Sunday, June 6, 2010

Oh, how I love my van...

FlyLady says that the kitchen is the command center of the home, and that maybe true. But as a busy mom I find that we are in the van so much, that it is like a second command center. So much goes on in the vehicle and I think that our vehicles should be comforting, inviting, and a place that our children can be comfortable and content. This being said, it can be difficult to maintain. Food, trash, spills, and so much more can consume your vehicle, so it is important to have a system. Here is my system:

1. Contain the Mess Before it Happens - Each of my children have their own bag. This does not have to be an expensive bag, a reusable grocery bag will do perfectly. They can pack it with whatever they would like to bring: mp3 player, headphones, video games, pens, paper, anything appropriate for the trip. The rule is that it must all stay in the bag, and the bag comes in the house when we come home. Any random items in the car I confiscate for a period of time, so that the next time, they remember to put everything away when they are finished.
2. Trash Containers - I have a van with three rows of seats, and most of them are occupied. So, I have multiple trash containers for each row. This can be a small grocery bag or a small trash can. To get the trash can to stay in place, use sticky-back Velcro strips on the bottom of the trash can. It should stick to the floor of your vehicle without the the other side of the Velcro. Containing trash before it gets out of control makes it so much easier when it comes time to clean out the car.
3. Be Prepared - Besides an emergency roadside kit, here are somethings a parent may need to have in their car:
  Mini First Aid Kit - Band-Aids, alcohol wipes, and  Neosporin are a good start. Also you may want to throw in a couple of Q-tips, Tylenol and ibuprofen (adult and children's), and the insurance card and doctor information for you children, if you don't already carry that information with you.
   Wipes - I keep both a large tub of wipes and smaller individually packaged Wet Wipes in the van for quick cleanups and messy faces. If you have a child who is not potty trained consider stashing an extra couples of diapers and an outfit in case you've forgotten your diaper bag or have just run out of diapers.
  Restaurant Coupons - I do try to limit my children's fast food intake, and it is a rare treat, however, I always kept forgetting those coupons that I would get in the mail. Now, each time I get some that I think I might use, I clip them and put them in an envelope in my glove box. Each time I add more, I toss out any expires ones.
   Towel - Big spills happen. Enough said.
   Reusable Grocery Bags - Not only are these great for shopping, but they are great for keeping clutter in check.

   Extra Set of Clothes - Yes, this means you too. I can't count the times where I have spilled something on my shirt, pants, or when one of my little ones has decorated me with their excrement (I know, disgusting, but infants can be very unpredictable when being changed).

3. Time to Get Things Done - I like to spend the time that I am waiting in my car, typically when picking up kids from school, doing something productive. So, I carry bag with things like, a clipboard, notebook, pens, paper clips, bills, or just other papers that I need to take care of.

Here is another article that I wrote on the subject: How to avoid a messy car on a family road trip

There are other great things to add to this list: backseat organizer, grocery organizer, the list can go on forever, but don't get caught up in buying things that you don't really need. Keeping your car clean and clutter-free should not cause you to go and buy more things, it should be the opposite.

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