Conquering IKEA (with kids)

conquering ikeaLast week, Mike and I finally agreed it was time to replace the old couch in the beach house. Naturally, we turned to our favorite Swedish furniture store. IKEA’s Friheten Sleeper Sofa has clean lines, inventive storage, and  a low price. Most of all, it was not the 30(+) year-old couch that thousands of soggy bathing suit bottoms have rested on over the years.

One of us had to drive over to IKEA to make sure we definitely wanted the Friheten and that the boxes would fit in the back of the minivan. Naturally, I volunteered. The girls had other stuff going on, so I took the boys with me after school last Wednesday. We were there for five hours. Not only did we confirm the Friheten was perfect, we also picked out an ottoman and cover, ate dinner, and had lots of fun. Here’s how we did it and how you can too…

1. First, check the kids into Smaland to get your breakable shopping done. I needed to get some new plates, and IKEA’s dish department isn’t the place for two rambunctious boys. The boys had a great time playing Star Wars in Smaland while I found what I needed among the stacks of precariously stacked glassware. I also did a quick run through the showroom while they were in the child-care. Why? Because if I would have had the boys with me, it would not have been quick. (Read: they would have picked up every picture frame and played with it.).

2. Next we headed to the couch department. By now, the boys were deep into their game of Star Wars and couldn’t hear much of what I said. At most furniture stores, this would be a recipe for disaster. Not IKEA. They take the whole do-it-yourself mentality to every part of the store. Yes, this means no salesperson is going to answer your questions. It also means no one is around to care that your kids are rolling around on a couch as Yoda and Darth Vader.

3. Definitely eat dinner at IKEA with your kids. First, because it’s so cheap (either free or $2.99 for an entree, side, and drink). Second, because it’s kind-of healthy. Or at least the veggies taste pretty good. Third, your kids will taste exotic foods. I mean, Lingonberry Drink is basically just sugar, but you can compliment your kids on their exotic palette. Which makes up for the fact they will probably stare at the TV the whole time they eat.

4. When you’re shopping at IKEA with kids, the self-serve furniture section is both a nightmare and dream come true. The boys played a complicated Star Wars game through the warehouse aisles of IKEA. Did anyone care? No. Did anyone help me find a cover for the ottoman we were considering? No. Here’s the takeaway: IKEA is so self-serve that no one will give you dirty looks about your rambunctious kids.

5. Go to IKEA on a weekday. For real. During the weekend, the store is so crowded, it’s not even worth it. You’ll wait an hour to get your kids into Smaland, you’ll wait in bathroom lines every time one of your darlings has to potty, forget about any help from employees, and other shoppers won’t be so tolerant of your light-saber-fighting kiddos.

6. Other general IKEA tips: when you wander through the showroom, take lots of cell-phone pictures (of the furniture you like, of the tags that tell where to find that furniture, of your kids playing on the couch you might buy); allow a whole day for IKEA so that when you get a great hack idea, you have hours to figure out if it will work; don’t fret about leaving your cart of paid-for merchandise in the loading area–six thousand trips and counting and no one has every stolen so much as a Lingonberry from my cart.

Happy IKEAing!

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3 Responses
  1. Brittany

    How has keeping it clean gone for you with kids? I was about to make the purchase when I realized that the covers were not removable/washable. This was the main reason I have been looking to Ikea in the first place…

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