A trip to Ikea with kids

For my regular readers you may remember my post about my ambitious plans to redo my cupboard in my bedroom. I also mentioned how I planned to go with my mum and my little darling nephew and niece to Ikea to get various items like shelves and rails to accomplish this. I promised to give feedback on how my plans went so here it goes (I may go back and forth in present and past tense, but just the fact I lived to tell the tale should qualify me a break in proper English grammar). I have also included a few graphics as it is a long post, which I don’t normally do and I hope to do a bit more often, as having something visual can help to break up the long read. So here goes my epic tale:

We got to Ikea a little wet from the rain, as well it’s Scotland, but no harm done we are used to it. Cinderella is potty training at the moment (she initiated the training herself asking for “peepee” whilst trying to get her nappy off and running to the toilet so my brother and sister-in-law knew it was time to start her training). So where was I in this narrative account of a day at Ikea with under 5’s? Oh yeah so we had arrived a little wet, when Cinderella was doing some of her tell-tale signs that she may need to potty after us just navigating our way into Ikea through revolving doors. (On a side note, I’ve never notice before but do all Ikea’s have revolving front doors or is it just our nearest one that does?). My mum took her and she went potty and Bambi and I congratulated her, got in the lift and arrived at the restaurant.

I don’t think I’ve ever gave much thought to that word but it does seem to imply you go there to relax and rest, well in that case crazyaurant seems to fit better. We navigated our way to the hot food counter Bambi and Cinderella got a kids plate each of sausages and hash browns. I got a bacon roll and my mum a set 6 item breakfast. Then came to picking up cups and mugs for my mum and I to have a hot drink each. Got one, put on tray. Cinderella breaks free from holding my hand, run after Cinderella. Get Cinderella back, go to my mum who is at the till. Mum: “Have you got your Ikea card?”. I then rummage through my enormous bag (think about one and a half long side of a A4 size for height and the width about A4 long side and depth about average persons thumb, maybe two thumbs actually), for my Ikea Family Card as I get a free hot drink. My mum says there will be milk for Cinderella and two hot drinks and the guy looks at tray for only one cup/mug for hot drinks. Me: “Sorry I forgot” ( I can’t remember exact words but it would have been that or similar). Go back and try to wrestle and “excuse me” my way back to cups/mugs spot to get another, when a kind customer who seen the chaos just smiled and handed me one as he was next to the cups/mugs. Back to my mum and the kids for more chat about something or other, I think it was Bambi saying how he needs to help me get things at Ikea so my cupboard will be better. The till man by this point gave a nodding look as if to say I get it now, I’m surprised you even made it to Ikea this early, so how you managed to get one cup/mug on the tray is astounding. I say to Bambi and Cinderella as granny pays that we will find a seat, so off we go and I get Bambi and Cinderella sat at a table.

Granny becomes a real favourite as she arrives with the tray of food, and for me I loved her arrival as I could get to go get my drink now. No wait Cinderella is having milk, take her cup to milk dispenser get it filled, take it back to happy kids, then go back to get knives and forks. Now I get to take the cups/mugs for granny and I to get drinks – granny wants tea. Where is the tea button on this machine?!?! Finally find that it is tea bags and there is hot water button. Now to my coffee, as I watched it pour into my cup I think I could have opened my mouth and stuck it under the nozzle. I was weary and we hadn’t been in store for more than 20 minutes. Annoyed at how little space for milk there was I tilted a bit out of mug, went to milk dispenser and poured in milk. Sat down added sugar stirred and sipped. It was quite a rich coffee, not normally something I like but I sure appreciated it at that moment.

My caffeine life-line to survive a trip to Ikea with under 5's.

My caffeine life-line to survive a trip to Ikea with under 5’s.

