It was the school holidays and when asked where they'd like to go, a resounding "IKEA!" made the decision process a very quick one. IKEA opens at 9.30 am for breakfast but the indoor play area only opens at 10.00 am. We were there at 10.00 am hoping to beat the school holiday crowd. At Småland, we got a queue number, filled up a form (one for each child), donned a number bib, kept the shoes in the allocated box, sanitized their hands and off they went. The kids knew the drill. Mummy would sit outside with a book in hand while the kids played for the next hour. A good one hour break and some quiet moments for Mummy while Daddy hit the store. The older A took it upon herself to supervise the younger K, showing her the toilet, and ensuring that she was taken care of while Mummy waited outside. The best part? It was free.
The girls are Småland members (or citizens as they call it), and each has a little log booklet they bring along on every visit. The booklet is scanned, and they receive a ladybird sticker for the visit. In addition, each child is entitled to one meal discount coupon per day. Each visit also contributes $0.50 Småland dollars which can be used to redeem merchandise or workshops.
|The giant ladybug scanning machine. Scan the booklet and the sticker is dispensed.|
|Some merchandise on display at the counter that "citizens" can exchange their accumulated points for.|
|Get a queue number|
|I remember waiting for the day when K meets the height requirement of 90cm!|
|For kids under 90 cm, they can still be entertained while their older siblings play 'indoors'|
|A ball-pool to slide into. There is also simple rock wall just beside the stairs (not captured).|
|Cartoons are usually played so kids would gather at the top of the stairs to watch and chat.|
|Drawing tables. Toilets are situated inside the play area.|
Mummy picked the kids up after an hour (just hand the staff the same queue number tag) and headed to the restaurant on the second floor. It gets really crowded during meal times so it was a relief that we were there early. The restaurant is newly renovated and the small gazebo sized kids area has now expanded into a spacious kids zone, complete with building blocks, train tracks, and play cooking sets. Wonderful news for the kids (and the parents too). IKEA Family Card holders can show the card at the cashier counters for complimentary coffee or tea.
|Newly renovated restaurant|
|The new kids area is more spacious and has a wider selection of toys.|
The Swedish items on the menu are all novel to us, and any item we picked often led to a new experience. Speaking of new, the restaurant frequently rotates the dishes to their menu to keep the dishes appealing. Of course, there's always their signature chicken wings, salmon and meatballs that are oh so addictive. I know of friends who would visit just for the occasional dose of these popular delights. There's also a counter that serves halal dishes, and just like the rest of the menu, they're usually rotated every now and then.
|Today's menu includes baby back ribs with fries.|
|Needs no introduction...|
|Crayfish... this got a little messy, and Daddy got his hands dirty.|
|Smoked salmon with the signature chicken wings in the background.|
We picked our seats on the counter facing bordering the kids' play area, making it convenient for us to keep watch over them and enjoy our meal at the same time. The kids often request to spend a little more time playing before the meal, so if we're not in a rush, such as on a holiday or when Daddy is on leave, we let them play first while we tuck in. This gives us some time to talk and catch up before they come out and join us, usually after noticing how delicious we make the food look.
|Our spot overlooking the play area.|
|Panoramic view of the play area from the table counter.|
The check-out counter area seems to be yet another regular stop on our way out of the store. We just cannot seem to ignore the 50 cent soft-serve ice-cream cones and hot dogs. I'm convinced the 'screaming' pictures of these are strategically placed here as visitors would have worked off their meals browsing the showrooms, making the aroma of freshly baked hot-dogs literally call out to you... oh wait, it's not the aroma but the kids that are reminding me that we need to make a stop here. "Well, since we're not in a rush and have some time, ..."
|"Let me help you with that.... no I mean, let me help you eat that..."|
Staying in the East also make visits to IKEA a very convenient and cost-saving way to spend the hours away. With Courts MegaStore and Giant Supermarket just beside and opposite IKEA respectively, it would serve as a good one-stop venue for everyone in the family.