Can't I have any food rules? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 12:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am struggling with boudaries lately. I can't quite figure out if I have too many or not enough.
One huge issue is food. In my attempt to be really lenient about when to eat how much to eat..not spoon feeding but allowing my kids to eat when they're hungry is in all honesty not quite working out.
My kids both want their breakfast left out for way too long. They pick here and there; eat a little play a little.
When I am finally ready to clean up they decide that it is now time to eat...this could be 2 hours later. You see nothing is getting done around all the eating. I can't put the food away (Dry cereal...milk cereal does get tossed ) they want the toast left out forever...and they eventually come back and eat it but that is usually the time that we need to be walking out the door.
"Let's go" I say.
"I'm hungry ..is my breakfast still out my DD?" will say.
"uggh" I say because I just want to leave.
I really want to get the day moving..but everything is held up b/c they snack (healthy nice snacks)
I am not concerned about what they are eating jsut that I want to say.....
Breakfast is over...and not feel like I am creating a kid who will be worried throughout life that someone is going to toss their food therefore they must eat everything all at once.

I kind of want mealtimes...but don't feel right about them.
do you have ANY food rules and if so what are they?

BTW...the only places we are generally going are to the park to a friend's house and 2 y classes for each kid. Not that any of these are pressing meetings to attend but I do like to keep things going and get out of the house.

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#2 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 12:42 AM
 
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Do you allow food in the car? I always just have them bring it or something else with them. But, my car is pretty nasty.

Or if we're just sticking around the house but I want to clean up or clear the table, I'll stick the whole plate in the fridge. They won't usually eat it again, especially if it's something that's not very good once it's cold, but we have dogs and chickens, so I feel pretty mellow about waste.

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#3 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 12:59 AM
 
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We eat at the table. Once you are done you are finished. We have one snack between meals. You eat what is offered. This may sound a little harsh but it works for us. I always make sure that there is only one new food that they may or may not like so MOST of their meal or snack is something I know that they like (they may choose not to eat it). There are exceptions to the rules: when we have friends over we may have our snack in the living room or outside. We sometimes have a picnic and eat outside. I have found that this gives some structure to our otherwise hectic world. It's the small parts of the day that we sit together and talk and share without distractions.
If you are thinking of introducing some rules, maybe explaine your struggles with your kids and have them brainstorm how you can fix the problem and make it seem like they come up with the rules... Just a thought. Good luck.
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#4 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 01:02 AM
 
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We don't allow wandering around while eating meals. Snacks, sure, but meals are eaten at the table and cleaned up when finished/before playing. This is the way it's always been for DS, and he doesn't have a problem with it so far.

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#5 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 01:11 AM
 
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Originally Posted by limabean View Post
We don't allow wandering around while eating meals. Snacks, sure, but meals are eaten at the table and cleaned up when finished/before playing. This is the way it's always been for DS, and he doesn't have a problem with it so far.
yep, same here.

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#6 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 01:29 AM
 
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For all practical purposes we have no food rules. Off the top of my head the only rule we've had is yogurt stays in the kitchen.

Why can't they bring a container of dry cereal or a piece of toast in the car? I get the feeling they are sensing your controlling nature about food. I try to make it a non-issue. Here's food. Eat it if you're hungry don't if you're not. If she asks for something specific, I usually get it for her (if we have it etc)

-Angela
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#7 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 01:32 AM
 
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We eat at the table. Once you are done you are finished. We have one snack between meals. You eat what is offered. This may sound a little harsh but it works for us. I always make sure that there is only one new food that they may or may not like so MOST of their meal or snack is something I know that they like (they may choose not to eat it).
I think this is awful. I'm glad you offer something that they like, but I really disagree with limiting snacks like that. My sister has an incredibly fast metabolism and really NEEDS to eat very often. She always has.

We'd actually ALL be healthier if we ate more often in smaller amounts. Humans are really a snacking animal by nature.