We all ate our breakfast, Cinderella had only ate some (she was hungry when she woke up so her mum had to give her something) and therefore as we waited for Bambi to finish, I sipped my caffeine life-saver and Cinderella got a bit impatient. My mum spotted a mini play area in the crazyaurant and took her there. When Bambi was finished he joined them and I cleared the table. After a while of play my mum said she’d go get a trolley and take Cinderella. Bambi gets upset and wants to go to, therefore aunt is left holding bags and jackets and well everything. Kids and granny come back with a trolley and a mini trolley. Oh dear someone is going to get “run over” or we are going to have a huge bill in repairs to Ikea for damaged goods.I let out the breath I hadn’t realized I had held onto from seeing the mini trolley, and the fearful thoughts about damage and told myself they are kids, it is going to be fun, for them at least.

I then get those mini Ikea pencils and give them one and pull out from my bag a shopping list each for Bambi and Cinderella and show them how to use them (me: “See those big boxes over there that have cushions in them(or whatever it was), look out for them boxes around Ikea and if they have in them any of the pictures on your shopping list let me know and there is extra paper if you want to draw pictures”). And off we go around Ikea.

Maybe I should have designed their list a little more like this?

Maybe I should have designed their list a little more like this?

We come across one of the items on their list, pretty quickly on a shelving full of products. Me: “hmm*points to shelving* I wonder if on this shelf there is anything on Bambi and Cinderella’s list?” Bambi excitedly: “Oh yes”. Bambi walks over and picks it up and puts it in his trolley and Cinderella watches from her strapped in position in the big trolley. Me: “That’s good. Well done Bambi for finding it. Now you tick it off.” Bambi gets out his list from his trolley and looks down at the paper with his pencil and hesitates. Me: “Bambi do you know how to do ticks?” Bambi: “No” before he gets upset about not being able to do ticks Me: “Do you want aunt to show you how to do them?” I then get him to hold pencil and I guide it in the shape of a tick. He is then happy he can do ticks and so am I. Cinderella is happy to just scribble on her list and joins in the fun.

I then keep checking my list as we weave our way around Ikea as I know my list has everything on it and with two kids it could be easy to miss something on the big list as I’m too busy helping them with their list. We come across the sofa area and Cinderella no longer likes being in the trolley, why? Bambi is trying out the kids Poang chair and now she wants to try it out too. We therefore “park” the trolleys out the way of other customers and get Cinderella out of her restraints. Is she happy now that she is getting to try out the chair just like big brother did? No. Now she sits back demands her “paper” and uses this time to begin her artwork. This girl loves drawing and if we hadn’t insisted on going she would have sat there all day drawing.

Cinderella gets up and starts pushing Bambi’s trolley. Cue a meltdown from Bambi, which is quickly averted by pointing out a piece of furniture and me saying “Can Cinderella push it to there? Then we will put her back in the trolley and you can push it again.”. Bambi nods in agreement, if only Cinderella knew she only had the trolley for a bit. Come to said piece of furniture Me: “Right Cinderella it’s Bambi’s turn again.”. Cinderella: *shakes finger* “No,No ” as granny and I wrestle her back into trolley. Granny: “You will get another turn later. It is Bambi’s turn”. She accepts granny telling her it Bambi’s turn.

I ask Bambi again to look out for things on his list and he happily pushes his trolley looking for things. After a while we let Cinderella have another turn and she is much happier this time going back into trolley now she realises she will get turns to push the trolley. Bambi is also happy as he knows it’s not a long turn she gets.

Spotting another little boy who has his damage basket on wheels, I get Bambi to stick to one side so there will be no crash and cries. Bambi comments about on the little boy having a trolley too, saying something like “he has a trolley just like me”. Me: “Yes that little boy is pushing his trolley too” (again might not be exact words). Little boy to his mum: “I’m not a little boy!”. I find myself trying not to laugh as I apologise for calling a little boy well a little boy. Kids sure are funny and a lot of work.

