Keeping your car clean with kids.
It seems like an impossible task. I don’t know how some people keep their car mostly spotless when they have an almost constant mini-passenger, or more than one! For a while, my car looked like I had dropped a grenade in it. What exploded was a combination of toys, water bottles, sippy cups, snack bowls, kid coats, and worst of all – crumbs. Most of the time I was embarrassed to have anyone in my car, even my own mom. If I had to drive anywhere it was usually prefaced with a lot of apologizing for the complete disaster that was waiting behind the doors. I was so sick of feeling that way – so I finally decided no more. We cleaned up my car and I found some great items to keep it organized amidst the chaos of raising kids. These are my care must-haves for Moms.
To deal with the crumbs.
Most people save the best for last. Not me – I can’t wait to share my favorite item that we keep in the car. It’s a mini vacuum cleaner that plugs into your cars 12v outlet! It is such an awesome little trick to have in your car. We let our kids eat in their car seats so we are no stranger to spilled Cheerios or Goldfish, both in their seats and on our floors. Now I can just whip this thing out and spend 30 seconds cleaning up without getting frustrated! It comes with a few attachments, the brush one is great for getting our dog’s hair off of the carpets in a pinch, and the longer one helps get in those hard to reach cracks and under the seats. It even comes with additional filters and a small case to keep it all in. I throw it in the trunk and love knowing it’s there whenever I need it.
To protect your seats.
Car seats are heavy. Regardless of what kind you have, they will most likely end up leaving some marks in your seats from their bases. And, if you have a child that is older than a year old, you run the risk of dirty shoes kicking your seats and doors and who knows what else; they think it’s hilarious, but I’m sure you don’t love cleaning muddy footprints off of the back of your driver seat. To make sure we protected our seats we decided to get not only seat protectors but also kick protectors for the backs of our front seats. I can tell you, based on the number of footprints on there, they were worth it. Brica, who we got ours from, even sells a whole car accessory pack so you can get what you need all in one spot.
For peace of mind.
Depending on the age of your kids you may want to be able to keep an eye on them. I was neurotic about making sure I could always see my babies when they were rear-facing so I could make sure they were breathing, and I still like being able to check Reagan during her car naps. Rear-view car mirrors are pretty common these days and most moms know of them and have had them, but if you haven’t I recommend it to help with peace of mind while you’re driving.
We also use the car window shields. I can’t say they do much to keep the car cool, but I do love they have the “hot” indicator on some. It helps remind you that you should keep the doors open or cool the car down before putting kids in, on top of thinking about how hot the seat could be! They are also obviously helpful at keeping the sun out of napping babies or complaining toddlers’ eyes.
To make your kids comfortable.
Complaining kids in the car is no fun. When I say things to make them comfortable I really mean things to make everyone’s ride more enjoyable! Obviously, they most likely have a nice car seat. I know ours are so cushy that I wish our seats were as comfortable as theirs! I always try to keep a few toys and books in the car. We also have an iPad we bring on long drives to keep Peyton occupied. I haven’t tried this back of seat organizer yet but it’s on my list, especially as they both get older. We love having a cup holder in their car seats but we’re at the point where P would love a little flat surface to color on or play games on, this one looks like it might be perfect.
I also keep some little sunglasses in the car to help on those bright days, a blanket or two, and an extra coat for each of them that matches the season (light in the spring, heavy in the winter, always able to keep the rain off). Lastly, snacks! We always try to keep both a water bottle for each kiddo in the car, as well as some non-perishable snacks. Usually, it’s a few packs of fruit snacks, some goldfish, and a kid’s Clif bar. When Reagan was younger we also tried to keep a baby food or applesauce pouch in the car along with some puffs. Extra snacks are a lifesaver when you suddenly have hangry children in the back seat.
In case of bathroom emergencies.
Bathroom emergencies are a common problem, especially for potty-training toddlers, but babies can have an unexpected blow-out too. Even with a now potty-trained pre-schooler, there are times when she just can’t hold it. Especially in the current world where going into a public bathroom at Starbucks isn’t always an option, it’s nice to know we have a backup. We keep this BabyBjorn potty in the trunk in case something comes up and it just can’t wait. Make sure to also keep a spare water bottle too and TP or wipes too so you can clean it out.
We are also no stranger to the trunk change, because of that we keep a little changing kit in the trunk. It’s nice knowing we always have a place to change her, or extra supplies in case I accidentally forget to grab a new diaper or wipes on my way out the door which has definitely never happened.
In case of real emergencies.
Obviously it’s very important to have certain supplies in your car in the case of a real auto emergency like an accident or if for some reason you get stuck somewhere. We keep a small first aid kit, as well as a basic car kit with jumper cables. The safety kit also includes things like flares, a foil blanket, a few tools, reflective triangles, and some more helpful roadside items. I also try to make sure we have some extra safety items depending on the season, like blankets in the winter and extra water in the summer.
For all the clutter.
Now to deal with those items that seem to be multiplying in your back seat. I have 2 favorites here. The first one is an organizer for the middle seat. If you don’t need to use your middle seat often this is a great way to keep what your kids want in the car without ending up with a mountain of toys and books. We use ours to keep some extra diapers and wipes, a water bottle, and whatever books and toys migrate with us that week. When our little ones were bottle feeding I usually kept an extra bottle and some emergency formula in there too.
Second, is a car hook. This hooks on to one of the front seat headrests and acts as hooks in the back seat. These are so useful to keep jackets off of the floor. I also love it for backpacks. P is in preschool so she doesn’t use a full-size bag yet, so I haven’t tried it with a real backpack yet. But, it does work for diaper bags and purses so I imagine that a backpack should be no sweat when we go back to Pre-K in the fall (fingers crossed!!).
For the adults.
Ok, so you have everything you need to keep your car organized and deal with all the accessories that come along with your kids. Now, what are the things that actually help you in the driver’s seat? Well – I like having a place to mount my phone. I have a PopSocket on the back of mine, so I ordered a PopSocket mount. I had previously tried one that I mounted to my vents and you had to wedge your phone into… would not recommend. The PopSocket mount is awesome because it is so low profile. I was able to mount it in a place that you don’t really notice it and it keeps my phone out of the way of any of the features I may want to use (nav, radio, heating, etc.). And it just slides right on – so easy to use!
Now you’re all set!
These little items and ideas have helped me love my car and be less embarrassed by the constant mess of kids because it helps keep the mess manageable! Now go enjoy your clean car!