Finding ways to bond with teenagers @ Ikea

Sharing a few ideas for bonding with a teenage daughter, and hoping you’ll share them too, especially as this trip involved Ikea. For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children follow this blog or get my book Homemade Kids, out of the library. This post is by Nicola Baird, also see

Meatballs at Ikea.

Meatballs at Ikea.

A few weeks back I realised I had one daughter in Paris (that’s where she lives), another was out shopping in London. My husband was at football and I was with the dog in the woods. On paper we are a family with little in common. But it is fun – and pays dividends – to try and do something special with individual children. And as they get older, this definitely gets more important. I was given this tip by a friend who has two older daughters and an older son; plus step children. I’m pretty certain my friend meant take your growing kids out for an adult-sort of treat, like coffee, or breakfast or a special meal. Now I have experience with an 18year old and a 15 year old I think that sometimes the treat should be something very particular. And it may not be something you’d normally do.

Changing rooms
The house has changed since my oldest daughter moved out for her gap year working in Paris. It’s a lot quieter… but it’s also a chance for my 15 year old to flourish without having to define herself by her older sister all the time. First move has been to change Nell’s room around (with her agreement). Her wooden bunks were freecycled (quite sad) but it was good to know they will be reused in a third home. To make that room feel more grown up it needed a double duvet, duvet cover and something else – rug, cushion, whatever.

In theory I could have found something from the piles of material I have at home. But given that I suspect Nell will have this duvet for a long time (she’s been sleeping under a single duvet cover that I used at boarding school in the 1970s!), it seems like a better gift to find a new design that she likes and belonged to her from the start… For that we had to go to Ikea via tube and bus.

Ikea is my idea of hell. Admittedly quite a nice sort of hell with FSC-certified timber, pleasant staff, a good temperature and clean toilets.

However it is a temple of consumerism and the sheer choice, plus bargain value prices, make it very easy for me to end up buying much more than I want (never mind need).  Luckily Nell is a better shopper than her mum – honed by a lack of pocket money, a lifetime of environmental messaging and a jealous respect for babysitting earnings. As a result she is very reluctant to buy anything, even if I am paying.


Turning Swedish in Ikea.

In the end we got slightly lost and spent at least half an hour going round the showrooms of make believe bedrooms and kitchens. I think Nell was entranced by the choice, and the newness of everything. We recovered by standing in the queue for the restaurant. I’d been told the Swedish meatballs are good value and taste just like Swedish meatballs so Nell’s plan was to try that. I’m not used to queues – they definitely take me back to horrible school days. But as Nell pointed out she is at school, and she always has to queue for lunch.  We didn’t break into song but it was quite fun chatting about what things might taste like, and of course a novelty that everything was Swedish-themed.

And thus I learnt quite a few things from my daughter including a dose of patience, and respect for what she has to put up with in order to get a daily hot lunch.

Then we tried Ikea shopping again via the market place. I do love the clever wording Ikea uses… “market” sounds so much more fun than following a wiggly shopping corridor to the exit. We managed to load our yellow shopping bag carefully and so only reached the till with just a duvet, duvet cover, a furry rug and a Swedish brand of crisps.

Over to you
And I think we had fun… It was certainly lovely to see Nell’s pleasure with the new bedroom decor.

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7 Comments on “Finding ways to bond with teenagers @ Ikea”

  1. You were very restrained with your shopping Nicola – we always come home from Ikea with piles of stuff!

    • Hi Gretta, thanks for commenting. Yes we were restrained and that was thanks to the influence of my daughter. She does like a bargain! In addition she’s not keen on carrying too much shopping so the bus/tube/walk combination also edited our shopping trip (thankfully!). Nicola

  2. Penny Says:

    Food is definitely a good way to bond. I took myl14 year old to eat Okonomi-Yaki which is fun to watch being prepared in front of you. We went to a stand up comedy show and then I let her take me on a tour of one of her favourite places in London – China Town. It was late at night by then and she was really surprised to see how much more vibrant and fun it was by night. She noted that having me along as a grown up escort was quite an advantage as she got to see night life safely. We walked over Waterloo bridge to see the sights all lit up and took some photos.
    We stumbled over an amazing ice cream place and indulged before taking the bus back home.

  3. It’s a good tactic to do IKEA by public transport as you can’t bring too much back! Whenever we go we seem to spend £100 and I’m not sure what on – hence haven’t been for ages!

  4. IKEA has the best oat cookies! They usually come in boxes and the hot dogs are only over a pound.
    Lovely post.

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