1. Start with a messy van.That’s the easy part, right?
2. Take the stuff out.
Make piles on the garage floor, like trash, recycling, stuff to go in the house, stuff to return to a store, and stuff your kids better put away the first time you tell them or it's going in the trash. You know what I mean?
3. Vacuum the van.
Even the pockets by the back bench. Ewe, what’s in there? It helps to keep a shop vac nearby and even leave it plugged in. Anything that makes the job easier is a good thing.
4. Car wash.
It feels so good to have it clean inside, might as well take it to the local car wash so it can have a shower on the outside too, right? Bring your son who loves to help dry off the van.
Take that same towel and wipe the inside windows. I don’t know why, but that seems to work better than using the window cleaner and a clean rag. Who knew?
5. Restock with the stuff you wish you had in the van when you're out and about. Like...
Wet wipes, Kleenex, napkins, plastic forks and spoons and straws, reusable shopping bags, and a healthy snack.
Water bottles. We have some great Camelbak water bottles that are reusable and BPA-free. These disposable ones are Plan B.
These two bins tuck nicely under the middle van bench. I LOVE bins. Have I mentioned that?
Grocery bags. Can you believe how many of those things you can stuff into a little bin under the seat? We use those for lots of things like trash, library books, helping the kids bring their stuff in from the van, or hanging a note or item from someone's doorknob if that someone isn't home and I don't want to go back.
We use one bag for trash, and one for recycling. On road trips we hang a bag by the back bench so the kids back there have no excuse for leaving fast food wrappers on the floor, on the seat, stuffed into the edges, in those little pockets in the side of the van...
Music, speeches, and audio books. Our all-time favorites for car rides have been Scripture Scouts and Alexander's Amazing Adventures.
As some of our kids became teens, John Bytheway became a favorite for all of us. He was already a favorite of mine. I love this handy dandy little CD organizer. I cut the paper CD title page and stick it into the pocket and store the CD right on top of it.
If you're lucky enough to have a bin in your door, this is a perfect place to store all the little necessaries you want to reach quickly, like pens, sticky notes, hand sanitizer, lotion, change and some dollar bills. Use plastic cups to hold coins, and a small bin for sticky notes. I have a ward congregation list of phone numbers and addresses tucked in here too. Am I the only one who has arrived at the Wendy’s drive through check out, only to realize your wallet is at home? Aaarggh. BTW, that pink lotion below ... is my fave!
The sticky notes are great to write yourself a note on your steering wheel (wait until the red light please) to remember to buy gas or to call your mom on the way home, or a thousand other things. If you're like me, you RELY on paper to be part of your brain. I can hardly think without a pencil in my hand. When my kids ask me for help with a math problem, I kid you not, I have to grab a pencil first. Then I can think.
A bin between the two seats to hold the small stuff that you don’t want floating around. That's a nice place to add another healthy snack.
The contents of the emergency kits are mostly smaller stuff kept organized in gallon ziplock bags.
I LOVE my Blue Tooth in-car speakerphone that my husband bought for me. I push a button, ask it to dial a certain person at home or on their cell phone, and it does all the work for me. All while my eyes are glued to the road, NOT my phone. Brilliant invention.
After. Why does a clean mini van feel sooooo good?
To see more ideas for organizing, go here.