Bella Vista NSW

Circa Norwest – 1 Circa Boulevarde, Norbrik Drive, Norwest, Bella Vista NSW

Overall: It’s okay because it is clean and well looked after, but there’s definitely better elsewhere. Clean and well maintained. Lacking important things like change tables outside the feeding cubicles, microwave, soap etc. You can do the following: nappy changes, feed, rest.

Good Points: Easy to find. Clean, well maintained. Three private feeding cubicles, with a chair and change table plus nappy bin in each one. Big main room. Sink and bench space in main room. Three separate toilets (2 x adult, 1 x child size). Paper towels.

Bad Points: Regular size pressure-swing door makes it difficult for double prams. No microwave. No bottle warmer. No soap on the sink at the main bench. Curtains for privacy instead of doors. Office chairs rather than armchairs in the feeding cubicles. No side tables in the feeding cubicles. No additional powerpoints in the feeding cubicles. No change tables outside of the feeding cubicles (you’re stuck if you need to do a change and cubicles are full!). No play equipment at all. 

I have to admit I’m pretty disappointed in the Parent Room at Circa Norwest. It’s probably the newest shopping centre in Sydney’s North-West, right next door to one of the newest private hospitals which has a fabbo maternity ward. With all that in consideration, I expected this Parent Room to be right at the top end of the scale. I was let down big time.

The good thing about this Parent Room is it’s easy to find, and is very clean, new, and well maintained. Apart from those things, it really doesn’t meet my expectations for a brand new facility. I’ll get into the review now, then you can go check it out and let me know what your thoughts are.

Parking at Circa Norwest on a weekday seems pretty easy. There’s outdoor and underground parking. My little one and I parked underground, because it was a drizzly day and I’m not a fan of trying to get bubs in the car in such weather. So underground we went and found a space fairly close to the shops entrance.  Mostly regular car spaces and a few disabled parking spaces, but no Parents With Prams parking spaces to be seen. If there are any, they’re not sign posted at all.

To get up to the shopping level we had two options: the ramp or the elevator. The elevator is big enough to take a few prams, which is great! The ramp is wide enough for prams but could be a squeeze if overtaking another one. The elevator and ramp both set you out at the entrance to the shops and also the hallway to the toilets and Parent Room. Love that! Makes it a cinch to find. From the elevator, turn to your left as you get out, walk down the hall a couple of steps and the door is on your left. From the ramp,turn to your right, walk down the hall a bit and the door is on your left. Too easy.

The door of the Parent Room is one of those impractical typical pressure-swing doors where you need to use your body weight or the pram to push it open and keep it that way until you get everything inside. Push-button, auto-slide doors are much much better.

Once inside, I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed with the look or layout of the room. Three toilet doors along the wall on the right (2 x adult toilets, 1 x child toilet), three private feeding cubicles to the left, and the main space at the end. Bland white paintwork, no artwork, no television, no Play Panels.

My immediate thought was ‘where are the change tables?’. There weren’t any in either of the three toilets. There weren’t any in the main part of the room. Opening up the curtain of one of the feeding cubicles, I found the change tables! Each of the three private feeding cubicles has a wall-mounted fold-out change table in it, along with nappy bin and office chair. This is handy, but creates a problem. What do you do if all the feeding cubicles are occupied and you need to change a nappy? 
Your only option is to do it on the floor of the main room. Make sure you bring a change mat in the nappy bag if you’re heading to Circa Norwest.

The cubicles themselves are okay. Again they’re super clean and new, which is a big plus. Having a change table plus nappy bin in each one is great. But the chair is a let-down. It’s a padded office chair. No arms on it, which is sad. When you’re feeding a baby, you need arms on the chair so you can have a bit of support. Without them, it really makes feeding alot harder than it needs to be. 
Not having a little table is also annoying. No-one is a fan of having to put their bag on the floor. And when you’re feeding or changing a baby, you don’t want to have to keep leaning right down to the ground to get the things you need. You end up squashing bub, or risk them toppling off the change table, and it’s not good for your back either.
And another thing, the curtains for privacy. Private feeding cubicles should have doors that lock. When a woman is partly exposed feeding her child, she wants something a bit more secure and private than a curtain to protect her and her baby. Doors may not look as pretty as curtains, but I think most mums and dads would prefer them over curtains any day. I’ve endured a few instances where other children have pulled back curtains to see who was in there, and I was not impressed at all. 

