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Kick Carpooling Chaos to the Curb

Organizing your car in advance may just save your sanity this academic year.

Summertime means different things to different people. For some, it’s vacations. To others, summer means family outings, concerts, or lounging by the pool.

If you’re a parent like me, it may mean that you actually were able to accomplish the impossible—keeping your car clean for a full three months!

By gently reminding your children (and occasionally bribing them) to clean up their trash and snacks, you sucked in the ice cold air conditioning and basked in the beauty of a car that boasted crumb-free seats and trash-free carpets.

But carpooling kids to school is about to start. And it may only be four, but it feels like 400.

You’re probably already asking yourself whether it would be easier to clean out the car every day or just drive with your eyes closed so you don’t have to see the mess.

Then you realize that, even if you close your eyes, that won’t block out the squealing in the backseat and the soundtrack to Frozen that plays on an endless loop for ever and ever.

And ever.

Tips for Avoiding the Mess

Before you decide to let it go and surrender to a messy ride for the next nine months, prep your car early and skip some of the chaos.

  • The first and most obvious way to avoid a mess includes buying one or two small trashcans. Line them with plastic grocery bags and insist that everyone throw away their trash.
  • Then, when you stop for gas, make it a point to throw away the trash bags while you’re waiting for the car to fill up. Unless there’s an especially smelly food item in the trash. Throw that out immediately. Nothing like finding a week-old tuna fish sandwich wedged into your backseat to start the week out right.
  • It’s also a smart idea to keep baby wipes on hand to quickly clean up anything that spills on the kids or the car. Then, of course, if someone has a potty emergency, you’ll be prepared.
  • Packing some small containers with dry snacks in advance can also thwart the little ones from unpacking their lunches right there in their seat.
  • Finally, use silicone cupcake liners to avoid crumbs and gunk from accumulating in the cupholders.
Tips for Avoiding the Unrest

To keep kids busy on longer rides, fill the seatback pockets or a small magazine wrack with coloring books and word searches.

The older ones will likely be on their smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, or other Jetson-like technology.

But if they’re willing to look away from their devices for a nanosecond, they could enjoy games like Mad Libs, “That’s my car!”, or other simple games like the ones you can find here.

It’s impossible to completely avoid chaos when you’re chauffeuring the kiddos around town, but at least with these tips you can keep it in check and (hopefully!) keep your sanity. 

And, if all else fails, you can always crank up an ‘80’s ballad, sing along at the top of your lungs, and hope that none of the kids request for you to drive the carpool again!

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