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Navigating IKEA with Kids

When you have kids, going anywhere can be a challenge.

Especially when “anywhere” is a giant, sprawling, Swedish superstore full of Ektorps, Jennylunds and Hemneses.

For the past few months, I’ve been slowly compiling a list of things I needed from IKEA: a vase, storage shelf, some picture frames.

I’d been hesitant to go, because… three kids in IKEA? There are lots of things I’d rather do (like, basically anything).

But after getting flowers over the weekend and having to put them in a Tupperware pitcher (one from the ’80s that my parents used to mix frozen orange juice concentrate in), I decided enough was enough. So I grabbed the kids, took a deep breath, and headed to West Chester.

And you know what? As with so many things, I was all worried for no reason. As it turns out, there are lots of ways to keep your kids happy, busy and well-behaved at IKEA:

Let Them “Work”

My kids love “helping.” We have tons of pretend tools and workers’ uniforms, and they are constantly hammering, measuring and fixing things. IKEA has disposable tape measures all throughout the store, so I grabbed three and let the kids go to town.

Take Advantage of the Play Area

As you enter the store, there is a sectioned-off play area (“Småland”) to your right. This is the store’s  supervised play area where (potty trained) kids 37” to 54” tall can play. There are climbing structures and tons of toys, so it’s essentially an indoor playground. And it’s free! (Well, except for that Ektorp you bought.)

Play in the Kids Area

Like any smart children’s store, IKEA has a giant area of toys for kids to play with. Between the activity tables, cars and trucks, play tunnels and play mats, it’s the coolest playroom ever. My kids especially loved the cushions and tents, with Harvey flinging himself on them in a fit of giggles.

The worst part was coercing my kids to leave the fun!


RELATED POST: Cincinnati Indoor Playgrounds

Grab Lunch

Kids’ meals are just $2.49 each (for kids 12 and under), and kids eat free on Tuesdays! There are tons of kid-friendly options on the menu; or, if you prefer, grab an ice cream cone for a dollar!

Walk, walk, walk

Because of how the store is set up, you kind of have to walk through the entire place in order to find the various items on your list. While one could view this as a hassle, I saw it as an opportunity. It was wet and rainy on this particular afternoon, and I knew we wouldn’t be able to play outside. So we got our exercise inside, at IKEA.


Another bonus of bringing your kids? You’ll have your hands full, as they say, so you won’t be able/tempted to leave with that matching Hemnes side table.

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