How to Survive Ikea with Children

I am a bit of an introvert. I am also not spatially gifted – which means I don’t have a great sense of direction and also that I am more of a verbal learner. So basically Ikea is on the shortlist of what I imagine hell to be like. Add in a few kids who are either not tall enough for Ikea’s kiddie area and/or not into the idea of being apart from me as I slowly melt down in the fire-hazard maze of Swedish simplicity, and you’d better believe I usually avoid the place as much as possible.

However, there are times when only Ikea will do. And this weekend was an Ikea weekend. I managed to survive not only the trip to Ikea but the subsequent Ikea dresser assembly with three children. If I can do it, so can you. Here are a few tips.

At Ikea

  1. Start with a cinnamon bun bribe. For starters, it was the only way the kids were going to get in that building without me having to carry them all. Second, it gave them enough sugar to fuel them for the 6-mile hike through the labyrinthine innards of Ikea.
  2. Do not plan to be anywhere else for the rest of the day. I have to build in an hour to figure out how to get to the area I am trying to get to, and an additional hour to find the check-out line. I had a very clear idea of what I needed: a simple dresser. We actually only needed to wander aimlessly through two rooms before reaching the dressers. I decided on one within two minutes. And then, as always, I had no idea how to get to the self pick-up area. This place truly baffles me. Even though they have maps up and those little arrows projected all over the ground, I seem to be completely unable to figure out how to get out of this place. I secretly wonder if those arrows they project are constantly changing direction, forcing you to walk around in circles looking for the supposed shortcuts.
  3. Get ready to say “no.” A lot. No stuffed animals. No stacking toys. No trains. No thank you, Ikea, for putting the kids’ section first. And also for somehow making that the epicenter of our endless journey toward the self pick-up area.
  4. Check how many boxes your would-be furniture fits into. What’s that old saying? If it’s one, it can be done. If it’s two, get the hell out of there? I freely ignored this advice; it was a mistake.
  5. Make sure you wrote the number down correctly for pick-up. Ig-nored it!
My children are as pleased as I am with this. Wait where is the baby? Oh right, wearing him. We're still good.

My children are as pleased as I am with this. Wait where is the baby? Oh right, wearing him. We’re still good.

The Assembly

  1. If this is what you get when you open the boxes, just stop.

IMG_64812. Carve out several hours when you can work in peace, without having your children around. Nailed it.

IMG_6475 IMG_6485 IMG_64993. Make sure you have the proper tools. Check, check, check.


Surprisingly ineffective at making holes, this one.

4. If something doesn’t fit, assume it is the fault of Ikea. “Stupid Ikea. Can’t even make holes the right size. Oh wait. That one fits much better.”


It looks like it doesn’t fit because it doesn’t.


This smooth, clear thing looked way more like a silver screw in the picture in the instruction manual.

5. Wonder why, why, WHY can they not just use WORDS! These pictures mean nothing to me! Nothing!

6. Never drink and hammer. Na-na-nailed it! (No pun intended.)


7. Take time for peek-a-boo. Because this face.


8. Secretly throw out the extra pieces that you know should not actually be extra.

IMG_65199. Admire how the finished piece looks exactly like what you picked out.


Desired product


Actual product

Close enough!

9 responses to “How to Survive Ikea with Children

  1. This is hilarious. Funny because it’s so true. What the heck, IKEA? I keep saying we’ll never go back, but I just can’t quit it. It’s like having kids: I forget the hard reality of it and get sucked in by the shiny happy catalogue life it promises and then suddenly there are extra pieces, no instructions, and I’m left crying in my wine… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This post is awesome 🙂 We have an upcoming Ikea trip on the horizon (our little guy is still pretty little though so that helps!) and I’m already looking forward to a cinnamon bun as a reward for myself for putting up with that place 🙂


  3. I feel you! I have such a love/hate relationship with IKEA. Also, I’m certain they give you more pieces and screws and what the heck are those little wooden rods than you actually need. Throw the extras away!


  4. Just say “no” to Ikea. Only crazy people have only one way out following a maze that Harry Potter himself could not find a way out of. You’re an incredible woman for braving the storm (with three kids, no less)!


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