Monday, May 24, 2010

13 May Featured Space: Outdoors - Getting Automotivated!

Today I thought we would take a quick spin around the organizational world of automobiles.  Like many organizing tasks, what you do and what you need varies greatly by each individuals specific scenarios.  For example, Janie might be a single working gal while I, Jen, am a married mom of three boys.  Which means, Janie might be toting work gear such as a laptop, purse, coffee, etc... while I might be toting kid's, sports gear and coffee.  Yes, we are all different with different paths and options, and I will share what is working well for us in our automotive world, and although some tips may or may not pertain to your world specifically, hopefully some ideas and inspiration can be found!

First I will start off in the garage, where I designated one shelf specifically to the care of our cars.  As I worked on our garage this weekend, I really tried to ensure that each part of the garage was appointed a specific task/reason vs. having similar/like items in multiple locations throughout the space.  This meant giving our cars, their own shelf.  I mean really, we spend so much time in them, they are like family.

Bucket numero uno contains all sorts of yummy beverages for our auto's, to keep them running nice and smooth down the line! 

And bucket number two contains all sorts of auto bathing goodies!

The caddy works great for housing all of the car's cleaning essentials, from rags to wax, making it a quick and easy grab to bring out to the driveway each time we give the car a little scrub!

And it's as easy as that!  One shelf, one purpose!  We find that we don't need much more than that to keep our cars in tip top shape, so in this homestead, the garage isn't filled with car supplies.

Whether you are the proud owner of a suburban or a smart car, any car is a small car when you start to pack a family or friends inside.  And because cars are so frequently used these days, many items find their way inside.  I personally enjoy riding in a vehicle much more, when I am not surrounded by "things", which is what personally motivates me to keep my vehicle as neat and tidy as possible.

As with any major room organizing project, I started out the automobile organization process the same.  I envisioned myself in the space.  I asked myself, what do I need to make myself and my family happy in this space?  How will this space best function?  How much time do I plan to spend in this space and what types of scenarios will come up down the road?

My answers to those questions drove the following solutions:

Kids.  My kid's go with me practically everywhere, which means that when I am in the car, so are they.  And it's important for me to ensure my kids are safe and happy when traveling, because happy kids equal happy parents and happy parents equal happy kids....

So, to keep my kids happy, I start by keeping books in the back seat pocket, for those short trips in which a book is the perfect distraction.

And for the longer trips, we are fortunate enough to have acquired a dvd player with our vehicle, that also contains wireless headphones, which is primarily the only time my kiddos indulge in some flicks.

Because there are four sets of wireless headphones, and they didn't fit in the door or seat pockets, I opted to think like a gal and use a cheapo purse to hang over the back of a seat.  It really was a perfect solution to ensure the headphones weren't getting lost, stepped on or damaged in-between uses.

And to also ensure that my kiddos are comfortable during their ride, I keep a canvas bin tucked in the back to corral all sorts of cozy goods!

The bin works perfectly for holding everything from blankets to pillows to extra umbrellas and sunscreen.  Anything we might need at any moment, because with a family of five and the Wisconsin weather, there is definitely a lot of unpredictability!

And in the winter, a second bin is added to hold extra winter clothing and blankets for those additional "just in case" moments.  Always better to be prepared!

Speaking of being prepared, we were also fortunate enough to inherent a first aid kit!

However, in the event that a vehicle doesn't sport one, there are some easy options of snagging a pre-maid kit from any department or drug store, or, just using a plastic lidded latch bin to create your own.  Anyway you go, it's great to have one stowed away!

Many of you may be wondering what else we do to keep the kiddos busy in the car?  What about toys?  Great thoughts!  I used to have a bin of old toys stashed away in the car that were meant only for the car, however, as the boys grew and their interests changed, it wasn't really relevant for all of them any longer.  So, each boy now has their own personal backpack, which they are always able to fill with goodies for the car before we head anywhere, as long as they fill it back up to bring inside and put away when they get home.  My one major rule for both the kids as well as for the hub and I, is to ensure that what goes out to the car, comes back inside, unless it is something that we deemed consistently necessary to stay in the car long term.  This is our biggest reason for success in keeping a neat and tidy car!  And giving each little one ownership of their own belongings in their own backpacks, seems to give them a sense of pride and they are more than willing to partner on keeping the car picked up!

As far as keeping their fingers clean and keeping trash at bay, we have two different solutions!

Solution one is to keep another bag, this one lined, hung from the back of the other seat, with the sole purpose of holding any trash that is created during our ride.

