I remember attending multiple college football games 11 years ago with my then 2-month-old son. His father was playing football, and although my son was young, we faithfully attended each game in support. As a first time mom, I’d haul a giant bag into the stadium to be prepared for anything (i.e., multiple outfit changes due to messy diapers or spit up, heavy clothes if the weather turned cold, and lots of toys to entertain). What I wasn’t prepared for was the lack of changing stations in the ladies restrooms. It’s not as if I hadn’t been out of the house—I had. Changing stations seemed readily available…until I reached the football stadium. What’s a mom to do? Usually I resorted to changing the baby in the car on a softer surface than the cement bleachers could afford.
Perhaps if I would have lodged a complaint, efforts would have been made to be more accommodating of parents with babies. But maybe what I really needed was a celebrity name to get behind my cause. Take for example Ashton Kutcher. Last Sunday, Kutcher expressed his frustration over the lack of changing stations in men’s room with a public comment on Facebook, going as far as to promise a shout out on his page to any establishment that responded that they provided the feature in their men’s rooms. As of March 12 the post from Kutcher had reached 240,000. Clearly hundreds of thousands of people felt that Kutcher was onto something.
This isn’t the first time that men have been in the spotlight with regard to diapering. Drew Brees got behind a Pampers campaign in 2010. The reason? Pampers surveyed parents and found that 69 percent of men felt that they changed diapers as often as the mother. Eleven percent said they diapered more. Mothers saw the division a little differently (only 31 percent of women felt that diapering was equal). Regardless of what the breakdown is, the fact remains that child-rearing duties seem to be more frequently shared by couples.
One week prior to Kutcher’s post, COO Sheryl Sandberg and Lean In launched a new campaign aimed at promoting more gender equality at home and in the workplace. Dwayne Johnson, Hugh Jackman, Serena Williams, and Melinda Gates have all taken to Twitter to share their tips for creating change with respect to gender equality and parenting with the hashtag #LeanInTogether.
Although my days of changing diapers have ceased, I am raising two sons and one daughter. What I hope that I can teach them is that parenting is a responsibility that two people enter into—equally. There are no duties simply reserved for males or females, but rather, each parent can do his or her part to pitch in and share the work—and joy—that comes from being a family.