Parent and child parking. How old should the child be?

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I pulled into the parent and child parking space and looked up at the sign. It clearly stated the spaces were designated for “parents and toddlers.”

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When should you stop using parent and child parking? When you no longer use a pram? When your kids are at school? When they’re out of car seats?

I looked into the back of the car. There were my two daughters, nine year old Helen and five year old Izzy, both of them in school uniform. I was a parent, but they clearly weren’t toddlers.

Well this was interesting. I’ve been using parent and child spaces for years. In fact, I get incredibly irritated when I see people pulling into such spaces when they don’t have children with them.

For me, such spaces are simply convenient. For a pregnant woman who is possibly travelling with another child or for anyone who is travelling with a buggy, these spaces are more than convenient, they’re a massive help.

Herein lies my point. Was I right to have used that parking space? Although my kids’ ages are both in single figures, is it time for me to think about parking elsewhere?

Yes, the wording on that sign was very specific, stating it was for “parents and toddlers”.  If followed to the letter, that rather strange choice of words ruled out older children and babies but still, it raised a valid question about the point when mums and dads should go and use one of the standard parking bays.

We all know parent and child parking is a subject that gets some people very emotional. In fact, I think some people can get too emotional about it.

If, however, you are travelling with school children and you no longer use a buggy, well, maybe you should go elsewhere? After all, kids can be in car seats until their teens.

Should you really be swinging into that convenient-right-next-to-the-store-entrance space if you have an eleven-year-old sat in the passenger seat? Well no, probably not.

I’ll admit it, if I have children in the car, I always try and find these spaces. I often fail on account of the fact that most car parks have so few of them.

I very often see mums and dads from the kids’ school using these parking bays. I’m not saying they are wrong to do so, but it sort of shows that when you get into the habit you just carry on using those parking bays.

Then again, young kids do have accidents. The thought of Izzy opening a car door and letting herself out in a tightly-packed multi-storey car park makes me wince.  I would have serious concerns about the paintwork of any neighbouring vehicles.

What do you say? At what point do you think people should stop using parent and child parking? Is it when you no longer use a puschair? Is it when the children are at school? This is a subject that many people hold strong views on so please do leave a comment with your opinions below.


17 thoughts on “Parent and child parking. How old should the child be?”

  1. To be honest, I think the overriding question shouldn’t be ‘Is it okay for me to still use a family car parking space? but ‘Is there someone out there who needs it more than I do?’. That will usually get you to the right decision, I imagine.

    1. I absolutely agree. If I saw a pregnant woman or someone with very young kids, I would obviously keep out of their way and leave them to park in the parent and child spot.

  2. I have to say that I get irritated with people who use the spaces where they don’t have a young child. A teenager should not apply as they are young adults.

    We do still use them with our you gest on board at 5, but that’s also because of his autism and we can’t get blue badge at the moment. We need extra space for door opening OR we find a bigger space inbetween two smaller cars.

    What does get me is those adults without kids on board who use the space as they have huge 4 wheel drive cars and don’t have the skill to park in a normal spot so they use the parent parking????

    OK. I better stop now as I am starting to rant hehe

    1. Yeah, I have seen people swing into those bays before who shouldn’t. I’ve heard tales of people getting very abusive when asked to move on. Such a pain, why can’t people just be sensible and fair in these matters?

  3. My take is simple ~ while one of my kids is still in a child seat that requires me to have the door wide open so I can lean across and do up the seat belt; I’m using the spaces. When that ceases to be the case (quite soon, the youngest is nearly booster seat height) then they will be capable of looking after themselves seat belt wise, and I will stop using the spaces.

    1. Yeah, see this is the mindset I had got myself in. Parent and child spaces are often in such short supply though, I do sometimes wonder, considering the age of my kids, whether I should be using them? I’m not sure what the asnwer is, but everyone has an opinion on the subject!

  4. Unless you or the children have a need to park in a parent and child space I’d say at aged 5 & 9 you probably shouldn’t be using the spaces. I think the extra wide spaces are needed for parents who have to life car seats in and out of vehicles and need the extra wide space to allow for the door to be opened fully. I’d also suggest you put the child locks on for your child’s safety and to prevent them damaging other cars.
    My eldest child is disabled and we have a blue badge and mobility car for her, I only use disabled spaces or parent and child spaces if the disabled ones are full when I’m on my own with her, because I need to open he door fully to strap her in her seat and to assist her getting in and out the vehicle. If I’m on my own I can’t use a normal space as it’s not wide enough. if I’m with someone else, I can get her out before parking or reverse the car to get her in, not leaving her on her own as she’d wander off.

    1. This has really split opinion. There seem to be those who think five is about the right cut off point and others who say that if kids are in a car seat, you are fine to use them. I’m not militant about it. I very often do swing into a standard bay but it is convenience and the thought of Izzy smacking another car with her door that weighs on my mind. I totally get that for you it’s much more of a need than a convenience.

  5. My hubby is literally the “child parking space police” he’ll confront anyone that doesn’t have a child with them using one. Mostly he gets horrible responses. Just yesterday a woman shouted at him, “I know I don’t and I don’t care”. I just reckon all spaces should be made wider 🙂 and not to label them differently (other than disabled obviously). Tesco has an age of 5 as their limit.

    1. You have a point. Out this way, on the fringes of London and in the city itself, car parking spaces are ridiculously tight. If they were wider, it would be much better. Maybe we should buy your husband a uniform?

  6. Interesting isn’t it? We were in Tesco the other day and I pointed out to my husband that we shouldn’t be parked in the parent and child space. They state clearly on their signs that the spaces are for families with children ‘under 5’. It was a bit of a ‘whoops’ moment – we were so used to using them. So, from now on, I suppose I will take that into consideration.

    1. yup, there’s nothing malicious in it is there? Yu just get so used to hunting those parent and child spaces out that it becomes habit!

  7. They should be situated at the back of the car park that way only genuine people would use them. I don’t need to be at the front of the store I just need the space to get the pram out and not have to leave it behind the car which is unsafe.
    Children not in car seats don’t need to be using the spaces

    1. I like this idea of not putting the spaces right at the front of the store. That just makes them so tempting for anyone ot use doesn’t it?

  8. Ill use them with my 9 or 15 year old if it’s quiet and plenty free, otherwise I park as far away fro the entrance as possible. Trouble is cars are getting bigger and spaces remain the same. I think people just get fed up with dings in their doors so will take advantage of bigger spaces.

    Think it’s more thoughtless to dent someone’s car and drive off than use a space not intended for you.
    The other problem is that I don’t think they are enforceable so I don’t think there is actually anything to stop anyone using these spaces

    1. It’s true, those spaces aren’t getting any bigger and I’ve noticed the way some kids open car doors. Stand back and hope for the best! I also go with your idea of parking as far away from the entrance as possible. Good logic.

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