Yes! You can use your dining room every day with kids! When I was little, like a lot of other families, we ate almost all our meals in the kitchen. Even though we had a dining room, it was reserved for special occasions and guests. As we got about older, my mom announced that we should always eat dinner in the dining room. Why, she asked rhetorically, should we have a beautiful room that we hardly ever use? And so, from about middle school until I left home, the formal dining room became the place we always had our family dinners.
When Steve and I had kids, we followed that tradition, and we eat almost all our family meals in the dining room. Of course, I learned the hard way that you can’t just seat toddlers at your dining table without consequences. It was only after our two-year-old took a spoon to the wood table – with the intensity of Jack hacking at the beanstalk to save himself from the giant – that I realized I needed to make some adjustments!
Our first solution was to use an oilcloth table covering. Oilcloth comes in many patterns, from subtle solids and toiles to bright and bold statement prints. The heavy plastic-coated material is easy to clean and protects your table from spills, stains, and aspiring drummers and lumberjacks.
While this solution worked for many years, our kids are now old enough for something a little less casual. At the same time, our hectic routine does not have room for laundering and ironing tablecloths or placemats.
I’m very happy with our new table setting which includes a wipeable fabric tablecloth from Soleil de Provence on Etsy. It’s almost as easy to care for as the old oilcloth but looks much more grown-up! At the same time, I upgraded our trivets by arranging DIY tile trivets into a table runner.
The trivets were easy to assemble using tiles and adhesive rubber bumpers. They’re also easy to keep clean, not to mention I’ve been aching to bring the cement tile look into my house, but I didn’t have anything that actually needed tiling! Problem solved!
Hope you’re feeling emboldened to enjoy – and protect! – your formal dining space with the whole family!