When a child makes a mess while eating

When a child makes a mess while eating a meal at the table, I can appreciate that it may be accidental. After all, small children are still learning how to behave, how to eat properly, and how to pay attention. What they need to get there are clear instructions on what is expected, and demonstrations on how to execute the instructions.

When a child makes a mess while eating a meal at the table, and it is due to fooling around, our expectations are as follows:

  1. Child must stop the fooling around.
  2. When the meal is complete, the child must clean up the mess.

There appears to be enough mess made accidentally when not fooling around that extra mess due to fooling around will become their responsibility effective now. Why should I not hold them accountable?

Why not indeed.

source: canadiantire.ca

Our 5 year old is a mess-prone kid. Part of it is that he is quite clumsy, and part of it is because we have been too slack with enforcing the expectations at the table. When he starts fooling around, mostly to entertain his toddler sister, the mess on the table, on his clothes, on and underneath his chair is a great source of irritation for me.

So how do I enforce his accountability?

Well, that is a work-in-progress. It requires a tremendous amount of restraint on my part. Restraint in terms of keeping myself from turning into a nag, and from getting angry enough to simply clean up the mess myself.

[Note to self: It is pointless to repeat a request, command or rule. How many times is enough? Stop repeating yourself.]

As mentioned above, the first step is to make the child stop the fooling around. I don’t know any magic formula on how to accomplish this, other than counting on the second step, where I insist on the child cleaning up the mess himself.

When this happens, it often sounds something like this:

Me: Please take your plates and bring them to the kitchen. Then come back with the little broom and sweep up the crumbs under your chair.

Ben: But I don’t like cleaning!

Me: You should have thought of that when you made the mess while fooling around.

Ben: I’m not going to clean it.

Me: You will be served your next meal after you clean up under your chair.


Me: Neither do I! Why should I clean up the mess you make when you fool around? You know what I expect of you.

I think he got the message. He didn’t test me for long, and must have felt that I was serious. The trick for me however is to stay consistent with this expectation.

For the record, both kids, even the 2 year old, have to pick up clothes, towels and shoes they leave lying around the house, and they have to help put their toys away prior to night time.

Cleaning up and tidying is not a foreign concept to them.

I don’t expect things to get easier as they get older, so why not establish some of these habits now? THAT is my objective, anyway.

Teaching manners to small children

Seriously. I have to make a whole different effort to teach my toddler how to talk. Or ask for things. Because clearly, she thinks that volume is the way to go.

We enforce manners in this house. Both kids know what we expect from them when they want something:

Kid: I want a chocolate chip cookie.
Me: How do you ask for something?
Kid: May I have a chocolate chip cookie please?
Me: Yes, that is how you ask for a cookie.

With the toddler, volume trumps whenever the mood strikes her:

Sonja: I want a chocolate chip cookie.
Me: How do you ask for something?
Me: That is not how you ask for things.

Everything is a crisis with this girl. This is very annoying. Continue reading

Toilet-training toddlers


Outside in backyard and on driveway where family members and neighbour kids are playing and fixing bikes.

Toilet training toddler walking around in underwear and crocks. Potty nearby.

Mommy periodically reminding toddler to “pull pants down to pee” and “use potty or toilet to pee”.

Toddler busy playing with children. Twice she pees in her pants. Twice we change the pants and she goes back to playing.

Close to supper hour, on the driveway beside the house:

Sonja: “Mommy, I got poops in my pants”.

Me: “Oh no Sonja. Take off the pants and we’ll clean you up.”

Sonja: “Mooooommmmyyyy, I got poooooopppps!”

Me, to DH: “Oh, she’s got diarrhea…”

Sonja: “I got DIARRHEA in my pants!!!!”

Me: “Sonja, when you have to make poops, where do you go?”

Sonja: “NOT in the diaper. ONLY in the toilet so I can say bye-bye poops.”

