As the mother of three small children, I have grown accustomed to the muck and mess that they effortlessly produce. However, this has not made it any less frustrating to clean up and nowhere does it bother me more than when I find myself removing all of the trash that has accumulated inside the car. We recently took a family trip, which involved hiring a car for part of the journey. I am not a fastidiously tidy person, but I felt very embarrassed when we handed back the keys, knowing that whoever landed the job of cleaning out the car would have their work cut out. Even though it was an economy car hire, I didn’t want them to think of us as cheap! With this in mind, I thought I would compile a list of do’s and don’ts of what to feed your kids in the car keeping mess to a minimum.
Carrot sticks rather than chips – Not only are carrots considerably more healthy than chips, they are also very portable, and, unless you child nibbles away at them like Bugs Bunny, unlikely to scatter small pieces which lodge themselves between the seats.
Tube yoghurt rather than ice cream – Although dairy products are a risky business on a potentially bumpy car journey, tube yoghurts are better contained than ice creams and won’t melt all over the seat belts, upholstery and clothes of the passengers.
String cheese rather than individually wrapped candies – The less packaging, the less time spent laboriously picking up small pieces of paper that have been casually strewn all over the floor. Also, string cheese is not as sticky as teeth melting candy.
Dried mango rather than raisins – Raisins are a healthy alternative to chocolate or candy when you need a quick sugar fix, but boy are they difficult to remove once they have been trod into the carpet of a car. Try pieces of dried mango as it is larger, slightly drier, and less gooey than raisins.
Crackers rather than bread – Take a packet of crackers with you to ward of rumbling tummies if you will be travelling far. Bread is very filling, but distributes crumbs everywhere and the unwanted crusts seem to find their way into any nook or cranny that will accommodate them.
Juice boxes rather than milkshake – There is no fail-safe way of giving children drinks in a car, but at least handing them a juice box that you have put the straw in cuts out the jeopardy of lids not being put on properly or popping off while you are concentrating on driving.
Cereal bars rather than chocolate bars – Chocolate is a master at the art of disappearing, apparently never to be seen again, only to be discovered as a melted mess on the seat of the car, and on the seat of the pants belonging to the child who ate it, on arriving at your destination.
I’m sure there are others that I have missed off my list, so if anyone has any better ideas of their own, I’d love to hear them.
Abby Wilkinson is a freelance writer and mother of three exuberant children. Born and bred in the UK, she has spent time living in the US and regularly travels to Africa and around Europe. She loves to draw upon her experiences and observations of travel and motherhood in her writing.