(Update 6 February 2018 – this article is one of my most popular ever on Cardiff Mummy Says. It went viral when originally published in February 2015… and resulted in me getting all kinds of threats and vile messages. It’s suddenly started getting lots of views again – in part I think due to this week’s news that Tesco looks set to roll out fines for people for who park in disabled bays without a blue badge and in parent and child spaces when there are no children under 12 in the car. Three years on and it’s still in issue. In fact I had an incident earlier this week where I parked in a regular space and two cars subsequently parked either side of me… too close to the lines meaning I couldn’t open the doors wide enough to get my children into the car. In the end I had to reverse out of the space before helping my children in. Not exactly safe in a busy car park! )
Dear people who continually misuse parent and child car parking spaces and don’t really understand why parents get so irate about it,
Please allow me to explain a few things to you. We do not require these spaces because we are lazy and can’t be bothered to walk very far to the store (although pot, kettle and black spring to mind because ummm you are obviously too lazy to walk very far by virtue of the fact you are parking in these spaces when you do not have a child in your possession).
We do, however, require these spaces for the following reasons:
- To stop our toddlers damaging the car next to ours when they accidentally push the car door open while climbing into their car seat by themselves as they insist on exerting their independence.
- So we have enough room at the side of the car to be able to do our children’s seat belts up as dictated by law and to, you know, prevent them from flying around in the back of the car when we start driving.
- So that we can open the car door wide enough to take out or put in a baby in a car seat, again mandated by law. And again, we’d also like to do this without damaging the car next to us.
- So that we are located near to trolley bays, pavements and walkways that lead us to our desired venue, rather than having to navigate toddlers who are yet to learn road sense across a busy and therefore dangerous car park.
- So that we don’t have to have a moral dilemma over whether our kids will be safe if we leave them in the car while we trek to the other side of the car park to put money in the parking meter or get a trolley, or try to carry a wriggly baby, toddler and change bag etc with us across dangerous car park to trolley or parking meter.
We don’t care if these wider spaces are at the back of the car park. We don’t care if we have to walk an extra few yards. Even in the rain. It’s all about the space around our car so that we can get our children in and out of the car safely and without damaging the vehicles around us. It’s also helpful if we have a safe walkway across the car park to the store and trolleys nearby.
Now that I’ve explained where we parents with small children are coming from, I thought it would be handy to outline a few commonly given excuses people give as to why they misuse parent parking spaces and why these excuses are not good enough.
- Your child is an adult
Oh, I know you think it’s hilarious when you say, “Well, technically I am a parent shopping with my baby so I am entitled to use this space”. Let me give you a clue: not funny at all. If your child is actually an adult then you’re just being selfish. Does your ‘child’ have a car seat that requires the car door to be fully opened so that you can actually get it out of the car? Does your ‘child’ need help to climb into their car seat and to do up their seat belt? Is your ‘child’ prone to tantrums that see them arching their backs and refusing to get into their car seat, while you stand outside the car in the rain and the cold, trying to reason with them? No. I didn’t think so. So stop abusing these parking spaces and leave them for people who can answer yes to these questions. We really don’t want to be doing our weekly shop with our kids in tow. But guess what? Often, we don’t have a choice.
- You are only going to be five minutes
That really doesn’t make any difference to me because if I see all the parent parking spaces are full, I’ll go and park at the far side of the car park where I can hopefully guarantee an empty space next to me so that I can get my children out of the car safely and without damaging other vehicles around me. Seeing you hopping into the car without any children, while I transport three kids and a trolley over a busy car park in the rain, makes me want to cry. You have no idea how stressful and worrying car parks can be when you have small children with you.
- You have young children but they are not currently with you
Yes, I can see you have three car seats in the back. Do your children have magic powers to make themselves invisible? Oh, what’s that? Your kids are at home with another responsible adult? Well, you don’t need this space then, do you? Enjoy the fact you are shopping alone. Enjoy the fact you don’t have to get children in and out of the car and guide them across the car park. You know exactly what it’s like to go shopping with children so have some empathy for people who are in that position right now and please, please park somewhere else.
- Your partner is staying in the car with the kids while you pop into the shops
If you have no intention of getting your offspring in and out of the car, then you really don’t need the space, do you? You know what a mission car parks can be when you have children with you so leave the space for someone who does. Simple.
- You are a disabled badge holder but there are numerous empty disabled bays available nearby
Of course I appreciate that there are people whose needs are greater than mine. If all the disabled bays were full, but someone with a blue badge genuinely needed a wide space with easy access to the store, then I would be the first to move my car out the way and offer them my space. However, I have been in the position where a disabled badge holder took the last parent space in a car park, despite there being a FULL ROW of disabled bays available opposite the one and only available parent space. I mentioned this to them as politely as I could, because I know what a contentious issue parent parking spaces are, and was met with a torrent of abuse. In front of my kids. I would never dream of parking in a disabled bay (and I think people who misuse them are vile) just because there were no parent spaces available. Unless you have no other choice, please leave the parent spaces to those who have young children with them.
- Because it’s raining and I don’t want to get wet
Is one of your hands holding that of a small toddler and is your other hand carrying a car seat? No? Well, use one of those spare hands to carry an umbrella or put your hands over your head. I don’t especially like the drowned rat look, I would love to have freshly blow-dried hair, but my wet hair is way down the pecking order after the safety of my children.
- Because we never had them in my day
A lot of people who are older than me say this. And yes, it is true, I think it’s wonderful and admirable that people of my parents’ and grandparents’ generation had children in the days before washing machines, disposable nappies etc. We are truly lucky to have so many modern technological advances. However, back then, there were not so many cars on the road, cars were not so wide and baby car seats were not invented. Therefore, car parks and roads were not so busy, meaning you were more likely to find a decent space. And even if you didn’t, you had more space to get children in and out of the car because your car, and all those around you, were narrower. You also didn’t need room to get a baby car seat out. Car parking spaces don’t seem to have changed in size , but I’d like to think we live in a progressive society where we can accommodate the needs and safety of other people.
- Because it’s not illegal
No, it’s not actually against the law to park in a parent and child space, unlike parking in disabled spaces without a permit. But have a heart, some moral values and please use your common sense!
What do you think about people misusing parent and child parking spaces? Have you ever confronted anyone for parking in one when they shouldn’t have been? I’d love to hear your comments, either below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or on Twitter @cardiffmummy
*If you liked this, you may also like my post on 46 simple things you did this week that make you a wonderful mum or dad.