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HOW TO GET YOUR CHILDREN TO ACTUALLY SIT AT THE TABLE

 

Enjoy your most peaceful mealtime yet with these tricks to keep the little ones amused

 

I recently went on a press trip to Paris for a childrenswear fashion show and one blogger brought her daughter. We went for lunch at a beautiful fine dining restaurant and the little girl, who must have only been three, sat at the table throughout the meal so quietly that I didn’t notice her until the very end. I got up to tell her mum how amazing she was and I noticed that she was sipping a cup of tea in a china cup.

I imagined my girls and their cousins, who will sit still only until their initial hunger is abated. My youngest will try to climb out of her high chair unless restrained and shouts “read, REEEEEAD” until I get her a book. Cecilia will want to get down and do some kind of expressionist dancing in the kitchen. Meanwhile my nephews will be under the table – and if they aren’t, they are climbing across it.

This Christmas a tea-sipping angel is beyond even Santa, but I would like my little elves to stay for the main course at least, so I have decided to give them as much incentive as possible. Here are my top recommendations:

1

MAKE THE TABLE LOOK AS INVITING AS YOU CAN

I am definitely of the opinion that the nicer you make things look, the more children will respect it. A beautiful table filled with lovely inviting colours immediately engages and children are eager to sit down and be part of it all. I think Meri Meri are amazing at colourful child-friendly designs. For Christmas, they have beautiful crackers and plates, as well as reindeer glasses that your little ones will be racing to sit down and enjoy.

“Nobody makes a table look as inviting as Meri Meri - they know how to capture children's imaginations.”

— crackers, £21.50, Meri Meri

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2

LET THEM COLOUR THE WORLD

As a mother I am very easily pleased. Any restaurant that gives my children crayons and a colouring sheet is, to my mind, deserving of a Michelin star. That peaceful five minutes before they get bored and start demanding dough balls is worth any tip. Which is why I couldn’t wait to recreate the concept at home with Eat Sleep Doodle’s genius collection of tablecloths, placemats and even bed linen (is this to make them stay in bed?) where they they can colour everything from their lunch to a Monet painting.

“Instead of the walls let them colour the table with this worldmap tablecover.”

— Worldmap tablecloth, £20, Eat Sleep Doodle.com

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3

GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT

I would love family meals to be a time where everyone sits and shares charming anecdotes of their day. We do try to sit together, but my girls tend to ask for CBeebies more than topical conversation. So anything that will keep them amused and engage their minds – rather than screen time – gets my vote. I think Talking Tables is full of great ideas for children at parties. There is Junior Charades, Draw it (these are lovely at family get-togethers) and the best one for the dinner table – Describe It. In between courses, and for children of all ages, it’s perfect.

“Ward off the bickering and keep them amused with Junior Describe It dipsticks.”

— Describe It dipsticks, £6.99, Talking Tables

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4

MINIMISE THE SPILLAGES

It sounds obvious, but one thing which always has everyone scattering from the table is spilt drinks. Ensure that no overly energetic arms cause spillages with these Munchkin Miracle cups. With no spouts or straws they are just like a normal cup – except your little darling can’t spill them. Phew!

“There is nothing like a spilt drink to have everyone scatter from the table - minimise it with these sippy cups.”

— Miracle 360 sippy cup, £4.49, Boots

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5

LET THEM DRESS UP

I always want my little girls to take off anything special before they sit down as it will invariably be stained and ruined and it always gets mealtimes off to a fractious start. These Talking Tables Christmas jumper plastic bibs will cover their favourite festive knit and are great fun – ’tis the season to be silly after-all.

“Big and little children alike will love these playful festive bibs.”

— Plastic Christmas jumper bib, £10 for eight, Talking Tables

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6

PLAY PASS THE PARCEL

When the colouring and the dipstick games have been exhausted it’s time to bring out the festive pass the parcel. There’s pass or roll the sprout, Santa, Rudolph and even a Christmas pudding. You can peel back the paper layers to reveal festive trinkets and trivia. It’s a great way to keep the party rolling.

“A clever way to keep the party rolling that they can play while seated and waiting for the next course.”

— Peel the sprout, £10, Talking Tables

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7

GIVE THEM A BOOST

My two-year-old doesn’t like sitting in her high chair because she wants to be part of the big table like her sister, so there are battles in our house before we even sit down to eat. These Oxo Tot Perch booster seats mean that from 15 months they can sit at the table strapped in. And my eldest, who is five, can sit without the straps. You can fold down the back when you need to take them with you – they’re brilliant.

“Ensure everyone is sat at the table and feeling involved.”

— Perch booster seat, £40, Oxo Tot

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