Shopping with young children is, uh....challenging, to say the least. What is accomplished in one hour of running errands by yourself is more than doubled when you add a toddler or two to the mix.
I can remember the first time I ventured out after the birth of my 2nd child. It was less than a mile to Target, but I prepared for the trek like I was going on vacation: toys, snacks, extra clothes, diapers, wipes - you name it, I had it. Within 15 minutes of walking in the door, the baby needed to be fed, toddler was not happy about sitting in the cart, and I couldn't find my list.
Time spent trying to remember the forgotten list - 18 minutes
Time spent feeding the baby and appeasing toddler - 36 minutes
Time spent (actual) shopping - 28 minutes
Total items purchased - 12
It's part of the journey and as a mother, you learn to perfect the timing, add tricks to your arsenal, and develop the multi-tasking area of your brain.
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Then one day, you walk into a store called Ikea.
The store itself is huge, certainly not a place I'd voluntarily take my children unless I was short on stress. But what they've created is nothing short of brilliant. Smaland is a free indoor play area for kids ages 4-10, and you can drop your kids off while you shop. (did you have to read that twice?) Yes, yes, yes - I said you can drop your kids off it a supervised area where they play while you shop. And there's also a play area in the restaurant and most locations offer a kids eat free day.
Who does this? I assure you a mother who has shopped with young children had something to do with this clever idea. It's a sigh of relief, a sense of accomplishment, and a moment of freedom that Ikea provides for families. I'm super impressed with Ikea and look forward to seeing one pop up in South Carolina soon. Until then, I'll have to find my way to Charlotte to take advantage of these perks.
I've often joked with a few restaurants owners I know.....you should rent the space beside you and provide an in-house sitter service for patrons of your restaurant. (I'm not really joking!) Give moms & dads 90 minutes or so to enjoy a nice, date-night, dinner while watching their children. Eliminates the need for a babysitter, strengthens the relationship of the parents, and will certainly generate repeat business. I would pay for this if it were less expensive than a sitter.
It certainly has possibility....in fact, I think there is already a waiting list.
Jennifer Bilbro is the Founder of OutToEatWithKids.com, an online resource and mobile application designed to help families search for economical & healthy children’s meals. Visit OutToEatWithKids.com for more information or submit your restaurant info to email@example.com