As all three of my children are now in their teens, I find myself reflecting a lot about what I would or wouldn’t do differently. Not regretting my choices as such, because I believe we make decisions based on the information available to us at the time, but rather with the help of hindsight thinking how I would “refine” some of my decisions.
No surprise that the first thing that comes to mind is mealtimes. Let’s face it, I had 3 children under 16 months so I was 100% in survival mode when it came to mealtimes, and most of the time dinner was really simple just to get the children fed, but I’m not talking about the actual food itself, I’m referring to where they ate their meals, dinner in particular.
When they were very young, they, like most Australian children, ate their meals in the infamous white IKEA high chair. That is after we sold off the fancy chair that we purchased for the first born after realising it was a) too hard to clean and b) we certainly couldn’t afford 3 of them once we discovered we had twins on the way!! The IKEA highchair is very handy as it is easy to clean and has a removable tray table to capture all the messy bits (although I recently saw this handy silicone mat for the high chair which would have been a good thing to know earlier lol). At one stage we had three IKEA chairs lined up together around the table with half the meal around the table on the floor.
Once I had decided they were getting too big for the high chairs, I needed a new mealtime solution. This is the point where I would now make a different decision. Instead of using their growing independence as a way to bring my little crew closer to the dining table, I chose to separate them from the table. What was a thinking? I was thinking, this cute little table and chair set will make it faster to feed the kids as they can get on and off the chairs by themselves. I also won’t have to worry about them falling off our dining chairs – big bonus! However, this meant we didn’t have meals together as a family – for longer than I care to admit.
In hindsight, it made the transition to family meals a lot harder than it needed to be. Even if we just had dessert together or fruit or perhaps a snack (which is a great way to navigate the early dinner issue with toddlers) we had no way to do it. This meant I lost the opportunity to demonstrate healthy eating, it limited the trial of new foods, we did not use any family style eating (self-serve from the table), and it also meant that everything I now know about the importance of family mealtimes wasn’t possible, purely because they literally didn’t have a seat at the table!
My refining moment would be to bring the children to the family dining table as early as possible. They may still eat earlier, but I could sit with them and have a small snack or on weekends we could all eat together. This would have shown my now teens that we prioritise family mealtimes, always have, always will (you get where I am going with this).
Today, the good news is that there are some fantastic products available to enable young children to safely eat at the table, adjustable chairs that allow your children to literally grow up at the table! Click the links below to see examples, all meeting my criteria of easy to clean (a big priority) and enabling you to easily bring your little one to the table!
Wooden Adjustable Folding Dining Chair with Removable Tray. Grows with Your Kid 1-12 Years Old US$119.99
Tripp Trapp Chair from Stokke, Adjustable, Convertible Chair for Toddlers, Children & Adults USD$239.00
Publisher may receive a commission from Amazon product recommendations.
Image Credit: Kampus Production via Pexels