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.