Car organisation and how I keep it clean and organised with two young kids.

Today I wanted to share with you how I have recently organised my car and how I keep it clean and tidy with two young kids.

If you were to ask anyone who knows me and who has seen our car – especially my Dad – they will tell you that our car is a total mess 100% of the time. As embarrassing as it is to admit it, they would be absolutely right. Ever since I started driving I have never been able to keep my car tidy and in order. When I was younger the boot and back seat would slowly fill up with clothes and bags as I hopped from one friends house to another each weekend. It would get to the point when my passengers couldn’t put their feet on the floor and only then would clean it out, vacuum and wash it. Each time I vowed it would stay this way……it never lasted long.

This cycle continued when I had my children. I’m sure all the Mum’s out there can relate. When you have a newborn screaming to be fed or a toddler screaming about……well everything a toddler screams about, cleaning out the car after every trip it the last thing on your mind when you finally arrive home. Each trip it gets a little worse – until its the kids who can’t put their feet on the floor.

Almost 2 months ago I finally hit breaking point. My daughter had lost not one but two pairs of shoes in the black hole that was our family car. It was time to stop this cycle, take off my slob vision glasses and dive in.

I was on such a mission that I forgot to take a before photo. Although I will be totally upfront and say that even if I had taken a before photo, it was so utterly shocking, embarresing and disgusting – I probably wouldn’t have put it in this post anyway. #truth

I will tell you that this was a 2 day process. Seriously, it took me two days to finish cleaning our car. I filled three laundry baskets with jackets, kids clothes, toys and books. I filled (to the brim) a grocery bag with rubbish, old notes and receipts that had been thrown on the floor.

With a bucket of water and eucalyptus and microfiber cloth, I dusted and cleaned the interior including the vents, doors, steering wheel, dash, console, glove box and the windows from the inside. When I had finished I then went back over the dash with the ArmorAll Protect and Shine.

 

I then removed the kids car seats. #OMG #IHAVENOWORDS

Only a parent of toddlers can truly understand the horror that lies beneath a car seat…..and on the car seat…..and in the nooks and crannies of the car seat. The covers came off and got a soak in hot water and the seats were hosed off and left to dry.

I pulled out our old vacuum and got to work. It took 2 hours and 10 minutes to vacuum every inch of the carpet from one end of the car to the other. The dirt, crumbs, leaves and sand was unbelievable. I had that old vacuum working so hard that it overheated and cut out twice.

And now for a little side by side…..

 

So much better!

After stopping for a late lunch with the kids and a quick rest (it was hot that day) I dug the leather cleaner out of our laundry cupboard and got to work cleaning the seats.

We actually purchased this leather care kit when we bought our couch 3 years ago. It is a two step process where I used the sponge and cleaning solution to really give those seats a good scrubbing. I then rubbed the leather conditioning cream all over. If like me you have never cleaned your leather car seats properly before, I highly recommend doing it at least once a year. They looked like they were brand new. This whole process took another took another hour but it was absolutely worth it.

At 5.20 PM we called it a day.

That night when the kids were asleep I left hubby at home and snuck down to out local 24 hour Kmart to pick up a few things that I needed to organise the car the following day.

 

Many years ago when I was thinking about starting my blog I actually organised our old car. At the time my Son was about 8 months old and as any new Mum would do I set up the biggest most obnoxious car kit that had enough stuff in their to prepare us for any emergency that may arise. I’m sure the 1st aid kit everything except the defibrillator. I had enough spare clothes, nappies, wipes, water and snacks to last us a week if we were to break down on a back road in the middle of nowhere. There was even an inflatable “high chair” seat that strapped and secured baby safely to a regular chair. Needless to say it took up so much room.

Did I mention that it takes 10 minutes to get from one side of town to the other and my entire family lives in the same town. I had prepared us for survival of a week stuck on the side of the road – and I had 30+ family members a 5 minutes drive away. #FirstTimeMum

It was ridiculous. Too big, completely over the top and my son outgrew every spare outfit and nappy before using any of them.

This time around I took a very minimalistic approach. I made a list of what we get stuck without regularly and was very realistic about what we would actually use. So I using the pencil cases and made two very small kits for the car.

The following day I grabbed the bucket and sponge and scrubbed our car from top to bottom with my little helpers of course. I then gathered up all the bits and pieces and went and organised the car.

So let me take you on a little tour.

In the glove box

In our glove box I have the car manual, our two kits and of course baby wipes. I do not know a mother that does not have a packet of wet wipes on hand. I popped in a bottle of insect repellent because our son will get eaten alive by mosquitos without fail, every time we leave the house. The black pencil case was what I had originally used for our first aid kit. I later found another little case I already had that fit everything a lot better. So let me show you what are in my two little kits that I put together.

