The trouble with parent and child parking spaces is that not everyone understands that they are just for PARENTS WITH CHILDREN! I love them and they make getting James out of his car seat and into the pushchair so much easier. That extra space means you can safely have the pushchair or trolley next to your car door for an easy transfer, and you don’t have to worry about marking the car next to you with your car door.
One thing that really drives me mad is people without children parking in the parent and child spaces. Or even worse, parents when their children are not actually with them parking in these spaces. There are plenty of other spaces in the car park. Yes they may not be as wide, but do you really need them to be wider if you are not getting a child in and out of the car. I frequently see people parking in these spaces without children and it infuriates me.
On one occasion I saw a man drive into one of these spaces, which happened to be the last space available. He saw the disgusted look on my face and asked me what my problem was. I told him he had parked in the parent and child space and his response was “Have I?” I then pointed to the sign and he actually moved his car for me to park there. I was quite surprised he moved his car and was expecting him just to come up with some sort of excuse. So did he just not realise it was a parent and child space or was he just trying his luck? Are the signs not clear?
At supermarkets I can usually get a parent and child space, with the exception of our local Morrisons that have decided to use some of their parent and child spaces for selling plants. If I can’t get one of these spaces I usually end up parking furthest away from the shop, so I can get a space where a couple are free in a row. This way I still have plenty of room to get James in and out of the car.
I’ve found that town centre or shopping centres often don’t have, or have very limited parent and child parking spaces. These car parks are often busy so it can be hard to get into a space where I know I can get James out. On numerous occasions I have had to climb into the back of the car and take James out the door furthest away from his car seat because I don’t have enough space on his side to get both of us out. In Cheltenham town centre I tend to park in the Regent Arcade car park. They do have some parent and child spaces but I am lucky if I get one. I’ve found the best time is around 3pm when parents are going to pick older children up from school. If I can’t get one of their few parent and child spaces I have to drive up to the 3rd floor (some floors are not accessible by lifts) and hope to find a space on the end of a row or next to a disabled space to give me enough room to get James out.
In Lithuania, I don’t remember there being parent and child spaces. I think I used to park on the end of rows if I could. I also think the spaces may have been slightly bigger as I don’t remember having too much of an issue with parking. However, James was only a small baby, so it was probably easier to get him in and out of the car than it is now when he is a lot bigger. One thing I was really impressed with in Lithuania is that in one of their supermarkets – Rimi, they had a special check out in the store for pregnant women, disabled people and parents with small children. This was really helpful and I used it when I was pregnant, and with James. If the store wasn’t busy then anyone did seem to use this checkout, but as soon as the staff saw you were pregnant or with a baby they would get you to the front of the queue.
Every now and then there seems to be articles in the news about fining people for mis-using parent and child spaces. It always seems to be talked about, but I have never seen anywhere where this is actually carried out. I am also not sure who would implement the fines. I think it is really selfish to use a parent and child space if you haven’t got a child with you. There could be someone who really needs that space about to come along. I only have one child, but I can imagine if you have more than one you need that extra room even more. I don’t know what is going through people’s heads when they park in these spaces without a child. Do they think parent and child spaces aren’t needed by parents so they should be available to everyone? Is it just because they are often close to the entrance?
I have wanted to confront people on numerous occasions, but often don’t through fear of verbal abuse, even though they are the ones in the wrong. The worst is when there are no parent and child spaces left, but you just know that some of the spaces have been taken by people without children. I’ve often thought it would be a good idea if new parents were given some sort of permit to display in their car showing that they are entitled to park in these spaces. They could be valid until a child reaches a certain age. Then it would be easier to spot those cars that shouldn’t be parked in the parent and child spaces.