Can a man with a pram fit in a tram?

So I’ve named this blog* “man with a pram in a tram”, not only for the snazzy alliteration, but also as this is another one of those pressing first world parent problems; namely can a man (or woman) with a pram fit on a tram?

Well the short answer is yes, the shorter answer is no, and the correct answer is yes and no. You see it all depends on the tram (not all trams being equal), the pram (not all prams being equal), and I guess the man (not all mans** being equal).

 

So firstly THE PRAMS. As you are not doubt all well aware, prams come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours and odours (especially after being used by less than fastidious babies), and this affects how well they interact with the trams. As we have neither the time or space to do a review of every different pram I will instead categorize them into three…… categories – strollers by which I mean the little light things that fold up to fit into a matchbox but would come out worse in a collision with a marshmallow, prams (see the pram I use via this ← link) for your standard infant/toddler conveyance, and octomum prams by which I mean don’t even bother these are bigger than the tram itself! Basically a stroller will be easier to get onto any tram although for those with stairs (see trams below) you may need to decant little one and do some stroller origami. A pram will have a hard time getting on any non low floor tram without the assistance of a kind hearted stranger, and an octomum pram probably couldn’t fit through the door of any tram (or an aircraft hanger).

 

Now onto THE MANS. Ask yourself are you the type of man to board a tram? Are you the type of man to push a pram? If the answer is: “if it’s got wheels but no V8 (not the juice) then I’m not touching it!” Then you are not the type of man to fit a pram on a tram. If the answer is: “trams are so mainstream these days, I only catch autogyros!” You are not the kind of hipster/man to fit a pram on a tram. If the answer is: “I’ve got a screaming baby, a full nappy (on the baby we hope), a spew smelling jumper and am running late for House Husbands!” Then you may be the kind of man to fit a pram on a tram.

 

And finally, THE TRAMS. Here is a quick list of the trams currently in use on Melbourne’s network, along with how pram friendly they are out of ten. One being: may as well attempt to board an irritable porcupine, five being: some manual lifting may be required, and ten being: put your feet up on the provided (massaging) ottoman and call the butler for a drink.

W-CLASS TRAMS 1/10

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The iconic Melbourne….. ummm, icon? rates high for classic looks and tourist photo shoots but very poorly for pram accessibility. Steep narrow stairs will have you cursing your lack of a Sherpa whilst manhandling little one under one arm, the pram folded up as well as possible under the other, and your five bags of leaking shopping artfully strung over your neck; then to top it off there’s another stair inside, not to mention the severe lack of space. Don’t bother unless escaping an apocalyptic zombie horde.

Z-CLASS TRAMS 2/10

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Pretty much the same as the W-class except without the internal stair and the iconic status. At least with the W-class you may end up in a tourist brochure.

A-CLASS TRAMS 3/10

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Photo from here by Bahnfrend.

This class suffers from the same steep stairs access as the W & Z-classes but has a little bit more room to maneuver, bumping up it’s rating. Having said that the hand rail that divides the stairwell in half is quite a pain for the pram toting commuter.

B-CLASS TRAMS 4/10

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Photo from here (public domain).

Similar to the A-class but even bigger, If you manage to get the pram up the stairs you can find some room in the articulated middle section. This tram also suffers from an inconveniently located hand rail.

C-CLASS TRAMS 8/10

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Photo from here by Liamdavies.

Here we see the first of the modern low floor trams, this means there are no stairs to get in or out. The only time you’ll need to lift the pram is if you’re boarding or exiting the tram from a non-platform stop – admittedly the majority of stops – something usually within the capabilities of most prams. Once inside park the pram in the spacious middle section and enjoy the gentle rocking motion soothe little one to sleep whilst enjoying one of the complementary brochures about the upcoming changes to route 109.

D-CLASS TRAMS 9/10

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The other modern low floor tram, this one scores higher as it seems just a little bit roomier (real or imagined I’m not sure). Like the C-class it has no stairs, a large open section in the middle purposefully designed for those using wheeled transport. Definitely the cream of the crop.

So there you have it, just remember to touch on and touch off and your pram/tram/man interactions will be smooth sailing.

 

* Is it just me or do others find it funny that the word blog is not recognized by the spell-checker in wordpress. Surely a blog site would make the word blog an acceptable word. Go away red squiggly lines!

** Again excuse the alliteration.

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Bibs – necessary?

It has recently occurred to me that bibs are – in most respects – pretty useless.

