When I was pregnant, I don’t recall reading from my overflowing library of pregnancy books that, after I became a mom, I would become a slave to hunger. (Maybe that’s because these pregnancy book authors had become so used to food-slaving that they completely forgot about the fact that it eats up about 75% of their lives?).
Anyways, once I gave birth, I instantly became more than a mother; I became “Bringer of All Things Food; Purveyor of Snacks At Any Time Or Place.” No, I didn’t intend for this to be my title. Running a home-based business while being a new mom and still trying to have a life had me busy enough, but now I was adding a new job skill of becoming a servant of food distribution. Yet, just like any parent, I only needed one “I’m-so-hungry-that-I’ll-rip-your-face-off” melt down from my child to ever go anywhere without snacks again. Everrrrr.
So after weaning my daughter, I started packing a few snacks to hold my family and I over between meals during our day, whether it be on short hikes, long rock climbing excursions, or just trips to the grocery store. My first attempt at becoming Homecoming Snack Queen consisted of me lackadaisically tossing a couple of bland granola bars into my giant diaper bag/purse with a murmured disclaimer of “these are just in case you can’t make it until lunch.” Yet, somehow, the black hole of my daughter’s stomach wasn’t appeased with these meager attempts of placation. It didn’t matter if my daughter had just finished off a giant breakfast and licked the plate clean; the minute we’d get in the car, she would request some sort of a snack as if the desire itself was an integral part of riding in the car, like putting on a seatbelt.
Realizing that the sugar and carbohydrate content of my kid downing bar after dry granola bar was probably the opposite of the “Healthy Mom Award” I wanted so badly to earn in my daughter’s eyes, I soon graduated to adding fresher snacks such as carrots, olives, and apple slices to my pantry on wheels. Something about the freshness of these treats she sneered at while home had made those succulent snacks go down faster than the car-induced granola bars when out and about.
And then enters “other kids.”
General kid rule: Did you know that if you offer snacks to your kid and, if their friend also has the same exact snacks, your kid’s friend will opt to eat all of your snacks but not their own? I think it is some weird unspoken universal law, similar to the law of gravity or something, because it proves to be true time and time again. And, therefore, I quickly learned that if I wanted to have any snacks for my own kid, I not only had to pack snacks for her, but also for her friends.
So now I have snacks upon snacks upon even more snacks for my kid plus her friends. But, at that point, I might as well pack some more snacks for me and my husband as well, too. I mean, between a parent’s notorious lack of sleep and the waning caffeine content in my veins, I only have so much patience between my child’s pleading, potty time, and listening to the repeated songs about bus wheels turning blasting through my car speakers to keep myself sane. A little heightened blood sugar level will at least hold me over until the next coffee stop.
And thus enters little plastic storage containers.
Some say diamonds are a girl’s best friend but these gals who covet expensive gems are probably not parents nor have they ever seen cute, teeny food storage containers! Let me just say this: I had never previously understood the fascination of food storage contraptions and thought the hype around it was silly. However, once I completed the formula of “Becoming a parent + Packing snacks for full-day adventures = Happiness,” I swore my allegiance to Tupperware.
Parents who don’t want to use plastic bags but also want to mobilize their child-rearing operations don’t know what parental peacefulness is until they embark upon the true convenience that these teams of adorable containers with matching little lids provide. There’s a size for everything; from olives, to apples, to carrots, to dips and chocolate. And, being a kid raised with Nintendo NES, I have my fair share of Tetris skills to help facilitate fitting a multitude of snacks into any backpack, let aloe pack for a climbing-with-kid adventure.
Sometimes it amazes me just how much time my husband and I allocate to food preparation every week, which includes:
- thinking about the activities for the week and which snacks will work best for them
- buying food
- slicing, dicing, and cutting up food portions
- packing food into containers and into backpacks and bags
- carrying food out to climbing areas, on hikes, in boats, in cars, and in purses
- distributing food to children and friends
- cleaning up food spills and wrappers
- cleaning out food containers and packs
- making food for actual meals
- making money for more food
And so, yes, though I thought more of my time would be allocated to actually BEING with my daughter than focusing on food buying, food preparation, food storage, and food purveying, watching her little smile grow when I hand her a little apple slice is worth all the time and effort (especially when it means we can prolong our fun activities under the sun together).
So, in my findings, to be the certified Parent-on-the-Go I want to be, I must have my systems down. This includes projecting what snacks my child (and her friends… oh, and my husband and I) may desire for the entire day, while being able to do our activities. Though extremely time consuming and sometimes constituting about 70% of the weight in my backpack, having my smorgasbord-on-wheels has truly been the catalyst for my family and I being able to avoid lack of food meltdowns and enjoy ourselves and our time together.