Now here's a topic of great parental debate: Do you allow your family to eat in the car?
Different parents have different tolerance levels and different-size families to be considered. If you have only one child, you can probably be more lenient about dashboard dining than if you're chauffeuring a mob.
Yes, it's best if kids don't eat on the road - for the car's interior, their clothes, and our nerves.
But real-life schedules aren't always conducive to obeying that rule. Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether dashboard dining is right for your family car.
That said, you know that if you have a 500-mile road trip, you will give the little one anything that will keep him quiet part of the way.
But as kids get older and easier to shush, some parents start getting strict about eating in the car.
It doesn't matter which way you go; just stick with it.
And consider these rules of the road if food is allowed in the car: It has to be of the non-sticky, nonstaining food group.
No chocolate (however, if someone forgets this rule, here's how to get chocolate stains out of upholstery), no grape juice, nothing difficult to clean up.
One father I know has banned fish crackers and popcorn from his car because they're difficult to remove once they're (inevitably) ground into the carpet.
If your kids eat in the car, vacuum the inside of it weekly.
If you don't let the kids eat at the dashboard diner, you can probably get away with vacuuming monthly.
Clean up spills immediately, using upholstery or carpet cleaner for carpets and fabric seats.
My baby wipes come in handy when those spills are on the plastic console between seats.
I've wiped up more tea spills from my own travel mug than any spills from the kids. But the baby wipes work so well you'd never know it.
Each week or at least once a month, clean the dashboard and doors with a damp cloth or the old standby, baby wipes. Use a damp brush for vents and hard-to-reach spots. Then apply a vinyl cleaner and restorer.