Son changing with Mum at gym swimming

(1000 Posts)
tailspin21 Thu 28-Oct-21 08:25:22

Firstly, I know IABU posting in this section when it's not technically but I could really use impartial opinions and I know this is one place I can get them!
So, the conundrum. DS is 8, coming up 9 years old. We go for a swimming lesson twice a week, the pool is attached to a local gym. The men's changing room is one side of the pool and the women's is the other, so they're not side by side. Hubby can't (or won't - different thread!) come with. I am very conscious that women are changing in there - there are cubicles and DS always gets changed in a cubicle, but not every woman does not should they have to. My question is how much longer before he really needs to be going into the men's? I'm becoming increasingly aware but what is the magical cut off?! On the one hand I don't want him making other women uncomfortable. On the other, as an 8 year old alone in the men's changing room he's vulnerable himself. Am I overthinking? When should he be making that move? He's not always the most sensible but is generally not completely daft!

OP’s posts: |
namechange30455 Thu 28-Oct-21 08:26:45

Most pools I've ever been to say over 8s in their own changing room. Does the gym not have a rule?

But he should be in the men's now really.

BitterTits Thu 28-Oct-21 08:26:59

My son is 8 and has been changing by himself for a year or so. That said, it's usually at swimming lesson time but they do occasionally go to public sessions. He wouldn't want to be in the women's changing area.

logsonlogsoff Thu 28-Oct-21 08:28:10

He’s still very young. DS didn’t go to the male section till he was almost 10. Our changing rooms had a ‘cut off’ of 10 I think but the kids had to be with parents so he wasn’t in their alone but with me and his sister. The other pool we used had a changing village style so it was t an issue there.

WTF475878237NC Thu 28-Oct-21 08:28:13

It's a sensible question OP. My gym actually has a policy about this so that it is clear at what point boys have to go alone into the men's. We also have a family changing room with all large cubicles for any ages of families and again there is a policy for who can use it. I can't remember the age for the boys and girls but it is specified.

Cantstopthewaves Thu 28-Oct-21 08:28:21

What does ds think?

TimeForTeaAndG Thu 28-Oct-21 08:28:24

Are there not rules posted about age limits? Usually changing areas and similar have "children over the age of X must use their own sex changing room" signs.

Ask the reception if there are any rules.


ABCeasyasdohrayme Thu 28-Oct-21 08:28:28

Anywhere I have been have said 8 and over in their own changing rooms.

Rainbowqueeen Thu 28-Oct-21 08:29:12

Yes he should be in the mens now.

If you are not comfortable with that it is up to you to come up with a different plan that does not involve him coming into the women’s change rooms. Eg arrive at pool in bathers, dressing gown on after swimming and go home to change, petition the pool fit family change rooms

KaptainKaveman Thu 28-Oct-21 08:29:27

He can change on his own.

Aroundtheworldin80moves Thu 28-Oct-21 08:30:53

At 8 they are allowed to go swimming unaccompanied in many places, which leads to the age rule I believe.

If there are girls of a similar age changing in the ladies unaccompanied, he's tok old to be there really.

arethereanyleftatall Thu 28-Oct-21 08:34:15

I'm afraid he really needed to be going in to the men's nearly a year ago.
8 is the generally accepted age/requirement in most pools.
If you don't like the idea of him getting changed with men, your options are he gets straight in to a onesie over his cossie and you take him home to change. Using the female space should never be a consideration.

noworklifebalance Thu 28-Oct-21 08:34:48

I empathise OP.
My son is of a similar age and there is no way would I let him go into a men’s changing room on his own.
That said, I totally understand that he can’t use the women’s either. Fortunately, our local pool has unisex changing rooms, all cubicles, which works for families.

MrsColon Thu 28-Oct-21 08:35:19

At Virgin Active it's policy that over-8s need to use the changing room corresponding with their sex. I'm not sure whether that means 8 and over or once they reach 9.

If you're concerned about him alone in the men's changing room (which is perfectly understandable) you could get him changed at home, then afterwards get him to towel off and pull on a t-shirt and joggers till you get home and he can shower/get dressed properly.

noworklifebalance Thu 28-Oct-21 08:37:59


At 8 they are allowed to go swimming unaccompanied in many places, which leads to the age rule I believe.

If there are girls of a similar age changing in the ladies unaccompanied, he's tok old to be there really.

Girls changing on their own in a female changing room is very different to boys changing in a male changing room for obvious reasons.
Having said that, men are increasingly being allowed into female only places.
And no, I am not catasrophising.

TheUndeadLovelinessOfDemons Thu 28-Oct-21 08:38:19

What about children with NDs? No way I'd let DS with ADHD get changed himself, just because of what he might do unsupervised.

rainbowandglitter Thu 28-Oct-21 08:40:18

My pool says over 8s must be in their own sex changing rooms

Aroundtheworldin80moves Thu 28-Oct-21 08:40:41

@noworklifebalance I was meaning the girls deserving privacy from boys more than adults.... a lot of 8yo girls do not like the boys their age watching them change.

Freddiefox Thu 28-Oct-21 08:41:23

I think it’s difficult to send a child into the men’s on their own at 8, and I would worry about their safety. But it is for you to sort out rather than just carry on taking him the ladies.

I understand your reluctance to send him in the men’s on his own, but I think you need to be thinking of an alternative to the ladies.

So I’d look at changing gyms to one with family change options.
Ds wearing his swimmers already with a Onesie that he put straight back in after he’s finished and waits for you in reception.

Doveyouknow Thu 28-Oct-21 08:41:56

Our gym has the over 8 rule. My son has asd which means it was more tricky for him to manage on his own so we practised what he needed to do. The changing rooms generally have a few people in them so I don't feel he is particularly vulnerable.

Branleuse Thu 28-Oct-21 08:42:05

If there are plenty of cubicles where people can have privacy then i dont think this needs to be rushed. If most people who want privacy can get it then its no big deal and its better he stays with you still for safety

Freddiefox Thu 28-Oct-21 08:43:28

Also I have a son a similar age and only go to pools with unisex changing. If he had to go into the men’s we wouldn’t go.

noworklifebalance Thu 28-Oct-21 08:43:38


*@noworklifebalance* I was meaning the girls deserving privacy from boys more than adults.... a lot of 8yo girls do not like the boys their age watching them change.

Yes, absolutely agree with this and agree that boys of this age shouldn’t be in the female changing rooms

DelurkingAJ Thu 28-Oct-21 08:45:12

DS1 is just 9 and has been changing in the gents for about a year. I had a short conversation with him where I asked how he’d feel if he had a towel malfunction in front of one of the girls in his class and his horrified look was a picture. DS2 (5) just laughed at the same idea. I remember hating boys my age in the ladies at that age.

If I wasn’t comfortable I would get him changed at home and go and leave in a onesie.

Passthecake30 Thu 28-Oct-21 08:45:13

If it’s a swimming lesson, will there be other dads with sons in the boys changing room? That might ease your worries a bit?

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