Now to let you know about the main space in the Parent Room. As I said earlier, there are no change tables outside the feeding cubicles. Not a single one. There should be at least a wall-mounted or bench change table in this part of the Parent Room. Not everyone who needs to change a nappy wants to take up an entire feeding cubicle. So why not have a change table outside of these?

There’s nothing to keep older little ones occupied either. Not a single toy, painting on the wall, Play Panel or television. Nothing! So again, if you’re headed here with your children, make sure you bring something to keep them entertained during the visit to the Parent Room.

There’s nothing to aid in food prep either. If you need a bottle warmer, go visit one of the cafes. There isn’t a microwave or bottle warmer in here. There’s just a sink, tiny bit of bench space and paper towel. No soap either! Not very hygienic considering this is the only sink available to wash hands after changing nappies (excluding the sinks in the toilets).

While I’m thinking of the toilets, this is a bit of an odd setup. There’s three toilets here. Each one private, in it’s own room with a locking door. Each is identical (apart from size, when you get to the child toilet), with toilet, sink, toilet paper, soap. Good quality fitout, very clean. But it’s unusual to have the child toilet completely on it’s own. I’d suggest a parent go in there with their child, in case they lock themselves in or need some help.

To me, this Parent Room seems like an emergency after-thought. Like the owners realised they needed to put one in asap, bought a some equipment cheaply and in bulk and whacked it in without actually giving decent consideration to the needs of parents and their babies. My big shopping list for this Parent Room would be: microwave, soap for the main sink, separate change table/bench in the main room, Play Panel or some mural on the wall……and doors to the feeding cubicles!

If you’ve been to this Parent Room, let me know what you think of it. I’m hoping there’ll be some improvement in it by the time we next visit.

Castle Hill NSW

Castle Towers (down the hall from Jitterbugs playland) Level 3 – 6-14 Castle Street, Castle Hill NSW

Overall: Good. Nappy change, toilets, food prep, private feeding, rest area. 

Good Points: Hands-free entry to the Parent Room. Complimentary disposable change mats. Separate sinks for nappy change and food prep benches. Soap dispenser at nappy change bench. Adult and child size toilets. Lockable doors on private feeding cubicles. Clean and working microwave. Separate food prep bench. Extra armchairs in the main area.

Bad Points: Private feeding cubicles are too small to be able to fit a pram inside AND be able to close and lock the door. No additional powerpoints for those mums who need to express using an electric pump. Massive nappy disposal bin is too far from the nappy change bench. 

One of my favourite places to go when the weather is miserable is Jitterbugs playland and cafe at Castle Towers. And no…..I’m not being at all sponsored or paid to say it. I just like it because we pay the one fee and the little one has unlimited play. It’s softplay too, which means none or minimal potential for major bumps. And the cafe is perfect for us parents who want to relax and still keep an eye on our kids. 

The other thing I like about it is it’s location to the Parent Room. Just a little further down the hallway is the Parent Room. Perfect if you need to change bubs or get them to the toilet asap during their playtime. 
The best bit of the Parent Room would have to be the entrance. The door is totally hands-free!! It senses you’re there and slides open for you. Perfect! To get back out, however, you need to press a green button  but who cares. The entry is totally automatic. Love it!

Inside the room is pretty big. To your right there’s a few armchairs where you can get off your feet and rest for a while. Directly opposite the doorway against the wall is the food prep bench, with sink, soap, and microwave. It’s good to see the food prep area is well away from the nappy change area (with the exclusion of the gigantic nappy disposal bin being put between the two).

To your left as you come in the room, you’ll find the two private feeding cubicles, nappy change bench, and toilets. Considering the available space in the room, the private feeding cubicles could be bigger and more user-friendly. Each one contains an armchair, just like the ones in the main room, and that’s it. The doors are lockable from the inside, but you’d find it tough to get the pram in there with you and also be able to close the door to lock it. There’s just not enough room! If you really do want privacy, then you’ll probably need to keep the pram outside the cubicle. If the doors opened outward instead of in, you’d have a better chance of getting complete privacy. But it’s not to be in this Parent Room.

The change bench has two spots for changing little bottoms. Between the two spaces is the sink and soap dispenser. At either end of the bench you’ll also find a dispenser containing complimentary disposable change mats. Little things like this can really make a big positive difference to a parent. The downside of this spot is the nappy disposal bin. Ideally there would be a few nappy bins tucked underneath the change bench, where it’s most accessible and convenient. Instead there is a HUGE bin against a wall between the change bench and the food prep area, which is out of arms reach. Not very handy at all. These gigantic bins seem to be a common feature throughout Parent Rooms in the Towers, and it’s a feature that could do with a rethink.

