How many bottles of water are rolling around on the floor of your vehicle? When giving someone a ride, do you have to toss everything covering your front seat into the back and then shove that pile to one side for another passenger to fit in the back seat? Do you have any idea what’s in your center console, glove box or door holders? Are there unidentifiable objects between the seats that you discover when your cell phone slides off of your lap and gets trapped in that crevice? Oh, there’s Jr’s pacifier.
If you answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, it may be time to seek help. Admitting you have a problem is the first step. The following is a 12-step program to return you and your automobile to a healthy and happy relationship.
Step 1: Gather at least 3 containers: 1 for garbage, 1 for things you think may go back into the car and 1 for miscellaneous things that need to be reviewed or returned to where they belong, like your closet.
Step 2: Everything must go! Clean out that car right down to the bare bones sorting items into your various bins. Leave nothing. And don’t forget the trunk, under the seats or the pockets on the back of the front seats.
Step 3: Before you dispose of the trash, sift through it one more time to be sure something of value wasn’t overlooked stuck to that gooey stick of gum or melted crayon. You may be surprised at what you discover that you thought was missing.
Step 4: Go through the miscellaneous container and return each pair of shoes, extra coats, sporting equipment, books & magazines, toys, CD’s, tools and trinkets to their home base. Then return those borrowed DVD’s to your friend and finally exchange that broken alarm clock at the store.
Step 5: Give your car a makeover. Go on show some TLC. Bathe it, vacuum the interior, wipe the cup holders and dashboard down with a wet cloth, clean your windows and maybe throw in an air freshener. When your vehicle is sparkling clean, you’ll be less likely to pile that junk back in.
Step 6: After getting over the amazement of how beautiful your car looks, decide what really needs to go back in. Pull up the bin that contains what you thought may return to the car and get comfortable. Carefully review each item and decide whether it is necessary to carry around on a daily basis and sort them appropriately.
Step 7: Re-review your winners. Keep in mind that extra weight in the car means less efficient gas mileage, so be selective. Sort the keepers into various piles based on where you think you’ll store them in your vehicle. Disperse the items that didn’t make the 2nd round cut to their proper places.
Step 8: Where is the best place to keep your sunglasses, hand sanitizer, car insurance & registration, pens, back up paper maps, granola bars, umbrella or kiddie toys? When considering these things, keep the most commonly used items in close proximity for easy access.
Step 9: Organize your car. Perhaps a small box or bag sits on the back seat or that hangs off of the front seat will keep the kids toys within reach for them but contained to a manageable place. If you travel a lot and tend to need snacks, try putting them in a separate bag so when the munchies strike all of your options are in one place.
Step 10: Organize your trunk. Most important, have a container that includes emergency items like a first aid kit, jumper cables and a flashlight. If you and your family are involved in various activities, perhaps designating spaces for equipment would be helpful so the groceries will fit along with the stroller.
Step 11: Bonus: Rather than letting your phone/navigation system rest on your lap, try using a dashboard or windshield mount for hands-free ease. Are electronic device chargers and cords running amuck? Some Velcro ties may help keep them tamed. For safety, keep anything of value out of plain view.
Step 12: Enjoying freedom from the burden of clutter? Develop the habit of replacing items in their designated places right away rather than chuck in on the floor and it gets lost under the seat. How much extra effort does it take to open the glove box? Train the kids too; make it a game. Who can clean their area the fastest gets a prize. Before you realize it, this good habit will become 2nd nature.
Believe it or not, good relationships can last. Keep it clean folks.