IKEA With the Whole Family in an Hour

We had to go to IKEA yesterday. We need a couch, and I’ve had it picked out for ages, but we just needed to go make sure (and to figure out which fabric color would go with our outlandishly flowered armchair, which I really like). We somehow don’t have a swatch from our armchair (hey, Michelle!) so I had to bring the entire seat cushion with me.

“Minimum three hours,” my neighbors teased when I told them what our afternoon plan was.

“No way,” I said. “We know what we want and will just zoom in and get it.” I promised to pick up their requested cloudberry jam and caviar paste, and they smirked at my confidence about the speed of our trip.

Plus, Max wanted to go to a particular park/historic site today, and honestly, we could have done it. We could have.

We could have left at lunchtime and eaten at IKEA, but I thought it made more sense to eat at home to prevent meltdowns. I made lunch for all.

We missed the exit. We got there 17 minutes later than expected. Ben was hungry. He wanted a pretzel but they didn’t have any at the hot dog stand so we went up to the cafe. Oh, but C wanted a hot dog, so after we got Ben his food and sat down, C headed down to the hot dogs except he went the wrong way, walked through the entire showroom, and then found a long line when he got to the hot dog place. So he came back up, got in line in the cafe, and got food … which he started eating just as Ben was finishing.

That’s OK, everyone! Let’s sit here in these tiny chairs watching Big Hero Six without sound in the IKEA cafe! That’s cool!


Oh, did I forget to mention that everyone was hungry when we got to IKEA because we had stopped at Jordan’s Furniture first, and they have the old Enchanted Village that used to be at Jordan Marsh? Imagine life-sized (well, maybe 3/4 scale) scenes of Victorian shops and homes at Christmas time, with mechanized figures. It was amazing (and yeah, very slightly creepy). And snow fell on us — there were snowblowers up high in the corners. It was enchanting, and free, and the last day of the exhibit, and we just kind of stumbled across it.

Then we wandered through approximately 19 acres of sofas. At some point, in perhaps the second or third room of all-leather couches and dark furniture, I felt like I’d stepped into General Zaroff’s sitting room (remember that book The Most Dangerous Game?) minus the trophy animal heads.

There were beach-cottage-feeling rooms and contemporary rooms and all kinds of sample set-ups of living rooms.

There were too many sofas, and we only liked a very few. Plus with two kids it was kind of hard to tell anything. Ben would say, “Try this one,” and then after I sat down he’d say, “Now try it with a boy in your lap,” and climb into my lap, which was adorable and fairly accurate about how we use sofas.


We finally headed on to IKEA, by which time everyone was hungry (see above). Despite having read How to Survive a Trip to IKEA in Ten Easy Steps, I was optimistic.

The kids refused to go to Smaland, the playroom where you can drop your kids off. I didn’t expect them to want to go there (they’ve never been) but it was worth asking them.

Everyone and their partner bumped into the big upholstered cushion I carried, which sure didn’t make me grumpy at all. We couldn’t decide on a sofa even though C and I had agreed on one before the trip. Somehow it looked different — sloppy — in person. We looked at every other sofa there but none seemed quite right.

I gave up. No sofa for us. We collected the items our friends had asked us to pick up and headed home, several hours later than I’d hoped to, sofa-less.

I didn’t tell my neighbors they were right.*

*In our defense, not all that time was spent at IKEA.

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