The toilets are pretty standard. Adult and child size, with the one sink. Not much to tell here. I just wish the sanitary bin was between the adult toilet and the wall, instead of being between the child and adult toilets. Little ones are curious enough without having this unit within easy reach. 

So if you’re headed to the Towers and are shopping around on Level 3, go check out this Parent Room. It’s got all the basics you need, but could do with some improvements. It’s definitely no Stockland Mall Parent Room, but it does the trick.

Castle Hill NSW

Castle Towers (old section) near Gold Class – Level 3, 6-14 Castle Street, Castle Hill NSW

Overall: Good. In the old section of the Towers. Relatively clean but small. Nappy change, rest, feed.

Good Points: Less busy than other Parent Rooms in the Towers. Separate feeding and nappy change areas. Separate sinks. Disposable change mat liners provided. Adult and child size toilets. Two private feeding cubicles. Bottle warmer provided.

Bad Points: No microwave. No additional powerpoints in feeding cubicles. Feeding cubicles are too small to fit a pram and also be able to shut and lock the door. Nappy bin is ENORMOUS and stuck between the doorways of the two feeding cubicles – just what you want to smell while feeding.

Parent Room is in the corridor between the escalators

The Towers is just one of those ever expanding shopping centres. It just gets bigger all the time, which makes shopping alot of fun, and sometimes a pain in the neck. But at least there are Parent Rooms on every single floor, and they’re pretty well sign posted too (take note Norwest Marketown!).

This particular Parent Room is in the old end of the Towers, near Gold Class and Geffro’s. Just head down the hall between the two escalators, turn right and you’ll find on the left hand side the doorway to the Parent Room. 

You know what I like most about this Parent Room? The door to get in! You don’t even have to press a green button to activate the sliding door. It just senses your presence and it slides open. Love it! To get out, however, you need to press a big green button but that’s alright. Better than trying to juggle a door handle and pram anyday.

Doorway to the Parent Room

The first part of the room you walk into has a couple of extra armchairs, and also the food prep bench. The armchairs are relatively clean and comfortable. The food prep bench has a sink, soap, papertowels and a bottle warmer. What it’s missing is a microwave. But it is a good size space and being separate from the nappy change area is a big plus.

Food prep area

Separation of food prep and nappy change areas

The next part of the Parent Room has the feeding cubicles, toilets and nappy change bays. There’s and adult and child size toilet in the bathroom, big plus! The nappy change bench has two bays, with a sink and soap dispenser between them and disposable change mat liners within reach. Another big plus! 

The downside to the change area is the ceiling. I know, it sounds like a random thing to say but it’s true. My little one HATES with a passion shopping centre change benches. Screams and tears spring forth until a fresh clean nappy is applied and we’re away from the bench. I don’t know what it is, but a fear of them has come from someplace. The only exception is at Stockland Mall shopping centres. The ceilings above the change benches we’ve seen so far are decorated with paintings and mobiles, which are enough to keep my little one happy while I change the nappy. But blank white ceilings with harsh lights, not interested. 

Adult and child size toilets

Nappy change bench
Opposite the change bench are the two private feeding cubicles. Be warned, these are TINY! Each has an armchair, and nothing else. The doors are lockable, but you’re not going to be able to take the pram in with you if you want to close the door. So you’ll either have to feed with the door open, or trust your pram and contents will be safe while you close the door to feed your baby. This really isn’t very good. I mean, it can be hard enough trying to find a Parent Room in the first place when you’re out and about. And then to find the feeding cubicle is too small to fit the pram if you want the door closed. It can really add to the exhaustion many mums already feel. But at least after reading this, you’ll be prepared. 

Tiny feeding cubicles

Oh and another thing. The nappy bin is ENORMOUS and is right between the doorways of the two feeding cubicles. This really isn’t the nicest place to have it. I’d like to see a couple of smaller nappy bins placed underneath the change bench, instead of this gigantic one against the feeding cubicles. Personally, I’m not a fan of having a whiff of dirty nappies hit me while I’m feeding my little one. Sure Parent Rooms aren’t going to smell like freshly cut roses, and various baby smells are going to hang in the air, but I think having the industrial size nappy disposal bin between the doorways of the feeding cubicles is a lousy idea. 

Wrapping it up, this is an ok Parent Room. Definitely not the worst on offer at the Towers, and it is one of the quieter ones I have come across. So check it out and let me know what you think. In the meantime, I’ll head back to the Towers and check out more of the Parent Rooms on offer.