Posted by Kirsten Patel, Elementary Mommie-on-the-Run | Posted in The Elementary Mommy-on-the-Run | Posted on 22-07-2010
I took my three children to IKEA in EastPalo Alto last week. Not because I needed inexpensive housewares. Not because I needed a couch for our living room that I won’t mind too much when my kids use it as a napkin. Not because we need a new dresser that you need to understand Swedish in order to put together in under five hours. Not because I needed new place mats, vases, picture frames, bath rugs or pillows. Not even because I was craving the Swedish meatballs that remind me of my childhood. No, not for any of those reasons.
I took my three children to IKEA because I needed an hour of free child care and one dollar ice cream cones.
This was the first week of summer vacation where we had no camps scheduled. Heck, we didn’t even have any play dates scheduled. It had been a while since I have had all three at home with me all day long for five days straight. I’m a bit rusty at the mothering without a break gig, but I had a plan. I was looking forward to a week with no commitments, no rushing to get to school or lunches to pack. We’d get up and have a leisurely breakfast. After breakfast I’d go for a quick run on the treadmill and shower. Then we’d go on some kind of adventure, come home in time for an hour or so of quiet reading time. In the late afternoon, the kids would ride bikes in the driveway or play in the yard while I cooked dinner. Sounds great right?
It all worked out just fine for the first few days. We went to the zoo and had a great day. We went to the park and met up with some friends the next day. The farmer’s market was on Wednesday, and we came home with two grocery bags full of goodies and ate fresh sourdough and five kinds of fruit for lunch.
But to be honest, by Tuesday afternoon I think the kids were tiring of playing with each other. And those quick runs on the treadmill? Those were actually 5 minute sprints interrupted by someone who couldn’t reach the graham crackers, or someone who was called stupid by their sister, or someone who had to know rightthisveryminute what would happen if they put their Littlest Petshop pig on the treadmill. And the more time we spent at home, the more of a disaster my house was by the end of the day. Oh I try to enforce the take it out, play with it, put it away rule… but I fail. I can’t keep up with the three of them. And I had forgotten how hard it is to just stop and think with three little kids running around, much less brush my teeth. As much fun as we were having, I was exhausted by the end of the day.
So by Thursday morning I had broken up several sibling squabbles, given up on the treadmill and shower thing and I was ready to throw in the towel. So we went to IKEA. I checked them into the childcare, kissed them good bye and strolled through the housewares section with a cup of coffee. To some this might not seem relaxing, but for me it did the trick. All I really needed was a new spatula and some quiet.
I ended up spending about $30 on a vase, two spatulas, some pot holders, a jar of lingonberry jam, a couple of books for the kids and new cushions for our kitchen chairs. The kids were happy when I went to get them. We ate lunch at the cafe for about $12 for the four of us. And of course we got the $1 ice cream cones filled with non-fat frozen yogurt on the way out.
So thank you IKEA for saving a little piece of my sanity. As long as there is summer break and sibling squabbles and you have free childcare and spatulas for under $2 — I will be a customer for life. But you will never, ever see my face on the weekends. I hate crowds and lines and my husband can take them out for ice cream on the weekends.