Whether you’re going out to the store or taking that summer road trip, here’s some tips to organize your car, especially if you have children along.
The first step to keeping your car organized is to keep it clean and always toss the trash. Every time you return home, empty the car from all the trash and it will stay clean. If a child had a snack in the car, have them help you take the trash to a garbage can when they leave the car. Obviously if your child is too young, this will probably be your job, but you can start asking them to carry out their own trash after age 3.
2. Remove the extras.
Your car should have the same items in it all the time. If you brought extra items into the car, they need to be removed. If you pick up dry cleaning or buy items, take them into the house. If you take items to work, bring them into the office.
3. Tote it.
When you have doctor’s appointments or go to meetings, you often have spare waiting time. To make the most of it, keep a tote bag in the car and fill it with something you like to do: i.e. a book with Crossword Puzzles, Word Searches (my favorite), or Sudoku, etc. Make sure it’s big enough to hold a tablet if you have one. As you leave your house or office, you can take a book, magazine or your To Read file, drop it into the tote bag, and then take your bag into your appointment. Always keep a notepad with a pen in your tote bag; you never know what you might need to write down, like doctor’s instructions.
Keep a pair of sunglasses, an umbrella, and a flashlight in your car. They are always nice to have.
Organize for Kids:
5. Bag the Toys/Books
Consider some type of sturdy bag in the car for “car toys” like a square tote bag, canvas bag that will stay open on the seat or rectangular car organizer. These are car toys – they stay in the car on a daily basis so there is something to read, or toys to play with, every time the children are in the car. These might be switched out once in awhile.
6. Secure the Snack
Toddlers can be messy, so put snacks in closed-top snack containers so all the items won’t spill out when they fall over. The kind that lets them put a small hand in the center works nicely. Some items will still get on the car seat, so make it a practice to clean/vacuum the car seat at least once a week. Snacks like nuts or crackers are easier to clean up than sticky candies, especially in summer heat. Summertime – take along an insulated bag and ice pack to keep drinks, and snacks cold. Extra wet wipes in a large plastic can are a must when you have children and food, no matter what age.
7. Pack a backpack
Consider taking along a backpack of toys or books for waiting time at doctor’s offices or even restaurants, especially for toddlers who get very restless very quickly. A small, simple backpack limits the amount of toys that will fit in it. Let your child choose what toys they want to bring with, within reason –Obviously you wouldn’t want to pack clay items or paint for a car ride. Try to pack quieter toys. You wouldn’t want really noisy ones.
Note: These don’t usually come from the toy bag in the car; these are for playing inside somewhere.
Inside Car Organizers:
There are lots of different car organizers to choose from: back of the seat pouches, soft, flat lap trays, large rectangular fabric car organizers that sit on the back seat between 2 car seats. Some car organizers have holders for drinks, others have side pockets for bottles and snacks or items like crayons or books.
It’s really your choice for what you think might work best for you.
Tame the Trunk.
a. Buy a grocery organizer – one of those fold-up, 2-section fabric boxes. Sometimes it’s called a trunk organizer or a cargo organizer. It’s great to hold up groceries, especially items that might fall over like liquids.
b. Buy a second one for young children and keep a changing pad, diapers, training pants, undies, extra clothes, and extra supplies to change babies or toddler’s clothes until toilet training is complete. You can keep the clothes and diapers clean in plastic bags or another backpack!
c. Keep a freezer bag in each car so you always have one when you go grocery shopping.
d. Keep an extra tote bag or two for in store shopping, grocery stores, or just to get library books. They always seem to come in handy.
e. Carry jumper cables in your trunk. You never know when you might need them.
f. For winter weather, keep a folding shovel and salt or sand in your trunk.
Get cold in Restaurants ?
I’m always cold in restaurants, especially in summer air conditioning. Buy a fabric bag like Eagle Creek’s Pack It pouches and keep an extra sweater in each car. It’s worth it.
Where to Shop?
Check the Container Store, organizeit.com,Buy Buy Baby, Babies R Us, One Step Ahead, as well as general retail stores – often online, for different types of car organizers.