An ode to drive-throughs

I’ll be honest – before I had a kid, I considered drive-throughs to be the domain of lazy Americans. I grew up with Brit parents who wouldn’t be caught dead at a drive-through (nor did we eat much fast food period, come to think of it. McDonald’s was a rare treat on road trips). I scoffed at the people who line up in their cars and wait for the drive-through window rather than parking and walking in. After all, we know what Lethal Weapon 2 taught us about drive-throughs.

Since having Zoe, however, I have developed a much better understanding and appreciation of drive-throughs. They are a life saver for parents of sleeping babies and toddlers.

Sometimes, drive-throughs are a parent’s only chance for midday sustenance. Picture this: you and your older baby or toddler have had a great morning at the zoo, and now you’re zooming home for naptime, figuring you’ll eat lunch once baby is safely asleep in her bed. Suddenly you realize she has fallen asleep ahead of schedule in the car. Doh! Now you’re stuck and out of luck. It’s time to hit a drive-through.

Everyone knows the #1 rule of parenting is NEVER wake a sleeping baby or toddler. Show me someone who finds the photos on this page adorable, and I’ll show you someone who’s not a parent. This is not cute, people – it’s a ticking time bomb. (Note that this is mainly an older baby or toddler problem; most newborns can sleep through anything.)

Many times I’ve noticed Zoe napping unexpectedly in her carseat, then cruised to a drive-through, desperate for a bite to eat or some liquid courage (in the latter case, this means the Starbucks drive-through) before attempting the tricky and futile work of transitioning said car-sleeping baby to her bed inside the house. I don’t know why we try this extremely advanced and risky parenting maneuver, but we all do it. It’s somewhat akin to dismantling an explosive device wearing mittens. Think Hurt Locker but without the protective gear.

Honest Toddler did a great job writing about toddler car sleep and the science behind why a three minute car nap cancels out a three hour bed nap. Bottom line: moving them is most likely not going to work. If they fall asleep in the car, you may as well let them sleep, which means you’re stuck in the car until they wake up all sweaty, confused and extremely annoyed at you. You may as well just go through a drive-through and get yourself something nice while you have a moment to yourself.

Keepin’ it healthy

The good news is, there seems to be a trend in health-ifying drive-throughs. It’s not just burgers and fries anymore – all the major fast food chains have healthier options, and there are some surprising additions to the usual drive-through suspects. Did you know the Panera on Sawmill and the one in Hilliard both have drive-throughs? (The Sawmill one is a life saver after the zoo). There’s also a Subway drive-through in Grandview. And, my personal favorite: there’s a drive-through window at Thai Orchid in Powell – and they even offer 10% off to those who use it. Score!

I’d love to know of other healthy-ish, diverse drive-through options in Columbus. Know of any? Please let me know in the comments below.


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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.


  1. Hello Lara! I found your blog from a comment you left on a post about the top Columbus blogs and I wanted to check you out. I too have a great appreciation for drive-through… especially when my boys are asleep. 🙂

    1. Hey Ashley – thanks for stopping by! Love your blog and your kids are TOO adorable. I’ll definitely be visiting your blog again soon!

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