A Four-Year-Old’s Guide to Using Public Restrooms

A Four-Year-Olds Guide to Public Restrooms

Hey there, my fellow preschoolers!  I consider myself an expert on public restrooms.

“What makes you an expert?”, you ask, as you casually take a sip from your juice box. I’ll tell you why:

I recently went on a trip with my family to the Black Hills. My mom estimates we visited approximately 8,437 public restrooms. Thanks to my extensive experience, I’ve got some tips and tricks for you when it comes to using them.

Never Admit You’ve Gotta Go

The first rule of being four years old is to never, ever admit you have to go to the bathroom when you are asked.

Let’s practice.

“Do you have to go potty?”

Wrong answer: “I don’t know.”

Correct answer: “No.” 

Pro tip: Keep your eyes steady when you say no. Moms can sense shifty eyes from 50 yards away.

If you do have to go to the bathroom, you can only offer this information up when it is URGENT. Ignore all other signs. It must be urgent.

Choosing the Right Moment

The best time to tell your parents is when you are in the car, in the middle of somewhere like the Badlands, where there isn’t so much as a bush to crouch behind, much less a decent bathroom. Then, from the moment you notify your grown-ups that you have to go to the bathroom, you should make frequent alarm-like sounds until one is found. Moans, high pitched screeches, and “It’s gonna come out!” are all acceptable choices.

Inside a Public Restroom

When a public restroom is finally located, here are some basic ground rules:

Port-A-Potties (a.k.a. Death Portals)

Do not trust your grown-up when they ask you to go in something called a “Port-a-Potty”. No matter how much they say it’s the only option, it is OBVIOUSLY a portal to some dark world, and you should not put so much as one Paw Patrol sneaker through that plastic doorway.

Moving Things Along

If a single stall restroom door is locked and occupied, continue knocking loudly on the door. Also, say in a loud voice, “What’s taking so long? Who’s in there? Are they pooping?!” With these strategies, the bathroom vacates quickly, and Mom’s face turns a funny pink color.


ALWAYS comment on what you smell when you enter a public restroom. The more detailed and specific you can be, the better.

You are the Narrator

Speaking of detailed and specific, let’s talk about your job once you’re in a bathroom stall with your grown-up. You are now the narrator of a one-act play called, “Using a Public Bathroom”. Use a clear, loud voice to describe everything that’s happening in the stall to your audience in the bathroom. This is theatre at its best.

Beware the Automatic Flusher

Anything I’ve ever lost in my life – stickers, Duplos, Happy Meal toys, that Goldfish cracker I was saving for later– I’ve lost to the automatic flusher.

Privacy Shmivacy

Open the door to the stall as quickly as possible after going to the bathroom. You need to see what’s happening in the rest of the bathroom! Or, swing it back and forth for a nice breeze when it’s Mommy’s turn.

Also, those gaps between the stall doors are what I like to call, “Neighbor Cracks”. It’s a fast and easy way to get to know someone new – plus, it can really add to your play-by-play commentary.

Washing Your Hands

First of all, prepare yourself for “The Hoist”. The counters in public restrooms are, on average, 64 feet high. Your mom or dad will unceremoniously grab you around the waist and hoist you against the counter to wash your hands.

If you can get comfortable enough in your dangling countertop position, this is a good time to play in the water and soap. Really contemplate your fingernails. Take your time, enjoy life, and remind Mommy (whose arms are beginning to shake as she holds you up) that your preschool teacher wants you to do a good job washing your hands.

Drying Your Hands

Finally, you’re ready to dry your hands. For hand dryers – please see my previous comments about Port-A-Potties and automatic flushers.

The Automatic Paper Towel Dispenser Game

Rules of Play

A paper towel comes out. Tear off the paper towel.

Another paper towel appears; you take it, too.

Repeat ad nauseum.

Manage to make the dispenser run out and you win the game!

Finishing Strong

Finally, when you’re ready to leave the bathroom, be sure to touch at least three surfaces on the way out with your whole hand. I suggest the trash can, the floor, and the door handle.

Then you can skip your way back to the car, ready for another 37 minutes before your next fun visit to a public restroom.

Make sure you never miss out on a parenting or community-related blog post: sign up to receive Cedar Rapids Moms posts in your inbox.  While you’re at it, join our VIP List to ensure you’re one of the first to know about upcoming Cedar Rapids Moms events and promotions!!


3 Tips for Spring Allergy Management

As the vibrant colors of spring emerge, so do seasonal allergies, casting a shadow over the joy of the season for many. Here are 3 practical tips and strategies for moms and children to...

Spring Community Garage Sales in the Cedar Rapids Area

Spring in Cedar Rapids brings not only blossoming flowers and warmer breezes but also the eagerly awaited season of community garage sales. These local gatherings go beyond mere shopping opportunities, serving as lively reflections...

5 Tips for Container Gardening with Your Toddler

We’re officially in gardening season. Now, my thumb isn’t as green as I’d like it to be, but I still enjoy it. I’ve grown everything from strawberries, jalapenos and tomatoes to purple heirloom peppers,...

Thrift Stores & Consignment Shops | In & Around Cedar Rapids

Discover Cedar Rapids' vibrant thrift stores and consignment shops, bustling with treasures waiting to be found. As spring approaches, indulge in the tradition of refreshing your space by selling unwanted clothes and uncovering new...

5 Instagram Accounts to Follow for New Moms

Bringing home a baby, whether it be your first, second, or fifth is so exciting; and oh-so exhausting. During those middle-of-the-night feedings, or when you are finding yourself nap-trapped during the day with your...


  1. Lindsay!!! You literally had me laughing out loud! So much truth – as soon as I read Black Hills… I knew this was your post! You are hilarious!

    FYI – nothing much changes at 5 – except they start to gain some understanding and answer those same questions out loud!

Comments are closed.

Join our community.
Be the first to know about new resources, can't-miss happenings, and new blog articles! 
Yay, we're so glad you're here! Keep an eye on your inbox