The Magic of Mess at Mealtimes

I’m sitting here amidst a table which looks as though someone has taken all the contents of my fridge and just tipped it out and then smeared it all over the place!

There is no denying that weaning and especially baby-led weaning is extremely messy! I don’t think you are quite prepared for just how much food is smeared, thrown, chucked, wiped and rubbed into just about anything! It is outstanding how food can be found days later down the back of the sofa, especially when the sofa is actually in another room – how on earth?!

I currently have a toddler trying to feed his sister yogurt across the table, the tablecloth is splattered, the chairs are speckled and his nose is an alarming bright white! His sister (who is 1), is currently eating beef casserole with her hands after tipping the content of her plate onto her tray and smearing her hands in it! And now – oh wait – she is rubbing her face into it also. I wasn’t planning on washing her hair tonight – my plans have now changed!

How do I deal with the mess? I have armed myself with a few products which help with keeping some level of cleanliness (note the word “some”!)I use a bib which covers Francesca’s arms as well as most of her body which I can just wipe clean at the end of a meal. I have a “mess mat” which is a large piece of PVC material sitting under her highchair and covering a large section on the floor. I also have a hand-held hoover which I keep in the dining room to suck up the bits of food which find themselves everywhere. And my biggest “cleaning product” is my dog. He sits under the table waiting in pure exhilaration at the prospect of what might fall before his feet. He is quick to snaffle up most foods which have been dropped or flung and for him, he thinks Christmas comes every day.

How do I feel about the mess? Well, I love it. Don’t get me wrong, I like my house to be clean and tidy but I love my children making a complete mess when eating much more. I love to watch Francesca grab at chunks of vegetable curry or beef casserole. I love to see her squelch these “saucy” meals between her hands and between her fingers (and sometimes toes!). I love to see her grab a spoon of yogurt and try to feed herself yet missing her mouth and it ending up on top of her head. I love the punk look as she runs her hands through it and creates incredible hairstyles!( the 80’s and the hair styles which came with the decade is nothing compared to the look of the hair of a baby being weaned!)

I love that she is so intent with what is on her plate or tray that nothing else matters, that in that moment of time, her concentration is taken up with how her food feels, how it squelches, how it mashes, how it crumbles and then the route it takes via her clothes, hair, face to get into her mouth.

I see it like this. Yes, it is messy, yes it takes time to clean up, yes it can be wasteful but when else are we going to get an opportunity to have a food fight every day?! When else can be lob a piece of toast across the room, smear porridge into our hair, pour a pot of yogurt onto our head, rub curry into our clothes and use our fingers to squash blueberries or chickpeas– just because we can? There is plenty of time to learn how to use a knife and fork, until then, go with the flow and wonder at the magic of mess at mealtimes.

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#mess #products