Mumma’s Essentials

In the pretty pink pencil case I gathered a few fairly obvious items that I though would be convenient for any woman to have on hand.

  • A few hair elastics and bobby pins
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Lip balm
Basic First Aid Kit

You can purchase very inexpensive first aid kits like this one at Kmart for just $10. I didn’t actually realise that they sold them until a few days ago. So I had already put together a little kit with all the basics to keep in the glove box. It included the following:

  • Bandaids
  • A few larger band aid style patches
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Scissors
  • Eye drops / wipes (for flushing sand out of eyes)
  • Pawpaw cream
  • Antiseptic ointment (not pictured)
  • Panadol and nurophene (adult)
  • Dissolvable children’s Panadol (not pictured)
  • travel sickness tablets (for me….not the kids)
  • Hand sanetiser
In the centre console

I tried to keep our centre console fairly empty but I did put the phone charger and aux cord in there as well as a pen.

Drivers side door pocket

In the door pocket I keep my cd wallet, a torch and a few plastic bags on hand for gathering any rubbish. I didn’t want to shove a huge bunch of grocery bags in the door all crumpled up but I remembered seeing this folding technique on pinterest which is actually pretty great for keeping the plastic bags small and tidy.

So I can hear you all asking, will I now go and fold every plastic bag in my kitchen into tiny triangles?? No way in hell!! But for the purpose of saving space in the car and keeping it tidy, I will make the effort.

In the back seat

 

I used the small blanket to cover the seat and protect the seats as well as  to catch any sand or dirt that may fall down the side. I have heard that putting a blanket on the leather will effect the look and cause it to go shiny. I’m not sure if this is true – I guess I will find out soon. I will say one thing though. If it came down to cleaning the horror that was under the car seats before and a few shiny spots – I will take the shiny spots on the leather any day of the week.

Now For The Rules

I then sat with the kids and explained the new car rules. The first one was that there would be no more eating in the car. We live in a small town and it doesn’t really take longer than 10-15 minutes to drive across town. So from now on the kids can wait until we arrive at our destination before cracking open the snacks.

Of course if we are taking a long trip, we will make an exception but this happens rarely so we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

With the food issue addressed I pulled out the little bags that I found at kmart. Rule number 2 was that if it doesn’t fit in the bag, it doesn’t get put in the car. These little bags attach so easily to the head rests with velcro. They are actually marketed as garbage bags and are lined with plastic so they dont leak. This is a fantastic idea to begin with but I didn’t buy them to contain the garbage, I bought them to contain the toy clutter. I painted their initial on the front of their bags so there is no fighting over them. I just LOVE this idea and it is definitely my favourite improvement that we made.

Let me tell you this has been such a game changer when it comes to “stuff” in our car. I’m kicking myself that I hadn’t thought about this sooner. And for only $3 each, it was an absolute bargain.

Let me give you a run down on what it cost to organise our car.

 

So how is it all working out?

It has now been 10 weeks since we organised our car. I’m so happy to report that it’s still as tidy as the day we cleaned it. I have vacuumed my car 4 times in those 10 weeks, 4 times!! It is the quickest job now because of our car mats. While I’m on the topic of car mats, they have been worth every cent. It is so easy to just pick up and tip the sand and dirt off and they will save our carpet when the rain sets in. The kids are much more aware of taking jackets and school bags inside each time we arrive home. Probably because I’m constantly one step behind them nagging reminding them to take care of their belongings. I also make it a priority to dispose of all the rubbish in the car as soon as we pull into the driveway.

The main thing has been forcing myself to check the car and empty it out after each trip. It has already become second nature in such a small amount of time.

It is always so much nicer to travel in a clean car, no one can deny that. Although I don’t want to jinx myself just yet…… I think I’ve finally conquered the car clutter once and for all. I hope this inspires you to to the same and get your car a little more organised.

 

10 Of The Best (non – chocolate) Easter Basket Stuffers For Kids

Well the months are flying by and Easter is just around the corner, can you believe it?

Like many parents I’m sure, I am beginning to think about what to include in the kiddo’s Easter baskets this year. I will put it out there and confess that this is the ONLY day that my children get to have chocolate before breakfast (queue the mummy shaming) but I do like to include a few practical items in their Easter baskets as well.

Whether you are trying to minimise the toys and clutter in your home or you would just prefer to not go overboard on the sweets, there are many items you can add to the kids Easter baskets instead of the obvious chocolate bunnies and eggs.

