IKEA

A couple months ago I downloaded the IKEA UK catalogue on my iPad and perused it’s pages.  Then a few weeks before we moved I spent a couple hours doing a more specific search for the most inexpensive and practical furniture.  It was really fun and I had a great time choosing things.  I imagined going to IKEA and wandering leisurely through the showroom and market and warehouse gathering the items I needed to make our new residence a home.  KPMG gives us a relocation allowance so I was thinking “What could possibly be better than shopping at IKEA with someone else’s money?!”

Let’s just go ahead and add that to the list of things I’ve romanticized about moving to London.  

We made our first trip to IKEA last Tuesday.  We took the train to get there and it was relatively easy and straightforward. I had made a list from my favorites in the catalogue and brought along my trusty notebook.  We planned to leave the kids in Smaland and have a much needed break.   Turns out the kids can only stay in Smaland for an hour, so we only got about 2/3 of the way through my list, recording the item numbers, and locations in the warehouse.  Then we hurried back to pick up the kids and called it a day.  IKEA will only deliver items one or two days after purchase, so we had to wait until Saturday to buy everything anyway. 

By Saturday we had received our car so we decided to drive to IKEA.  So we drove.  And drove and drove.  We actually drove down the longest high street in Europe, Streatham High Street.  Traffic was terrible.  And then we got lost.  The British equivalent of Siri was telling us the most bizarre things.  We could SEE the tall smokestacks in the IKEA parking lot, with the blue and yellow banners but we could not GET to them.  It was infuriating.  By this point we had been driving for nearly two hours and the kids were hungry and impatient and someone had to use the toilet.  (WHY DO MY KIDS HAVE TO PEE SO MUCH?!) 

It was pouring rain and by the time we got into the store I was already grumpy.  There was a 30 minute wait for Smaland so I let Richard sit with the kids and I got a head start, which turned out to be grossly insufficient.  By the time our hour was over we still had a lot left to do so there was kid shuffling, kid distracting, a trip to the cafeteria, a few trips to the loo, walking walking walking.  I’m sure every IKEA is busy on a Saturday but I’m quite sure this IKEA was exceptionally busy. 

The thing is, picking out pillows and mattresses gets really boring.  And then it becomes really stressful when you throw four kids in the mix.  We had to have everything delivered so in sheer desperation we opted for an extra 10 pounds to have IKEA staff get our items from the warehouse for us.  SO WORTH IT.  

We had a cart full of items we needed to pay for, and the lines were horrendous.  And then we had our list of items that needed to be retrieved and delivered, and arranging for IKEA to do that apparently requires enough paperwork to organize a small country.   I kept taking the kids and leaving Richard to do said paperwork and then he would have to chase me down in that HUGE store to ask me a question.  Because, did I mention, his phone had died? 

At last the work was done.  We got ice cream cones, made one last trip to the loo and were off!  Trouble was, Richard’s phone was dead, and I’m still figuring out how to to get a functional data plan on mine, so we were on our own without the help of Mr. British Siri to get back to our apartment.  But we made it, in half the time! And no one had to pee the whole way home.  Thank goodness because I was utterly exhausted. 

The only part about the whole experience that makes me smile (at this point, maybe I’ll feel better when the boxes and boxes of unassembled furniture that surround me actually resemble FURNITURE) was that the IKEA staff loved the little American kids.  They loved them on Tuesday and they made a big fuss when we were back again on Saturday.  And it’s a darn good thing, because guess what? 

We get to go back again tomorrow.  

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