Wednesday, February 21, 2007

February 21, 2007 Part 3

Ok, this is something with which I am really struggling. I am a fairly neat person. I try to make sure that everything has a place and everything is in it's place most of the time so it is really easy to keep things relatively neat. I do go through messy phases but they normally don't last for more than a few days. After that, I can't stand it anymore so I clean up again.  My husband is also a fairly neat person, at least in the places I care about.

Then there come the toddlers. This is where I struggle. My husband and I had figured out a system between us that worked for both of us most of the time. My real issue with the messiness is having to constantly clean and re-clean messes. Now that we have the boys, messy has a whole new meaning. Somebody help me!

The biggest issue I have is when they eat. If they could feed themselves, I think I would just look the other way and let them go at it. If I didn't see it, maybe it wouldn't bother me so much. But I have to feed them a lot of the stuff they eat, or at least help them.

In my efforts to avoid messes, or keep the boys from making messes, I feel that I am being too controlling of them when they eat. I don't want to be a control freak with them and I don't want them to have eating issues or general issues from an over-controlling mom, when they get older.

What I need to know is, what is reasonable to expect from boys this age. Nicholas is now 15 months old and Benjamin is 16.5 months old. Neither can eat with utensils, although they are interested in trying. Nick can feed himself finger foods.  Ben makes a good effort and we help out.  We already have a rule that you do not throw food, cups and utensils on the floor. They know this, although they will occasionally do it to test if the rule still applies. I think this is reasonable and, based on their response, I know they are totally capable of this. Yes, there are many times when things accidentally ends up on the floor and that's OK....or I don't see how something ended up on the floor so I assume a positive intention. We try hard to look at the intention and attitudes and we know that accidents will happen, no big deal.

So, other than not throwing things on the floor, what can you expect from children of this age? Do you or should you let them play with/in their food? Do you give them utensils and let them drop food all over the floor? I suppose you have to do this in order for them to learn to eat with a utensil. Sometimes I load the spoon for them and then they might pick up the spoon and start waving it around. Yuck! Do you let them play with their sippy cup, banging it on the highchair tray, even if it means that milk is being sprayed all over the floor? Do you try to teach them not to put their hands in their hair when they are eating? What else?

I really need some help with this. I struggle with it at every meal. My husband is so laid back about all of this. He doesn't mind the messes, although he also does not have to spend nearly as much time cleaning them up. I do wish I could be more laid back about this though. I am trying but it is not easy for me.

In the rest of the house, it really has not been an issue yet. I have figured out ways to handle it where it does not get too bad, it is very quick to clean up toys and it does not bother me. It is really just the eating thing that gets to me, for now anyway.

I am definitely much more easy going about messiness than I used to be, so I am improving. I think I still have some improvement to do during their meal times though. Otherwise, my children will never learn how to use utensils and I will be feeding them until they leave home:).


Waitingonmyua2 said...

As the mom of 4 boys, I hope you won't mind my intrusion - and my opinion on your boys and learning to eat like proper gentleman! LOL

First of all, it will be a little different because they have not been with you from day one. However, I believe boys are boys.

As hard as it may be to hear this, ya gotten ease up, mama. Yes, it is normal for a child of 15 months and 16 months to spill, play, feel, throw, etc. their food. This is a kinesthetic age. They learn about their word by FEELING it - and that includes making a mess with their food. Don't expect them to handle utensils properly for a WHILE yet.

Buy a couple of cheap vinyl tablecloths - for the floor! Yep, just put them under the high chairs. You can pick up "easy" messes and just throw harder messes into the washer.

Yes, introduce the spoon (or spork) and encourage them to use it. But let them use their hands. You feed them some. They feed themselves some - mess and all.

Hang in there mama, they'll be taking out the trash and asking for the car keys sooner than you'll ever believe it could be!

Beth - mom to 13, 16, 18 and 19 y.o. sons - and hoping to bring my youngest boy and his little sister SOMETIME in 2007!

tonya said...

Do you mind if I add you to my adoption blog roll? I need to have you somewhere where I can check up on you between comments:):):). I went back and tried to read through your last two weeks quickly and it sounds like you are doing GREAT (besides being exhausted)!

