My warning to all mums: Don’t attempt a trip to IKEA without reinforcements

IKEA visit with kids

I went to IKEA on the long weekend with my one-year-old, my sister and her baby, and my mother. WORST. IDEA. EVER. Over three hours later with one head injury, two cranky babies and three women with blood pressure through the roof, it was the homewares expedition all your nightmares are made of.

The trouble with renovating is that once it’s all over you suddenly realise you need more furniture. We’ve been sitting on bean bags and standing while we eat for a few weeks now which isn’t cool when you also have three small boys. Even though my hubby was away this weekend I knew I had to get my arse to IKEA. And what do you know? There was a sale on the very same couch I wanted to buy. Fate! Or so I thought. Turns out my destiny was actually these 8 stages of IKEA hell instead.

Warning: things are about to get sweary.

Stage 1: Excited anticipation

I drop my older two boys at their auntie’s place – tick. Now that the main trouble makers are out of my hair things are surely going to be a breeze. I then pick up my mum who expertly navigates all the way out to IKEA for me (I have a terrible sense of direction), with my other sister following behind us with her baby. We get there and park – it’s all too easy! We pop the bubs in the strollers and off we go. This is going to be soooo good.

Stage 2: I am a interiors guru

First up we spend quite a while looking at couches and finally work out which ones I’m going to get. This is going so well! My husband is going to be so pleased with me. And ooh look at that throw! And cute picture frames! Wow there’s so much nice stuff I’m going to get, the house is going to look AH-MAZING. I will be the envy of the neighbourhood with my interior styling skills after I’m finished in here. Thank goodness I only have one of my children with me. What a smart decision that was. And if there’s time after we look at the chairs and a few other things we might even get some Swedish meatballs and a drink at the cafe. What a fun outing this is!

Stage 3: Cracks begin to appear

My toddler is over the stroller and has been let loose in the store but it’s proving difficult to keep him under control. I smugly produce sandwiches I prepared earlier but he throws them all over the floor. The clock is starting to tick and I’m starting to wonder how it’s possible that we still have so much more of the store to see. The flickers of stress are beginning to show in all of us.

Stage 4: Bodily harm

I’m sitting discussing the different desk options when suddenly I get conked on the head. What the F##K?! My son has pushed a large metal hat rack or something onto the side of my head. It hurts. What time is it? We’d better keep moving if we want meatballs. Back in the stroller he goes and on to the next display. Why are there so many people here? I’m starting to think that IKEA on a long weekend sale was maybe not such a good idea. I can feel the tight knots forming in my back – where are the Swedish masseurs when you need them?!

Stage 5: Panic sets in

Damn those crafty Swedes with their cheap Scandi homewares. Why is this there so much stuff in here?! The only thing that keeps me going is the thought of the meatballs. We finally make it to the end part of the store with a full trolley and now it’s time to go and select the big stuff off the warehouse shelves. We need one of those flat trolleys so I back it up to find one. Hang on, there’s only three of us and we have two trolleys and two strollers. Sh#t, reality is sinking in. That’s right, the last time I came to IKEA it was with a child and my mother and no husband and it was a nightmare. HOW HAD I FORGOTTEN THIS?! Panic sets in and all three of us are in dire need of a stiff drink as we manoeuvre our way through hoards of people to find my furniture, me pushing a trolley and a stroller in each hand like a crazy woman. Damn my puny arms.

Stage 6: F##k the meatballs

We’ll be lucky to get out of here alive, we have literally been in IKEA for over 3 hours. My bub chooses this moment to wig out, he is over it and so are we. My sister’s baby is miraculously asleep. It’s getting close to my son’s dinner and thank god I brought some squeezy pouches. He has a good go at them and then squeezes the rest out all over himself, the stroller and the floor. Nice. Oh man, I forgot the wipes. Phew, my sister has some and I also find a random packet of chips in my bag to keep him busy.

Somehow we make it to the checkout loaded up to the gunnels. We queue for ages to only then be told that we have to go back to the service desk to get our couches. Back we all traipse. ‘Sorry!’ The trainee tells us that one of the couches isn’t in stock. I silently curse and then lug all my s##t back to the checkout. Where is the man power when you need it? I see a young child-free couple whizz by with a trolley each – bastards, I think.

Stage 7: We’re trapped

There is no way we can get all of this stuff in both of our cars so we queue up for home delivery. BIG mistake. After waiting around 20 minutes (at least my sister had time to give my nephew a bottle), we decide to give up and battle it out ourselves. This is the real cost of IKEA right here.

But where are we?! We wait forever to get into a lift, everyone is pressing the buttons at the same time and no one is going anywhere. Finally we make it out on to our level and leave my mum with everything while my sister and I go find the cars. Thank the lord they’re not far away, sure we have to go the wrong way in the car park to get back to mum but who cares. Both kids are unhappy campers and we now have to perform real life Tetris with incredibly heavy flat packs. But somehow we fit it all in and then get the hell out of dodge.

Stage 8: Homeward bound

Thankfully I follow my sister out so I don’t get lost. I feel shaken up but relieved. I will worry about unpacking the car another day and THANK GOD at least my husband can put all the sh#t together for me when he gets back. I can’t wait to get home and have a glass of wine and go to bed. I am exhausted, but it will be worth it when I’m entertaining and smugly looking around at all my fancy yet affordable homewares. YES. I survived a trip to IKEA on a long weekend with kids, I am a winner and will not be returning anytime soon.

Oh f##k, I suddenly remember the couches. I have to go back there again next week to get them. And I’ll have three kids with me instead of one and no family available and I’m not sure if my husband can help! HELP ME!

Have you ever braved IKEA with your small children?

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