After more weaving throughout a maze we reach the boisterous madhouse AKA the children’s area. And, chaos. Bambi and Cinderella see it as playtime and run wild, just like the rest of the kids. We let them have a bit of fun, more structured though. Playing with the demo toys of things like wooden kitchens and trains. We then get one more thing on my list before heading downstairs via the lift to the Market Hall.

Staff of Ikea take note, consider installing some traffic signals like these lights or...

Staff of Ikea take note, consider installing some traffic signals like these lights or…

or like these give way signs, to avoid customers colliding with other customers or your shelves.

… like these give way signs, to avoid customers colliding with other customers or your shelves. (Just a joke it would be impractical to install lights or signs in a shop).

Arriving in the Market Hall was like, well try to imagine arriving in a street in London (in a busy area like Knightsbridge) that had no traffic lights, no pedestrian crossings and no road signs. It was chaotic. I found somewhere that was not crowded and directed Bambi down there. Granny went with Cinderella to get her own mini trolley to stop her asking for “turn” all the time. She had been good with Bambi’s so she had earned the right to have one to herself. So off we all go, again somehow we end up at a spot that forgot to get the memo to install traffic lights so I suggest diving into one of the rows, plus I had seen an item similar to something on my list so figured my item might be about there. Big mistake, my item was not there and remember how I had fought to get rid of the thoughts about the damage on wheels, well they quickly resurfaced. We had entered the area that had tonnes of drinking glasses. I had to direct my trolley, help Bambi to make sure he didn’t add to my bill by causing smashes and granny directed Cinderella. We soon got out of that part and I sighed relief and noticeably relaxed, well just a little as two kids having free rein over a metal object with wheels in a shop still made me nervous wreck.

We soon discovered more things I was after such as the bygel rail, and some things to hang from it for organising. Bambi and I walked over to the shelves with them and left granny with Cinderella and the trolleys. I was happy with Bambi carrying the small bygel rail to granny to put in the trolley as he only had a short distance and he is fairly reliable when it comes to carry things if he has a destination to go to. Cinderella then wanted to come and join us to carry things and I had a mini heart attack as she used this as an excuse to run around the store. Firstly I was worried for her safety in the sense of being in a crowded store and someone may use that to snatch her. Secondly she was headed back to perilous glass filled shelves and I had images of the lot coming off the shelves as she ran into them and the crowd including her being hurt by shattering glass. Thirdly I was worried as my bank balance wouldn’t cover the damage. Grabbing her before damage could be done I returned her to granny and we put her back in the big trolley and strapped her in explaining that she was allowed to come to me to help but as she had run away she was getting put back into the trolley. Being a typical two-year old, she understood why she was put back in the trolley but it didn’t make her any happier about it.

Bambi and I continued to consult our shopping lists adding to the trolley as we discovered the items. Most things on the kids list fitted in his trolley which made him happy. I arrived where the fabrics were and found out you get to cut the cloth yourself (well I had always seen the rolls of fabric just never used them before). Bambi and I looked for the one I wanted then I got to work unravelling the fabric to the right size, cutting the fabric and then finding a member of staff to price it. I must admit I didn’t cut exactly a straight line as I knew we still had more to get and we had been in Ikea for ages as it was, so did a quick but as straight a cut as I could manage. Plus I had fears of a child (well not Cinderella as she was in trolley, but Bambi or some random child) wandering up behind me whilst I wasn’t looking and accidentally hurting them with the sharp scissors.

This is more of a ribbon than fabric but you get the idea.

This is more of a ribbon than fabric but you get the idea.

Since Cinderella had been good we allowed her out again, and she was good, but only for a couple of minutes did she push her trolley. Cinderella abandoned her trolley and I ended up chasing her through bathroom products as granny watched Bambi and the trolleys. This time we agreed she was not getting back out the trolley until we at least got through the checkout.

