Friday, June 14, 2013

How to Organize Your Car....for the Summer

Whether the calendar officially says so or not, summer is in full swing here at our house. Not only are the kids out of school, but the weather has been extremely hot--which means we are often found at the park, the pool, picnics, or other 
warm weather activities. 

Summer seems to bring on more outings, which also means more time in the car. So I thought I'd share how I (try to) keep my car organized as well as any additional items I keep in there for those "just in case" summer surprises. 

And I say "try to" because I do have young kids and as hard as I try and stay organized, my kids don't always share the same plan. However, I am a big fan of the calm that a little planning and organizing can bring and I think it is important to teach our kids that as well. 

With that being said, my biggest and number 1 rule in the car is: 

What comes in must go out. 

This is especially important for my kiddos who often like to bring a stuffed buddy, Leapster, or drink/snack, etc. They are responsible for their belongings. So before we leave the car to go inside, we always do a quick check and rarely leave it empty handed. This has become a habit now and really seems to help keep the car in pretty good shape.

In order to show how I keep things organized, I thought I'd start at the front of the car and move back. First little tip that has been helpful for me has to do with my keys and is this 2-in-1 key ring.

You can see it easily attaches and detaches so I can separate my keys when needed.  This is helpful for us for a couple of reasons. 1. We have a community mailbox so I often stop by to unlock it while driving back home. This way I can keep the car running and just step out quickly to get the mail. 2. This has also proven helpful when my car is in for service and I need to hand over my keys. When I separate them, I still have my husband's car key, my mail key, and house key. Just makes things easier. These are found at the Container Store (and I think Lowes or Amazon).

I also like to keep a clip of some sort on my key ring as well. This is so that I can clip them to my purse or bag and not have to dig forever to find them. I know you all know what I'm talking about. :)

Next up is my dashboard/console area. And although this doesn't seem like much, it has come in SO handy, SO many times. What is it?

It is a little adhesive pen holder. (I couldn't find this particular one when searching online but I found it at Walmart.) It's great because, again, no more digging. It is right there in front of me and takes up very little space.

My center console has a couple of compartments. The top holds loose change, sanitizer, and a couple of extra pens.

The deeper hidden compartment below holds my navigation system, a checkbook, and a notepad. I can't tell you the amount of times I needed to write a check or a note from my car. Having them available has really been helpful.

The very top of my arm rest is very shallow inside and is perfect for my car charger and a cord to play music in the car from my phone. (That's the technical name for it, I know. :)

We have an extra charger that my husband uses when we are both in the car (mainly for long trips) that I keep tucked away in this little side compartment on the passenger's side.

Up top I have a handy little pop up compartment.

It isn't very deep but it is perfect for my proof of Insurance and car registration. I also keep an extra pair of sunglasses in here just in case I have misplaced my others. It happens people----it happens. :)

That way I don't have to dig through my glove compartment on the passenger side. In here I keep it pretty simple: the car manual, some glass cleaner wipes to clean up any messes on my dash, windows,  or seats and a little pencil box

with a few essentials, such as bandaids, a lint roller, extra tissues or napkins, and Dramamine--which is great for car sickness.

Oh and I can't forget this cute little air freshener I found at Target. Perfect for summer I thought. :)

I also occasionally use this seat organizer on my passenger side seat for anything extra that I may need access to. This can come in handy if I need to be in my car a lot or if I had to work out of my car.

I also like that it can be quickly turned around if you need someone to sit in the passenger side.

On the side of my door is a little compartment that is perfect for tissues (made to fit in a cup holder from Target) and a container of wet wipes. We use these daily.

Moving to the back (and more of my kids' domain) which has also been a life saver: the trash cup. This is simply a large plastic cup I found at Walmart. I like this versus a trash container made specifically for a car, for a few reasons. 1. It's super cheap. 2. It fits in the cup holder so it takes up no more room and is accessible to both the kids and myself. 3. It is easy to dump out and clean. I typically dump it out each time I get gas and then occasionally bring it in to wash out in the sink or dishwasher. Easy peasy.

Our car is also set up so that the kids can listen to their own music with the use of head phones. I have to say this has been a very nice feature. Even if it means they are then singing their music at the top of their lungs because they don't realize how loud they are, Mama gets to listen to her own tunes too. It's the little things.

So each kid has a pair of headphones and sunglasses in the mesh pouch on the back of the seat in front of them.

I found these chrome car hooks for the back of the seats, that have come in handy as well. We use them for all sorts of things: my purse, jackets, backpacks. It's just a way to keep things off of the floor and from being stepped on.

