China, Japan and then on to do a 3 month tour across the USA. Travel was our norm, and her stroller was her bed. Even when we were at home, this was where she preferred to sleep.
Being out in the world posed one major challenge. Toilets and change tables. It turned me into a bit of an activist for parents of kids in the cities. I believe cities should belong to children. We should design our cities to work for everyone - the very young, the very old, the sight impaired and sound sensitive amongst us and everyone in-between.
I made a point of asking for change facilities everywhere I went - shelling out brick bats and bouquets at every opportunity. I gave disapproving looks and comments to those businesses (and civic spaces) who fell short. I really praised those places that had thought about the experience of parents and babies (especially those who considered father's needs to change babies nappies - extra points!).
Of course, I became expert at the on one knee, under the table, in the back corridor nappy change. And if they didn't like it, I would explain to them why it mattered so much to have a clean private space available for their customers.
The world has much changing to do. I'd have hoped in the last 7 years since my babe was born and I embarked on my personal baby-change space crusade there has been much more done in this space, but I see that the pace of change is painfully slow.
So dear reader, know that while you crouch on the ground of the train station toilet floor with your beautiful recently laundered jacket between your newborn and that urine stained floor, as your wee baby does the 'startle reflex response' every time someone uses the jet engine-inspired hand-dryer... you are joining the ranks of millions of mothers before you who endured far worse humiliation and adverse conditions. We are right there with you. It sucks. We get it.
Perhaps just use these awful, awkward moments to inspire you to pen a letter to the proprietor, an email to the manager, a quick word to the waiting staff. This is precisely how change happens. Many people contributing many small actions, over time. And perhaps by the time our little ones are having their little ones, mothers (and fathers) will have something else worthy to crusade about.