Sure they do stop some food shirt interaction, but more often then not there’ll still be a whole bunch that gets through. Is it worth the hassle (struggling to get it on, struggling to stop little one from pulling it off) for a small section of clean shirt? I say just pack an extra shirt (on top of the three extra you’re already packing) and just swap them over at the end; that way you have one less dirty item to clean, one less stressed parent and one happy little munchkin. I mean who doesn’t love making a mess? Not him↓

 

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Every dad’s conundrum

There comes a time for every dad when they are faced with one of life’s most fundamental questions, a question so controversial that it can forever define you as a father and human-being, a question so divisive that your answer can make friends of your enemies and enemies of your friends. Yes that’s right it’s the question that you fear to hear, and fear to imagine what your answer might be, the question of: “When pouching* your little one would you use the toilet/urinal?”

Now before going further I can understand that all the ladies reading this may be shocked and outraged (and maybe a smidgeon jealous) so please feel free to stop reading here; although having met and befriended my fair share of new mums recently I must admit there is not much that can gross you guys out. All the lads reading this please also feel free to stop reading and make many remonstrations with your partner at how “disgusting I am” etc etc. Of course when she’s asleep there’s nothing stopping you coming back for a squiz (although creeping around at night to use the computer might look a little suspect).

This topic recently piqued my interest when on a recent trip to Japan I came across these inside a number of public toilets:

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A little fold down chair in the corner of the cubicle to plonk your little one whilst you attend to other matters. Quite a clever idea I thought and perfect for the busy modern parent. Unfortunately I am yet to find one in Australia (or anywhere else I’ve been on my travels for that matter) so what do you do if you don’t have access to such conveniences and are pramless? You can’t put little one down on the less than 100% sanitary floor, you can’t hang them off the coat hook (no matter how tempting), you are left with but two options, hold it in or take the controversial path of pouch peeing.

Of course if you do take the second route you then will have to face the  logistical issues such as: baby’s legs in a not too convenient location, how to keep aim with a wriggling unbalancing mass strapped to you, the lack of accurate sight lines, etc.

So guys what would you do?  If you’ve read this far I think I’ve got a fair idea…..

*By pouching I mean carrying your baby in any harness, either on your back or on your chest i.e. like a kangaroo’s pouch.

Parents rooms

You are walking down Bourke Street Mall, little one securely pouched in front of you looking around in that oh so inquisitive way only those so young can. The nappy bag is packed wisely with all the necessaries, the amount of nappies expertly calculated with a parents understanding of the complex – hours away from home multiplied by solids and milk/formula intake divided by Pi (carry the three) – equation.*

A sudden panic, “Did I pack an extra change in case of (almost certain) puke attack or (hopefully not) nappy leakage?” But a quick hand shove to the bottom of the bag finds it there folded neatly (read crammed in to whatever space was left), next to the baby wipes and the leaking sippy-cup with its lid not quite on correctly.

All in all the day is going along swimmingly, in fact you almost feel like you have things under control. Things are going so well you decide to head into the little cafe in the laneway for a nice cup of coffee (plus cup one third filled with hot water for the bottle) when the ominous signs begin to present. Little one screws up their face, a look of Zen like concentration passes over their eyes, their little body tenses and then with an almighty grunting exhalation and a pant shaking rumble the deed is committed – they’ve “done a nappy”!

This time there is no panic, you know the nappy bag is packed with the right stuff, you’re confident that the nappy has been applied correctly (i.e. so tight that little one’s legs are suspiciously purplish) and you know that you’re in the centre of a major modern city with easy access to any number of baby change facilities. You quickly scurry into the nearest shopping arcade and quickly search for the parents room, to your dismay you find that even though it is in one of the busiest shopping districts in the country, it fails to cater to the in need parent and no little baby symbol greets your eyes. The next centre has a baby change room, however when arriving at the so called ‘parents’ room’, you are annoyed to find that it’s just a change table stuck up (with one rusty screw remaining) in the disabled toilet (not seemingly cleaned since 1997), the tumble weed of toilet paper blowing across the floor pretty much summing up your state of mind.

How could your great day have turned so sour, so soon? Easy, because you didn’t read man with a pram in a tram’s post on the best parents rooms in Melbourne (this post if you’re confused). Yes the world is changing and parents rooms are becoming more and more common, however, they’re often hard to find, and if finally discovered can often not live up to expectations. I have therefore taken it upon myself to rate the best parents’ rooms in Melbourne.

