Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Too Many Toilets
November 18, 2020 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Help me make my half bathroom a cozy place to pee in the middle of the night.

This is so stupid. I've lived in my house 5 months and I have so many bathrooms but I only use one. My preferred bathroom is the one with the shower in it. It's where all my stuff is, it's the main bathroom. It's all the way at the front of my house, 30 steps from my bedroom door. There's a perfectly nice half bathroom ONE step from my bedroom door, right across the hall. It would make more sense to use this one in the middle of the night when I get up to pee. It's closer to my bed than a lot of en suites. But invariably this fact only occurs to me as I'm stumbling through my kitchen to get up to the good bathroom at 3am and by then I'm closer to the front of the house than my bedroom anyway, so I don't turn back. Last week I thought I'd be clever and set up a physical barrier so I'd route myself into the half bath but I ended up hurting myself and knocking something heavy over and scaring my dog.

The half bathroom is clean, has the same hand towel and soap situation as the full bathroom, and I even put a night light in there. It's warmer in there and the water gets hotter faster because it's closer to the utility room in the basement, so it should actually be even better for middle of the night use. The only thing wrong with it is it's small, but normal small not r/mildlyinfuriating small. And my middle of the night lizard brain rejects its use.

Eventually this will have a daytime life as a guest bathroom, once having guests becomes a thing again, but right now all I want to do is pee in it in the middle of the night. I am willing to put a little money into making this little toilet more welcoming to 2 minute visits by nighttime me.

p.s. I know it would probably help if I started using the half bath during the day when my brain is functioning, but the opposite problem is true--it's far away from where I need to be during the day and also all my personal/self care stuff is in the full bathroom, and if I'm awake I'll do other things while I'm there.

Anyway, do you have any suggestions for things I can do to make the half bathroom a place I will use? I have a little bit of counter space, a big window sill, and plenty of wall.
posted by phunniemee to Home & Garden (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You have a nightlight in it, but can you put lights on the door or a night light in front of the door or some other visible signal that it exists before you pass it by?
posted by ChuraChura at 9:37 AM on November 18, 2020 [5 favorites]

Maybe a super cushy bathroom rug, so your feet get a little nice plushness ? Extra nice hand lotion and lip balm? One of the most cozy bathrooms that I miss dearly was at my old dance studio - it was painted in a very soothing dark teal, and was in an alternative health center, so had framed affirmational sayings in nice pretty artwork. Something like that, if it works for you? Honestly I normally think that kind of stuff is schlocky but it did perk up my mood every time I peed.

Would a bidet help?
posted by Sparky Buttons at 9:42 AM on November 18, 2020 [5 favorites]

A nice smelling air freshener or similar? Ideally one you also have in your favourite bathroom so you brain associates it with 'bathroom' and you smell it when you pass the nearby one?
posted by corvine at 9:43 AM on November 18, 2020

Leave or prop the door open at night, leave the night light on inside the half bathroom through the night. Maybe some fairly lights over the mirror so it looks like a nice little grotto?!

Even though it's further away, start using it sometimes during the day, just for a week or two, just to get your brain in the habit.
posted by penguin pie at 9:45 AM on November 18, 2020 [3 favorites]

Perhaps an attractive bowl of fruit would make it more welcoming?

On a more serious note: before you go to bed put something big and/or heavy in the hallway to block you from going down the hall, so that it's easier to just use the half bathroom than to move the object out of the way.
posted by googly at 9:47 AM on November 18, 2020 [3 favorites]

Would a bidet help?

That's definitely a contributing factor. I have a bidet attachment on the toilet in my favorite bathroom. Home is where the poops go.
posted by phunniemee at 9:47 AM on November 18, 2020 [3 favorites]

Get the bidet installed there then. Once you've gone bidet, you never go back. It's cold in the middle of the night, of course you're going to gravitate to the heated seat, even if pooping isn't on the menu.

Agree with cushy rug on the floor. And a strategically placed backlit e-reader, if that's the sort of thing you enjoy. But a bidet with a heated seat will sing its siren song to you in the night, even without those accoutrements.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:54 AM on November 18, 2020

Do you have any motion-activated anythings you could put a few steps into the route to the bigger bathroom? So if you turn to go that way, all of a sudden there's a light that turns on, or a canned air cat-shooer that goes off, or a bell that chimes, reminding you to turn back? Or maybe you could put something that you don't like walking on (but that wouldn't bother the dog) on the floor that direction, like an outdoor boot-scrapper-type rug.
posted by teremala at 10:01 AM on November 18, 2020

Seconding bidet. But also maybe a plant and a grow lite if there aren't good windows. And then I think Id' do what movie theaters and airplanes do and have a little lit up floor path that is on all night that basically points you to the small bathroom as a sort of reminder "Hey, go here, it's safer and easier"
posted by jessamyn at 10:29 AM on November 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

One other idea - could you move your nighttime routine (brush teeth, wash face, etc) to that bathroom, and after a certain time only use that one? That might flip a brain switch into using that toilet at night.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 10:47 AM on November 18, 2020 [17 favorites]

Open the door so you can see the nightlight from the hallway.
posted by yohko at 10:55 AM on November 18, 2020

If you walk down a hallway from your bedroom (as opposed to an open space), run some painter's tape from one side to the other about waist high. It'll alert you if you go past the door, and won't scare the dog.
posted by kate4914 at 11:02 AM on November 18, 2020 [3 favorites]

Few ideas...