-Angela
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#8 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 02:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I get the feeling they are sensing your controlling nature about food.
the only problem here is that I am NOT controlling their food. Not one bit...no; just one more or no dessert; no, "you can't get up from the table" (obvisoulsy) there isn't one thing I am controlling (except OJ which the ped got my DD hooked on so we limit it; DS wont even smell the stuff )


I do bring snacks jsut about everytime we go anywhere but I guess I jsut want them to be done eating at some point during the day and not just taking a break.
Maybe I'm just in rut

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#9 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 02:10 AM
 
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Is it possible that just eating all the time is the way these particular kids function? I ate snacks and meals. My sister ate all the time. It was all good, healthy food- but it was constant. (interestingly she nursed at night forever too...)

Know what? She's nearly 30 now and STILL eats all the time.

I'm a big believer in letting kids learn to listen to their own bodies.

-Angela
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#10 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 02:11 AM
 
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I do bring snacks jsut about everytime we go anywhere but I guess I jsut want them to be done eating at some point during the day and not just taking a break.
Maybe I'm just in rut
i snack all day long, dd does too. it is just how i eat. i can't sit and have a meal, i don't have the attention span or the stomach size.
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#11 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 02:20 AM
 
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We don't allow wandering around while eating meals. Snacks, sure, but meals are eaten at the table and cleaned up when finished/before playing. This is the way it's always been for DS, and he doesn't have a problem with it so far.
Basically the same here. If he really didn't have time to eat before we have to go, we will take dry cereal in the car or just transition into a healthy snack. But meals have a definite time limit to them before the food is put away. Depending on the meal, it is finished in 10-30 minutes.

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#12 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 03:22 AM
 
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I think set mealtimes are a fine idea. I think that limiting the time for 'meals' is fine. You can clean up the meals and still leave 'snacks' available.

But, reading your post, this might be more about leaving than about eating. It sounds like they have a hard time transitioning into the day more than like meals are the 'real' issue. Is it only breakfast that has this issue?

This is what 'mealtimes' at our house look like on days when we're all at home:

Get up between 7 and 8 am (ds gets up at 7 am, dd often not till 8:30 or later).
Breakfast - about 30 minutes after getting up

Lunch offered about 11:30 or 12:00 depending on what we do that day (Sundays it's not until 1 PM for example).

Dinner is served between 5:45 and 6 pm.

Snacks - whenever they ask for them, unless it's within about 15 minutes of a meal. Often I will offer a snack at about 10 am and 3:30 pm when tempers start to fray. Some snacks (crackers, fruit, yogurt) are left where they can reach them and they can help themselves.

As long as it's food that doesn't go bad, it's left out on the table. Ds will never, ever go back, dd often will.

If we need to be somewhere, I will often give dd a 15 minute warning and say "We need to leave in 15 minutes. I'm going to set the timer, when it beeps, you need to be done eating and go get dressed and ready to go." On days when dd goes to daycare, she often eats breakfast in the car.

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#13 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 03:38 AM
 
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We struggle with the same thing. I try to so hard not be controlling about food, but ds1 really pushes me to my limits. Ds2 will sit down and eat, but ds1 bounces all over the place. This might sound ridiculous, but we had to institute a rule of staying seated while you are still chewing, because otherwise he would shove a bite into his mouth and then go do somersaults off the couch.

I have no problem with snacking all day long - our house is full of healthy food (for the most part) - and the kids seem to do just fine with it. But I do find mealtimes frustrating because ds1 is all over the place. We've started pointing out to him that we're leaving and not going to be eating again soon, so be sure to eat as much as you want before we go. Sometimes he screws around and doesn't eat, and is then complaining that he's hungry. We remind him that he didn't eat his breakfast, and that now he's going to have to wait. (Not because we're withholding food, but because it's just not available at that particular time.)
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#14 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 03:47 AM
 
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We don't really have any rules with food, but we do have mealtimes and I think they are important. Some children will say they are hungry and can identify that easily. My ds is so active and involved with other things that taking time to eat just slows him down from what he'd rather be doing. So, in our case, he really needs me to keep my finger on the pulse of his meals throughout the day. He will tell me that he'd like a snack at different times and I always give him what he asks for. But we do have breakfast, lunch and dinner. He eats the least at dinner but we also have a bedtime snack.

I think (depending on your children's age) that establishing good eating habits (whatever that means to you) is important. I can imagine my children making their own meal decisions when they are older, in terms of when and what not, but for now I think they are too young to take on that responsibility in full.