My advice about the food thing is 1)keep the boys hair cut short so that you can wipe it with a cloth. I have to wash Lyra's every other day or so. Kids will put their grubby little hands in their hair. Sorry. 2) do what Beth said and put a splat mat under the high chairs. That will at least make clean up easier. 3) let them eat with their hands for a little while longer. It won't hurt anything. When they see you and daddy eating with utensils, they will probably want to try it too. Just put the fork on the high chair tray and let them try. Messes are part of learning to eat. It is good that you are not letting them throw things off of their trays. They don't need to be doing that:):):) (we had to work on this with our 2 year old). Give them foods that aren't quite as messy when you can. Things they can pick up and eat like pasta, toast, crackers, bananas, etc.... Things like yogurt and applesauce are a bit messier (but fun) so you could feed them that yourself for a while longer until they learn to use a spoon. If you feed the babies before dinner and then give them some finger foods to play with while you eat, it will give you and hubby time to get a bite in your mouths. That always worked for us.

Fruit cocktail, drained and laid out on the high chair tray was always a hit with my kids as well as soft veggies. They can stab them with a fork or pick them up with their fingers.

Anonymous said...

Other good ideas: Put some finger food they can grasp and manipulate on their trays, while you continue to feed them. They may have missed out on the ever important developmental step of finger pinching of foods. So, frozen peas, cheerios and some of the foods Tonya mentions are great for that. They will work at that while you feed them, too.

The child development books may have this discussed for younger kids, like 7-12 months. But remember your boys missed out on a few steps here and there!

Squiggly pasta noodles also work well for this- and they are easily grasped. That is if they don't man handle them with their whole fist. Well, that's an important step too, squishing pasta throught the fingers!! Oh, joy :)

You are doing great! We did the drive around while they sleep in the car from time to time, too. What ever, works, right!!???!!!


MMrussianadoption said...

Oh the hands in the hair while eating. That is my biggest pet peeve with K. I don't know what to tell you about that one. I do know that we do not let him just bang away with the sippy cup or spoons. We redirect him and give him a couple of tries to do things the correct way. But if we see he is done and just keeps wanting to play, he loses the cup. I am not about to clean up mess that was from just playing around. But K is older and can feed himself. I will see how O is when we bring her home and put her in the highchair. We have been spoonfeeding her since we have no chair and she is on our laps. I don't have any desire to wear what she is eating. She will pick up cheerios off the table or out of your hand and gum them. I cant wait until she gets more teeth and can chew.

Hope that helped a little.

kristine said...

I have been reading your blog for a while also. I would agree with Tonya. We have 5 kids - 16, 15, 12, 9 and our new one (home 4 mos. from Russia) who is 16 mos. old. Playing with the food is normal behavior. Running the fingers through the hair is also so normal. I always think about what is happening after a meal before I feed her certain things. For instance, tonight at dinner she had pasta with butter on it, cut up in a bowl. I knew she would pick it up with her hands and probably get it in her hair, but she needed a bath anyways so I let her go to town on it. She ate a lot of it too! (Just a side note, pasta sweeps up very easily if you can let it dry a little on the floor, maybe while you are giving a bath! :) ) I have given her a baby fork and let her just try it. I put food on it for her some times and just let her pick up the rest with her hands. We also don't let her throw or bang on the table with her cup, but we don't take it away either. We tell her no-no and then a little swat on the hand if she doesn't stop. We leave the cup in her reach though. We did it with the other kids and it worked great! I know it is important for her to let me feed her, so I still do that too. I will give her yogurt or applesauce and she is more than happy to have me spoon feed her, which from what I've read, is part of the attachment process.

I would just try and relax about the food and the floor and realize it will be a short time before they are eating on their own and just making a mess on the table and their faces and not the floor! Although, I'm not sure you are really ever out of the woods on that either - my older kids still make messes and spills trying to work in the kitchen! Before you know it, they will be graduating from high school and you will miss these days! Trust me - BTDT! :)

Take care and HAVE FUN,

kate said...

I've just gotten caught up. It's been a crazy week here. I've missed your blog!

My encouragement is that soon it will be warm. Then you can eat outside!

