Organization Hack: Car Essentials

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Clip Art by Krista Wallden at Creative Clips

When you have kids that are involved in extracurricular activities or sports such as gymnastics or cheerleading like both of my daughters, you spend a lot of time in your car. I literally feel like I spend more hours in my car than I do in my house. I am constantly driving my kids to practice, to school, to competitions, to after-school activities, to doctor appointments, and the list goes on and on. Sometimes, I literally sit in my car for 30 minutes to an hour waiting for one of them to get out of practice. I know many of you do the same. My kids eat in the car, change clothes in the car, watch tv in the car, etc. When you practically live out of your car, it can sometimes become a disaster with stuff everywhere, but it can also become a place that requires you to have certain things at a moments notice. My car stays pretty well stocked with some very key items. My philosophy is to always be prepared for whatever gets thrown your way. Being prepared is a part of being organized.  People often laugh when they see some of the things in my car. Other people have become very grateful when I am able to produce something they need in an emergency. There are certain items that I am pretty insistent that they always be in the car. What are those things you may ask? Well, I’m going to give you my top 15 things that I think every mom should keep in the car so you are always prepared! Now, before I start…These items are things that are essential to moms and their kids’ survival when you are on the road a lot.  Of course, there are things that you need for safety like a spare tire, jack, jumper cables, flashlights, and things like that.  This list is not about those kinds of things.  You should certainly have all of those things too, but I am talking about things that are essential to moms who live in their cars. Now, I know you are thinking that you don’t want to add a bunch of things to your already cluttered car. There are several ways that you can keep these things on hand.  I keep most of these items either in the middle console of my car, in the glove compartment, or in the side pocket of my door.  Some people keep things in the pockets on the back of the seats but I don’t want my kids having easy access to any of it. I have also considered keeping a small tote in the back of my car that is designated for all of these items which would work great, but I personally like to be able to reach everything while I am seated in the front of the car.  How you store them in your car is totally up to you.

1. Tissues

I swear that I have that disorder where sounds make you go crazy.  I can’t think of the name of it, but loud chewing, straw sucking, or really any noise coming from someone’s mouth other than words makes me crazy.  It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me.  I cannot stand it.  The same goes for sniffling.  It makes me loose my mind. I have to have a large box of tissues within my reach at all times.  My kids know that as soon as they make one sniffling sound, I am going to hand them a tissue.  They sometimes get embarrassed because I will do the same thing with their friends.  As the sound of the first sniffly, I immediately reach for the tissue and pass it back. Tissues are also good to have on hand for other reasons too.  Sometimes I use them to blot my skin on my face if I am feeling a little too shiny or if I get some of my lipstick outside of the lines of my lips. Tissues are essential!

2. Deodorant

I don’t know about you but sometimes I will be driving my kids somewhere and I suddenly question myself about whether or not I put deodorant on that morning.  Sometimes I think that I get distracted in the chaos that is our mornings and I just forget or I’m in too much of a hurry and forget. Sometimes I really can’t remember if I did or not.  Tell me I’m not the only scatter-brain that forgets deodorant sometimes! It’s really sad, but it happens enough that I find it essential to have a stick of deodorant in the car just in case.  Sometimes you are out in the heat and sweaty and you want to add a little more to prevent the BO from coming too. You can never have too much deodorant!

3. Zip Lock Bags

Now zip lock bags are one of the greatest inventions ever for someone who loves organization.  I’m serious.  Whoever invented them was a genius. You will probably see in future posts that I use them for so many things.  Anyway, back to why you need them in your car.  I personally keep a few gallon sized ones and quart sized ones in my glove compartment at all times.  It all started when my youngest was born.  She has severe motion sickness. When she was younger, she used to puke in the car all the time.  Her car seat was disgusting.  One day I came up with the brilliant idea to keep zip lock bags in the car for her to puke in.  I’m sorry, I know this is gross but it’s the truth.  The great thing about it was that it kept it contained and off of her and her clothes, and you could zip it up and keep the smell away.  Perfect solution, right? Well, as my kids have gotten older I have found that we use the zip lock bags for so many things like a lost tooth, a broken necklace, wet clothes, uneaten but opened snacks, and so much more. Zip Lock bags are the bomb!

4. Napkins

Napkins are the other thing that I always keep stocked in my glove compartment.  Whenever we go to a fast food place, I always stick the extra napkins in there.  As I have mentioned, my kids eat in the car all the time.  It is inevitable that someone will need a napkin.  Things get spilled, chocolate melts, someone throws up, and on and on.

5. Baby Wipes/Antibacterial Wipes

Sort of along the same line as the napkins, I keep baby wipes or those little antibacterial wipes in individual packets for the kids to clean their hands.  I am a fanatic about them washing their hands as soon as they come out of practice.  Their hands get so gross, especially the gymnast who is always covered in chalk. Since they usually get out of practice and have a meal to eat in the car, we use the wipes to clean their hands first. They are also great for spills and other messes in the car.

