Believe it or not, there are still a handful of people who haven’t yet experienced the, well, experience of IKEA. My husband was one of those people, having avoided it like the plague for many years he finally succumbed when we moved house and needed some essentials. There was no hiding from it so after plenty of persuasion, he finally agreed to go.
I had some of my own experience of IKEA pre-kids so knew it wasn’t going to be a pleasurable day. I advised him to go one night to avoid the crowds of people, kids and relentless queues but he could never get back in time or there was a work dinner, late meeting or school event. Eventually (and reluctantly) we agreed on a date and, en-famille, we set off on our trip to IKEA.
This was a huge mistake. Someone, somewhere, should have changed that date in the diary and made us go late night (me). How bad could it be I had asked myself? Well, the answer is. . . bad, very, very bad.
Firstly, we started out as early as humanly possible with two children on a Saturday morning and thought this would give us enough time to trek to Wembley from our house. Along with the other two thousand families who had the same ingenious idea we sat in North Circular traffic, and at a snail pace we reached IKEA in one and a half hours. It would have been quicker for us to drive to and from the airport in the first weekend in August, peak season. During the journey my children had whined, moaned and fought and it was only 10am when we arrived.
Then we had to negotiate the car park which is no mean feat when no one pays attention to the one way system and you have about eight near misses before finding a suitable parking space, only for a Volvo to swing in as you indicate. After gesticulating madly using various hand signs we found a space on floor three at the back of beyond, squeezed between two 4×4’s with half an inch either side to get in or out. How we were going to fit an entire flat packed house inside was not something we could compute at that moment, stress levels were dangerously high.
Exiting the car we dodged other irate IKEA goers to enter the doors and lead us into the maze that is IKEA. Of course, the crèche was full for at least a month so armed with two children, a couple of blue bucket bags and a teeny, crappy IKEA pencil and pad, we made our way upstairs. Into the labyrinth we went, along with 5000 others and 3000 children running riot. It was not fun. We couldn’t get near the furniture and neither of us had any clue if a LAT FUK was the piece we needed or perhaps it was a DIK UP LAK. . . for god’s sake, what are those names anyway? Finally (after six room sets and several losses of the children) we got into the swing of it. . . until I realised I had lost the precious IKEA pad with all our detailed notes. I tried retracing our steps but it was impossible going against the flow of traffic, and you try finding an IKEA piece of paper that looks, well, identical to the other 5000 pieces of IKEA paper floating around. We were almost defeated until a helpful IKEA staff member told us about the IKEA app, so after another 15 minutes of getting onto the Wi-Fi, being kicked off and getting on again, we downloaded it.
Now we had a full list of DING CLUP and FANNY KOD and we were ready to hit the tills. Except we were not. No way. Have you tried to find a short cut in that place? It’s somewhere through the bathroom section but we couldn’t find bathrooms, so we were hoarded down the stairs with the IKEA massive into the market place. It was like a giant car boot sale mixed with football fans all lunging and grabbing and arguing over the metal COK teapot. My kids began to overload our bags out of boredom and we desperately tried to escape, of course held up by the cheap as chips cutlery, crockery, photo-frames and other completely useless things we didn’t need. At last we got to the plants and who can resist a £3 orchid? Plainly not me. I gathered 5 into my arms, and with two kids and two full bags it was more than a challenge, I became Octopus Woman.
Then came the really fun part. Finding aisle 25 row B slot C64 where we found the DUM WI and other vital componentry. Husband had to exercise some serious gym style moves to remove the eight foot long pieces from the shelves, which we then had to balance on a five foot trolley.
After plenty of swearing and ‘never again’ we arrived at the tills. They were half a mile away because of the queues. We joined with horror and fear and finally resigned ourselves to the slaughter. After another joyful 45 minutes we reached the front, paid and realised we were never going to fit everything in the car and neither were we ever going to be able to put the stuff together, even if we did manage to get it home, so we joined another endless queue and paid over the odds to have it delivered and installed. Where was the saving exactly?
Finally we made it back to the car. It was 2:30pm and no one had even had a whiff of an IKEA hot dog. Everyone was frazzled and fed up. I was relieved we still had children with us; my husband was ready to lose them if he could have, hours ago, and the moaning from them was incessant.
It will be no surprise to you to learn that we haven’t been again, en-famille, on a Saturday. We learnt a grim lesson, and now if we absolutely have to travel to IKEA we schedule it late at night during the week when all little people are asleep, and most sane people are happily sat in front of the TV with a cup of tea or glass of wine.
IKEA at the weekend is enough to make anyone feel flat (packed).