Today is Day 12 of the 30 Days to Less Stuff and More Life Challenge. If you want to jump in, go get the book at Amazon, Simple Living – 30 days to less stuff and more life.
Today, we move outside to the car. Anyone with kids knows that the car is like a black hole into which everything that passes the door stays. This is another part of our chore list that sometimes gets overlooked. When we lived in a house, it was far easier to send a couple of kids out with a trash can and vacuum cleaner. I can still send them to clean up the car, but it sadly doesn’t get vacuumed often, now that we live in an apartment. The handheld vac isn’t cut out for the job, if you know what I mean.
My basic strategy is to send one child with a trash bag and another with a toy bag. One picks up everything that is torn, chewed on, mushed, or otherwise mutilated and puts it in the trash bag. The other collects loose toys, shoes, socks, jackets, books, bags…you get the idea. I’ve also instituted a zone cleaning strategy. Before, the children would just pick up anything within plain sight, well plain sight to them. Then, I would find a plethora of stuff under the seats, in the cup holders, and stuck to the windows or the backs of seats. So, they actually do three passes to clean the car now. The first time is all the obvious stuff. Second, they each take a turn looking under the seats for the things that hide. Finally, they must explore all crevices and seat coverings. The job is still not perfect, but much more passable.
That’s for regular run-around-town stuff. For road trips, I get a little more aggressive. First, I pack several grocery bags and afix one to each seat bench. All wrappers, tissues, and other paper go in the bags while we’re in the car. A child from each seat is assigned to throw it away when it gets full or stinks, which is about every other stop.
When we do stop, the seats must be tidied before we depart again. Usually what happens is as soon as the car goes in park, everybody shoves everything out of their lap and piles out of the car. All that stuff gets stepped on when they get back in, which makes me crazy. So, I make them put anything they have around them back in a bag or piled in a single, somewhat organized pile to be redistributed when we’re buckled up again.
It helps that I don’t bring an entire toy box with us, either. Everybody gets a small bag, like a lunch bag, of small toys and/or books to take. I pack non-crumble, individual-size snacks, such as grapes, cut fruit, or bite-size crackers/cookies. They are welcome to share, but since everyone has something, there’s no whining about who got what. My younger girls are pretty good about playing dolls or Pet Shop for a while. We also travel with audiobooks. I personally dislike DVD players, because someone has to change them and there is usually an argument about someone not being able to see or hear. However, I’m not adverse to using a DVD player on long trips. Just be aware that it is somewhat prone to needing oversight.
This might be outside the theme of keeping the car clean, but for simplicity sake, it’s good to have a plan for trips, too. Keeps my blood pressure down.