6. Plastic Utensils and Straws

Again, my kids eat in the car all of the time and it never fails that I will forget to pack a spoon or fork or the take-out place forgot to give us one.  Sometimes we even carpool and the carpool kid needs one to eat the food they packed.  I just keep a few forks and spoons in a zip lock bag (another great use for them) in the console of the car.  Yes, I know all of the controversy about using plastic straws.  You guys, I am a germ-a-phobe so I will not drink out of a cup from anyway except my house without a straw.  I’m sorry.  It’s just who I am.  I cannot stand paper straws either.  The texture just weirds me out.  Yes, I know I can purchase those reusable straws that fold up into a cute little pouch, and maybe I will get some eventually.  Until then, I also always throw in extra straws that we get at restaurants in the car just in case we need one.

7. Scissors

I know you are thinking that this one is crazy but I believe that you should have a pair of scissors in the car.  I cannot tell you the number of times that they have come in handy.  They can be used for opening up stubborn snacks, yogurts in a tube, loose strings from clothes, and the list goes on and on. Another plus is that they can be used in an emergency situation where you need to cut off your seatbelt. I keep them in the center console and out of the reach of my children so they don’t mysteriously disappear.

8. Pen and Notepad

These two things are also essential.  First let me say, do NOT use them while driving! I know you know that, but I have to say it. Since I am always in my car, I get a lot of phone calls, and I make a bunch of calls while I am sitting in the parking lot waiting for my kids to get done.  Sometimes the calls are to or from doctors, and I need to write down important information.  Sometimes when I am sitting there I use it to make a list or write down something I don’t want to forget. Sometimes, I will be dropping my kids off at school and will remember that I need to write a note to let the school know that I am picking them up early or something like that. These two items are very important in my world.

9. Jacket

I actually keep two jackets in my car at all times.  One is my rain coat and the other is a little zip up hooded sweatshirt jacket that I got years ago in Canada of all places.  It never fails that I will be going to pick up one of my kids and it will start pouring down rain and I will need my rain jacket.  The other little jacket is for restaurants.  I always seem to freeze when we are in restaurants and need that little jacket to keep me warm.  My kids will even put it on if they get cold in the car or when we are out somewhere.  My husband can testify to the number of times that we have gone somewhere and I have sent him back to the car to get my jacket because I am cold.

10. Umbrella

This kind of goes along with the rain jacket.  You should always keep at least one umbrella in your car at all times.  You never know when you are going to be caught by the rain. I actually have 3-4 umbrellas in the car.  One is a big golf umbrella that stays in the trunk, but I also keep 2-3 smaller umbrellas in the floor of the back seat and passenger seat up front. One is for sure mine that no one else can use, and the other ones are up for grabs for the rest of the family.  You don’t want to have to get out in the rain and get wet while you are getting your umbrella out of the trunk.  That defeats the purpose of having an umbrella in the car in the first place.

11. Brush and Hair Ties

Now this one may not be essential for everyone, but it is for us.  I have two girls in sports that need to have their hair pulled up at all times.  Someone always needs a brush to fix their hair and inevitably someone will forget a hair tie or one will break.  These are also kept in the center console of my car for emergency situations.

12. Band-Aids and Neosporin

This one is pretty self-explanatory.  I cannot tell you the number of times that we are out somewhere and one of my friends needs a Band-Aid and they turn to me because they know I have them in my car. You just never know when someone is going to injure themselves and need a Band-Aid.

13. Water

This one is another one that is controversial with the warnings about keeping plastic water bottles in a hot car. Some studies have shown that the plastic leaks toxins when it gets too hot. Some studies say that it is ok as long as it isn’t opened and if it isn’t in the heat for several weeks.  They say a day or week won’t affect it. You can choose to do whatever is best for your family.  Ours don’t last in the car very long so I believe it is okay.  With kids in sports, someone always needs a bottle of water so it is great to have them on hand in the car.  I also have a severely dry mouth due to my migraine medication so I am always drinking water.

14. Carmex Lip Balm

I believe that I have mentioned before that I have an addiction to Carmex lip balm and I have one everywhere.  My car is no different.  I always have some in my car in my purse and in the console.  My addiction has greatly improved over the last year and I don’t need it as much, but I still keep it in the car. My husband uses it just as much as I do, though. Yes, it melts sometimes, but it still works.

15. Plastic Grocery Bags

The final thing on my list is probably one of the most important next to the tissues for me. I like to keep some of the plastic grocery bags in the door of the car to collect all of the trash that comes from living in the car.  Food trash, tissues, napkins, candy wrappers, and other things all can be easily contained in the bags.  Otherwise, my kids would just throw their trash on the floor and leave it there. It’s a positive that I am reusing the bags!

As you can see none of these things are too big and bulky and won’t take up a huge amount of space in your car.  They are all extremely useful and helpful in not only keeping the car organized but also keeping the kids and myself organized and prepared for unexpected situations.  Are there any things that you would add to my list?  Let me know what you think!

Anchored and Organized,


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