How to take back control of your disorganised car

When life is chaotic and you're going through a particularly busy time, one area that can really suffer is the state of your car. Our cars can often become like a 'second home', but you get to be a bit less rigid about keeping it immaculate. This means things get thrown in, mess accumulates quickly and it starts to become a dumping zone that you promise yourself you'll 'get to later'. Can you relate? It's definitely what's been happening with us these last few months! Living through a home renovation has meant our family car has become a lot more disorganised than usual, so today I'm showing how I took back control of the family car... and how you easily can too!

I've read about this phenomenon on other blogs - that when you're going through big life changes (i.e. moving house, downsizing, renovating, having a new baby, getting married) and things are unusually chaotic, you tend to have less control in areas where you'd normally be doing a-ok. For me, our home renovation has definitely meant that several areas of our normally smooth-running household have suffered. Our car has been one of them! 

We actually purchased a new car a few months ago from my Grandpa, and when I transferred things over from our other car to this one, I didn't really think about what to put where. Very quickly, the console became filled with random items and rubbish. The front passenger area and boot were piled high with bags of clothes to pass onto friends, and newly purchased items for our house.

The floor was pretty putrid as the kids dragged sand, tanbark and dirt in from their park adventures.

And that ever-so-ingenious box of books that my kids loved to browse through? Well, since my son has transitioned to a sash seat-belt, there was no longer room for the box between the two seats. So here it lay on the floor - the perfect spot to be trampled on by my 3 year old every time she climbed in and out the car.

We've also gone from a car that had a fairly large boot to one that is considerably smaller - to say we're struggling with this adjustment is an understatement! But in my defense, renovating our house and going back and forth between my parents place and our home has meant lugging things back and forth that we wouldn't ordinarily have. Like that drawer front, drill, hammer, bags of 'stuff'... 

You can see my poor squashed car kit at the back. It really was a struggle to fit anything in this boot, and if I went grocery shopping things got a little crazy. There's nothing worse than trying to cram a trolley's worth of shopping bags into an already overflowing boot!

So the first step to any organising project is to prepare your supplies (grab your free checklist of the essential organising tools on the button below). My own supplies included a vacuum cleaner, cleaning supplies, rubbish bag, measuring tape, notepad and pen. I then emptied every single thing out of the car and placed the items either in a box to be sorted through inside, or straight into the rubbish. I then gave the car a thorough vacuum, dust and clean. 

There's really nothing better than a clean car, right?

The second step in the process is to make a list of those things that you always need when you're in the car, the items that you find yourself reaching for time and time again. My own list included some items that I already have in my handbag, but it's always good to have spares on hand when you're out and about. Here are my current car essentials:

  • water bottle
  • tissues
  • wipes
  • hand sanitizer
  • spare sunscreen
  • band-aids
  • plastic bags
  • spare change
  • towel for mopping spills, cleaning foggy or wet mirrors/windshield, mopping up vomits of carsick children (keeping it real!)
  • cloth for quick dusting/clean-up
  • cloth for cleaning sunglasses
  • headphones
  • spare change
  • kids' sunglasses
  • umbrella

My next tip is to spend some time thinking about what items you'll store in your car, and how and where you'll store them for easy access. Consider what's working well so far with your current car set up, and what's not? What's lacking? What do you find yourself wishing that you had? Do some research on Pinterest for some creative ideas. I found this post so helpful for thinking outside the box.

I decided to scrap the car kit for now, as it just took up too much boot storage space. Plus it wasn't super handy to have some of the supplies stored in the boot when I really needed them in the car.

I spread out all the items on the table to see what I really needed and what I could adapt.

I re-purposed the changing mat that we no longer need by slicing off the bottom part and using the top layer of compartments for essential supplies (the far right pocket contains spare plastic bags, a must if you have kids!). 

It still rolls up nice and neatly...

And fits perfectly, along with the wipes, in the front glove compartment for quick and easy access.

My final tip is to look for spare/hidden storage space and think creatively about what you could store there. Then you can start putting items back in an organised way. I utilized the passenger door to store our car information booklet and umbrella.

The driver door contains a spare supply of towels and a cloth for on-the-spot dusting. 

I like to have my travel mug of tea and water bottle next to me while driving, so I'll be keeping the 2 cup-holder compartments free for these. The smaller front compartment fits my headphones perfectly, and becomes a resting place for my phone if I'm listening to something or on a hands-free call. The larger section at the back of the console holds the kids' sunglasses so I can easily pass them to the back, some spare change in a small Tupperware container, and a cloth for polishing my glasses. 

I wanted to keep the boot completely clear so we could fit in larger items such as the kids' bikes or pram when needed. It also gives us plenty of room for shopping bags, and any larger items we still need to purchase for the house. The only items I tucked into the corner were some spare re-usable shopping bags, the picnic rug, and the Frisbee which we often use on picnics or when we're at the beach. #takemetherenow

That box of books turned out to be my biggest organising dilemma, because I know how much my kids LOVE to look at books in the car, but I needed a solution that would take up less storage space. Enter this awesome idea that I shared on Facebook, and my mother-in-law very kindly offered to make for me.

Here it is - a car travel book bag that ties to the back seat headrests to fit snugly in the middle! With 3 roomy pockets, it's the perfect option for holding books, and is easily accessible for little hands.

Instant organisation and such a perfect solution for our family!

I'd say it's a hit with the kiddies! :)

Some of these ideas did take a bit of thinking and research, and there are still a few things I'd like to modify so the car really is working well for us. But for now, these changes have made life a lot easier and it's nice to get into a clean and tidy car again!

Let's quickly go over the steps again to help you take back control of your disorganised car:

1. Prepare your supplies for the job 

2. Make a list of those things that you always need when you're in the car - the things you find yourself reaching for time and time again

3. Spend some time thinking about what, how and where you will store items in the car that will make the most sense for easy access. Consider what's working well so far with your current car set up, and what's not? What do you find yourself wishing that you had?

4. Do some research (Pinterest is a great place to start) for creative ideas

5. Look for spare/hidden storage space and think creatively about what you could store there

6. Put items back into the car in an organised way

7. Do regular clear-outs to stay on top of any messes

8. Enjoy being in your newly organised car!