I had always thought calling someone a hack was a bad thing, until I became a parent in the age of the Internet. But as it turns out, a "hack" has come to mean a way to get what you need, working with what you have. I love that.
You know, my mom and I talk about this parenting thing sometimes. She's a little in awe of the network I have to work out some of the problems we come up against, or to celebrate and share the wins. She didn't have Dr. Google to turn to when someone ran a fever with a weird rash in the middle of the night. She didn't have girlfriends in other cities to which she could reach out and vent in a strange mix of over-sharing and anonymity. She didn't have ParentHacks.
So here's my favorite hack, for your use or amusement. It's very simple.
I keep a large cooler in the back of my minivan, so that I can feed my kids decent, healthy snacks or meals without hitting the drive-thru every single night.
See, I spend a ridiculous amount of time driving my kids from one activity to another. As kids get older, they get more and more activities, exponentially. Even for those of us who think that we are making an effort not to over-program our children, it just happens. I swear, one minute you're all "OMG Sally is such an overachiever helicopter mom with the karate and the cheer and the piano lessons and the basketball - does that kid ever just get to play in the yard?" and the next you're all "Oh gotta go, I have to run drop off the boys at soccer, then swimteam then feed them something and get them to cub scouts by 7 so they can race their Raingutter Regatta boat that we just built last night at 10pm."
Sometimes I have my own activities and meetings to go to. Then it gets really interesting.
Anyway, We do probably hit some kind of fast food drive-thru at least once a week. I try and use it as a rare reward, but some nights it just can't be helped. Calories are important to active kids. You can't drop a kid off at a sports practice and expect him to function for an hour on nothing but a granola bar. Funny enough, volunteer coaches don't really like your child when he's a starving basketcase melting into a pile of goo after only a few laps.
So, I keep a cooler in the car. Then, on the days we leave the house at 4:30pm and don't return until 8, I can have sandwiches, protein packed yogurt smoothies, cold Gatorade or G2, and fresh fruit ready to go.
The great thing is on those days we just hit the drive-thru for the ice cream. Kidding.