Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Calming Chaos in the Car

My husband can't stand the fact that my car is a trash receptacle on wheels. One time he asked me why I couldn't just clean the stuff out of the car when I got home. I walked him through a typical day: Leave at 8:30 to get to Bible study; stop at Starbucks for nourishment. After Bible study, I have to do errands, so we go to the store and fill the back of the SUV with bags of stuff that I have purchased so that the family can eat, wipe or play. We have to stop for lunch, because it's nearing toddler naptime, and I don't want to risk said toddler falling asleep on the way home and waking up hungry twenty minutes later. I get home and transfer sleeping toddler from car to crib. Then I make several trips to and from the car to get the stuff out. I'm worn out, but I still have to put everything away. Getting back to the car doesn't happen, nor does clearing out the coffee cups and cracker crumbs and sippy cups that end up in the car at the end of a long day, and multiply times five by the end of a long week. He doesn't really buy it. It's not an excuse, but it's the truth.

I have figured out one way to keep things somewhat organized. In addition to the foodstuffs, in order for cartime to be happy time (for mom and kids), we have to have plenty of diversions: board books, magna doodles, cars and trains. My husband is all for these since they tend to keep the kid chaos level down since they are entertained, but they can get scattered. My very simple way to deal with this is to keep a container in the floorboard of the car.



Pictured in the container is the very best diversion for the two to five set. We received My First Leap Pad for my son's second birthday. He was too young for it at first, but we pulled it out about 2 months after he turned two when we took a car trip. He figured out how to work it on his own and it's been smooth sailing ever since then. Each cartridge has several games and he has his favorites, in addition to listening to some of the songs, which are a little annoying, but better than whining and crying.

This leads me to my final tip: Keep certain toys (like this one) for car use only. My son is almost three now and playing with his leap pad keeps him happy on all our car outings--long and short (one thing I like about the My First Leap Pad, in addition to the fact that I think that the games are more educational, is that the books are smaller than the Leap Pad and fit easily along with the cartridges in a gallon size ziplock bag). Keeping it only in the car has kept up his interest. Before a long trip, we also buy a new book and cartridge (which a nearby children's resale shop often have used for half price) which also guarantees a little more interest.

11 comments:

Julie in Texas said...

Great idea. When my boys were small we had the "car only" toys as well. Sure made car time more enjoyable!

angeleyes Blue said...

You sound like a juggling fanatic queen :) Remember that you are doing great! Your kids are doing great! My kids are now teens, the car is still a mess but their diversions are smaller and more expensive.

I FINALLY got my husband to understand when I told him I needed a little help. I signed up for a class and left him in charge without me home.

Got home...house was a mess, laundry still not done and kitchen dirty. He apologized and we haven't had a problem since.

Do you realize that he didn't truly know how to multi-task? He was doing a full load of laundry 1 at a time. He wasn't starting the second load until the first load was washed, dried , folded and put away. No wonder he wasn't done.

This surprised me because he was a manager for a multi-billion $ company. I told him that he had it easy kids were at a friends house half the time.

Keep juggling :)

kardel said...

I love this idea. I have some toys in the back seat, but it would probably help if I had a cute little container like that one.

On a side note: My little girl has a fire hat she wears every time we get in the car. It's like her very own crash helmet I guess. Reminds me of that 1970's show "Emergency" where they never wore a seat belt but put their helmets on every time they got a call. We do both. Safety first, you know.

Rachelle said...

This is a great idea even if your children are older. Also -- I think my husband needs your advice for HIS car! I'm the one carting the kids around, but his car is messier than mine. Go figure.

Shauna said...

I kept a similar basket of toys in our van, but my husband apparently thought it was just more clutter and put it in the big toybox in the kids' room. We were into a long car trip when I looked back to pull out a toy for my daughter, and it wasn't there! We had NO TOYS for a 6-hour drive because I mistakenly assumed that it was where I put it and hubby and I weren't on the same page.

Appliejuice said...

LOL I understand, Jennifer. Love the organizational tips. We have problems keeping pencils or crayons in the boxes.

My kids are older, for our long trips, we have books on tape or their favorites Focus on the Family Theatre stories.

Fiddledeedee (It Coulda' Been Worse) said...

Oh, this works. We keep a basket of emergency toys under the seat in the van. The basket has also been a great emergency barf catcher. I know, TMI.

Lauren S. said...

Great idea Jennifer! I know my husband feels the same way about my car. This would really help!

Rae said...

Great ideas! And that's so brilliant to keep a toy only for car use. Thanks for sharing! =)

Patti (Mazy) said...

Yay for LeapPad! Yay for plastic buckets! Yay for leather seats!

Katrina said...

Great ideas. Our current car has a little console between the back seats, and I keep some books, etc. stashed there for Camden. At this point, I usually just grab a rattle for Logan on the way out of the house, but I will definitely be moving up to the basket of car toys when he's a little older.