Me, while cleaning her up on the driveway: “Don’t move, I have to finish cleaning you up.”


Moral of the story?

Kids are loud.

Extended neighbourhood will know about child’s bodily function.

Spring-time transition

There is so much transition in my life at the moment I can’t find it in my fingertips to form a concrete thought into a blog post.

All I know is that transition is hard and time-consuming. Why? Oh, let me count the ways:

  • Spring is sort of here and then it’s winter again. Which means I have the entire wardrobe of all family members occupying all the livable space around here. Which means my house is cluttered. More so than normal, I mean.
  • The preschooler’s homework is starting to take up more time than I want to  dedicate at the moment.*
  • The toddler is transitioning into a preschooler and not napping regularly anymore which would be ok if she wasn’t so damn miserable when she’s clearly in dire need of at least a rest time.
  • We’re talking about moving again. Snippets of conversation about future plans, about at least an attempt to find some common ground, is usually interspersed by loud kid-noises. Doesn’t make for a very constructive life-planning session.
  • Transitioning into getting older and learning how to live with it. Mir talks about some of the aspects that are preoccupying me as well in some of her blog posts, and then there’s the…
  • …whole dilemma of cheese. Which I currently consume with glasses of white wine which make me feel happy and summer-y and care-free but really it just shrinks my skinny jeans to a smaller size. Or something…

Transition = blah

* I started and have not completed a post on homework. I currently lack propulsion to complete it.

Bed time routines for toddlers

I don’t know if I should kick myself in the butt, but for a while there, a few weeks back, Sonja was the most annoying toddler on the block.

There, I’ve said it.

She had attitude, was cranky, mean, obnoxious, opinionated, you name it, she was it. Wonder if this is preparing me for the lovely tween-years off in the distant future…

Anyway, looking back, and realizing just how many of her clothes don’t seem to fit her anymore, I’m thinking she may have had an extra-big growth spurt. Or something. And frankly, knowing now that this may have contributed to her discomfort and behaviour, I wonder if I could have handled the entire situation a little bit better.

Which brings me back to my own butt-kicking.

Continue reading

Sleeping with siblings

Last night my 2 1/2 year old insisted on sleeping with her 5 year old brother. She got as far as trying to pull her bed out of her room and into his room…well….she managed to move it about half a meter. Then she got mad at me for not wanting to move furniture around at 8 o’clock at night.

How many times did I re-arrange Ben’s room in the past half year to accommodate her toddler bed? How many times did I move his lego away, move the dresser here, his shelf there, toys someplace else, to accommodate her bed? Countless times, that’s how many.

She’d be all happy and all excited to “sleep with Ben”. Until bedtime. At which point we would have to move it all back again.

So last night we promised to move her bed back to Ben’s room tomorrow. Tomorrow is today.

Wanna bet this toddler has new and revised opinions about this today?

Wanna bet this toddler has new and revised opinions about this AFTER I move the room around?

Maybe I’ll just hope for the best that she forgot her request so that I won’t be called a liar in her little overactive brain when I conveniently forget to move the furniture around.

I mean, I got LISTS of things to do today. Moving the kids’ room around wasn’t on the list.

There’s something about daddy

I do not know what the difference is between the last few days, or the last two years. But for some reason, lately our toddler insists on daddy for everything.

Make no mistake, this is no skin off MY back. Go ahead, little girl! I say.

Suits me just fine.

But then she comes up with these lines…take today. He went to pick her up at the Montessori daycare at noon and arrived back at the house at the same time as I did with the preschooler.

While Benjamin was dilly dallying about taking his shoes off, washing his hands, that sort if thing, I’m getting lunch ready.

Sonja is standing near the closet door. She’s unwilling, or unable, to get her jacket off. I offer to help. She glances at her dad, looks at me, then glares at me. She then decides to wander over to her daddy and says to me, in the whiniest voice she can muster up:

Noooooo, I don’t waaaant YOUR help. YOU are STINKY.