It was 5:30 pm so naturally it was pitch dark since it was December in the Pacific Northwest. We were driving back home to Seattle from our week-long getaway to the Oregon Coast.
We were somewhere just outside of Portland and got off the highway while I searched for the closest city park on my phone. To avoid crowds, we had been stopping at parks for our rest stops. Our pandemic baby hasn’t been inside anywhere other than our house, her grandparents’ house and the pediatrician’s office so her next indoor adventure was not going to be a dirty rest stop bathroom! (Plus, picnic tables make for great changing tables!)
I found a park and navigated us to it. We made a few turns and found ourselves going down a narrow road into the park that was situated along a river. It was completely dark except for the one lamp post shining a dim light next to the brick bathroom facility. We had to drive the entire circumference of the park — it was designed to be one-way — to get to the bathroom. There was another car parked there. Everything felt super creepy. There was also no picnic table or anywhere ideal to change our baby’s diaper outside.
“This is creeping me out. Is someone even in that car?” I asked out loud, but not really expecting an answer from Bryce.
We decided to leave.
As we exited the park, I looked back down at my phone and noticed there was a high school nearby. A high school should be well lit, right? Maybe there is an outside picnic table?
We made our way to the school and parked in a smaller side parking lot of the school. There was a sign in front of the doorway to the closest building — yes, this high school had multiple buildings! — that read: Auxiliary Gym Entrance.
This seemed acceptable slash good enough for a diaper change. It was well lit. There was no one else around. There were steps leading up to the building’s entrance with quite a lot of space in the doorway area. (By space, I mean a fairly clean-looking platform of concrete.)
Bryce carried the baby in her car seat with the diaper bag hanging over his shoulder and Keekaroo under one arm as he went to the “changing station.” I told him I could help but he said he was good. (And, yes, we know a Keekaroo isn’t really meant to be for travel but, hey, it worked in this situation. If you don’t know what a Keekaroo is and are going to have a baby in the future or know someone who will, please look into it and thank me later.)
I stayed with our dog in the car … that is until our baby started crying. I ran over and tried to console her while Bryce finished changing her diaper. She was probably wondering why she was taken out of the warmth of the car to outside where it was cold. I would be crying for the same reason! Our (usually needy) dog just starred from the car window. I was proud that she didn’t whine or cry out. (I’m talking about the dog here.)
We were in and out of the school parking lot in less than 10 minutes. As we drove away, a truck drove past us and I saw it turn into the school parking lot. What good timing we had!
Can I mark “changing baby’s diaper in front of Auxiliary Gym Entrance” as a parenting hack? Is anyone else tired of hearing everything called “a hack” when 99.9 percent of the time it’s just doing something based off of common sense and/or efficiency? OK, maybe that’s a blog post for another time.
But, really, sometimes you just have to be creative and surreptitious when it comes to changing your baby’s diaper — especially while traveling.