I’m not sure about your kids, but my son is a messy eater. He’s gotten a lot better with age but I’ve learned to take precautions, mostly because I don’t want to spend more time cleaning every day. So after 6 years, I have found a few simple solutions that have helped. I thought I would share them here and maybe save other mamas some clean up time.
- Hidden Wipe-able Placemats: I love beautiful woven/fabric placemats, but scrubbing them after every meal is a bummer, not to mention that sometimes the food stains the mats which drive me crazy. I stumbled upon a solution a couple of years ago– we hide a wipe-able placement under the woven placemat where my son eats. At meal time, we remove the woven placemat out and viola clean up just got about 100000% easier. I like to use wipe-able vinyl place mats that corresponds to the woven option so everything still feels cohesive. I’ve rounded up 6 pairs of placemats that correspond well together above. We also have some kids placemats which actually generates a lot of dinnertime conversation. We have one with a world map on one side and the US map on the other. We’ll talk about where we want to go and where we’ve already traveled. (Quick note: I have found that even the vinyl/wipe able placements will occasionally stain but it doesn’t bother me since it’s hidden under my regular place mat.)
- Embrace Towels: Prior to having my son, I purchased dining room chairs with fabric on the seats. I love the chairs and didn’t want to replace them after having our son. Of course, I was also delusional and ignorant on how messy kids are and for how long. Anyway, I tried several different things to keep those seats clean. I use to basically clean them after most meals (luckily there are microfiber which cleans up so well!). I purchased chair covers (these ones), but they often got messy quickly and didn’t really absorb much if there was a major spill. After some frustration with all the clean up, one day I just threw a towel over the chair. It worked like a charm. It protected the seat and made clean up quick. I never used expensive bath towels and my favorite ones were actually from The Dollar Tree because they were the exact right size! I purchased several and kept them in our dining room hutch and brought out the towel when it was meal time. Dollar Tree no longer sells those and most bath towels are too big. I would recommend purchasing the cheapest bath towels from Wal-Mart and call it a day.
- Teach your kids to do the clean up: Of course, this will depend on their age, but I’ve shown my son how to clean up after himself. He knows to pick up the loose food that has fallen off his plate onto the placement,table, chair, floor etc. He’ll go and wipe up a spill/stain on the seat cushion (if I haven’t put down a towel). Since we have microfiber fabric, I already have spray bottles ready with alcohol and DI water, so we can quickly just grab what we need to clean up any spills.
Well those are my simple tips. I have found that as my son has gotten older we use towels less and rely on him to clean up more but when he was a toddler it was definitely the opposite. I still clean up a lot of messes–and nothing is fail safe but these have helped. Tell me moms, when does the messy eating end??