Who can actually park here?
OKAY, so I'm going to be honest and admit I have parked in a 'parents with prams' spot without a pram.
I know. Bad mum. It's just that for a good few years, I had a legit pram and was used to having that convenience. And then the pram went but it was hard to kick the habit. We still had to get out of that shopping centre stat when nap time hit or shit was going down.
So shoot me a dirty look.
There were times that I surreptitiously squirrelled my newly toddling three-year-old out of her seat and onto the ground and wondered if anyone saw us walk away. I did feel a bit guilty. But damn it, I was still an exhausted parent and had been up three times in the night. Losing the pram coincided with moving to a big bed and well, that's a diabolical time I've erased from my memory.
So, the news that a mother has asked the question, "who are those parks really for?" on social media has finally assuaged my guilt.
"Are these bays just for parents (with kids) that can walk or just for prams only for like kids like newborn or that can't walk because 90 per cent of parents that park here there kids can walk and don't have prams?" she posted to Facebook.
So, it wasn't just me.
My daughter is nine now and I wouldn't dream of parking in one of those spaces. But truly, does anyone really care if there's an actual pram if the kids are little? What if you HAVE a pram in the boot but don't get it out at the shops. Does that count? It's a moral minefield!
Apparently people do care. More than 200 people commented on this mum's post. And some were protective of their right to pram park.
"I use them with my toddler sometimes as the spaces are bigger and you need to open the door wider to get them out of the car seats," one woman said.
But many were on my side.
"Anyone can park there. Literally anyone! It's a recommendation not a law," another parent commented.
According to the NRMA the spaces are not enforced by law.
Car park management could ask a person without a pram to vacate the spot but again, it's not enforceable. It never happened to me.
The spaces are actually bigger, too, "to allow parents more room to manage prams and infants and they are often closer to the entrance, to reduce the distance young children must travel in a high traffic area,'' according to the NRMA.
So, what's the moral of this story?
Next time you're completely mum-frazzled and the kids are screaming and you're desperate for a car park, you can take that pram spot and know there won't be a fine in it.
Or maybe you could assess how bad your day is and possibly, just possibly, leave it for a mum who is having a worse, much younger kid day.
- Vanessa Stubbs is a freelance journalist and author
- This story originally appeared on kidspot.com.au and is reproduced with permission