Why? The only thing worse than departing your house in a stress-filled rush is departing in a stress-filled rush in a mess-filled vehicle! Most of us spend more time than we care to think about in our cars, fighting traffic, ferrying arguing kids here and there, and worrying about making it to our destination on time. A clean and tidy car can go a long way toward calming your nerves and creating a more pleasant driving environment.
Secondly, car seats can become a breeding ground for all sort of--em--"scientific experiments" that can create an unhealthy environment for your passengers. Many families eat on the go in the car. By keeping up with the crumbs and trash, you can avoid some unpleasant surprises (like the maggots my friend recently discovered under her child's car seat...gross)! Carrying less stuff around in your car makes it quicker and easier give it a quick wipe-down and vacuum when it needs it. Cleaning out your car should take you minutes, not hours!
Finally, nothing is more time-consuming and frustrating than losing track of items because you left them in the car. In an ideal world, the only items you should be keeping in your car between journeys are the things that you only use in the car or when you are away from home. Start treating everything else you bring home like a gallon of milk and put it away as soon as you reach home. You wouldn't leave a gallon of milk sitting in the car for days, right?
How? Emptying your car after each trip is not so difficult if you keep up with it...it's just a matter of getting started and staying disciplined. Start by giving the inside of your vehicle a good, thorough clean. This will help you want to keep it that way. Next, train all your passengers to share in the responsibility for keeping it tidy:
- Keep a large cereal container in your car to use as a miniature trashcan, or store small trash bags in an empty wipes container or Kleenex box in your glove box. Take a minute to dispose of all accumulated garbage each time you exit the car or fill up your gas tank.
- Establish a rule that each passenger is responsible for collecting up all books, games, blankets, toys, etc. that they brought into the vehicle and taking them inside at the end of the ride. If they know this is required, they may be less likely to want to bring the kitchen sink with them on every trip.
- Empty the trunk and interior of any and all purchases made during your journey as soon as you come home. Resist the temptation to "do it later". Enlist help from the ranks (if you have ranks) to carry things inside. If kids object to helping, offer them an incentive for each bag they bring in. No one should go inside empty-handed.