Surviving the after-school hustle of taxiing kids to all of their activities is exhausting. Between soccer practice, ballet, and school meetings, it feels impossible to make bedtime — something that is important to many parents, including me. Often, the whole family is coming home with our fuel tanks at E. And because of that, our attitudes are a little less than to be desired. Let’s be honest, we’re a hot mess. When our family gets home, I do my best to hurry the kids to eat a dinner I prepped in advance so that their heads can do a crash-landing into their pillows at a decent hour. This usually ends up in yelling and tears, of course. Rushing children never seems to work. However, from a lot of trial and error (and tears shed), I finally figured out the only hack you’ll need to carting your kids across town and still make bedtime: The whole family eats dinner in the car. Yep.
We’ve all seen the viral post about serving a tray of “little things” for dinner. It’s a simply way to get out of cooking dinner while also providing your children with nutritious options. Well, this is the hack that I do for my kids on busy nights — only, they eat in the car. My kids and I pack healthy items so that they can eat to and from their practices. They eat things like cheese sticks, carrots, apples, almonds, Go-Gurts, grapes, a healthy wrap with lunch meat and spinach inside, and more. The joy in this is that the kids get to pick what they eat. We all know that kids love control. Plus, it’s a great way to nurture their independence.
We don’t always put those food items in little trays, although sometimes the kids do like doing that. But typically, it’s easier (and much cleaner) to just use a Bento Box or even sandwich bags. That way, they can zip the lids and food doesn’t end up on the floor of the car. Ok, food always ends up on the floor of the car, but this way, not as much.
One important thing to note is the ages of my children who are five and seven. See, choking is not as much of a hazard anymore because they’re older and can easily chomp on nuts and carrots without worrying about choking. But as the American Association of Pediatrics says, “Choking is a leading cause of injury and death among children, especially children 3 years of age or younger.” So, yes, if you have a toddler at home, you’ll want to shy away from giving them small food items that they can choke on. And even if your children are of school-age but you tend to be a nervous Nellie, you can still accomplish this hack. Just stick to foods that you feel comfortable giving your children while driving. There are so many options out there that are softer and will leave you less nervous about your child eating in the car.
This hack has saved me in so many ways. Not only do my kids make it to bed on time and with full bellies, but I no longer have to nag them to hurry when they get home. Plus, I don’t have to worry about meal-prepping for one night ahead of time. A win-win. My husband and I choose to either eat leftovers on busy after-school nights or make something simple like eggs or a sandwich. We don’t need a fully prepped dinner every single week night. Because who’s got time for that?
Surviving the after-school hustle can feel overwhelming. Between giving the kids dinner and wanting them to get their sleep, it often feels like a battle we’ll never win. But with this hack of giving your kids several healthy choices on-the-go, it’ll help in many areas of your busy life. Sure, your car may become a little messier, but at least your kids will make it to bed on time.
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