Please note that this list only covers the central CBD where I and little one go on most of our travels. There are some great – and not so great – facilities all over Melbourne (Chadstone comes to mind) however I am but one man and he is but one baby and can only make so many nappies. For all locations please just follow the links provided.

Following is the top five list rated against the following criteria:

AMENITY – Imitates Dennis Denuto from The Castle, “It’s the vibe of the thing…” General ambiance, cleanliness and appearance.

CONVENIENCE – Easy to find (well signposted) and easy to get to.

FUNCTIONALITY – Facilities that are easy to use and are of the right kind. All facilities should have a change table, sink, nappy disposal bin + microwave.

So without further ado:

5th best is a bit out of left field – National Gallery of Victoria Australia, Federation Square.

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The facilities might seem a little austere but they definitely suit the feel of the new Fed Square architecture (if the Death Star has baby change facilities, this is what they’d look like). Small and clinical with grey tiles and stainless steel finishes these facilities epitomize function over feel, in fact the room felt the cleanest of all the reviewed rooms (I was there on a low use weekday which may also have contributed). The small size could be an issue for larger prams or those parents with a brood in tow, and the feeding chair leaves a lot to be desired.

AMENITY = 5/10

Clean but lacking soul (or the ‘force’).

CONVENIENCE = 6/10

Fairly well signposted but a bit out of the way and a limit of one baby at a time.

FUNCTIONALITY = 7/10

Everything you need in the right places. A bit tight for prams.

TOTAL = 18/30

4th place is filled by the QV Centre Melbourne.

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These newly renovated facilities certainly gain points for funk factor. Colourful and well maintained these facilities seem to strike a reasonable balance between functionality and design.

AMENITY = 8/10

Clean, colourful with some nice design elements.

CONVENIENCE = 7/10

Well signposted and in a convenient location (same level as the food court and near the lifts), however a limit of 2 rooms and the fact that if you’re waiting for a room you’re waiting in the busy toilet thoroughfare take points off.

FUNCTIONALITY = 6/10

Again a bit tight for prams and the automatic doors can be frustrating to lock but overall good functionality.

TOTAL = 21/30

Coming in 3rd we have David Jones Melbourne.

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This is the first communal parents room to make the top five and so unlike the rooms at QV and the Gallery the baby change and kitchen area as well as a lounge are shared facilities, whilst individual rooms for breast feeding and toileting are provided.

AMENITY = 7/10

Fairly utilitarian and also pretty drab and understated but clean and modern.

CONVENIENCE = 8/10

On the same level (and section) as the baby-ware although having to travel up to the fifth floor could be annoying if you’re in store for other shopping purposes .

FUNCTIONALITY = 7/10

The smallest of the communal parents rooms in the top five with only two feeding rooms and change tables, but all the right stuff in the right places.

TOTAL = 22/30

Pipping David Jones in 2nd place is Myer Melbourne.

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Another large communal parents room, Myer strikes a nice balance between function and design. A large lounge area in the middle of the room helps calm the space and the facilities are clean and abundant.

AMENITY = 8/10

Some effort has been put in to decorate and furnish although the upholstery on the chairs could do with a clean.

CONVENIENCE = 8/10

Like at DJs on the same level as the baby-ware, but again travelling up the lift may put some off.

FUNCTIONALITY = 8/10

Plenty of facilities (including nappy vending machine) and spacious, enough room for even the largest entourage.

TOTAL = 24/30

Coming in 1st in the top five parents rooms in Melbourne is Melbourne Central Shopping Centre.

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This is definitely the grand master of parents rooms in the city. Another communal space even larger than Myer this facility has loads of what you need where you need it. The area is divided into two sections by child gates, one for feeding and the other for changing. In the feeding area multiple curtained off booths provide privacy to those who desire it whilst any older kids (and other hangers on) can amuse themselves with the play equipment. The change area has multiple stations and so much room they could all be in use at once with enough room left over for a pram grand prix.

AMENITY = 9/10

Clean modern and funky, this space has had some serious design thought put in.

CONVENIENCE = 8/10

Signage can be hard to spot and not in the most convenient location but is close to the lifts.

FUNCTIONALITY = 9/10

More than enough of everything and that little bit more.

TOTAL = 26/30

So there you have it my best five, hopefully this list will help you in any mid-city nappy/feeding crises.

*This equation – also known as the Valerie Hunter Gordon conundrum – relates only to disposable nappies. For the much more difficult cloth nappy equation please read Maths for the Modern Parent, Dr Maria Allen, 1964.