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:).