10 ways that you can survive IKEA with your relationship (and sanity) intact
Hardly ever do three little syllables evoke so many emotions and polar opposite reactions as "IKEA ".
To me, being Scandinavian, IKEA is a haven of clever design, modern must-haves and prices that enables me to frequently grow tired of trends and change things around on the home-front.
To my other half, however, the Swedish mega-store is a noisy, chaotic mess of will-be DIY disasters and heated arguments over what considers a "need" and what is merely a "want"on my part. (I think this is a very sexist way of looking at things, though, because men will never concede to the fact that we NEED picture frames. Or guest towels. Or those 100-packs of tea lights. Which, you know, everyone knows that you do, in fact, need.)
Really, no other place has the power to bring us as close to conscious uncoupling as IKEA . Which makes me think; if you really want to test how strong your relationship is, forget about holidaying with your in-laws or hosting Christmas dinner, what you really need to try -to see if you are gonna make it in the long run -is a little trip down the M50 and an afternoon in IKEA .
It's been a painfully long journey. But seven years, two children, four Malm drawers, a toy kitchen and a WHOLE LOT of other stuff, extra screws and arguments later, I like to think that we have cracked the IKEA Survival code. So here you go: My fool-proof guide to getting in - and OUT - of Ikea in one piece.
1. Establish (semi realistic) expectations
You wouldn't try to run the marathon without practicing first, no? Before you leave for IKEA , huddle up with your team (AKA husband and kids). What’s the plan? What are you ACTUALLY getting? Are we talking full-on furniture purchases or are we getting a 5-pack of coat hangers? It is important to have a plan. A list is good too. And always budget in extra hour for shopping beyond what you expect you’ll need. Time moves slower at Ikea.
2. Don't go on a Saturday
Unless you really are looking for a way to end this relationship. In that case, go for it. You will totally be single coming back out.
3. Use the play area for all it is worth
Småland (every Ikea have one) is basically a car-park for kids (they take them from about 3 and up). And are your kids up for it, my God, go for it! My kids tend to want to hang onto us - unfortunately, which makes the whole operation take twice as long. Which leads me to my next point:
4. Resort to bribery
There is a time and a place for out and out bribery. IKEA is one of those times. Meatballs? Cinnamon buns? Ice cream? Those sickly Swedish chocolate and marzipan yokes? Have it all, just stay quiet! My attitude for getting through Ikea with both kids in tow is "WHATEVER it takes". Literally. What. Ever.
5. Don't forget to eat
The average IKEA store has a square footage equivalent to five(!) football fields. You will get tired. Blood sugars will dip. And that it when things can get bad very quickly. So make sure you drink plenty of water (I would sneak in some wine too, if I didn't have to drive home myself). Make sure your body’s getting all the nutrients it needs - that's what the meatballs are for!
6. Wear comfortable clothes
Basically, upon a visit to Ikea you should dress as if you are going on a mountain hike. Comfortable shoes, layered clothing, packets of dry food in stashed in your handbag in case you get lost (it happens!). And this is despite the fact that they have maps AND arrows superimposed on the floor directing you to the exit. Note: When I spot women trying to do Ikea in heels I always know I am looking at a novice. Live and learn, girls!
7. Frequently check in with husband and children to assess their mental state
I have learned how to decode my husband-to-be's body language when in Ikea. Now I know EXACTLY when we are good to keep going for anther 45 minutes and when we need to find the restaurant or exit NOW. When all their eyes glace over and you can tell they are minutes away from taking a nap on any of the beds in the bedroom section, you got to keep moving forward.
8. Take pictures
No, I am not talking Ikea-selfies (although you'll be alarmed to know such a thing exists), but rather take pictures of the aisle and bin number for the product you are planning to purchase. There is only one thing worse than trying to find your way to the self-serve pick-up area, and that is having to go back and que up for check-out twice.
9. Do NOT turn around
See point 6 above about the superimposed arrows. Scandinavians (and Scandinavian-ness is so deeply rooted in the core soul of IKEA ) do NOT like it when people don't stick to rules - so walking against the arrows in Ikea is a big no-no. Also, once you have gotten to however far you have come, really, turning around now is just cruel. And stupid. Stay on track.
10. Don't dwell on what just happened
Once you are out - don't look back. (Until the next time you have to go there, that it). Whatever was said, shouted or eaten when you were inside those blue and yellow walls just let it go. It is never a good idea to relive it. Trust me.
Now, off you go home and build your new stuff. Just remember these three things: Always discourage your kids from helping you. Never do it on an empty stomach (post-dinner is good) and the last one: Just throw out all those extra screws and mystery objects. If, after furniture is fully assembled, you still have four screws, a nail, and some other small thing remaining, just pretend they’re extra.
Time to CELEBRATE!