My ds decides what he will eat from the choices offered. We provide a large variety and let him eat whatever he wants. I think giving them freedom within structure is important.

Just my two cents on the matter!
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#15 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 03:54 AM
 
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I posted before I read the other posts. I gotta say that I think this is a very personal, individualized thing for families. Our country is so screwed up about food that it doesn't surprise me that the OP is concerned about making an issue out something like this.

I have to say, though, I think some rules are good ones...for adults as well as kids. Eating at the table is good in so many ways...it creates a ritual with food that involves everyone sitting together or being in the same place. It also decreases mindless eating which can happen when you're doing other things while shoveling food in your mouth. It basically makes one more aware of their body signals and intake when you devote a space and place to eat. I think it's a very good thing.

These are things we really do learn. Yes, certain things just happen naturally but we aren't living in a vacuum. Food is a loaded issue for a lot of people and personally I'm interested in getting my kiddos off to as good of a start as possible with eating sensibly and consciously.

So! I think some of the rules talked about - sitting at the table, eating during mealtimes, etc. - are really about establishing healthy eating habits. It's taken me my entire life to get healthy with food and it didn't come naturally! Living in our society really makes that hard.
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#16 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 08:02 AM
 
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[QUOTE=mothragirl;8419555 i can't sit and have a meal, i don't have the attention span.

: I'm confused - you as the adult don't have the attention span to sit and have a meal?
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#17 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 08:09 AM
 
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I don't think anyone has the RIGHT to make rules concerning how ANYONE else eats. (Health & safety aside, of course.) Hungry? Eat. Not hungry? Don't. Simple.

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#18 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 08:18 AM
 
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I think rules for the sake of sanity are fine. I'm trying to remember back to when my kids were smaller, but now that they are older -- if they walk away from the table I consider them "finished." I ask them to go back and clear up. We also have the issue of a dog -- so anything left out on the table gets snitched up by her pretty fast.

I don't think you need to wait around for 2 hours while your kids graze. I don't really think its about food, or going to create food issues, to tell your kids that, "We're leaving in 10 minutes. Last chance to eat what you need to feel full so that we can go." We also take unfinished food in the car, snacks in my purse, etc.
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#19 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 08:21 AM
 
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Ds1 is 3 1/2 and he is in this phase where he pretty much grazes all day long. I am just trying to go with it. He will sit when we have lunch/ dinner, but only have a few bites. Then he will leave the table and kinda munch on and off. I do leave his food out for him, I will pick everything else up, but I wlways have food available for him. That is fine with me, I want him to keep on listening to his body.

I always have food in the car/ when we go out. In fact, most days, I pack a pb & j for him because inevtably, he will need a "meal" when we are out and about.

I understand your frustration, but I think making it less of an issue will in fact, make it less of an issue.

Good luck!

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#20 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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"We need to leave in 15 minutes. I'm going to set the timer, when it beeps, you need to be done eating and go get dressed and ready to go."
Quote:
"We're leaving in 10 minutes. Last chance to eat what you need to feel full so that we can go."
I am so thankful for this b/c this is exactly (how simple) what I wanted "permission" to do.

I know it sounds crazy..well maybe not to those of you who suffer(ed) from eating disorders but I am so afraid of passing on my total confusion abut eating onto my kids..it is such a horrible way to live that I was afraid of even setting time limits at all. Those 2 things will totally work for me. thank you!

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#21 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 09:50 AM
 
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This is an interesting thread and quite frankly I never thought of how we actually eat. I never considered that we have "rules" for our eating habits. I am home with dd and we sit down together to eat breakfast and lunch and daddy joins us at dinner. dd is 19mo and hasn't started to be picky yet, I'm sure it is coming. She eats heartily at most every meal. She usually lets me know she is done when she starts throwing the food on the floor for the dog. He sits right at her feet at every meal, licking his chops!!! The dog is one reason why we eat our actual meals at the table. I have a fast metabolism and dd is built just like me so we do nosh all day, but I really try to offer healthy snacks. Is it a "rule" to sit down together to have a meal or is it family time? Whatever works for you and your family just as long as everyone is happy and healthy.
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#22 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 10:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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hasn't started to be picky yet, I'm sure it is coming.
It may not be. my DD is not picky. she does have certain foods (kielbasa but who could blame her) that she doesn't like but all in all she easy to feed.
My DS however has always been picky.

