The car, just like the house, seems to get junked up in no time. Here are my tips to *try* and maintain a clean car with little ones. This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of PERK. All opinions are 100% mine.
I feel like I’m a bit bipolar with my car. Have been with all my cars. I go through phases of obsessively trying to keep it clean and organized until… one day… I notice it looks like a bomb has exploded in a play room. Then I start the cycle all over again. Part of the reason why it cycles is because once a mess starts to build up, I ignore it if I can’t tidy it up in less than a minute.
I will also note that car satisfaction goes up when the car is clean and down when it’s dirty. Years ago someone told me that if I keep my car clean (inside and out) then I’m less likely to daydream about buying a new car. It works! So if you’re currently driving a “character building car” that may help you. :)
But once you have toddlers and preschoolers we all know the car can become a great big landing place for clutter, snacks, books, and random toys. Not to mention it can smell. Here’s how I try to go about keeping cars tidy as possible without wasting a lot of time in the “clean up the car” arena.
1. Keep a trash container
This is a big one and probably the most obvious. Whether it’s a plastic bag, a cereal container (I’ve seen that floating around Pinterest, have you?), a reusable bag or whatever else. Keep something that’s easily accessible, but won’t spill when you take a sharp turn. This way you can get everyone in the habit of throwing away trash as it comes instead of finding it stuck to things two months down the road. Same in the car as with the house, it’s the routines that keep things tidy.
2. Deal with the smell
There are potty training mishaps, crumbs, and sweat soaked shoes that my children take off often found in the car. I’m not sure why, but the car tends to get a not terribly pleasant smell. This leads me to rolling the windows down. For some reason my kids don’t really like the windows down. I tried making a felt ball essential oil freshener once, but the smell was overpowering and lasted about 24 hours.
I got sent these PERK Vent Wraps to try out and like them for a few reasons. They are sleek, not some big heavy plastic thing that falls off when you slam on brakes. They’re easy to use and work whether or not the vents are blowing air, don’t spill or leak like those plastic ones with liquid, and they are individually packed. That actually matters because when they are packed in two and you open one, well, they both “activate.”
3. Let them get in and out.
I’ve done this for as long as my little ones are able. We drive a truck and it may take the kids extra time to climb into it and out of it, but they love the challenge. It takes a long time to strap in 4 kids so I try to get as much help as possible. They climb in, seat themselves, and buckle the top clip for the car seats. I then come around and lock the bottom seat belt and we’re good to go. It’s a small thing, but there are many little things that very young kids actually can do for themselves.
4. Set up emergency kit.
A few months ago I cleaned out the back of the vehicle, moved or got rid of everything that wasn’t being used, and created a small emergency kit. I will say here that I didn’t include everything that “they” suggest. A completely new and charged cell phone is on that list. I have 4 children none of which are yet in Kindergarten so I assure you I don’t have the time nor inclination to make sure I have a separate emergency cell phone fully charged at all times.
However some good things to have in there that don’t require spending a lot of time or money are:
- water bottles
- jumper cables
- outfit per family member
- snack bar
- duct tape
- rope (in case someone has to help haul your car)
- warm blanket and gloves (particularly if you live in a cold climate)
5. Have a signal.
This is more of a mental health sanity saver. I am a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) which means that I’m very affected by external stimuli such as noise and smell. I don’t mind some chatter and I actually love to hear the kids laughing and playing, but too much is too much. If I need a few minutes of quiet I’ve taught the kids a signal. I raise my right hand up with all fingers out and say “no talking until I put my hand down.” This works if they are fighting or doing the whole, “He put his foot where my foot goes” bit.
6. Put your devices out of reach.
It has been impressed on my heart lately the importance of leaving my phone where I cannot even access it. Of course we don’t need to text or mess around on our phone while driving, but the temptation to scroll or check kept coming over me even at red lights! If I can’t sit still for one minute while I wait for a light to turn green then I have a problem. So I’ve started putting it in my purse on the passenger side floorboard. If it rings, oh well. If I think it’s important I can just pull over.
7. Teach the kids to observe.
I may be in the minority here, but I don’t let my kids use any type of device in the car nor do they usually bring books unless it’s truly a long drive. They don’t have busy bags or toys (not that those are bad). They just sit there. They talk, sing, look out the window, and ask me questions. We just do life. I think the tendency to always give our kids things to do can create children who expect us to entertain them. I don’t think they need to learn entertainment, they need to know how to entertain themselves. Road trips, of course, have different consideration.
If you are looking for a car freshener then you can enter a comment below for a chance to win a 6 month supply of PERK products/fragrances, 1 travel mug, and 2 pairs of PERK sunglasses! You can find PERK air vents at Wal-Mart, Target, Advance Auto Parts, and other places auto air fresheners are sold. Here is a $1 off PERK coupon and on social media you can find PERK’s Facebook.