The day we brought a circus to Ikea

Every two years we load up the van, hit the road and trek an hour away to our closest Ikea store. We do this for two reasons:

Number one, we can only afford to shop there every other year because it’s easy to drop $800 in one shot. Two, it’s not exactly a quick trip to get there, especially with loading and unloading a family of nine. Three, (I lied, there are actually three reasons) every other year “Crap Fairy” runs out of crap to haul out to the dumpster in the dead of night, so we head down to buy more cheap junk. This keeps Crap Fairy in business, and in this economy, I believe I deserve credit from Obama for creating jobs.

But this year we had an entirely different motivation. We needed mattresses.

After the recent bout of flu that hit us, it was the final push to purge the crummy mattresses we owned and replace them with new ones. This wasn’t hard to do, since the mattresses my kids have been using were hand-me-downs and over the years have encountered multiple nighttime accidents, various blood and guts and recently, several gallons of vomit.

We also needed another bunk-bed for the two youngest boys who are moving out of babyhood and into big-boy-beds.

So with all those reasons, Crap Fairy wrote a list of future crap she wanted to toss out and we headed south.

We unloaded the family and spent 20 minutes schlepping children on and off the public toilets and scrubbing everyone’s hands to death with soapy water. Then we lined everyone up at the starting gates. Arriving a bit early, we were roped into a small space among several European bedroom displays, along with 36 other people who were waiting for the store to officially open. We stood with our three shopping carts full of miniature humans, plus one stroller, while 72 eyeballs sneakily stared at us. Everyone stood quietly. Which was perfect, because our 12 year old daughter (who happened to be manning the stroller) took those quiet moments to loudly say things like “Oooh, that bedroom is soooo prettyyyyy! And clean! Oh, wow! Ohhhh! Look over there at that room, mom. It’s sooooo clean,” because apparently she’s never seen a clean, well designed room of any sort in all twelve years of her life.

She was nearly giddy- “Dad, LOOK at that bedroom! Wouldn’t you like a bedroom just like that? Imagine if you had NO KIDS! If you had NO KIDS you and mom would actually have a reaaaally nice house. Just imagine, Mom, you could relax in a beautiful bedroom and all your stuff would be super nice and organized. You and dad would be totally alone!  Nobody would ever bother you!” – which was followed by a few choking-coughs and quiet guffaws from fellow sardines packed in next to us.

Because who doesn’t love hearing the oldest daughter of seven asking her bedraggled parents to imagine life with no kids.

Finally the Angel of Mercy came and opened the small yellow chain that held back the Ikea cattle/shoppers and let us onto the store path.

Our first stop was MATTRESSES, where each child became permeated with desire to try out every single bed in sight. But I forbade them to leave their respective carts or strollers and they sat there hollering out pre-school curse words over the injustice.

Mr. Diaz wasn’t entirely convinced about the comfort of the thin Ikea bunk-bed mattresses, so he took it upon himself to remove mattresses from the display beds, throw them on the middle of the floor and force each of the older children to lay on them. Which wasn’t Red-nex-ican at all. Nah. It was entirely classy, and nobody stared at us while pointing and snickering. And if you can believe that, I have a Red-nex-ican bridge to sell you.

Eventually we strolled our loud, mobile carnival over to the Ikea cafeteria where we gave the overworked college student behind the prison buffet glass quite a shock when we announced we’d be needing 7 FREE Swedish-meatball-meals, plus two regular ones. Kids eat free on Tuesdays, which almost makes up for the $800 we spend on knick-knacks and gasoline, and we are certainly going to take advantage of those 2,450 FREE calories.

A lady with just one baby tried not to gawk as we seated our family around a jumbo cafeteria table. I caught her sneak-staring at us, and I’m fairly certain she pretended to text with her phone while actually taking photos of us. Right off I noticed she was well put-together; with make-up done nicely, a cute outfit, stylish hair cut and ONE sweet baby who was dressed immaculately. I’ve been there. Back when I only had one child to manage. Back when I only had one child to manage and the very thought of having more than one cherub was enough to make me sweat blood. I’m sure we were more than mildly amusing, and I figure all the attention is just preparing us for our future reality TV show. I would have offered to sign an autograph but I was too busy wiping small faces and trying to convince several young boys that free meatballs aren’t billiard balls and that forks aren’t pool cues.