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#23 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 10:32 AM
 
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My kids eat all througout the day. They eat mesy stuff at the table, and I allow crackers or other easy stuff in the living room. They cannot have food upstairs, and as I'm not excited about a destroyed carpet just so they can eat cereal in front of the tv, we do have some basic rules about what's allowed where. I leave a bowl of crackers, raisins, cubed cheese, etc. on the table all day long and they graze from it. I do put it up about an hour before lunch and dinner so they're ready for "real food", and then we sit in our chairs and eat that specific meal. I think it's appropriate to treat food like you would any other "issue" in your home - there are guidelines, and even requirements. My 6 year old is not allowed to help himself to whatever he finds in the frig, he has to ask. He didn't buy it, he doesn't know what I might need it for and he doesn't know how close to mealtime it might be.
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#24 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 12:56 PM
 
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We have always, always, always had set meal and snack times.

Our rules were as follows:

Meals: You can eat anything on the table but nothing else is offerred. We tried to have at least one thing that everyone liked and each girl got to help plan one meal per week. If you leave the table you are done.

Snacks: A list is posted on the pantry door. You can choose anything on the list. Snacks are eaten in the kitchen, sitting down.

Here was a typical menu from the range where I had a 3 year old, a 4 year old and a 6 year old:

Breakfast: On table: Cherrios, Granola, Yogurt, Fresh Stawberries, Orange Juice, water, milk

Snack: (Sample items: banana, cucumber and tomatoes, celery with peanut butter, dry cereal, yougurt)

Lunch: Vegetable Soup, Tomato Soup, Grilled Cheese, Sweet potato chips, Carrots and Salsa.

Snack

Dinner: Salmon, Baked Potatos, Bowls of Chedder Cheese, Mozzarell Cheese, Spinach, Sour Cream, Tomatoes, Edamame, Ceasar Salad, Rasberries and Blueberry Salad.

Here's another dinner menu: Pasta with bowls of meat sauce, marinara sauce, plain bread, garlic bread, Stips of chicken breast, peas, Mozzarella, basil and tomato salad, Bananas and Blackberries.

Here's another (I keep them on my computer...we still use them today): Skirt Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Itallian "Salad Bar" (bowls of Lettuce, tomoato, cucumber, feta, olives, peppers, olive oil, balsamic vinegar) carrots, mushrooms.


Snack Milk and Treat (small piece of candy, cookie etc) or any of our other listed snacks.

Now my girls, have a power bar and milk for breakfast and bring salads or pitas with stuff inside wtih some fruit for lunch. No snacks either, usually. But we still have our family dinners and I still use these menus!

No one ever complained that they were hungry in addion to the snacks and meals. If they had I would have added another set snack time. Often they would reject the snack.
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#25 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 02:10 PM
 
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I think part of the challenge with grazing is that it's hard to get a very balanced diet going. A friend of mine did that for a long time and then realized when her ds was about 3 1/2 that he was not eating a very balanced diet.

Anyway, I think the idea of meals and presented a balanced selection is teaching kids to think about what they are eating, how it makes them feel, the energy it gives them, when they are hungry, etc. If you graze all day, you rarely feel the hunger cues and end up eating snack types of foods rather than wholesome meals. Some things just take some time to prepare and I think that is a ritual that is important and healthy in the whole perception of nourishing our bodies.
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#26 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 02:18 PM
 
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I do talk to my kids about eating a balance of foods -- but that said, I have also read several studies on the subject that found when children have access to a variety of healthy foods, they choose a balanced diet over the long haul. In the space of one or two days, it might look very imbalanced -- all carbs or something. But that when recorded over a period of months, and then evaluated as a whole, the diets of children who graze like this look pretty ideal. Now -- if there is junk food around, it becomes an option, then it throws the whole thing off.
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#27 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 02:23 PM
 
