A gloomy, rainy, windy cold January day.
What to do, what to do……
IKEA. Meatballs with a side order of playing.
A couple of years ago when the big one was around 4, I took him to IKEA’s Småland play area, jealous that he got to play in a ball pit. Checked him in, hung the giant “parent alarm” around my neck, and he happily wandered off to play. Twenty-two minutes into my hour of solitude, the alarm around my neck starting vibrating and screaming. I dropped my Älvängen Table lamp and IKEA chocolate bars and bolted through the store to the entrance. Where he met me with a sweet smile and an “I just missed you mommy.”
Anyhoo, since that day he’s flatly refused to play there ever again, ruining all chances of me napping on an Ektorp couch for an hour.
If your kid DOES want to play, note that there are certain restrictions concerning height, they need to be potty trained, and must wear socks.
I hadn’t been to IKEA since they did a whack of renovations, so last week the small one and I bundled up and got there at 9:30am, just in time for the restaurant opening. Because while the store opens at 10 during the week, the restaurant opens ½ an hour before! Brilliant. I thought we’d be one of the only people there, but there were quite a few people sitting on the couches, and others at the tables enjoying the 2.40$ breakfast!
We splurged and got the eggs/sausages/hashbrowns/pancake combo, with a lingonberry juice and a coffee. They also have wine and beer (I thought drinking at 9:30am might be a little early), fresh fruit salad, yogurts, cinnamon buns, toast etc AND you get a free jar of baby food with any adult meal. (They had Heinz peas and carrots when we were there).
They used to have free refills on coffee, tea and soft drinks, but I’m not sure they still do that.
The play area is just beside the parent station with microwaves, disposable bibs, and reusable plastic plates/bowls/utensils. These two gazebo-like structures are an almost full circle of: table with seating on the outside, and wall activity panels on the inside. With nine panels in each play space, and about 10 seats at each, that’s a lot of kids and parents who can sit and/or play. I happily sat and sipped my coffee while he puttered around right in front of me.
There are also a ton of highchairs available.
After we played for awhile and I’d eaten his share of our shared breakfast, We wandered along to check out the bathroom situation. Down the long corridor beside the restaurant you’ll find a men’s and woman’s bathroom; and just beside are TWO private family bathrooms complete with potties, a comfy chair, step stools for the sink, wall-mounted changing table and free diapers in case you’ve run out! WHAT?
IKEA I love you.
THEN, there’s a Baby Care/Feeding Room with another cozy chair, a BOTTLE WARMER, changing table, diapers again, and a bathroom. I was stupid excited about it and mine are past the nursing/bottles stage. (insert sad face here)
Outside of the bathrooms are kid-height water fountains and even a spout to fill reusable water bottles.
We wandered around the children’s section, and then played with some other kids in the spot where they’ve put down carpets and play tents. You’ll even find a trunk and mirror where they can try on various costumes. After going back downstairs and following the arrows out, we bought our meatballs, and I stealthily got myself a sticky bun without him seeing. Sorry little man. There’s also a small restaurant here that has hot dogs, frozen yogurt, pizza and drinks.
NOTE: Before we went, I signed up for the IKEA Family Card on IKEA’s website. Print out your registration at home and then scan your paper at the kiosk right at the entrance to the store. You’ll get your card in about 45 seconds and it gives you discounts on some items throughout the store (for example a kids’ book was regular $5.99 but $2.99 with the card), an extra half hour in Småland, chance to win $100 a month when you show your card etc… Read about it HERE.
This was a great way to spend a few hours and I wish it had been this great when the boys were babies, because for those days when you just need to get the heck out of the house, it makes a really enjoyable outing.
***This is in no way a paid sponsorship for IKEA. They’ve never heard of me or this website. Unless they have and want to throw some advertising my way. Hi IKEA!
Hi Christine, I love your site so much, thank you for your awesome posts! I’m looking for low key and free activities to do indoors these days with my toddler, and this post about Ikea as well as the previous one about the library are helpful. I’m wondering if you have other posts like these on your site? Or maybe a top ten list of your fave free indoor spaces? Would love to read more. Cheers!