• I woke up early Sunday morning, at about 7:00 am, to the disturbing sound of crinkling and ruffling of packages in the kitchen. It sounded like a mouse or some rodent had found its way into a package of Ritz crackers. I grabbed a closed umbrella, from the closet, and carefully made my way into the kitchen. There was my four year-old son sitting on the floor covered in Tangy Taffy, crumbled Oreo cookies, squished candy bars, and a pile of empty wrappers. He looked up at me, with guilty puppy-dog eyes, and said, “I was just hungry, daddy.” I fought back a smile and shook my head in disbelief. I picked him up and carried him straight to the bath to hose him down. Strands of chocolate were layered across his face, while his body was sticky from head to toe. Yes, he found my stash of sweets, which I had put aside for guests and/or special occasions.

    With four kids around, this wasn’t the first time this had happened. The truth is that I’d been sneaking into the bag myself on several occasions and had caught my other kids doing it as well. As much as I tried to discourage their aunts and uncles, for some reason they thought it was cool to bring over cookies and candy bars by the case load. I know that a little here and there is okay but the stash just got way out of hand. I hate the idea of throwing food out and guess I held on to it waiting for an occasion to break it out.  But the occasions didn’t come as quickly as the little (and big) hands looking for treats.

    Being frustrated with the cleanup and trying to teach my family healthy eating habits, I decided something had to change. I couldn’t have this stuff around anymore, but what was I to do with my stash? I thought about throwing it out but I didn’t have the heart to do it. All that guilt my mother instilled in me about not wasting food came rushing back. I knew hiding it was no longer an option as I had no way to monitor the kids 24 hours a day. I collected all the cookies and candies I could find around the house, along with sodas and anything else I didn’t want around. I took them straight to the car and didn’t even sift through them to take out my favorite ones. I knew if I got started with that it would lead me down the wrong path.

    I took them to work the next day and simply left them on the lunch table in the break room with a sign next to it “ENJOY!” That was my quick fix to prevent me from second guessing myself. I had other ideas of donating the candies to various organizations but then realized that I don’t want them to have this stuff either. The bottom line is: if you don’t want your kids to get to it then don’t leave it around the house. You can take control of it and dictate when you want them to have it. You can substitute healthy snacks and if that’s what’s readily available, then that’s what they’ll eat. And if you must have a secret stash—keep it high up, tucked away….and secret!