Instead of just the nightlight, how about leaving the entire bathroom light on so that when you leave your bedroom, you are immediately shocked semi-awake? I can't imagine you'd need to do this for more than a few nights.

Building on the painter's tape idea, how about putting the tape across your bedroom door, and attach a bell to it. Maybe that will rouse you enough to get you to go to the small bathroom.

Also seconding the suggestion to start using the small bathroom before bed. But rather than moving stuff, I suggest buying duplicate stuff and just letting it live there. Extra toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, whatever else you use for your nighttime routine.

and by then I'm closer to the front of the house than my bedroom anyway, so I don't turn back - how about attacking this issue instead? Put painters tape/bell across the door to the good bathroom and if you hit it, force yourself to turn around and use the small bathroom.
posted by yawper at 12:10 PM on November 18, 2020

First I thought this was a really weird question, and then I realized I've been through the exact same struggle! How stupid can I be?
The thing is that at our farm, one of the bathrooms has a plumbing problem, and neither cash nor threats can move the plumber to solve them. So it's best that we use the other bathrooms except for emergencies. And I kept on forgetting, because at night you are on your lizard brain.
Then I put a yellow sticker on the lid of the not-perfect toilet, saying "PLEASE USE ANOTHER TOILET", and obviously put the lid down while I was awake. And it worked. The first couple of weeks I would go out there and see the note and walk on to another toilet. And then I started remembering the sticker (not the problem) when I got out of the bed, and went directly to the good bathroom. Eventually, I didn't even think about it and went directly to the good bathroom.
posted by mumimor at 12:24 PM on November 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

I think the barrier idea was a good one - maybe try something a little less dangerous? The painter’s tape idea is good. Maybe a baby gate?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:02 PM on November 18, 2020

Motion-sensitive lights that will light the near bathroom as soon as you leave your bedroom at night? Stick-on LED ones run on AA batteries, you can fiddle with the location so you trigger them and pets don’t and they light up something pleasant in the target bathroom.
posted by clew at 1:06 PM on November 18, 2020

Compost toilet. It will be so exciting you definitely won't forget to use it. Details available if needed.
posted by aniola at 1:41 PM on November 18, 2020

Give yourself a small reward every time you use that bathroom, even a check mark on the mirror with kids washable marker, leading to a prize. Rewards of any sort are a powerful way to change behavior and develop a new habit.
posted by theora55 at 2:33 PM on November 18, 2020

If the above advice doesn’t work (I’d definitely second bidet/comfy heated seat/new pm routine) I’d even take masking tape and make an annoying barrier that you’d have to physically remove if you went to use the wrong bathroom. It shouldn’t harm the paint and it’s annoying enough that I doubt you’d have to bust through it more than once while half asleep.
posted by shesaysgo at 3:54 PM on November 18, 2020

One thing that will really help is if even if you are already kitchen, turn around and use the half bath anyway. Make it rule, only use the half bath, no excuses. Even if you are already walking into the other bath before you remember, turn around and go back. It's no extra steps - you have to walk past on your way back to bed and it will reinforce in your sleepy brain that that is where it should be.
posted by metahawk at 5:45 PM on November 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

You have a "day" bathroom and a "night" bathroom.
The final time you use the day bath (after work or after dinner), carry the roll of toilet paper out with you and set it on your nightstand.
Pick up the roll in the morning on the way to your shower.
(You won't have to do this routine for more than a few days. Start on a Wednesday evening, so you're still training your new habit over the weekend.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:24 PM on November 18, 2020

Maybe a super cushy bathroom rug, so your feet get a little nice plushness ?

This is a good idea for getting cozy when you're in there (though I'm always a little skeptical of bathroom rugs for cleanliness reasons)—but you have to trick yourself into getting in there first. Are the floors in your hallway wood or tile? If so, what about a cushy rug going from your bedroom to the bathroom instead? In many places, it's getting cold at night now. If you walk across the hall, you get to stay on the rug; as soon as you step off, you get a shock of cold floor.
posted by babelfish at 9:16 PM on November 18, 2020

Details available if needed.

That reminds me of the bumper stickers when I was a kid: "Ask me about my new experience...free tours for those over 50!"

...having got that off my chest...

Maybe a little path of rope lights on the floor in the hall? Next to the baseboards across from the bathroom door, and following across the hall as a "barrier" directing you into the toilet.

For the purposes of being able to get back to sleep, make sure all the lights are warm-colored. Our bathroom has a nightlight that can cycle colors or hold one, and I've got it holding on a reddish-orange glow. It's enough to wash my hands by, but not so bright that it prevents me from falling back asleep.

Another idea, as we drop into the colder part of the year, is a heated floor mat. Turn it on when you go to bed (maybe put it on a timer) and you'll have one more slightly-more-inviting reason to use the half bath.
posted by notsnot at 5:00 AM on November 19, 2020

Progress has been made.

The "put lights outside the bathroom" idea seems to be the game changer here. I always keep the stove light on low at night, and when it's dark I'm drawn toward it. I used my recent xmas light purchase to make the half bath bright and turned the stove light off, allowing me to activate moth mode and go straight to where I needed to be. Seems so obvious in retrospect.

The little bathroom still feels wrong, but I've bought a cushy little rug and put a tea light lantern in there to help coze the place up a bit. I'll add more things as time goes on.

Heated seat bidet? Who do you think I am, Jeff Bezos?
posted by phunniemee at 8:59 AM on November 20, 2020 [4 favorites]

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