Favors I do myself, Part 1: Car edition

I have been parenting for 14 years. I’ve homeschooled over a decade. I’ve “adulted” for more than two decades (how did that happen?!?)

All this time has given me opportunities to make life work more smoothly, so I thought I’d share a few of them here and invite others to do the same.

I’m beginning with our car. We have traveled a *lot*, and like many other families, we’re in the “Mom’s Taxi” stage of life. These simple things make life easier for me; I’m a spur-of-the-moment-kinda-girl, so the more minutiae I tackle ahead of time, the better. And that would be my biggest encouragement to you: find the quirky changes that make your days run more smoothly. Pinterest is fabulous for ideas, so pin some you like, try some, decide what you love, and make a note to share it with someone else.

Here are a few of mine:

I keep a box of Dollar Tree envelopes in the console between my front seats in the car. Whether I need to drop something off, give someone a receipt, or actually mail something (which I so rarely do it should warrant balloons and cupcakes), I find it easier to have envelopes in the car than reminding myself to grab one before I leave the house.

I keep tissue paper in the back of our SUV. It’s folded tissue paper and it doesn’t take up much room, but it saves me time and hassle when we need to pick up a gift on the way to an occasion because I simply will not remember to “bring some from home.” If I wrap/prepare a gift at home, great. It will have tissue paper. If I have to secure a gift on the way to an event, I will most likely forget the tissue paper. If in a delightfully unexpected turn of events I remember to bring 2 ethereally beautiful sheets with me from home, we will likely find a way to crease, tear, or shred them as we rumble along.

We keep a roll of trash bags in the back of the car. My mother-in-love was kind enough to teach me to clean out the trash while filling my gas tank. That helps immensely! But I now have two middle schoolers living in my house; trash isn’t the only thing that attempts #OccupySuburban on a regular basis. Socks, jackets, sweaters, gloves (or glove), books, puzzles (?!?), chess sets (I.kid.you.not) are frequent left behinds. I wholeheartedly respect and admire families who have and keep the, “Everything comes out of the car upon exit” rule. I wish I had been better modeling & teaching it to our kiddos, but rather than feel terribly guilty, I’m praying they’ll fall so in love with their first cars when they buy them, they’ll be wonderfully set free from the lack of organization. And I keep trash bags handy for now.

I’ve used a small pour-spout cereal container from the Dollar Tree as a crayon & marker box for the car. Our youngest is old enough now that we don’t do this anymore, but for years I found that pencil boxes, with their large open lids, were disastrous on curvy roads. Or when I change lanes quickly (do not judge, we live in Atlanta; fast lane-changing is not optional here). I saw the idea on Pinterest, and was delighted to find these containers at the Dollar Tree; they’re small but they hold plenty of art supplies! As a bonus for emergencies, slip extra paper around the outside of the container before filling and then pour in the markers, crayons, & pencils.

We keep a picnic bag. I always have plastic forks & spoons, napkins, straws, bowls or small plates, paper towels, anti-bac wipes. My husband does BBQ on the side, so this began as having extra for catering, but it has grown into a favorite convenience. And for several years while our youngest was too small for school, it was the key to packing up school quickly and dashing out for impromptu picnics and homeschool at the park. during those years I also kept a couple of beach towels that served as table cloths, seating, and occasional kid-cleanup.

When the kids were little, we kept a quick change bag. Two of ours are very close in age, so I learned early on that messes could easily multiply. We spent so much time traveling (hence the blog title), that even around town, I learned packing could be a great asset. Each season, I would choose one outfit for each kiddo, put it in a Ziploc bag (because the yucky clothes would need a safe place to ride home in as much as the clean ones in the car would need to be protected), and put all packed Ziplocs in a specific reusable shopping bag. When blowouts or homeruns or sprinklers or wading pools got the better of the kids’ clothes, I could simply grab the bag, change the kid (or kids), put the dirty/wet/sad clothes in the plastic bag, and return to life as normal. Even when I had a diaper bag, this took a load of stress off my shoulders. And when I had newborns, I would often keep an extra shirt in the bag for myself.

I keep pain reliever and sinus medicine in the car. A 30min drive home can be excruciating when you have a headache. And there’s nothing a congested kiddo needs like some medicine to begin to treat the symptoms and a good car nap. This trick reaches back; I’m a teacher by trade, and for the time I taught public school, I was asked not to carry medicine in my purse or keep it in my desk. My car was the next best place, safely locked up in the faculty parking lot, farther away from students.

These things make life easier for me. What about you?  What are some favors you do for yourself?

I can’t wait to hear your suggestions!