If you have kids that are in or barely out of diapers, you may wonder what is the deal with that kid drop-off area at the entrance to the IKEA in College Park. If you have pre-school aged children you probably already know the other name for IKEA’s Smaland: HEAVEN.
I hang out with my kids a lot. Like all the time. The nature of my job is that they don’t get supervised by strangers very often. And I am a worrywart and we are
codependent attached and the kids and I like doing all the fun stuff for families at IKEA together. But yesterday I set out to get the 411 on that intriguing area at the IKEA entrance that my oldest has been clamoring to get into since 2004.
Children that are fully potty-trained and 37″-54″ tall are welcome in Smaland. Parents and their younger siblings are not. You sign a bunch of forms, get matching hand stamps with your child and a bucket for their shoes and receive one of those electronic pagers like they give you at the Cheesecake Factory. Then you leave your little darling to have a blast for up to one hour while you shop or go play with any younger kids in the more babified areas throughout the store. The two women I met yesterday in charge of supervising the kids were ridiculously nice and capable. Cars was on the TV, art supplies and wooden toys were aplenty, safe climbing areas abounded and kids aged 3-6 were there to play with. It was not crowded and there is a limit on how many kids they will take at a time so that the vibe is not stressful for the children. The big ball pit was being cleaned and so was unavailable. Got to love that they actually clean those balls.
My own kid told me not to let the door hit me on the way out and ran off to play. When I returned to retrieve him he was blissfully happy and had drawn me a picture and had made some new friends he is still talking about this morning.
You can check it out yourself and watch two cute kids named Joey and Maria have the time of their lives in the store virtual tour here.
I am sure you already know this, but breakfast for everyone at IKEA is 99 cents, kids’ lunches and dinners are 99 cents, they have innumerable play areas throughout the store, baby food and bottle warmers and family restrooms and comfy chairs for nursing breaks and special parking spots for breeders. If you can actually get out of there without buying a bunch of stuff, it is perfection. Oh, and IKEA toys are NOT included in the recently publicized toy recall. The paint on the wooden stuff will probably improve their nutrition.
And I’m not saying you should do this, but you could conceivably drop your potty trained munchkin off and then go sip coffee and read. By yourself. For one whole hour.
Store opening hours:
Mon-Fri 10am – 9pm
Saturday 9am – 9pm
Sunday 10am – 8pm
Smaland opens at 10:30am – but you can get in line at 10:15am to snag your kids’ spot, there’s often a line and it fills up fast.
IKEA Restaurant opens 1/2 hour before the store and closes 1 hour before the store.
IKEA is open everyday except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.