America needs to step up its game when it comes to taking care of the family. We are a world power and a first-world country, yet there are so many things about being a parent in the US which are ridiculously lacking. While I won’t get into the massive issues which need attention, I have thought of five things that all businesses should do to help parents and families. These are fairly easy to implement and can be done by most stores and restaurants. Let’s all work to make the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave a sanctuary for families, too.
Changing Tables in All Restrooms
All bathrooms need a changing table: mens and womens restrooms should all be equipped so that they can change diapers in the appropriate environment. There are countless restaurants I’ve been to (I’m looking at you, Taco Cabana) that have none at all. This is ridiculous. You can’t tell me it would break the bank to bolt a fold-out changing table in the handicapped restroom. Very little effort.
Have Kid-Friendly Carts, and Working Booster Seats/High Chairs
Carts, booster seats, and high chairs should regularly be inspected to ensure that they have working buckles and no broken parts. In general, all stores should have a cart that can seat at least one child, and all restaurants should have booster seats and high chairs.
Educate All Employees on Breastfeeding Laws
So many businesses have had employees try to intimidate or deter a woman from breastfeeding in their facility; this is not only immoral but it’s illegal. As a business owner, you’re responsible for training all of your employees. This includes the breastfeeding law. In Texas, I’m legally allowed to breastfeed anywhere I’m allowed to be – so as long as I’m not trespassing or breaking in somewhere, I can nurse without consequence.
I’ve heard about women being confronted in stores and restaurants from Target to Buccee’s to Victoria’s Secret (yes, where there are giant photos of boobs all over the place). This is ridiculous. Educate your employees, and know the law.
In addition, know the law when it comes to the rights of your employees to pump at work. This includes their compensation, venue in which to pump, etc. And hey, if you don’t bother to know the law, don’t assume that your breastfeeding employee will be as ignorant.
Ensure Someone Knows First Aid and CPR
Along with training your employees with the breastfeeding laws in your state, be sure that someone on shift knows basic first aid training including CPR. Does everyone know where the first aid kit is? What do you do in an emergency? These things are not to be overlooked.
Provide Reasonable Maternity/Paternity Leave
This really hits home with me. Most businesses currently have such insignificant maternity and paternity leave that it’s surely a joke to other first world countries. Many people can’t afford to even take their full time off, or it comes with lasting consequences.
As a Texas teacher for example, I was “allowed” to use my vacation days when I had a baby. Gee thanks. So I get to stay home when my son is born, but then if he gets sick throughout the year? I get docked pay. If I had used up some/all of my days throughout the school year before I was pregnant, I wouldn’t have days to take. And these are not days because I’m having a baby: they’re my sick/personal days.
To keep our newborn out of daycare as long as possible, I stayed home with my son for the first few weeks of the school year; when my days ran out, my husband took his teacher days off while I went back to work.
All of these issues point to the fact that we are a country obsessed with money and productivity, not of families and nurturing. It makes perfect sense to look at what helps families, and what comes naturally (like feeding a hungry baby or taking time to recover and bond with a newborn), but too many businesses don’t show this sense in their policies.
I’m hoping to raise awareness on behalf of parents and families everywhere, and I appreciate you taking the time to share this and begin dialogues with business owners around the country! Thanks for sharing and commenting!