I thought I would put together a list of practical and fun altervatives.

Books

You really can’t go wrong with books. My children have had a great love for books since they were very young. I like to include books with each Birthday, Christmas and Easter. As they grow their interests and reading level changes so its nice to add to the collection.

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Clothing or Shoes

Clothing is always high up on the list of practical gifts. My children are both moving up a size at the moment so a few new items will come in handy. Jackets, shirts shoes or pyjamas – whatever they are in need of can be added to the basket.

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Art and Craft Supplies

This could include a billion different things like colouring books, pencils, paints or stickers. Whatever you choose make sure you actually need it, and that it will be used.

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DVD’s or Music

A new DVD or iTunes card will be a great addition to any Easter gift.

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Personal Care Items

Any fun items that you wouldn’t normally buy for your kids on a week to week basis at the grocery store. Special bubble baths, novelty soaps, nail polish, makeup, lip gloss, perfume, hair brushes and accessories, character toothbrushes, or electric toothbrush. These are all very practical gifts that will be used, therefore not cluttering up your house until the end of time.

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Educational Activities or Toys

Anything that encourages learning such as activity books for practicing writing or maths, flash cards, magnetic letters or numbers, games that encourage cognitive development. You really can’t go wrong here.

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Baking Session

I love doing this during the school holidays as a fun activity for the kids. Gather all the ingredients for a yummy recipe and have a morning baking session. We make Easter themes cupcakes to take to family and friends in the lead up to the holiday each year. My children absolutely love cooking together.

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Busy Boxes

This is something that my mum used to make for my little sister and I when we would take a road trip. She would purchase a cute little suitcase or backpack and fill it with items and fun activities that we could use in the car while we were traveling. We loved finding pencils and colouring books, find-a-word puzzles, stickers, magazines or books to read, a new CD’s for our discman hidden inside. A few little snacks and drinks for the trip were a nice little addition too. These were always so much fun and kept us amused (and quiet) for the majority of the journey.

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Add To A Favourite Collection

If your child already has an activity or toy set that love, why not buy something to add to it. A new train, pony, matchbox car, superhero, monster truck, or princess that your child can use with a collection that they already love will be a sure hit.

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Vouchers For An Experience

This would have to be a favourite of mine. Gift vouchers for activities that you can experience together are a fantastic addition to the kiddo’s Easter basket. You can purchase the vouchers directly from the store or make cute little vouchers your computer that the kids can cash in to you. Some great ideas may include vouchers for the zoo or animal parks, aquarium, flip out, indoor play centre, amusement parks, putt putt golf, cinema tickets, a manicure, waterpark….the list is endless.

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So what do I put in my own kiddo’s Easter Baskets?

Of course there is one large chocolate egg. I take notice of what they “ohh and ahhh” over when they spot the chocolate eggs in the shop. I think the Humpty Dumpty eggs will be the winning choice this year. We also do an egg hunt on Easter morning. In the past we have colour coded the plastic eggs (with small chocolate eggs inside) and each child collected their own stock pile. This works very well if you have multiple children. We did things a little differently last year and pooled all the eggs from the hunt together. The kids were excited to eat one or two each night after finishing their dinner. In terms of chocolate, that’s all they get from us.

As Easter falls in Autumn, we experience a major change in the weather by the time the fluffy guy with floppy ears arrives. I always choose a pair of winter pyjamas with dressing gowns or slippers to keep the kiddos warm on the colder nights. I also like to include a special book for them to add to their own collections on their shelves. This can be anything you think your child may enjoy or you can choose an Easter themed book. We add something fun to pop in with those practical items wich changed year to year. In the past I have included bath crayons, toothbrush, novelty bunny ears, craft items and hair clips. Last year it was finger paint and Easter stickers.

We don’t generally decorate our home for Easter, but I do plan little Easter themed crafts for the kids which we do display. As I mentioned above we also do Easter themed baking that we will take to family when we visit.

You may chose to share the religious Story Of Easter with your children. You can do this by reading bible verses and adding religious storybooks or activities to their Easter baskets. Although my husband and I are not religious and don’t attend church, our families do. Our Son attends a scripture class once a week at school and has been learning about the story of Easter and we will incorporate that into our celebrations at home this year.

I hope I have given you a few ideas on what you can add to your kiddo’s Easter baskets. Finding consumable gifts and reducing the sugar highs is always a good thing. By giving intentional gifts this Easter, your children will be able to enjoy these items long after the chocolate is gone.

However you choose to celebrate, I wish you all a safe and Happy Easter weekend with friends and family.

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