If you are still reading well done to you for sticking with this epic tale, but I warn you we still have a bit to go in relating this trip to Ikea with kids. With Cinderella secured we made our way round looking out for items, and we then came to the end of the Market Hall which was where the storage boxes were. I found the ones I was looking for and granny decided to buy Bambi a yellow cardboard storage box (his favourite colour) and Cinderella a pink cardboard storage box (she often chooses this colour and we believe it to be her favourite). As I tried to get my boxes secured on the tray below the trolley I managed to give myself a deep paper cut, so into my bottomless bag I rummaged until I found my packet of tissues to stop the bleeding. Unfortunately it did nothing for the classic stingy feeling you get in a paper cut. I don’t know why I do it, and in fact why a lot of people do it, but somehow shaking my hand up and down did nothing to relieve the sting in my finger either.

Then we entered the self-service area of Ikea. Bambi got to practice his number recognition by looking at the list, calling out the numbers and looking out for them and he did so well once he knew where the numbers were (the aisle numbers up high and the location on the shelves). I tried to hold onto my tissue to prevent bleeding from the paper cut and lift the light items of the shelf for Bambi to carry, like a shelf bracket, to the trolley and I carried the heavier items like the actual shelves. Cinderella did not like that Bambi had the ability to walk about but she didn’t. We would have loved to have her walk (to give more space in the trolley and to push along her little trolley that we had to push because she was now in trolley) but sadly we couldn’t trust her not to run away.

Eventually I had found everything I could on my list so we headed to the checkout. I began piling up the products on the conveyor belt and once it was “full”, I would use those moments to dig around my bag for my bank cards and re-find my Ikea Family Card and then sort what was left to be put on the conveyor belt. Once the person in front of me left the checkout, I gave Bambi my Ikea Family Card to give to the member of staff, who scanned it and gave it back to Bambi to give to me. Granny then took the kids down to the other end to get all the items and once I had the last item out, I let the member of staff scan the products on the tray underneath the trolley that would have been too awkward to put on the conveyor belt. I pushed the trolley down to the other end and helped my mum load up the trolley, until the last item got scanned, then went back to the member of staff to pay. We were not too fussed about how we put the things back in the trolley, as long as nothing broke in there as we had already planned to go to the wrapping station (I think that was what it was called, if not it was very similar). The wrapping station is a place where scissors, rope and brown paper are provided free of charge to pack fragile items. As I wrapped up some glass items I had purchased, Bambi and Cinderella went with granny to the toilet (which was literally right beside the wrapping station, in fact on the opposite side of the wall the wrapping station was up against was the toilet).

Bambi came out first and he was fascinated by this station. I let him “wrap” up some things (non-breakable items) to keep him busy as I sorted out the trolley. I was putting smaller items and the breakables into some of the storage boxes I had purchased for ease of carrying and to make sure the breakable items didn’t move around too much. The fabric I had bought came in quite handy for wrapping around them. Cinderella and granny soon joined us as I was finishing up sorting, so we all headed outside once I was done.

I put the two kids trolleys out of the way as Bambi and I sat waiting for granny and Cinderella to bring the car round to the loading area. Granny and I put the kids in the car as we loaded up the car. By then it was lunchtime and I was desperate for a drink as the coffee effects were wearing off. So we all headed back inside to the bistro at the checkouts. I checked what I wanted from the menu, and told my mum. We checked what the kids wanted then my mum ordered.

As soon as we got the paper cups I took them to the self-service to get us all our drinks, then took the kids to the seating area. Unfortunately at the bistro the only seats with a table are of the bar stool type, the only other seats were of the garden bench style but no table so I opted for the bar stool type to give the kids a place to put their drinks and food. As their granny was waiting for the food I had the task of lifting the kids up onto the stools and pushing them into the table.

Bambi preferred just the sausage whereas Cinderella preferred the bun. Kids.

Bambi preferred just the sausage whereas Cinderella preferred the bun. Kids.

