My goal is to keep the car ready to go for each new new frantic day.
I heard one of my friends jest that she doesn't homeschool...
Moms spend a lot of time in their vehicles trying to get kids to/from music lessons, field trips, educational opportunities and sports activities. Add to that all the trips to the grocery store, mall, pet store, library, doctor, dentist, bank, discount stores, thrifts stores, book store and you have a lot of time behind the wheel.
Too much time. We spend too much time filling the gas tank and emptying the vehicle of accumulated garbage.
Even stay at home mommies can find it hard to actually be at home.
I have resorted to keeping personal care items in each vehicle. Even though my purse and camera bag are stocked, I do forget things at times. I have deep, plastic pockets on the side of each door. In addition to maps, I have added lotion, chapstick, comb, hand sanitizer, small packages of tissue and in the summer, sunscreen.
We always need wipes, past since I am past the diaper bag stage, I keep them in each car. Sometimes when driving, hand each person a wipe and ask them to wipe the area around them, the plastic door, dashboard, and those nasty cubby spots for drinks that are always a conglomeration of crumbs, goo and wrappers.
In the storage between the front seats, I try to keep change, a pad of paper and a few pens and sunglasses.
I tuck keep a few plastic bags tucked into the seat pockets, for garbage or the rare fluke puke - yes, that is a reality.
Each vehicle has a small broom and dustpan from a dollar store. They work great for sweeping out the vehicle after kids have been in it. Sometimes, while I am waiting for the kids, I will just quickly pick up the pieces of paper, but sweep the cereal, cedar pieces and cracker chunks out onto the ground.
After leaving the midwest, I replaced the ice scrapers in each vehicle for squeegees. They're more suitable for the moist Pacific Northwest climate.
I used to keep healthy snacks in the car in a sealed container, but the kids ate them just because they were in the car, not because we were in the car going somewhere early in the morning and hadn't eaten breakfast. Then I hid them so well I couldn't find them in a rush on the way out the door. My latest snack hiding spot is in the garage, but now there is so much stuff piled in front of the shelf, we can't get to them.
When they were little, each kid had their own plastic boxes white dry erase boards on the lids. They loved them! They slid under their assigned seats in the full-sized van easily. If their toys and activities didn't fit in their box, they couldn’t take it in the car.
I also tried the pocket organizers that fit the back of seat. I never found one I liked, although I saw others use them with great success.
When they got older, I switched to one container with travel games and hand-held electronic games. After going crazy trying to pick up all the pieces to Battleship and Checkers and listening to the electonic beeps, I nixed those ideas.
Now, we just are using the car bingo cards and a book of word finds, they're quiet and easy to put away.
Of course, the more things you have in the car to make your life easier, the more things you have for the kids to get into and make your life more frustrating. Keep a balance of what works for you and your kids.
Through the years, we have learned that our car time is the best talking time. We are together in a confined space, with no outside distractions. My husband loves to ask the kids a question, either a thought provoking Biblical question or a question like their favorite memory, then enjoy the conversation flowing around us. Because of this, we opt to not watch movies unless we are on a cross country trip.
When we arrive home rule is to clean out the van/car. Do not leave it to tomorrow, tomorrow has enough worries and duties of its own. If the kids don't, sometimes I put their stuff outside on the ground in a pile or on the ledge by the steps. The kids are learning to appreciate having a clean car and finding their stuff where it should be on the way out the door the next time.
It is so nice to frantically jump into the car and have it READY to go.
Now, if I can just remember to put gas in the car.