And in case you are wondering about the space left for the kiddos with all of these bags hanging from the seat, it's actually not all that bad.  It's a pretty great way to utilize all of the space in our car!

And solution number two, is to always have baby wipes and disinfecting wash on hand, which is great for keeping fingers and faces nice and tidy as well!

To eliminate the large baby wipe bin from floating around under the kid's feet, I just snagged part of the wipe stack, and tucked them in an old makeup remover wipes bin, which fit much more conveniently in our center console.

And if your car doesn't sport a center console, they make all sorts of great options that boast extra storage for in the car, such as this one.
And as for us big kids, I will also sport a personal bag for long trips, filled with music and magazines, and it fits nicely at my feet.  And again, I try to be as good as possible about bringing everything back into the house with me after any kind of trip, ensuring that I return to a neat and empty car next time around.

Because I am an avid organizer at heart, when we were auto shopping, high on my priority list was a lot of built in storage.  We heart to utilize the cup holders, which also can double as cell storage at the same time!

And again, they make so many options, such as this cell phone cup holder, to add to your car after market, if it wasn't originally made to hold everything the way you please!

And the glove box is a double version, which had me at hello!  It holds manuals, registration/insurance info, maps and chargers below, and boasts an extra compartment perfect for stashing away cleaning wipes above.  That way, anytime there is a spill or the interior is getting a little dusty, a cleaning wipe is right at our fingertips!

And my last bit of advise, that is by far the most important in this gal's mind {from an awful learned experience in the past}, don't grab the mail and stick it here:

As Julia Roberts spouted in Pretty Woman, "Big mistake. Big. Huge."  It's the perfect way to ensure that a bill gets misplaced and doesn't make it in the house to get paid on time.  Just sayin'!

So there you have it!  That's how I am automotivated to keep our family's transportation station in organized shape.  But I would totally heart to hear from you, what tips and tricks you have up your sleeves, to ensure that you are in pure bliss when getting from point A to point B.  Any auto organizers or storage accessories that have you singing loudly in traffic?  What about in your garage, how do you store your vehicles necessities?  I hope you are automotivated to share!


  1. Very nice Jen!!
    I always keep some emergency water bottles, granola bars and some other long lasting snacks out in the car as well as a blanket or two. You never know when you'll be stuck in a long back up (hopefully never!). I keep my reusuable shopping bags and an organizer back there too.


  2. Great article!

    I'm with you on the whole if-you-bring-it-in-the-car-you-take-it-out-of-the-car thinking. I like to keep my car pretty clean of random items or things, and am pretty good about it. My hubby, however, doesn't have the same attitude when it comes to his car, haha! :)


  3. Haha! I am with you on that one Chelsea! ;) My hub loves his cars, he just doesn't love keeping them picked up! Too funny!

  4. Looks, great! I have to clean my car out constantly since I'm a childcare provider who also has 2 young kids of my own, and 2 dogs it's a sticky furry mess. In addition to the wipes, and hand sanitizer- I keep a rubber made container with a lid in the back with 1 complete seasonal outfit for each of my kids,sometimes pjs too, this has came in handy so many times, we've had our "accidents", car sickness, and food and drink spilled down us one to many times we just quick change,problem solved........I've even had to dig in and get a pair of socks for McD's play place when we stopped unprepared in flipflops!

  5. Hey Jen! Well, I just found this & can say I am now truly "automotivated" :) I mentioned this post on my blog today, in case you wanted to see it. Just thought I'd tell you. :)

    Have a wonderful day!

    Heather @ Catfish Kisses

  6. What kind of car do you drive??

  7. @Karly - it's a Nissan Pathfinder.


  8. one extra thing i like to keep in my car is a small penciel bag with a nail clipper, nail file, travel lotion, and i also have twezzers because i have had times i want one and dont have it.

  9. Love this. We just traded in our 16 yr old compact car for a 1 yr old compact car. It came with no floor mats. When I picked up some floor mats today, I also picked up a few storage things since hubby had strewn all his stuff over the whole car.

  10. Do you ever have issues with the sunscreen exploding from heat? We've been caught without before, so I want to add some to my car kit, but I'm worried about the mess. Any advice?

  11. The blue bag is cute where did you find it very organized looks great!

    1. The bags are from Target - the patterned bag is actually a purse I found on clearance.


  12. Hey Jen....
    I'm also a Wisconsin gal and find that leaving the baby wipes in the car causes them to freeze in the winter. The wipes now live in the "toy backpack" that comes back in the house with us when we are done with our travels. Just a thought :)


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