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My 16 mo old DS grazes all day long. Usually I'll just put some fruit or crackers on the coffee table for him and he'll take a bite, run to play, then come back when he wants another bite.
We don't have set mealtimes because I've always grazed as well. If I feel like cooking something, I will but since my DH has an unpredictable work schedule (he'll come home anywhere between 3 pm to 8 pm since he works construction) we don't have a set dinner time either. Usually, DS and I eat when we're hungry and if I make a meal I just put some in the fridge for DH or he makes himself something when he comes home.
We're just a grazing family.
The only "rule" I have is that if DS is eating yogurt or something of the sort, he'll eat it in the high chair or I'll feed it to him to avoid a huge mess on the floor. But I usually vacuum crumbs two-three times a day. Doesn't bother me in the least.
EDIT: To the OP, since your kids seem to be grazers and you have problems with snacks and having to leave, I recommend the snack trap for the car. It's awesome! I don't know if I'm allowed to post a link to where you can get it or not but PM me if you want to know.

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#28 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 02:41 PM
 
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My son has SID and is a horrible eater. We are working hard to introduce some foods he will eat .. otherwise he'd be happy to live off drinking a few PediaSure drinks each day.

So I let him eat what he wants, when he wants. Often we sit together on the couch and talk and I help him eat (otherwise he gets distracted). At school he's expected to eat at certain times, sitting at the table. I certainly don't think there is anything wrong with it, and if you want to implement that rule, I say go for it.

In the case where they get hungry just as you are ready to leave, I'd probably just take some food in the car. We do that often because my son eats really well from his booster seat while we are driving places.

But to answer your question, I don't think there is anything wrong with having meal times at the table that don't drag on all day. I'd be inclined to do something similar if I didn't already have such a challenging eater.

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#29 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 02:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by aaronsmom View Post
My 16 mo old DS grazes all day long. Usually I'll just put some fruit or crackers on the coffee table for him and he'll take a bite, run to play, then come back when he wants another bite.
We don't have set mealtimes because I've always grazed as well. If I feel like cooking something, I will but since my DH has an unpredictable work schedule (he'll come home anywhere between 3 pm to 8 pm since he works construction) we don't have a set dinner time either. Usually, DS and I eat when we're hungry and if I make a meal I just put some in the fridge for DH or he makes himself something when he comes home.
We're just a grazing family.
The only "rule" I have is that if DS is eating yogurt or something of the sort, he'll eat it in the high chair or I'll feed it to him to avoid a huge mess on the floor. But I usually vacuum crumbs two-three times a day. Doesn't bother me in the least.
EDIT: To the OP, since your kids seem to be grazers and you have problems with snacks and having to leave, I recommend the snack trap for the car. It's awesome! I don't know if I'm allowed to post a link to where you can get it or not but PM me if you want to know.
I would love to have the link to the snack trap. You can PM me, or I'm sure it's fine to post it here.

Candacepeace.gif, Married to dh   guitar.gif, Mom to ds (8) biggrinbounce.gif , Gavin candle.gif (9/30/10 - 12/19/10) and cautiously expecting our rainbow1284.gif 4-29-12

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#30 of 80 Old 06-19-2007, 02:59 PM
 
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We're also grazers, but if we do have a time constraint, we use the time-limit method to allow our dc ample time to finish what they want to eat. We also always take individual containers with a small assortment of snacks into the van everyday. The containers will have raisins, whole grain crackers, apple slices and cubed cheese or other items according to what we have available.

We sit down for breakfast every day (bananas, berries, milk and nuts in a bowl with whole grain toast on the side, occassionally oatmeal with raisins- definitely table meal). They have started to eat an enormous breakfast- much more than either dh or I can eat and since this is how they are eating, we eat lunch rarely, just graze on fruit, veggies, etc... and dependent upon what we're having, if we're having lunch at all, we will sometimes eat at the table. Usually but not always, we have dinner which we eat at the table.

Our dc do know that once they've come down from the table, they are done (unless it's to use the toilet, of course) and this is because our kitchen set-up means that most of us have to move when one has to leave the table or come back. I don't know if we would have that rule otherwise. We are planning to have a low table with floor seating on cushions in our new home, so dc will be able to move as they please; this set-up will influence our food choices as well, though, so their moving may or may not be an issue. We'll have to see.

Well, I've been absent for 8 months, and during that time, it turns out that I have completely transformed. You are all precious. Thank you for being here and sharing your lives. You are truly a gift. namaste.gif Jan. 23, 2012

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