The Mother’s Lounge

Posted by on February 15, 2013 in women | 19 comments

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend from my ward about feminism.  She felt uncomfortable applying that word to herself (as many do) but said if there was one thing she would push for, it would be changes in the mother’s lounge.  I said I would fully support her and help push for changes, as I am one of the ward’s most squeaky wheels. I don’t have children myself and have only been in that room a handful of times, mostly when a nursing mom who works with me in my calling needed to have a meeting and have privacy to nurse.  We brainstormed a list of things we thought we could do to improve the facilities.  Our room is the size of a utility closet and has a counter, sink, and paper towel dispenser.  It has the usual diaper pail the church provides, a covered trash can that is inadequate to keeping the place from smelling terrible.  It also has two old upholstered rocking chairs that are really filthy and unappealing.  The walls are stark white, and the two lighting options are glaring fluorescents or pitch black.  Here are our ideas so far:

Problem: It smells like poop

Solution: Diaper genie

 

Problem: Babies can easily roll off the counter

Solution: Changing pad

 

Problem: It is a tiny room with two chairs and we have at least six nursing women in our ward alone, with two other units sharing the building.

Solution: At least provide cushions for the women who are currently sitting on the floor to nurse.  It is sad to me that this is even a request, but it is still an improvement on standing or the hard floor.

 

Problem: The chairs are visibly filthy, worn out, and disgusting to the touch

Solution: New chairs that rock, are soft,  and are clean.

 

Problem: Washing hands repeatedly dries them out and not all women remember hand sanitizer

Solution: provide hand sanitizer

 

Problem: It is a dark dank hole

Solution: Get a floor lamp of suitable dimness so a mom can soothe her baby and maybe also read her scriptures at the same time.

 

Problem: It is as ugly as sin

Solution: Procure Minerva Teichert or other suitably lovely art.  Pay the muralist who lives in a neighboring ward to paint something beautiful on the walls.

 

Ideal solution to many of these problems: Use one of the larger rooms in the building as an improved mothers lounge with enough space for many chairs.  Use current room as a unisex changing room/place for dads to go to soothe babies in darkness if necessary.

 

 

Have any of you dealt with a similar problem? What other solutions would you suggest? What do you think would be the most effective way to get these changes to happen?

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19 Comments

  1. I don’t know how effective my strategy would be, but I would write a letter to the person in charge of the building and copy the bishops of all units that use the building. In the letter, I would lay out the problem, the potential solutions and quote general authorities about the importance of motherhood, the value of children, etc….

    In the letter, I would mention that I had talked to other women in the ward (of course, I would talk to them first). I would also mention, that I would be happy to meet with them or help them implement the plan, ie, buy the diaper genie, go to pick out the chairs, etc… but that I would need a budget and approval first.

    Alternately, I might just make the changed and then inform leadership that the changes had been made. A bucket of paint, a lamp, some artwork, and a diaper genie would probably be less than $100.00. The new chairs (or repurposed chairs from someones house) would be a bit more.

    Or, you could get the Relief Society on board (talk to the presidency) and then turn the “transformation of the mother’s room” into a RS activity: some women making pillows, some women painting the room, some women getting the lamp, etc…. This seems like it is something that the women of the ward could really rally around.

    Or, you could find a YW looking for a personal progress project and help guide her through the process. Leaders would be less likely to shoot her down as she pursued this noble goal.

  2. Our ward mothers room was literally a closet. I lobbied my bishopric and stake presidency for two years until I got a new room. While this was pretty depressing, because my baby had weaned by the time the new room actually happened, I am so satisfied now when I nurse my last baby in our regular-sized nursing room. And other women do so at the same time, and we all fit in there! I do not recommend settling for floor cushions in a closet. Churches have lots of rooms, so there is no need to put women in a closet. If we honor motherhood that much, we should let mothers sit in chairs. And they should sit in them right at the moment they need them–no one should have to wait in line with a screaming baby because the nursing room only seats one person. LDS.org has features to email the bishopric and the stake presidency. I emailed at regular intervals until this happened. I pointed out that the new room could be a Mother’s day gift that would be better appreciated than a cheap flower or piece of chocolate. I reminded them how nicely they had taken care of the gym floor that needed refurbishing for men’s basketball, and it would be much less expensive than that to designate a classroom as the Mother’s Room. I pointed out that the men’s restrooms at our church lacked changing tables, so the old mother’s closet could be relabeled as a parents’ room where both mothers and fathers could change diapers. That is what eventually happened. And the stake president apologized to me for the slow rate at which it came to pass.

