If your kids are little, it can be a nightmare taking them shopping to the nearby mall. You try to do all your shopping as fast as you can, and get out before they get overtired and out of control. One store has gone above and beyond to help parents have a stress-free pleasant shopping experience - Ikea.
Everyone who has been to Ikea loves it's innovative European furniture design, low prices and a variety of products to suit every taste. But if you bring children there, they will have such a good time, that they will be asking you to go there again.
It all begins before you even enter the store. Right near the handicapped parking spots you will find the designated 'Family Parking' signs. Once inside, head for the restrooms. They have little sinks for kids, so they can wash their hands themselves. My four year old son was really amused by them. Special family restrooms have armchairs for breastfeeding mothers, too!
When I go to Ikea, I usually head straight for their cafeteria first.I can't get enough of their Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and the almond torte. All food is ridiculously cheap. The kids menu has plenty healthy options to choose from. And, of course, your child gets a special VIP seating in the kids area with kid size tables and chairs, some mounted wall toys and the biggest draw, a TV showing popular kids movies.
After the meal you have to head straight for the kids department, which is strategically located right next to the cafeteria. One big open space in the middle is full of toys available for sale for your kids to test out. You will always find some fun, creative and unusual things for your kids, that are so affordable, that it makes them just irresistible to buy. I wouldn't be surprised if there are parents who have purchased every Ikea toy on the market. Not only they are affordable, but also very well thought out to encourage kids play and imagination, like hand puppet animals or tents and tunnels to crawl in.
It could be hard to get your kids to leave this area, but not if you tell them it's time to go to the downstairs playroom. Here you get 45 minutes of free babysitting, courtesy of Ikea. As long as your child is potty trained and fits the minimum height requirement, he/she can play with other kids in the supervised playroom, while you enjoy shopping by yourself! You get a pager in case your child needs you earlier, or you get carried away shopping and forget to pick him up.
When the time is up, you can still do some more shopping, thanks to the kids play areas throughout the store, where they can have some more playtime in the vicinity of each department. And don't forget to take them to the kids furniture department. The kids are encouraged by Ikea staff to test all the beds and feel themselves like home. Your kids will love exploring the little kids rooms, and you can take mental notes on design ideas, and will feel motivated to rearrange the furniture, when you get back home. Only if you will survive the temptation of buying all new stuff, and getting rid of all your old furniture...