I make no secret of the fact I am a huge IKEA fan. If I had my way, my entire house would be kitted out like an IKEA showroom. I love everything about it; from the displays, to the little kiddie play areas, to the huge inspiration from the hacks and online brochure.
I know many people who have IKEA furniture, but I also know a few people who aren’t as enthused as I am.
But I think on the right day, at the right time, IKEA can be a perfect place for you to kill two birds with one stone; entertain your child and have some time for yourself. Here’s how:
- Go during the week, in term-time. Compared to the weekends and holidays, it’s unbelievably quiet. The only people you will encounter will be parents in the same boat as you, or older, retired couples enjoying a browse to while away the afternoon. Meaning you can focus on looking at merchandise and keep one eye on your child without losing him/her in the crowd.
- If your toddler is compliant, they can have hours of fun playing ‘house’; trying out the sofas, the dining chairs, the little table and chairs they have set up in so many of the living areas, or for a change, you can lounge on the sofa and quietly absorb all the wonderful home-furnishing ideas while your toddler makes you some lunch from the play-kitchen.
- You have choices. Pushchair, pram, trolley or none of those options. If you have a little tear-away like me, and you can’t trust them to stay in one place without flitting around the store like a sparrow in a birdbath, contain them. The entire store is wheel-friendly, with roomy lifts to transport you to your chosen destination. While you’re at it, rip off a paper tape-measure from the shopping list shelf for them to play with while you browse the Home displays. Don’t ask me why, but the kids LOVE them.
- Småland. What an amazing feature. Children under 3 can play in here for 45 minutes for FREE. Which means if you have a child who is confident enough to go in by themselves (my eldest never was, I’m yet to try Little C in here yet as she’s only two) you can go and shop and browse or get a cuppa ALL BY YOURSELF!! All staff of course are fully trained in childcare and there are procedures in place to keep your child safe and contained, which means you can enjoy some time to yourself with total peace of mind. See their FAQs HERE (note – socks are mandatory).
- FREE tea and coffee with your family card. I mean, why wouldn’t you? And then there’s the breakfast. £1.50 for six items of cooked breakfast for Ikea family members. I recall going with my eldest when she was about three, and she had a cinnamon swirl for 50p. Where else can you get breakfast for two, for £2?
- The inspiration. If you’re anything like me and really want to make your house a home, IKEA offers the perfect opportunity to get creative. I tend to just pop along for a browse, get some ideas, take some snaps, and then spend hours browsing the online brochure and website, pinning various items to boards on my Pinterest. It’s perfect for taking your time over a project; there’s so many different styles and ideas to fit everyone’s taste. With a little imagination, it IS possible to create your perfect space. (TIP: IKEA tend to use neutral or similar colours in their displays, so bear this in mind when something catches your eye and really think about whether it will go with everything else in your house, such as your decor and soft furnishings, and of course whether it will fit. Their interior design and marketing strategies are awesome – they make very clever use of their space and it can be deceptive. That’s why Pinterest and a tape measure is essential before spending any of your hard-saved cash.
- Finish your day trip off in the little park outside. It’s perfect for toddlers; just small enough for confident climbers to scale up to the top of the climbing frame and down the slide without giving you heart failure. By the end of your trip, your small person will be so worn out from such stimulation they’ll fall asleep in the car. This leaves you time to chill out for a while longer – if, of course, said toddler remains asleep during the transition from car to house – and renders them much calmer in preparation for bedtime (well, certainly in the case of my springy toddler, who prematurely dropped her naps aged 18 months and bounces off the walls come bedtime).
This post was written for WikiPlacesForKids.com – THE website for Kids AND Grown-Ups! Packed with awesome reviews of epic trips out, and a top resource for that much-needed hour out of the house.