Nappy change, feed, rest.
Good Points: Push button, auto sliding door. Private feeding cubicles. Sink, soap, hand towels. Comfy armchairs. Microwave. Spacious main room. Three change bays. Toilet with locking door. Loads of nappy bins.
Bad Points: Hard to find if you’re at the end of the centre closest to the road (no signage until halfway through the centre). Small room. Curtains for feeding privacy. Small feeding cubicles. Shared sink for food prep and hygiene. No side table. One change bay in awkward position. Other change bays need repairs. One toilet, rather than two. Horrible Dyson hand dryer in toilet.
My little one and I were in Menai checking out the lovely Little Treasures Market – which was just divine (my favourite stall was The Monkey Brush – love Deb’s artwork). Anyway, spending so much time and money made us pretty hungry. So off we went to check out Menai Marketplace next door. We wandered down with the stroller, so I didn’t get to check out if there’s any designated Parents with Prams parking.
We used the entrance closest to the street, just next to the police station shopfront. Immediately I looked up to the ceiling and then to the walls for signs showing me where to find the parent room, or at least the toilets. Hmmm….I could find signs for the toilets but they didn’t have a baby-change/parent room symbol on them. Having learnt the hard way before, I thought we should probably check them out anyway……just in case.
Well we found the toilets, but nothing with a baby change table in it. Not even the disabled toilet. I was a bit worried, because there were loads of other parents in the toilets with their little ones trying to change them or get them on the loo. Where’s the baby change table? Where’s the feeding area?
Thankfully there was a lovely mum on her way out, who must have seen my furrowed brow, and told me the parent room was at the other end of the shopping centre. Of course it was at the other end. Why didn’t I think of that myself (*kidding!*).
This did not help to raise my expectations of what I was about to find. Not having signs to let customers know where the parent rooms are, until they’re at the middle or far end of the shopping centre, is really poor form. And it’s especially frustrating to new visitors who rely on centre directories and ceiling signs.
It wasn’t until we were in the middle of the shopping centre that the signs hanging from the ceiling suddenly included directions to the parent room (way down the other end). It would have been nice to have had this information earlier. So anyway, eventually we found the hallway (next to Bakers Delight) which lead to the Parent Room.
Still feeling ticked off, I was actually a little happy and surprised to find a push-button auto sliding door as the entry way to the Parent Room. All of a sudden, things were looking up! On the other side of the door is a relatively clean, snug parent room with almost everything you need. It’s a very nice surprise.
Along the back wall is the change bench. There’s three change bays (with straps) built into the bench. Two of the bays are usable, but need a little bit of TLC (lifting from the bench, little cracks). The third one is half under the nappy vending machine. I wouldn’t be wanting to try and tuck a little one partly under a steel unit to change their nappy. I’d rather wait for another bay to become available.
There’s two really great things about the change bench: the nappy bins are underneath the bench, and there’s paper towel.
At the far end of the bench, along the right hand side wall, is the food prep area. The big problem here is the sink is shared. It’s not safe at all to have the one sink for food prep and also for cleaning up after nappy changes. Not good at all. Apart from that, the microwave is clean and working, and there’s soap and paper towel.
Now for those bubs needing a feed, I found two private feeding cubicles. These are very small, but having a curtain for privacy means you can keep the pram in there with you and still stay covered. Just hope other people in the room watch out for the pram shaped bump sticking out through the curtain.
The cubicles are quite basic. Just a curtain and comfy armchair. But it’s more than a few places I’ve been to, so it’s actually okay.
On the left side of the room as you walk in is the door to the toilet. It locks from the inside, which is always a plus. The doorway wouldn’t be big enough for a double pram. Inside there’s just the one toilet, and while it is lower to the floor than a standard toilet it’s not kid-size. There’s loads of toilet paper (a favourite toy for many kids learning to use the loo), plus sink and soap unit. For drying hands, however, there’s just the worst ever hand dryer – a Dyson hand dryer. Oh my gosh, these things might work fast but the noise is awful! My little one goes completely beserk when these things crank up. They are so loud, it’s terrifying for kids!
But you know what, after finally finding this parent room (after such a rough start locating it), we found it to be a whole lot better than expected. It’s pretty clean, fairly well equipped and has almost all you need. Just make a note to enter the shopping centre via the far entrance to get to the parent room, NOT the entrance closest to the street.
So if you’ve been to Menai Marketplace, what do you think of the parent room? Are there any others in Menai that are better or worse?