Monday, June 21, 2010

Rant: Ikea's Smaland

My friend Christina and I thought we were up for the challenge of bringing our combined 5 children to Ikea.

This may seem insane to you. But Christina and I are just the two moms to take on the challenge: I am passionate about Ikea's style (and prices), and Christina is simply fearless. The woman drove through a blizzard with both kids & husband in a small sedan to get to HIS family in Colorado. She also has colitis and recently had her colon removed. Can you beat that?

So we got there with the intention of depositing our 4 mobile - REALLY mobile- children Smaland, Ikea's children's play area. When we arrived, it was full, and we were told there would be a 5 minute wait. So we waited.

Then there was only room for 3, so I bribed Leah into shopping with us so that the boys could all go in - D (age 6 1/2) and J (age 3 1/2) and then my Ben. We went through Smaland protocol, which included nametags for the kids, each kid having a separate bin for their shoes, stamps on kids' hands and matching ones on the moms', and then the mom signing them in and getting a pager. I thought I was sending them to boot camp.

Off we we went to enjoy our hour without boys running circles around us. And sweet it was. Until my pager went off.

One of the requirements of Smaland is that the kids be potty trained. And no pull-ups allowed. This gave me a little anxiety, as some of you might predict, considering Ben's track record of pooping in his pants. I was basically crossing my fingers that he wouldn't crap his pants for the brief span of time that he would be in kiddie-prison.


I raced down to the Smaland door with Adam in his stroller, leaving Leah to pick out her toy/bribe in the children's showroom with Christina. At the parent pick-up area, I was told that Ben had had an accident in the bathroom, and moved to go through the gate. The employee stopped me, and explained that "parents weren't allowed" into the Smaland without their manager being present.


There I stood, with my baby & stroller, all ready to go help my kid, where for all I knew he could be in hysterics, and I WASN'T ALLOWED TO HELP HIM? I could see the bathroom door, and right in front of me were three staff members standing in the office area. All the children were either watching a video or out of sight playing. I still don't understand what magical powers the manager was supposed to have.

As I stood there and waited, a couple more moms came to the gate with their own pagers flashing. The staff explained that the children had to use the bathroom, but because there had been an accident, they couldn't use the one there, and would the parent please take them to the regular bathroom?

I was RIGHT THERE. If I had been allowed in, they could have saved themselves and those other parents a lot of grief. And then Aaron called and I became an emotional mess, even crying a bit.

Finally the manager arrived and I was permitted to enter. Adam and I went into the bathroom, and there was Ben, perfectly calm, sitting on the toilet. Thankfully, most of the poo went into the toilet. I had flushable wipes and clean undies with me, so things were quickly taken care of.

As we headed out, I went up to the manager and explained that although I knew it was policy, I thought the policy was ridiculous. The manager said something about the policy being in place to protect the other children...I never did catch what it was they were being protected from. Then a staff member interrupted and said, "Ma'am, if you want to talk, you have to come over here..." and motioned to the other side of the partition we were standing next to. At that, I just grabbed my kids and got out of there.

The afternoon was pretty much ruined for me. Unfortunately, I had promised Leah that the next time we go she could hang out in Smaland, even though at that point I pretty much never wanted to see the place again. So I'll keep my promise and then after that, keep my kids with me. It's not worth the stress.
Have any of you had similar experiences? Kid's areas that seem to have lost their common sense? Or maybe you have some insight into Smaland's policy?

Any kid potty emergency fails in a public place? I KNOW I am not the only one, people.


Noel said...

Fortunately, we (Lyz's family and my family) live in a place where child abduction by non-custodial parents is not as prevalent. Ikea is watching it's legal back as it's not good enough to have a polcy, it must be consistently followed...makes a big difference in negligence and liability cases if something bad happens and Ikea is sued.

But things should have gone much better in Lyz's case. I note three things that could have made for a much better experience:

(1) When Lyz was paged, the manager should have been paged AND present when Lyz arrived.

(2) If the manager is a busy person, have assistant managers who can escort the parent if the manager isn't available.

(3) Have more than one bathroom so that when there is an accident, sick child, constipated child, loose stooled child etc, there is another bathroom for other kids to use.

Lyz said...

Noel - Yes, I understand about the legal implications. But your first option seemed like the appropriate step. Why even bother paging me if I couldn't do anything?!

Also, the fact that there were 3 staff present and presumably available to escort...why does it have to be ONE specific person with that responsibility?

Aaron said...

I'd be willing it needs to be a manager because they are the only ones properly trained per ikea policies (aka keep ikea from getting sued) in dealing with parents.

They definitely should have had a manager there when paged. Glad to hear all things considered that Ben did pretty well.

Jenifleur-de-lis said...

That is so upsetting and such a ridiculous policy! I cannot imagine how helpless you must have felt. I don't blame you...I would not leave my kids or future kids to come there after hearing about that policy. Other parents being inside their area for kids is not any kind of threat to other kids...they are parents for Pete's sake! DUMB!

Flotus44 said...
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