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OK put your hand up if you “need” to go to IKEA at least twice a year – perhaps for tea lights, big packets of serviettes, everyday-use glasses and wooden coat hangers? Well that’s my standard shopping list – although it’s never just that at the end… Anyway I recently took both boys along for the experience, which for my lads is probably a very stupid decision, but if you’re going to take your kids shopping, IKEA is not a bad place to do it.

I’m obviously talking about the original IKEA on Alexandria Road, and if you get there early enough by car, there is always loads of space in the car park. However, if you go on a weekend, early means never ever arriving around any major meal-time – but especially never during Sunday dinner – it’s chaos there. I don’t know why, but the food court is so popular, which I’ll talk about in a bit. You can also get buses, taxis are OK too when you leave (depending on crowds) and the closest SMRT is Queensway.

Once you’re there – if you can handle the queue time – check the kids into The Magic Forrest or Smaland. It’s a well-managed kids club, they can stay for up to one hour, and it’s free. While longer would have been lovely, one hour was enough time to scan the floors of IKEA for the necessities. After my mad dash, and the boys having some kiddie-focused fun, we braved the line for the food court. This food court is ALWAYS packed and I think most people buy more than they need rather than face lining up again. I thought the food was horrible and the promise of the pictures was definitely NOT what was delivered on the plate. It was my first foray into an IKEA food court and we definitely won’t be eating there again.

After that, it was back into the store and the kids section – which is massive – provides lots of activities for the kids to enjoy, and they are actively encouraged to try out the merchandise. That is what makes it a good activity in my mind – they loving hanging out here. Once you’ve made it through the IKEA maze, given the kids a few bounces on the beds and couches, and made it through the lines to check out, put your stuff in the car or get IKEA to hold onto it. Then head outside and cross the elevated bridge to Anchor Point. When I first arrived in Singapore in 2003 this was my local shopping centre. More importantly than that – Steve and I actually had our first official date in the food court – classy I know, but it was my idea. I think I snorted water through my nose… double classy.

Anchor Point has changed a lot over the years, and there’s always quirky little stalls selling all sorts of stuff, but a new benefit is lots of discount brand stores. There’s a Cotton On Kids, and Outlets include: Billabong, Capitol Optical, Charles & Keith,  Fox, G2000, Giordano, and Pedro. I think the outlet idea is perfect for this mall, so one to add if you want to do a little bit of cheap shopping. There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants if you want to get a meal.

If your kids are sport lovers, one of the greatest finds in Singapore is Queensway Shopping Centre AND you can bargain. You’re not going to find the latest gear here – although you might – as it tends to be old season stuff, BUT you can get cheap stuff and it’s a real hoot to boot. So if you need anything sports-related, or a cool pair of cheap Oakley’s, I can definitely recommend heading to Queensway before paying full price anywhere else.

So a bit of a shopping focused trip today – which we definitely don’t do a lot of – but sometimes I just don’t want to be out of the heat, and other times it’s a good option when it’s raining. If you factor a train ride into the journey, you could EASILY spend the whole day wandering between these three shopping areas. Also if your kids are into cars, there are loads of car showrooms in the neighbourhood as well, but I actually think that’s a separate adventure in its own right.

For this adventure, take a spare set of clothes if your kids are messy eaters, some water and you’re pretty much good to go. It’s definitely an easy day out – which is weird, ‘cos I hate shopping and never think it’s the “easy” option. Kids have certainly changed me!

Let us know if you go?