Parent and child parking spaces, always a bit of a controversial topic aren't they. Who are they designed for? Who should get to use them and should people who misuse them, be penalised? They're aimed so generically that it makes it hard to determine who should be favoured to use them and even when they are abused, are the rules ever enforced? I don't think I've seen someone yet be confronted by a store for taking advantage of their parent and child bays. After conducting a poll across twitter it seems that seeing someone without children in those spaces irks more of you (a whopping 70%) than it doesn't.

Parent and child bays are great, very user friendly large spaces (great for the terrible parkers amongst us - me) that are generally quite close to the stores entrance. I'll always try to opt for these spaces if I have Patrick with us and definitely if I'm lugging both boys in tow as they are much more convenient than standard spaces. I recall when Patrick was still very much a newborn, and I took one of my first trips to the supermarket with both boys an event that filled me with nerves in the hope they both behaved once we were inside, thankfully they did and I left feeling as though a weight had lifted, until I reached the car park. On arrival, all parent and child spaces were occupied which wasn't too much of a problem as I'd picked a midweek morning to make my trip so there were plenty of regular spots free. I managed to grab a spot in the middle of two other empty spaces - perfect, or so I thought. When I exited the supermarket I was a little anxious to notice that both cars that had chose to park either side of me, were on or over the line into my space, which had it just been me wouldn't have bothered me in the slightest but given the fact I had to negotiate two children and a trolley around to the boot, it proved impossible. I like to leave the boys sat in the trolley as I load the car, that way they're right next to me and not cooking up inside a boiling hot car as I unload and pop the trolley away. On this occasion I had no choice, there was absolutely no way the trolley would fit down the side of the cars to reach the boot and I was not leaving the trolley in the middle of the roadway to make trips back and forth to the boot. Instead, I had to abandon the trolley, carrying my newborn and toddler to opposite sides of the car to get them inside safely, then make trips from the boot to the trolley to load up the car, whilst the baby screamed throughout. It was stressful, made even just that little bit more infuriating as I saw two people leave the parent and child bays with no children during that time.

Now I know it's hard for companies to distinguish between those who need the bays and those who don't. I think the first step would be to age limit what exactly a 'child' is in terms of parent and child spaces. For me, I think if you have a child still in a car seat then you most definitely are 'deserving' of a spot, particularly babies, as car seats are incredibly bulky trying to get them in and out of the car in a normal space is near on impossible, especially if you're stuck in a scenario as I was above. Age would be another determining factor, I know my three year old is pretty reliable to 'stand still and wait there' if I ask him too, though when Patrick gets to that age I'm not so confident he'd be as obedient, therefore I think any car with children under the age of five should also also be granted use of the parent and child bays. After that I think lines are really blurred, some children may be 13 and 14, but their parents determine they need the bay and quite often I've heard excuses of 'Oh well there is lots of spaces spare' when someone is misusing a space, but, though there may be lots of free parking spots when you enter the store, these may quickly fill up during your time inside, when another parent needs that space that you don't, yet you're occupying. Disabled parking bays use their badges, and anyone not displaying one quite rightly so is fined, should this be the case for parent and child spaces? I asked some fellow parenting bloggers what they thought and here's what they had to say;

'It makes me angry when I see the parent and child bays misused. Parking in a regular space makes it really hard to get my son in and out of the car safely and without damaging him, our car or the cars around us. I end up having to pull forward sometimes, which is just as unsafe. Spaces are often limited in number, usually far less than disabled bays and yet they're far more popular. You wouldn't dream of parking in a disabled bay is you didn't have a blue badge, why should this be any different.' Hayley, Devon Mama 

'I think they should be restricted to pregnant ladies and those with children under 5. Everyone else can park further away or use bays for those with disability, if they carry a badge. It really annoys me seeing people who don't even have kids park in there and I also don't think parents with older kids need them. Shops should definitely be stricter enforcing their rules.' Carolin, Mummy Alarm

'I get cross when I see someone with a 14 year old use a parent and child bay, or middle aged men with 'posh' cars who seem to think that parent and child bays are for their personal use. I didn't even use parent and child bays when I was pregnant because I didn't feel as though they were for me yet.' Julie, Pondering Parenthood

'Who cares. As long as there's a space with room enough for me to get the kids out of the car - even if that means them both climbing out of the same side - that's fine. There's more to worry about in life than policing what other people do with their cars.' Helena, Baby Foote

'They should definitely be more enforced. People misuse them all the time. To me, they are meant for people who are trying to get their baby out of the car in their car seat still. Or for the door to be opened enough for parents to get in to buckle them into their seats. Often, in the normal spaces, it can be very difficult if not impossible to get your door open enough to get the car seat out. Imagine if you are also pregnant and have multiple children. I think the time to stop using them is when your child no longer needs you to buckle them into their seat.' Nyomi, Nomi Palony

It seems quite a lot of Mums are in agreement and I couldn't help but end on a fantastic post from Nicola over at I Am Crabstix, her open letter to un-parent friendly supermarkets.


  1. I personally think that we should be issued cards like you would do for a disabled person. If you don't have a cars and you get caught parking in a child bay, you get fined. I also think that supermarket/ shops should put A lot more child spaces. My local tesco. Have easily 30 disabled spaces ( half of which aren't used) and 20 child spaces which are always taken. Makes no sense to me...

  2. I'm laughing over here because once my husband and I got into a tiff over this exact topic. I think parent/baby parking spaces are awesome—after all, it can be so hard to do errands when your kids are uncooperative, and having a close place to park can really help! But his POV was, well where does it end? I still think parent/child spaces are a great service for stores.

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  4. Juliette PageApril 27, 2018

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