  3. Yes! Why has this not been brought to attention years ago? Our ward’s mother’s lounge has all the same issues, and when I was a nursing mother I counted myself fortunate to even have that, since our previous building lacked one at all and I had to nurse sitting on a toilet in a bathroom stall. While we’re at it, let’s add changing tables to the mens’ bathrooms so the dads can change diapers too.

  4. yes, and it didn’t go well. we are in a geriatric southern california ward where babies are infrequent, but we had a baby boom with 14 babies born within six months. our lounge is exactly as you describe, but we’re the only ward in the entire building. we asked for one of the underutilized rooms and were told no, we couldn’t even have the room that is used for storing extra tables and chairs or the empty one that opens to the janitor’s closet.

    and yet, people had commentary they felt had to be made about where/when i breastfed at church.

    the smell is the worst. hate it when people don’t walk their diapers out and leave them sitting there till the room is cleaned the following saturday.

  5. ah, but our ward in hawai‘i did have a full room dedicated to moms. nice chairs, a couch, changing tables, and so on. people would bring spare diapers or bouncy seats and it was a nice place to relax and care for baby. they also had a changing pad on the counter in the men’s room.

  6. Well, my biggest solution to these issues is to encourage and support nursing anywhere and everywhere in church, not “ghettoized” into the mother’s lounge. That said, I have occasionally used the mother’s lounge when I needed to lie down and rest or had a really fussy baby. Our current one is a tiny little closet of a room, so I’ve only used it once or twice in the past several years.

    Things I really, really want:

    1) clean, comfortable couch so I can lie down. I had babies who went through phases of nursing much better lying down..plus it’s so heavenly to be able to lie down and rest

    2) floor or table lamp to avoid the horrid fluorescent fixtures

    3) no stink–best thing is to have NO garbage cans and signs directing parents where to put diapers and trash. Otherwise even with Diaper Genies, etc, you still always have that dirty diaper smell.

    • I agree with Rixa, nursing anywhere and everywhere in church should be supported. In a ward with a ton of babies I find that I am the only one who nurses their baby during sacrament meeting in the chapel. I teach right after so topping the baby off is a must, which I imagine is also true for a lot of women in the church. I have no problem with the idea of the mothers room, I actually love ours, it’s just that sometimes I feel lazy and would like to feed my baby where ever it is I happen to be. No one has ever said anything to me but I’ve always wondered why in a church where we encourage people to have lots of children why we rarely see them being feed anything other than cheerios in sacrament. Surely I can’t be the only mom who doesn’t feel like relocating to another room every time I need to nurse.

    • I concur with Rixa about the garbage cans. Have the mother’s lounge separate from the bathroom and have changing tables both the men’s and women’s restrooms.

      If the only changing table is in the mother’s lounge, dads can’t use it.

      And no diapers means no need to use air fresheners or scents, which some people can be sensitive to. Our mother’s lounge is in the bathroom and the strong scents from the air fresheners give me a headache even when I’m just doing a quick pee. No way am I bringing an infant in there for extended amounts of time.

  7. There should at least be bags provided to seal or tie the diapers in before they go in the covered trash. Cheap, easy, and no more smell! And trips to the dumpster outside aren’t required.

  8. This is one of the things that grinds my gears every Sunday. I have been a nursing mother for 6 of the last 8 years, so I really sympathize with you. I have fixed my personal issue with it by nursing wherever I am, but I realize that not every mom is comfortable doing that so we need to have comfortable mothers rooms for them. I might even start using one again for those times my baby needed less stimulation if they were half way decent.

    If it were me I would have a sign requesting that diapers be taken to an outside garbage. Diaper pails still stink, even the “good” ones. Or provide a bunch of plastic garbage sacks for people to take them home. The second thing is requesting an adequate number of chairs/couches. Moms should not have to sit on the floor in a skirt to nurse their baby. If the room is too small to fit the needed chairs then I think looking for a new room is in order. And a floor lamp is an excellent idea.

