School-Gate Parking And Leaving Kids In Cars: What's Your View?


The school run is a stress-fest at the best of times, but factor in a baby falling asleep in the car just as you’re collecting older siblings, and it swiftly turns into a moral minefield.

Because what do you do if you drive your little ones to school and have a young baby whose nap time coincides with pick-up? A - Leave the sleeping child in the car even if it means they’re out of sight, albeit momentarily? B - Park on double yellow lines or in the way of other traffic / pedestrians in order to let your napper grab forty winks whilst still within your line of sight, albeit endangering the lives of other road users at the same time? Or - C - prioritise the safety of all the other parents and children by parking safely and waking your baby to take them with you to the school gates - even if that means spending the rest of the day paying for it with an over-tired, nap-resistant baby?

This is currently a subject of heated debate among mums at my children’s school. I’ve always thought the obvious answer was ‘C’ but it’s amazing how many parents seem to disagree, based on their parking habits.

Without fail, every single day, a handful of parents park dangerously and illegally outside our school, causing outrage among other mums and dads, who feel disgruntled that they’ve parked (safely) several streets away - thus requiring them to sprint to the school gates - while those with cheekier parking habits rock up with just seconds to spare and never a hair out of place.

There’s also the small matter to consider that it’s technically an offence to leave a child alone in a car out of sight. A friend of mine once left her daughter napping in the car while she popped into a shop to grab some emergency groceries - and emerged to find the police blocking her car in and demanding that she take a seat in the squad car for a pep talk about the importance of never leaving her child unattended in a vehicle out of sight.

And I can see the complainers’ points. I’ve had no choice but to drive straight into the path of oncoming traffic before now, simply because illegally-parked vehicles have completely obscured my view into the main road. Indeed I’ve heard it said many times that it can only be a matter of time before there’s an accident - I sincerely hope that never turns out to be true.

But while I agree 100% with the argument that parents should prioritise the safety of everyone rather than just their own convenience or the comfort of their child, I kind of feel for those parents who annoy others by parking illegally, too. Yes, they could probably get their acts together and arrive earlier if they really want to bag a spot right outside the school gates so that they can leave little ones sleeping. But I’m just going to thank my lucky stars that my littlest’s nap time doesn’t coincide with pick-up time for my older kids, because I can’t say with certainty that I wouldn’t be one of *those* infuriating parents.

So, what’s your view? Would you ever leave your napping child unattended in the car? Or do you have some strong opinions about the school-gate parking habits of others parents? We’d love to hear it all…

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  • Titchyfeep
    I can't believe that in this day and age that people would leave a baby in a car alone. It would only take a split second for them to be taken. It's not exactly hard to take them out the car while they are sleeping and transfer them in to your arms/ sling/ pram etc. even if they do wake up it's not the end of the world. Imagine if something happened how awful you would feel all because you couldn't miss nap time.
  • jog44
    We have massive issues at school with dangerous parking - baby or not. A Facebook page has sprung up called 'Parking like a t*** in our town' which post pictures to name and shame. What's wrong with walking to school??? Then if it's baby's nap time they will be peacefully sleeping in the buggy. Then you have the dilemma of where to leave the eldest 2 are separated by steps so if the youngest is sleeping do I leave him at the bottom of the steps while getting my eldest or walk all the way around making my middle child walk through a car park....
  • hazelmurray
    Last week saw 2 people park their car and head off into Morrisons. It was only once I'd finished putting my shopping into my car realised they'd left 2 under 5's in the back of the car. Now it was a full shop was loading into the car so it did take while and take trolley back so gives you idea of how long they were away. Too car reg and phoned the store. Some people have no idea at all why couldnt one stay in the car with the kids or take the kids into shop

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