Ikea Rocks! No, seriously….

As long as you choose your time and day carefully, Ikea can be awesome fun for kids. People think I’m mental for suggesting it, but it’s true. This time we chose a super sunny day to hit Ikea Southampton – air-conditioned, empty, meatball filled, fake houses for Weasel to explore, all make it a great day out. Our trip was, well, pretty damn Weasel-centric, given we were looking for a toddler bed, potty, more portable high chair (see rant on Bloom) and just about anything else I could sneak in the trolley without husband noticing.

Why does it rock? 

Food – Well great, I guess if you like meatballs, but also serving awesome cakes (although lack of custard for my apple cake made me a sad bunny). Free squeezy pouches of puree with an adult meal, microwaves, kiddie cutlery and bib station and a free piece of fruit (most likely to be eaten by parent) with kids meals in addition to tasty meatballs. Great views of cruise ships and cargo containers from the table at Southampton, if you can nab a window seat, can help entertain too. And there is ice cream at the exit, nom, nom, nom.

The discovery of fruit in her vicinity…

Changing: We found (and used) 3 on 3 different floors. At the entrance the loos seem much less busy even on the most hectic of days, a disabled loo just past the checkouts have changing tables and there’s a feeding/changing room next to the restaurant. In addition, there are fold down change tables in the ladies loos.

Fun to be had? Hells yes. Have you seen the kids department? There are plenty of toys to play around on in a dedicated area, plus your kids can play around in the fake bedrooms reading random books about hedgehogs in Swedish. Yes, you may end up buying something, but I’m sure a 50p monkey dressed as a conductor isn’t going to kill you is it? 5 stories of travellators outside this Ikea are an added bonus fun-fair style ride to a 2 year old.

All too much? Have you chosen a crap day and the place is as crammed, hot and smelly as hell’s armpits? Bad luck. But there is a crèche! I thought it might be just a play area to occupy Weasel and I whilst husband parted with hard-earned cash, but turns out you register your kid, drop them off and have an hour of free child-free Ikea fun. It did look awesome in there, with loads of staff and the world’s largest ball pit. Sadly Weasel would still be too young – it caters for ages 3-8.

Verdict: Go, but plan ahead. Find out when a football match is on or something similarly exciting for the rest of the good people of Southampton. Busy days will leave you wanting to gouge your eyeballs out with a tiny Swedish flag, but an empty day will make you want to go buy vandring ingelkott and kladd smultron’s as often as you can get away with. This one conveniently has a giant mall next door for any other shopping needs.

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