July 17, 2009

The Tale of the Dining Room Table

If you know me, or have even been around me for 11 seconds, then you probably know that I am going batsh*t crazy that my children have ravaged the insides of my house beyond repair. Ok, perhaps that's a little on the dramatic side, but coming from a formerly Type-A person who was very neat and orderly, it sure feels that way.

I suppose The Deterioration of My Pretty House all started with us having to move our coffee table down to the basement when Chatterbox started walking. We didn't want her banging her head (or her toys) on our glass table and injuring herself or breaking the furniture. After that it was downhill. Giggles arrived and soon, our once bright beige area rug in the living room slowly became overrun with random pieces of dried play-doh, faint juice stains from leaked sippy cups and crayon tips ground into the fibers. We figured, why bother replacing it now? Let's just ride out the toddler years before we get new things. Stray pen marks on the leather couches soon followed, along with mysterious pencil hand tracings on the Venetian hallway walls. Mickey Mouse stickers littered the French doors to the deck and the dining room carpet suffered from uncanny portions of meal after meal ending up on the floor instead of in the kids' little mouths.

Ah the dining room. Though I realize calling it that is a it of a stretch since the term "dining room" invokes visions of a color-coordinated Pottery Barn catalogue, boasting a sleek table and chairs surrounded by soft hues on the walls and chic light fixtures and uncluttered sideboards. That is not what my dining room looks like. You already know about the carpet and the French doors. In addition to that, picture an overflowing "craft cart" for the kids, a Jumperoo shoved in the corner, a highchair in the other corner, our decorative vase put out of reach onto the buffet (about 9 months after L'il Buddy's arrival), and then...THE TABLE AND CHAIRS.

This is where my rope ends. Our dining room table is in such bad shape that I literally sigh out loud every time I see it. It's scratched, written on, the varnish is peeling, and there is even a worn index card taped to the side of it labeled "la mesa" for the children's bilingual learning pleasure. The chairs are rickety and the cushions, once beige, are now unrecognizable; stained beyond comprehension. I used to cover the table over with various tablecloths because I couldn't stand to look at it, but it ended becoming too much of a pain to cleanup after meals and the kids would bunch it up while trying to do their crafts/homework and complain about it. So off it came. We've come very close to replacing the dining set on multiple occasions, only to reconsider and say "why bother?" After all, L'il Buddy will be tearing it up next.

And so follow my questions: How does your dining room or kitchen table survive the daily wear and tear? What kind of table do you have? How do you maintain it? How do you maintain your sanity? I am in search of a new dining room table. And peace in my soul.

Photo courtesy of Pottery Barn. Lest you think it was an actual photo of my dining room. Which, I can assure you, it is not.

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Kimberly/Mom in the City said...

I hear you. I only let my kids sit at my table when I (or my husband) is there.

I have a table from Crate & Barrel that I love.

Lisa Pizza said...

sorry :)

Tara @ The Young Mommy Life said...

We had two kids and lived in an apartment. Then in March, we became homeowners.


I feel you on the fact that kids mess up everything. They do. I try to keep certain actitivities to certain rooms (eating in the dining room, playing with PlayDoh in the basement) but these kids wander! Ugh. Plus, the babies are 2.5 and 1, so it will be a few years still before we can have the place looking nice again.

Nikki @ Euphoria Luv said...

LOL, I have no advice cause I have no dining table =P Hope you find a way to save it

Daisy said...

Lovely post. Only one that a mama could know and appreciate.
My hubby and I purchased our home and furnished it top to bottom with custom furniture and my all time fav...PotteryBarn & Crate-n-Barrel(while working there of course and getting a discount). Well needless to say once our TWINS came..our once beautiful straight lines on our carpet from vacuuming and fluffed down sofa looked something like a daily tornado came through. We're older now so we understand the more important things in life..our bumpkins...so..what did we do you say. Let me paint the picture for you..?(smiling yet)
Got a garage sale find table and repainted it - this is now our "kitchen table" The kids love it and they even helped paint it. Shabby Chic!

The Pre-kids" dining table that we had custom made is now our "special occassion" table. They love this too because they know someone special is coming over...Hahahahah!
Our double stuffed chenille sofa (oh I miss you sofa) COVERED with shabby chic sheets.
OMG...I've gotten long winded again. But see what happens when you ask a mama of twins who never has a moment to say what she thinks! I love this Blog ;-)
And BTW...your "now" table sounds..PERFECT!
Daisy @ The Deal Fanatic

Justice Fergie said...

thanks for the comments! daisy, you gave me some great ideas.

lisa pizza - HA. HA. HA.

Smiling Mama said...

We have a fairly small house so our dining room table is the only place to eat. We bought an antique set when we bought the house which I adore but it is definitely not too kid-friendly. Ever since Lucas started eating in his high chair, I've kept the table covered with its table pads and a tablecloth. It is a pain, but I have lots and just replace the tablecloth about every other day when it gets too dirty. When Lucas was really young and made huge messes I kept a vinyl tablecloth on the table most of the time. I hated it, but it was protecting my table and was easy to wipe down. Now, I keep a cheap vinyl tablecoth handy and I throw that over the cloth tablecloth whenever we do any sort of drawing/play doh, etc. It has some marker/paint stains but I don't really care about it and it wipes down easily.

Pre-Lucas we covered the chair pads in beautiful stripes of raw silk. You can imagine how those looked after a few spills. AWFUL! Last year, we recovered the chair pads in a really nice fake leather black vinyl (it was fairly expensive at the fabric store but looks really nice and wipes down so easily--after several months they still look brand new!).

Good luck!!

goodfood4ursoul said...

I think it's all about perspective...
Years after I though we left the toddler messes behind us, I nearly had a stroke when I discovered my 10 year old had carved a "beeyooteeful" maple leaf on the edge of our "good"(real wood vs. laminate) kitchen table. She was tired of doing her homework and it was probably the singlemost destructive thing she ever did.
Fast forward 10 years, she's a college sophomore and I kinda like seeing it when I change tablecloths or wipe off the table. Reminds me of the girl she used to be before she went and grew up on me! :D

Justice Jonesie said...

Kids are not allowed to breath in our dining room so they sure don't eat there. We eat in the nook and i started covering it when the wood starting showing signs of wear and tear. I actually keep two table clothes on it- one vinyl and padded plastic one that will withstand a child stabbing the table with a fork and another colorful one that won't look all stained up from food/juice/milk. THEN, after all that, I use plastic placemats (Dora, Transformers and Thomas to be exact) so that when the kids are done eating all I do is pick up the placemats and wash/wipe them in the sink. Voila, table is saved, crumbs are off the table.
It's all about the placemats!

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