When my children were younger, they went through this dry-cereal-for-breakfast phase. Every morning the three of them would sit at the kitchen counter and eat a bowl of dry cereal, with the milk on the side. Every day after they finished, I would find enough cereal on the floor to feed a fourth child.

I wish I could say dinner had less mess, but the truth is that there’d always be grains of rice, a few stray peas, or even large pieces of meat that accidentally were dropped on the floor. Those weren’t always from the children either! (Now that I think about it, there’s a high probability that my youngest deliberately dropped the meat, but I digress…)

While the mess definitely decreased as they got older, it didn’t completely go away. If I’d known what I know now, I could have made one little change and spared my carpet a lot of stains. I’m going to let you in on the secret.  You just need to scooch in a little closer, a little closer.  -That’s it.-  That’s the secret: the chairs simply needed to be closer to the table when we ate.

The shorter the distance the food has to travel to get to our mouths, the less likely it is to be dropped. And the closer we are to our plates, the more likely it is that the dropped food will land back on our plates.

A lot of cereal was needlessly sacrificed over the years as I let my children hop up to the counter without either help pulling their chairs closer, or instruction on how to pull closer. Even better, I could have given them a lesson in cooperation and had them help each other in the morning. (Eh, who am I kidding. Early morning and cooperation don’t really go hand in hand with my children.)

I’m going to let you in on the secret.  You just need to scooch in a little closer. 

Children aren’t the only ones with this problem, I see adults at restaurants all the time that are pushed back a bit far from the table. I’ve seen people sit like in this photo, with their legs crossed at the knee between themselves and the table. It’s bad enough getting food stains on your shirt when you’re eating, but how do you explain when you get some sauce on your knees?!

So next time you sit at the table to eat, remember the secret and take a look at where you are. Scooch in closer if you need to. Sit up straight and check to make sure your chin is aligned with the edge of the table. Assist any children in getting them into proper position as well. Your floors just may thank you for it!

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