The day my toddler locked herself in the bathroom

I like to share the stupid parenting mistakes I make, in the hope it prevents someone else doing the same dumbass thing. This one is so amateur, it’s the sort of thing I read about other parents doing and laughed, and smugly thought I’d never do that…but yes here we are…this weekend my 2 year old daughter locked herself alone in the bathroom.

We’ve been in a new house now for a couple of weeks, and it didn’t even register with me that the bathrooms have locks, which the old house didn’t. On my toddler proofing tour the locks never occurred to me, because she hasn’t really shown in any interest in them.

My little girl likes playing in the bathroom but she normally drags me by the hand in with her. However on this particular weekend morning she went in alone, and gave me a big smile as she closed the door. A few seconds later I heard the clunk of the lock and my heart thudded, as I recognised for the first time the door had a lock. I quickly tried the door but it was shut fast – at first I giggled in disbelief at my stupidity but then I called for my husband to get up (what a great way to start the morning).

We spent about 10 minutes trying to pursuade her to turn the key again, but she just couldn’t turn it in the right direction and soon got bored and distracted, and we couldn’t pursuade her to try again, either she didn’t understand or just didn’t want to.

We removed the door handle plate to see if we could turn the key from the outside, but there wasn’t enough protruding to get a grip on.

I had a plastic pocket close by so I grabbed that and put it under the door. Thanks to watching too many murder mysteries, I had the bright idea if I could get the key to fall onto that I could pull it under the door. After much jiggling the key fell and I let out a whoop of delight, only to have my hopes dashed when my toddler snatched up the key as her prize and retreated to the other side of the bathroom with it.

At that point ny husband headed off to visit the local locksmith shop to see if they had suggestions, and I continued to try and see if she was OK by peering through the keyhole.

I stated trying to make a game of passing things under the door on the plastic, we passed a coin back and forth about 20 times, but no matter how much I asked she wouldn’t put the key on it.

After what seemed like an eternity she started getting upset, and I was worried if she got hysterical we would have to break down the door, and risk it or splinters hitting her. However a biscuit passed under the door cheered her up again for a bit. Then she started getting upset again and I had to try so hard to remain calm so she did too.

Then I had a sudden spark on inspiration, and wondered if she knew what I meant when I was asking for the key. She might not connect that with the shiny thing in her hand. I drew a crude drawing of a key on the plastic and pushed it under the door and straight away she put the key there. I was delighted, I almost couldn’t believe it had worked. I pulled it back under the door and there was a tense moment when it got a bit stuck, so it took me a few minutes of grasping it with tweezers before I could get enough grip to pull it free.

At that exact moment my husband came home with a set of skeleton keys borrowed from the locksmith. We opened the door and there she was covered in chocolate and snot, with her vest round her waist, but completely unharmed and happy to see us. The first thing she said was “biccie under door”.

It’s a good thing it worked, because none of the skeleton keys would have fitted when we checked, so I don’t know what our next plan would have been.

Now a few days later the keys to the bathrooms are all safely secured out of reach. She doesn’t have a fear of the bathroom and doesn’t seem to realise the fuss. Everytime she goes in she points at the door and tells us a biscuit came under the door, like she’s expecting another to appear.

So lessons learnt from this episode:

  • Keep those keys safe
  • Don’t assume a toddler can’t do something just because they’ve never tried before
  • If communication isn’t working try drawing a picture
  • If it happens to you, remain calm, you’re not the first