  9. Our ward has a pretty nice mother’s lounge, so I don’t have much experience with this. But I just wanted to say I love what you’re doing! Good for you for being a squeaky wheel!

  10. Make the bishopric hold a meeting in that room on Sunday afternoon, right after the bloc of meetings when the trashcan is full. Maybe get their wives in there as well, and describe what it’s like to sit on the floor and nurse/feed a child next to a stinky trashcan.

    Also, to make changes to buildings where there’s more than one ward, you need to find out which bishop’s turn it is to be the guy in charge of the facilities – then be sure to include him in the loop (cutting out one more middle-man).

    Then again, if part of the problem with the room is that the men never go into it, make refurbishing it an RS/YW joint service project and make it happen.

    • Brilliant, LRC!

  11. What an eye-opener! I had no idea.

    Our lounge is about the same size as a primary room, with comfy chairs and seating for 6. There are windows, so nobody ever turns the light on. The garbage is taken out at the end of Sunday by the YM or YW (assignment) so I haven’t noticed stinking.

    I wonder if this is a result of being in a newer area and dealing with newer buildings?

  12. Our mothers room was pretty nice, and it took me a while to figure out why: the RS took it in their own hands. One short announcement in the bulletin was all it took:
    “The mother’s lounge is in need of a diaper genie, changing pad, hand soap, clock, lamps, and/or appropriate artwork.”
    Bam, two weeks later, a fully furnished lounge. I will also say, someone using that building had a sensitivity to halogen light or something and had to attend sacrament meeting somewhere with the lights dim; once it became a non-nursing-mom issue, the stake made quick steps to improve the room.

  13. As far as what route to take, if you don’t think leadership or the building management will do much, I’d be tempted to just buy things for the room and hand in the receipts to the financial clerk. Take it into your own hands.

  14. I’m going to post a few links here about nursing in church and the historical acceptability of nursing in public among LDS circles. I know some are less directly related to mother’s lounges, but really one of the reason we’re having this conversation is that many LDS women feel they’re supposed to only nurse there, and that it’s somehow inappropriate or immodest to nurse in Sacrament Meeting, in the lobby, in RS, or wherever.

    So here goes :)

    LDS sacrament meeting, 1871 (shows 2 women openly nursing with no covers)
    http://rixarixa.blogspot.com/2010/08/breastfeeding-history-moment-lds.html

    LDS Handcart Pioneers (shows a woman openly nursing her toddler, by Danish artist CCA Christensen)
    http://rixarixa.blogspot.com/2011/02/breastfeeding-history-moment-mormon.html

    Breastfeeding in church:
    http://rixarixa.blogspot.com/2009/12/breastfeeding-in-church.html

    Other people’s posts on this topic:

    Breastfeeding at church: now and then at Life Inspired (http://whitebirdbluesky.blogspot.com/2010/09/breastfeeding-at-church-now-and-then.html)

    Breastfeeding and LDS Church at Improves With Age (http://improveswithage.blogspot.com/2010/06/breastfeeding-and-lds-church.html)

    Several posts from TopHat: Modesty and Breastfeeding, Sacrament Meeting 1871, & Inquisition Monday (http://itsallaboutthehat.blogspot.com/2009/01/modesty-and-breastfeeding.html and http://itsallaboutthehat.blogspot.com/2010/05/inquisition-monday.html)

    http://ldsbreastfeedingart.blogspot.com/

  15. Our mother’s lounge is ok. (I like that it doesn’t have a garbage can so it never stinks.)

    My fondest wish is that women would feel comfortable nursing wherever they wanted to. If that’s in the mother’s lounge, great. If that’s in Sacrament meeting, that works, too. And, we could change the mother’s lounge to a parents’ lounge where men and women could go to soothe tired, overstimulated babies.

    But, that requires a much broader cultural shift. Good on you, Em, for working on this!

  16. If the chair cushions are old or gross, let somebody with buying power know… they can easily order slipcover, or a fresh set of cushions for the gliders. (I know, my company sells these to churches and hospitals every day!)

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