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12 days of Xmas - Gift Mark Mat

On the FIFTH day of Xmas Goldfish reviewed an AMAZING gift for kids aged between 2 and up – by Karen Swan!

I was a child of the 1970’s, which meant my parents were of the dinner party throwing, paisley shirt wearing, pool party attending set. Many a Saturday night would see my sister and I bundled up in our pjs and tucked in for the night in the king size bed of one of my parent’s close friends as downstairs the shiraz flowed and the music played. Many a Sunday morning were spent sneaking downstairs in the early hours to snap up the after dinner mints, always left over after an evening of 70s dinner party fun.

On the rare event that there was no neighbourhood party to attend, we would all head out to a restaurant for the evening meal; no kids dining hours for us!

I have such a strong memory of one of the restaurants we used to go to. The table on our side would be covered in butcher’s paper and we were handed crayons and coloured pencils and given free reign over filling the make-shift table cloth with our art work. It was genius! No whinging, no need to hurry up the orders so we wouldn’t get bored and start to play up; just a leisurely family meal, enjoyed by all. My sister and I would proudly hand our (now somewhat food splattered) art over to the waiter at the end of the night and bask in his gushing praise of our creations!

Fast forward to 2013 and I am now the mother of a 4 year old boy. I have no idea how my parents maintained the social life they did back then with two of us! No dinner parties for me I’m afraid! Sure, I’ll be the life of the party, as long as it’s over by 8pm!

But, regardless if the table you’re sitting down to for a meal is at a local restaurant or just in your kitchen, keeping little people in one spot and eating is still the order of the day! Enter the Mark-Mat Reusable Colouring Placemat!

I am totally impressed with this product from a functional, aesthetic and eco-friendly viewpoint. Made from food grade silicone and hand screen printed with adorable animals, these mats are genius! We were keen to test them out!

As I pottered in the kitchen, Master 4 got busy working. He concentrated on colouring in between the lines and naming the letters and animals (let us never speak again of how long it took me to work out what the letter ‘U’ stood for!)

His 2 year old friend took much joy in using all the colours at once, colouring in everything but the animals!

His 48 year old father, deep in concentration, took his role as art director and fellow colourer very seriously. (I’m yet to meet a grown up who doesn’t love colouring in!)

Me? I made and served the meal in relative peace and quiet and at the end of the meal, after art works were displayed, a quick wipe with a damp cloth and the mats were ready to re-use over and over again! Save a tree! Let the butcher keep his paper for another day.

The mat has a lovely weight to it, so stays put, even when being scribbled on vigourously! (And after being folded and rolled up many times). Being made of a non-pourous material and free from any toxic nasties, (including the markers), there’s no fear of anything icky making its way from the mat into your child’s food.

I’ve taken to throwing the mat and markers in the car for those longer trips and, possibly the best testimony I can give it, to the busy shopping mall where Master 4 was kept amused while I hit the change rooms in the quest for the perfect pair of jeans! That’s no mean feat! In the event I find myself able to stay awake past 8pm, we’ll be heading straight to our favourite restaurant for the family meal; Mark Mat in tow!

Some kids meal-time products are pretty gimmicky and you think you’ll use them all the time, but the reality? You won’t. The Mark Mat, however, is a product you’ll use and re-use in so many different ways and locations that you’ll wonder what you did before you had it!

This Christmas, the Mark Mat is my go –to gift for all the little people in my life!

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