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Holidays and day trips with small kids can be exhausting even under the best of circumstances. Doing them with a 2.5 year old who’s just started potty training and a five year old who struggles with constipation is an even bigger challenge. Never has knowing where you’ll find the next public toilet or changing room been so important!

Bethan, who works in ERIC’s fundraising team, should know. She gives us the lowdown on how to plan a day out with the kids that isn’t spoiled by little accidents.

Bethan knows a thing or two about days out with little kids

I’ve been on a couple of trips with my family this summer – to the seaside in Dorset and to London – and we’ve had to do a fair bit of planning to make them as stress-free as possible.

Preparation is vital. Going armed with the right equipment, knowing where the toilets are and having strategies for managing little crises while keeping a cool head are all vital!

Choosing a toilet friendly destination

Choosing a destination for a fun day out or holiday break and making sure there will be the right kind of toilets available don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

Heading out into the wonders of nature and having to manage spontaneous trips behind bushes for a wild wee – or a wild worse – isn’t my idea of fun. Towns and cities it is then. Plenty of museums, libraries, cafes, shopping centres and fast food places where it’s easy to duck in and use the facilities for free.

Finding out where the toilets are

Finding out if there will be enough toilets where you’re going is thankfully quite easy with the Internet. There are toilet finding apps and maps galore and a quick Google search will usually tell you what you need to know. What they can’t tell you of course is if the toilet will be clean, stocked with toilet paper, or even in working order.

Take a look the London Transport Toilet Map, Newcastle Use Our Loo Scheme, and the Great British Public Toilet Map.

Things you’ll need to take

Going armed with the right equipment helps. This is some of the stuff we lugged around on our recent trip to London.

  • Wet wipes
  • Kids training toilet seat
  • Stickers (to use as rewards)
  • Chocolate buttons (bribes)
  • Pull ups
  • Spare pants
  • Spare clothes
  • Bottle of water

OK, so we didn’t carry the toilet seat around all day – but it was helpful to have it in the hotel room. So both of the kids could both have a relaxing sit on the loo without me holding them up by their armpits or worrying that I’d hear them. We just didn’t have space to take a step because we went on the train, so we improvised with an upturned waste paper bin so they could both support their feet and have the right position for sitting on the loo.

Both our kids have got their own rucksacks and giving them some of the ‘stuff’ to carry round takes a bit of the weight off our shoulders and lets them be ‘in charge’.

When it all goes wrong…

Even with the best preparation, managing trips out with a child who has a condition like chronic constipation can just be so hard it feels like it’s barely worth the effort. Having to run to a toilet every 20 mins for nothing to happen or constantly having to make pit stops to change underwear or clothes can be exhausting and frustrating. Being with friends or family who aren’t aware of your child’s condition or don’t fully appreciate what’s happening all adds to the stress.

Sometimes, when things are really bad, a big family day out to a fun destination is just too big an operation and a trip to the local park is about as ambitious as you can hope for.

Let us know how you deal with days out

How do you prepare for a day out or holiday with the kids? Does worrying about finding a loo take over your day too? I’d love to hear from you, so leave me a comment below.