I enjoyed my vegetarian hotdog and lingonberry juice, and the kids enjoyed their hotdog and lingonberry juice. Granny had a hotdog and cola. Anyone with kids will understand what I’m about to say, waiting for the eternity for them to eat and drink after I was finished(I hadn’t even been eating that fast) was getting a bit much, especially as I knew I wanted to buy some Ikea food to take home. With granny watching the kids I wandered off to the shop and got cartons of the lingonberry juice(I love that stuff but can only ever find it in Ikea) and some other Ikea foods. I was in a bit of a queue at the food checkout and had taken a few minutes locating the various items in the shop, yet when I got back to the kids and my mum, Bambi and Cinderella were still eating.

With both of the kids loving the lingonberry juice granny decided to go buy them the jar of lingonberry syrup, which you dilute at home to make the lingonberry juice, for them to be able take back to their own house for their mummy and daddy to make for them. Granny got back and they were still eating.

We waited until they finished their hotdogs then granny put the rubbish in the bin and we headed back to the car with their drinks to finish whilst we drove back home. Having secured Bambi and Cinderella in their car seats we headed back home. We hadn’t drove far when we noticed Cinderella freely moving her arms about, as she had got her arms out of the restraints. We pulled in as soon as it was safe to do so and I got out and re-strapped her in the restraints. We were soon on the motorway to head back and were not on the motorway long when Cinderella fell asleep. All the while Bambi talked away telling us things, pointing out animals and structures along the motorway and asking a thousand questions as he is naturally very curious. Bambi will repeat a question until he gets an answer, and if he is not entirely satisfied with the answer will ask more questions until he feels a satisfactory answer has been given. That can make a car journey feel so much longer than it is, but we were soon home.

With Cinderella asleep, Bambi and I went inside to set up the couch for her to nap on and calm Max down as he was so excited that we were home. Granny brought Cinderella inside and we got her settled on the couch. Bambi was wanting the Ikea purchases set up then and there but we explained to him that we would need granddad to help me put up the shelves etc. We did however use the time Cinderella was asleep to carry some things upstairs to my room. Bambi was delighted to help me carry up small products, as once again I explained where everything would be going in the cupboard.

So here we are about two months later, as I went to Ikea on Monday the 12th of May. As I look back on that trip, I’m happy to have wrecked my nerves that day, as I got what I needed but most importantly the kids were safe, happy and had a great time creating memories and learning various skills as we went around the store.

Top Tips just coming...

Top Tips just coming…

Again looking back I can see the shopping list idea worked very well for Bambi, whereas Cinderella was more happy with the blank paper to scribble on. With this in mind, what would be my top tips be for planning a trip to Ikea with kids?:


  1. Don’t go shopping to Ikea with kids, but if you insist then follow these other tips:
  2. If it is a lot you are planning to get, schedule in breaks at the restaurant and bistro. Kids tend to be happier when fed.
  3. Bring things to keep the kids amused, like I had blank paper for them to scribble on and let them play in the children’s Ikea section with the demo toys.
  4. Get them involved in the process. If you know some of what you plan to get, let them know what products to look out for. If it is their room you are decorating, or getting furniture for, let them try the furniture out and help decide. One it will keep them busy while you decide and two they are more likely to want to use the product you have just bought if they feel they have contributed to the decision to purchase it.
  5. If you really need to go to Ikea but don’t want your kids around your feet interrupting your thoughts (I’m not judging, I understand), consider using the Creche facilities. I know our nearest store has one, and am sure most if not all have Creche facilities.
  6. If you haven’t already get a Ikea Family Card, as you get discounts on your purchases and often in the restaurant and bistro too (see tip 2, as some savings in the restaurant could come in handy, plus as I mentioned away back at the start of my epic tale with the Ikea Family Card I got a free cup of  a caffeine life-saver  coffee.)


Have any of my readers tried lists for kids before for big shops like Ikea? Do you use lists for your kids on grocery shops? Has my tale inspired you to try the lists or have my woes put you off even taking the kids anywhere near a store like Ikea? Any ideas in my tips you wish to try out?  I look forward to reading your comments.  

Images for this post all come from pixabay.


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