Anonymous said...

Are you serious or joking?

I think your BABY boys are acting NORMAL, and using utensils and not getting food in their hair should be your biggest worries in life, LOL.

Maybe you should play with squishy noodles! LIGHTEN UP and have fun!

Before you know it you will wish you could still feed them!

Anonymous said...

OK, I was cracking up as I was reading this because I can totally relate. It bugs me to no end to have little fingers flick cereal or yogurt all over the place so that you have to wipe down 1/2 of the room to make sure you got everything! That said, I know this is just part of them exploring their world and let's face it, kids are messy. I still have to sweep under the chair when my 3 1/2 year old is finished eating certain foods.

One thing that I do with Landon when I think he's going to be grabbing at the cereal spoon I am feeding him with, is keep a wet washcloth next to me so I can wipe his fingers off so he doesn't put it in his hair. This is especially helpful if I'm stressed. If I'm stressed I'm more likely to get frustrated at his making a mess, even though I know it's natural. This helps in the long run because I don't get frustrated by all of it. If he is feeding himself however, I just live with whatever happens.

Hang in there - it sounds like you're doing an amazing job! Call me anytime you and the boys want to get out of the house.
Jamie L.

Lauri said...

I agree that you have to let them try to feed themselves... Livi would hold her spoon in one hand and eat with her other hand. Sometimes she would pick up something and put it on her spoon but I always offered her both a spoon & fork. They sell these easy to hold spoons that wrap around a child's hand.

I get you on the messy hands in hair business... I'm very neat and this would get to me big time. I love Baby bjorns plastic bibs the catch everything

I would put a little amount at a time on the plate and add more as they eat what they have. a section dish is nice as well...

They will get the hang of it.. let them explore

Anonymous said...

Hey Lea,

I remember you told me you could not even study in school until you cleaned the room. He, he.
Get a dog, that will re-set you.


Anonymous said...

We brought our two home together,
at 10 months and 17 months. I remember feeling like a "feeding machine" with 3 meals and 3 snacks daily, so when my son insisted
on feeding himself, I was all for it.

We did lots of finger foods -cereal, cheese, cut up fruits, and veggies. Anything that can be cut up is now a finger food! I did stop the yogurt for several months, because I just couldn't deal with the mess! But if they are going to learn to eat with utensils, they need lots of practice, so put a cheap plastic tablecloth under each chair, and take their shirts off, and go for it!

Sue B

6blessings said...

I think you got some really good advice. I also like to keep things neat and sometimes it drives me batty. However, I've learned that a house with kids is going to have some mess! It's just a fact! If it doesn't, the kids aren't being allowed to be kids. I've learned that one too over time. Ugh!

Anyway, I also used a cheap $1 vinyl tablecloth under my kids' chairs for years. They are easy to clean and easy to replace if it is too bad! I also agree that you have to let them experiment and learn or they'll never progress. However, I don't believe in allowing misbehavior to occur. Nip that right away or it will spread like wildfire. Learned that the hard way too. :-)

I think you're doing a great job. My 3 boys are up your way right now spending some time with gma. They went to the circus last night in T town. They called and told me all about it with excited little voices. We'll have to plan a get-together time.

cheryl crawford said...

Hi Lea...First time I've had a chance to come back in & read all the experiences of the day....Welcome to motherhood......I know you're tired, but you are doing a FANTASTIC job!

All the ladies are right.....vinyl tablecloths, washcloth near where you are giving the boys their food. Yes, playing in food is a developmental thing & they probably didn't get the experience previously.. They will get better....pudding & applesauce are great items to learn because they load on the spoon better (still messy).

Other things that will help with pincher & tactile/fine motor skills coordination...Plastic hammers from Playschool tool set, allow the grip action they need to develop......Play dough is another thing (storebought is non-toxic but I have a recipe for homemade if you want it). Put the vinyl tablecolth on the floor, use a tv tray, and play on the tray...that way they will not associate the playdough with the high chair & putting it in their mouth....they can squish it, pat it, roll it...all necessary, clean ups fairly easily, and won't hurt a thing if they do put it in their mouth.

Love Ya! Cheryl