Here's a quick peek at the very back row. Nothing special back there because it isn't used unless we are car pooling or traveling. I do love having the third row with kids though. Just sayin'. If you're contemplating on a third row, I'd say do it. I'm a fan.

In the very back is a hidden shallow floor compartment. It is a perfect spot for a car scraper (not so much for summer but it stays in here year round), an umbrella, reusable bags, and my yoga mat. :) It would also be a great place for jumper cables but my hubs keeps them in his car.

I also like to keep a first aid kit and a few other essentials--especially in the summer.

Things like sunscreen, bug spray, and pain-free antiseptic all come in handy during the summer months and are kept in an insulated cooler bag to help from the heat.

These, along with other essentials like a flash light, picnic blanket, extra beach towels, and a frisbee are a tucked in together in a bin I found at Walmart. I liked this one because it 1. has handles 2. is open in the front for easy access 3. is stackable if I decided I needed more. Maybe one for groceries?

(Did you ever think there'd be so many things to think about when buying a bin from Walmart? I have to poke fun of myself cuz if I don't my husband sure will. I hope there are a few of you out there who can relate to my planning and reasoning.)

For now, one is doing the trick and keeps everything from sliding around the back of my car. And we're ready for what summer has in store at a moment's notice. And I know my kids and I love that. :)


After receiving a few comments about my hooks being a possible hazard I decided to switch them to the back of my car. Check them out!

Now we can hang our bags in the back and keep them out of our way!

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  1. What a beautifull organization!!! I love it!! (I'm thinking I should clean my car...)
    But I have to say to you than one thing I saw in your pictures had impressioned me: the car hooks from the back of the seats. I think that they are very dangerous, because in case of accident, your children can do damage whit that. Did you never think about this dangerous? Am I the only one?
    It's only to warn you.
    Kisses! (from Spain, and sorry for my English mistakes...) ;)

    1. Thanks Silvia for your concern. You know I did think about that when I bought them but the kids' seats are so far from the front seats that I didn't think it would be a hazard. Thanks again for your thoughts.

    2. Ok, only be sure that the kids cannot do damage whit that! Thanke you for answer me!!
      Lots of kisses!

  2. I bought a small trash can at the Dollar Tree for my car. I am often on the road at lunch time for work and the trash was getting out of control. For a buck I was able to control the clutter. To keep the papers in my glove box organized I bought a coupon organizer from the Dollar spot at Target. I also bought a plastic bin at the Dollar Tree to keep in the floor beneath my daughters feet (she is in a car seat) to put her "car toys" in. For three bucks, I organized my car. Now my trunk is a whole other story!

    1. Don't you just love the Dollar Tree? They have so many awesome organizers there! Love that you were able to get things under control----and for three bucks! Awesome. Like the coupon organizer idea and the toy bin. I used to have something similar and decided we were getting beyond that point---unless we are traveling.

      Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks for sharing how you organized your car Susan! I love that bin in the back and I would totally think about all those same things when deciding on one! My hubby would make fun of me to but these things are important :) I love the trash cup idea too. I can never reach the bag I usually use when I actually need it. I'll keep my eyes open for one now!

    1. Thanks Hilda! I think the simple cup idea is my favorite car feature as well. It has definitely been a life saver many times. Glad to know I'm not the only one who analyzes---a lot. :) I agree that these things are important and can make life a lot easier. I guess it takes all kinds. :)

      Have a great week!

  4. You are one prepared momma! I don't have nearly as many just in case items in my car, but I do have a pen (agree that it's a must have) and amazingly follow the what goes in must come out rule. We have a seat protector with some built-in toy storage that I really like as well. I think I need to add wipes (good suggestion). I have napkins and keep wipes in the diaper bag, but I don't always have the diaper bag with me and sometimes you need a wipe (really, a lot of the time).

    Jennifer @ Little Silly Goose

    1. Thanks Jennifer! I try. :) You know I think everyone is different and what works for one might not work for another but I always love getting ideas from other people. I always find out something I hadn't thought of. My kids are finally out of the diaper bag stage so I don't have that to fall back on anymore. Thanks for your ideas! I like the seat protector idea. :)

      Have a great week!

  5. What kind of car do you have and do you keep your third row up at all times? I know if mine is up, I can not fit my double jogging stroller in my car, which is a shame since I would love to keep mine up!

    1. We have a Saturn Outlook. And while there is some room with all three seats up, it isn't a ton. I only have two kids so I don't need the third row all the time. So, when I have a larger load I definitely keep them down. I like having the option though!

      Thanks for commenting!



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