Fifty-six minutes and half a mile later, it was on to the warehouse portion of the store where you collect all the larger items you wish to purchase. We stacked up six mattresses, a disassembled metal bunk-bed frame and various other things onto a flat dolly cart that nobody seemed able to manage. This is the exact same cart that the petite seven year old insisted she could push on her own, with zero interference. “It’s not workinggggg,” she whined loudly down the aisle, “I can’t control the wheeeeeeels. The front keeps spinning. NO, GO AWAY! DON’T HELP ME! I CAN DO IT MYSELF!” I caught the astonished looks of passerbys as we maneuvered our (now very loud) family of nine  -complete with 5 overloaded contraptions on wheels- through the remainder of the store, in and out of the check-out desk and off toward the loading zone.

Of course, as luck would have it, we strolled past a “last chance” food stand where Ikea expertly markets ice cream cones to weary parents and screaming pre-schoolers. This cruel marketing ploy meant we had to buy 8 soft serve ice-cream cones just to get out of the store. One man stopped mid-lick of his cone and stared at us as we passed through the exit doors. I’d like to think it was because we are just so sweet and good looking. But my better sense tells me that it was because one kid was flop-tantruming over the side of the cart while wailing at the top of his lungs. He did the wailing flop because Mr. Diaz, realizing the 4 year old could never finish an entire ice cream cone before entering the van, bent over and devoured half of it in one fell swoop. Apparently, said 4 year old was scarred for life and now has a reason to see a therapist as an adult.

After skillfully packing all the new purchases and 9 people into our giant party wagon, we were off toward home while youngsters drowsily slipped into sugar comas; vanilla ice-cream drool drying on their chins like slug trails.

All said and done, we made it home with 6 bed mattresses, a bunk bed, 2 pop-out circus tents, a clock, 2 “road” play mats, several rolls of craft paper, batteries, dish rags, a large candle lantern, 3 wicker baskets, colored drinking straws, fluorescent plastic silverware, a green spatula and several chocolate milk stains.

I didn’t end up signing any autographs. (Unless, of course, you include the receipt I signed for an amount that could rival the commerce of a small nation.) And since I realize I’m not likely to get a reality TV show, I’d better just stick to keeping Crap Fairy employed, which is easier now that the kids are sleeping peacefully in brand new beds.

Crap fairy is on the move.


*This post has been featured on For Every Mom




46 thoughts on “The day we brought a circus to Ikea

  1. Oh my goodness this made me laugh! I have three under the age of five…and as Im sure you can imagine we get tons of looks out with three little kids by myself!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mrs. D,
    I think the Crap Fairy needs to get out and travel a bit…To my house!!! You de-crapify my house, I watch your kids… Then we won’t be cheating the Gov… 😉
    Seriously though… Crap Fairy… She could have a pretty sweet gig…let me know if it sounds tempting!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Red-nex-ican….that made me literally LOL….My husband and I have 5 kids…3 of which are toddlers and anytime we go out to eat…the minute they seat us next to someone I can actually hear the rolls of their eyes and the whispering of what they “think” is going to happen. My kids actually behave very well when we are at a restaurant and I am proud to say that I have actually had people stop on their way out to compliment my husband and I on how well behaved they are…the same people who’s stares were burning holes in my flesh upon arrival. Now that’s not to say that we haven’t left a restaurant before because one did get out of hand and I mean to the point that my husband took them to the van while I told the waitress to just bring the food in to go boxes and give me the check. Fun Times.

    Liked by 2 people

    • YES!

      I can HEAR the eye rolls too! Now, I do believe in having well behaved children out in public. My kids do know what’s expected of them in a setting like a restaurant- any restaurant that isn’t decked out in yellow and orange with clowns and slides and colorful cardboard boxes filled with cheap crap, that is.

      But people should really get a life. Kids aren’t a bad thing. And they should be more welcomed in public.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I LOVE big families and the chaos that comes with them! I came from a very small family (just my sister and I, no cousins), so in the likelihood that I’m staring, it’s always in a loving awe and rekindled childhood jealousy that there are always kids to play with! (and now that I’m a mom, I’m also mentally high-fiving you)

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Funny stuff my friend!!! We have had similar incidences at Ikea, but with 6 instead of 9. The funny thing is since I know your family a movie picture runs through my head of your amazing family as I read which makes it really funny and sweet!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So so so so happy I discovered your blog. By far the funniest one I have stumbled upon (no offense to other funny blogs who may read this). Confession, there is a very high chance that I was the single woman with 1 child taking photos of your circus at IKEA. It sounds exactly like something I would do. The only thing is you live in Delaware and myself in California so the chances are pretty slim that you drove cross country to check out our IKEA, however stranger things have happened. My husband swears by the Taco Bell 3 hours south of here, making the other 345 along the way not worth it, so you can see how this hypothetical isn’t that far from a believable reality for me. Anyway, super excited about your next posts and reading about your crazy circus!!!

    Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks! I forgot to say that before I had a kid (long before) I worked in the childcare at an IKEA. Just be grateful you didn’t take advantage of that perk. Most days I would fall asleep watching movies and at least once a week a child would take a shit in the ball pit.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. You’re just awesome! At work and almost choked on my taquito from laughing! How do you do this? Do you at least take 15 minutes to yourself and find a dark closet to zone out and drool in each day? Lol. Advice I’d really like to know, what do you do for just YOU? (Aside from your amazing blog).

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is hysterical. I’ve only been to Ikea once with my 28 year old down by her place 2 hours from here. There isn’t one in my area and the one where she lives is small. Yours sounds like so much more fun. Now was your daughter suggesting that you shouldn’t have had children or maybe see what you can have when we all grow up and move away? Either way, she sounds delightful.

    I learned this morning that there will be, Lord willing, a grandbaby in my future about Septemberish. The older daughter and her new husband were told yesterday that she is about 9 weeks pregnant. She was told years ago that she would not be able to have another child and they were ok with that. They were married last October and pregnant by December. Doctors think they know more than God sometimes. I can hardly wait to take him or her to Ikea.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I knew you were amazing, but bringing children to IKEA, 7 of them…You are a modern day Super-Woman! More than once, I have left an IKEA store, broke, exhausted and dehydrated – and that was all without children!! And then you write about it so we can all share in your adventure. Bravo. Seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. When I die, heaven is going to be IKEA. Love this story, especially your daughter saying how clean your life could be without kids! So funny. I take she has to share a bedroom? Question: why didn’t you drop off 5 or so kids at the ballpit for free babysitting? My sister used to love that and cry when we made her come home!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My BFF and I took our families to Ikea on the Saturday after Christmas. It was so so so busy. She and her husband and their 5 and my husband and I with our 9. Mad house and mega stares! We don’t have one in our area and we were visiting in Cincinnati so we couldn’t pass it up.


  11. I very much enjoyed your recounting of your Ikea trip. I confess part of it might be schadenfreude. Having emigrated (from Scotland to America) with next to no furniture, we have made several trips to Ikea in the past year. It is perfect for furnishing a house on a budget. What it isn’t perfect for is entertaining kids. I feel your pain having to do it with kids as young as some of your brood are.

    Last time I was there, I managed to get my two youngest into SmaWorld (or whatever the creche / holding pen thing is called) and desperately tried to get a third in there by getting his spine to compact a bit to be below the height requirement. No joy. The person in charge caught me out. So we had to drag our two oldest around with us. I tried to get them interested in picking things out, offering them the chance to share an opinion, but they could not have cared less about home decor. Instead they just made the noise of dying dinosaurs every time I told them it was time to move on to another section. They wanted to stay in the comfort of the sofa section, scooched up on a plump chair together. Then we were forced to spring the youngest two from “fun jail” just in time to go through the section with all the glassware and crockery. Eegads. So, yes, the whole place is a trial of patience and tolerance. And cheap hot dogs and ice cream with which to bribe the kids for not touching things on shelves.

    Thankfully our nearest Ikea is just half an hour away so I have been able to dispatch my husband on his own to pick up things like additional bookcases. Going to Ikea to often risks bankrupting me mentally as well as financially.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I dont have nearly as many kids as you do. Only 4 and not a chance in hell of more. Mine are all young adults or teens now but I can remember very vividly the grocery store trips or the clothes shopping trips where all hell would break loose regardless of the multiple times they would be encouraged to “act like a normal” family. Maybe that was my problem… there are no “normal” families! Thx for the memories this brought back. One day… you too shall giggle while trying not to strangle a teen!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I’m gonna tell you.. we get looks like that in Ikea as well.. and we’re a whopping huge family of….4!

    It usually starts with my pint sized curly red headed diva screeching, and her older brother giggling that for once it’s not him making a scene by skipping back and forth on the “path” And, while we’re all loud, it’s my husbands Scottish accent always draws eyes…and ears, of any female within listening distance, as he bellows at one or the other of our children to climb off of some chair, or bed, or couch in a very Shrek-sh manner.. while I’m like…oooh look at that spatula! Honey, do we need any kitchen utensils..??

    I can only applaud you… as I know I would most likely lose it if I had to add 5 more children to our entourage.

    Liked by 1 person

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