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Don’t let the saucy title lead you to believe that I am exaggerating.
Because I’m not.
And if you ever feel like your life is a whirlwind and you use that as an excuse to put off date night week after week after week, I want to tell you to stop waiting. Carpe diem. Seize every available moment. Even if it’s at IKEA.
Lately, life over here has been like being caught on a constant spin cycle in the washing machine. Weeks fly by at record speed. I never tend to know what day of the week it is, unless I can pinpoint a recurring activity to that day (viola lessons? It’s Thursday! 3 hours of dance? It’s Tuesday! Staff meeting so try not to text Bob 100 times with silly GIFs making his phone explode? It’s Thursday!) You get the idea. We are in the throes of LIFE and our kids are fully immersed in school and sports and oh let’s not forget my aspiring actress and her endeavors.
In the last 10 days:
We have driven Lily to New York for three different television projects
I volunteered 1 morning at each kids’ school
Bob took the kids to a birthday party
I took Landon to 2 ice skating lessons
We drove Lily to 2 nights of dance
Had TWO more snow days with both kids at home
Somehow we both put in mostly full work weeks as well
Oh yeah, and had our 12th wedding anniversary last Monday. Which fell the night before a 6:30 am call time for Lily in New York, 2.5 hours away, with snow heading in by midnight.
So we had a simple dinner at home that night and did our best to basically go to bed when the kids went to bed because we’d be up by 3:30 the next morning (Bob drove her to that one, but I still had to get up and do her hair and makeup in time for them to walk out the door by 4 am). We joked that we’d have to have an anniversary date re-do. Though we never imagined it would happen at IKEA.
Fast forward to the following Sunday. 2 of the 3 trips to New York were complete. The remaining trip would occur that evening when Lily and I would head up and get a hotel to ensure we’d arrive on time Monday morning.
We dropped Lily off at her March pony leadership meeting. They were going to an “Escape the Room” type place in Plymouth Meeting, PA and then would eat lunch. This gave us a window of about 3 hours between dropoff and pickup and we were about 30 minutes from home. We love to drop by IKEA a couple times a year and found ourselves just a couple miles from the closest store. Off to IKEA we went.
Landon was less than thrilled that his sister got to go have a super fun time with friends and he was stuck in the IKEA marketplace while his parents chattered with excitement about colanders and organizational options for the mudroom.
Then we remembered that IKEA has FREE (FREE!!) childcare. That’s right. They have a playspace called Småland. Småland is free childcare for 1 hour for children who are potty trained and are between 95cm and 135cm tall. They have a ball pit, a movie area, craft stuff, play kitchens, etc. Did I mention this service is FREE?
We arrived at IKEA to find that the Småland didn’t open for another 30 minutes. So we began our Marketplace Exploration and at 11 am on the dot, we made a beeline to sign Landon in. He could not WAIT – the kid has zero separation issues and is always up for a playland atmosphere. The employee asked if we had an IKEA Family card (we do!) and upon seeing our card she gave us an EXTRA 30 minutes for a grand total of 1.5 hours of child-free time at IKEA. Pinch me. Am I dreaming? Clearly I must have won some sort of lottery.
We quickly finished up our shopping with excited chatter, uninhibited by preschoolers who had no interested in picture frames, decorative lanterns or stalks of bamboo. We paid for our goodies and Bob ran them out to the car.
Off to the IKEA restaurant to grab a bite to eat and a drink containing caffeine. We had 1 entire hour before our time was up at Småland.
We loaded our tray with sandwich wraps, a plate of fries to share and a piece of chocolate cake to share. We grabbed mugs for coffees (FREE for IKEA family members).
IKEA has a latte/cappuccino machine that makes a decent drink, same price as a regular coffee (And remember, our coffee was FREE!)… so free lattes for us!
It was only an hour, but it was worth it.
We talked and joked and poked fun at our IKEA date. We rehashed the whirlwind week before and finalized plans for me to head up to NYC later that afternoon. We tried to remember our pre-kid lives and determined that while we were probably a lot more rested back then, we were probably bored a lot.
We took an obligatory selfie.
It was a chance to talk without kids interrupting us and a chance to refocus on catch up on the daily happenings. It was spontaneous and unplanned. It did not require arranging for a sitter months in advance. It wasn’t fancy. There were no frills (minus my frothy latte). But it was very perfect.
We finished up our food rather quickly (no kids to interrupt us 17 times during our meal) and sat for the rest of our hour chatting. Before long, as it often does, time passed and it was time to grab Landon He had an absolute BLAST (apparently the ball pit was his favorite spot). He was hungry, so we treated him like a king with a hot dog, frozen lemonade AND a cinnamon bun on the way out of IKEA (all of that for like $3. IKEA is the land of edible bargains!).
And as we walked out of IKEA, reality came crashing back in and it was off to get Lily, home to get packed, then off again to head to the Big Apple.
The next morning we hiked across Union Square before the sun was up. We made it to her 6:18 am call time ten minutes early. It was a long day on set and, as always, I found myself marveling at all she has done at her ripe old age of 9. (And how much still lies ahead!)
Life continues along at a supersonic speed. T-ball is on the horizon for Landon as we attempt to add one more activity to our weekly roster.
But these days I don’t try to fight the fray. I embrace it as much as possible. I know that it will all be over and gone before I know it. We juggle the things the best that we can. We eat dinner as we rush out to dance practice or eat cold leftovers when we shuffle back in from ice skating lessons. The wash gets done when it gets done and the dishes might pile up for a few days before they get cleaned. We try to live in the moment and understand that sometimes, a pj night with no extracurricular plans is worth its weight in gold. We do the best we can, even on days when our best is not that great.
But at the end of the day, we’ll always have our IKEA lunch date. And maybe, just maybe, if we’re lucky enough… someday we’ll get another one.
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