We currently own a full-size, 12-passenger Ford Econoline van – which we love. We have a blog URL sticker on the back window, and we chose a license plate and rim that are a great ministry opportunity, and they make a statement for being on purpose about family. The plate and rim are a great conversation starter; we’ve even had people ask to take a picture of it. *smile*
~ Fixing the double stroller dilemma. Our double stroller took up most of the back of our 12-passenger van when it’s lying down flat, but it would not stand up strait without help while we’re driving. We needed the space in the back for many things including groceries, so to save space back there for other things my husband thought to use a very small bungee cord to help the stroller stay upright. We loop it through the metal back seat belt ring and hook both bungee hooks to the bar on the stroller. Works perfectly!
- an extra baby bottle – in case I don’t have the baby’s diaper bag, or do not have a bottle in my diaper bag for some reason, or if the one in the diaper bag was not cleaned out after last being used and now it contains bacteria and shouldn’t be used; I have this extra clean one in the van.
- an unopened can of formula – for emergencies on the side of the road and the food in the diaper bag is not enough; or if I forgot to bring the diaper bag all together; or if the van broke down seriously and we had to stay somewhere away from home for a while, we wouldn’t need to also worry about getting baby food; or most often, if the formula containers in the diaper bag were not refilled as they were supposed to have been and now I’m stranded at church or somewhere with no food for the baby. I open the “emergency can” from the van, and then replace it with a new one when we get home.
- bottled waters – for people to drink, or to make baby bottles with.
- protein bars – emergency food (I see no sense in adding starving kids to a situation!)
- an old but clean bath towel – to clean up throw up in the van, or even better, if a child feels like they may throw up soon then I can put that over their lap and they can catch everything when they do throw up. This has been used many times.
- a flash light – roadside assistance.
- a pocket knife – one we were given as a gift from a catalog at some point and don’t need at home.
- a rain slicker (in the blue bag)
- a disposable camera – for taking photos of a car accident scene if my phone was out of battery (it’s amazing how people’s stories change later on when they’ve thought through potential consequences of their actions)
- first aid kit
And the box is clear so that I can easily see at-a-glance what is in the box, and where items are located in the box before I open it, which saves time and hassle (and if I need to get in to this box, I can tell you I’m in no mood for extra hassle *chuckle*).
~ Emergency-supply box – for kids. I keep this small 8x8x3 Tupperware container underneath the passenger seat up front in the van for quick/easy access. This is one I’m in to frequently just for convenience, and doesn’t deplete our emergency supplies in the back larger box, so I’ll never realize that I accidentally used up all of our emergency supplies just out of convenience.
- Dramamine tablets for motion sickness
- Claritin tablets (not liquid – too messy for the car) for any allergy discomforts
- Pick-me-up protein snacks like protein bars or PB crackers – if we’re late for a meal or out later than planned, these have come in handy many times to get kids back to “themselves” *chuckle*.
- Pepper spray – we’ve had dangerous dogs in the neighborhood keep me and the kids from leaving the vehicle when we arrived home until animal control showed up.
~ Air that makes me smile. I really love getting in to a van that smells really nice, especially when I’ll be in the car for a while. It just makes me smile (and sometimes when we’re on a time schedule and I’m trying to get kids to move in a timely way, I do need a reminder to smile *chuckle*). I like this air freshener from Febreeze. It is consistant, it lasts for about a month per clip and until I can visually see it’s empty, and smells great! Mmm. Just nice. Found at most grocery stores.
~ An uncleanable kitchen table. No food in the van – that’s the general rule. *smile* We make time for snacks and meals at home. Food that gets dripped or spilled or spread around by sticky fingers stains the upholstery, like a kitchen table that you can’t wash off, and does not have a smell that makes me smile. *chuckle* If we do need to eat something in the van I choose foods that are the cleanest possible. For example, our staple “picnic lunch” is string cheese, or protein bars such as Kind Bars, or Cliff Bars; crackers (such as Cheese Its, Pretzels, or Wheat Thins) that pop in to a child’s mouth without needing to be bitten in to first creating a billion crumbs; and cut-up apple slices (no core to be left rotting on the floor or in a side compartment) which not only don’t squish easily but also serves to quench thirst well which means less water drinking and fewer if any potty stops; and water which dries easily and does not stain (like juice) or spoil (like milk). And all trash goes strait back in to the cooler or garbage can – not the floor. This simple rule of not eating in the van keeps it looking, feeling, and smelling nice all the time with very little effort. People comment all the time about how clean our van is inside when they see it, but I don’t do anything miraculous or strenuous, we just eat at home at a table I can wash. *smile*
~ Kids help keep windows clean. We do not allow the children to put any stickers on the windows. Stickers are usually permanent (without serious scraping and chemicals to get them off, and even then they probably won’t come off), they block my view as the driver, and they look messy. We also allow the kids to wash the windows inside the van as a paid job (a highly coveted one, I might add – the novelty of it, I guess *smile*). And children who help wash the windows, at least, are less inclined to smear spit or fingers on the glass. Looking out of clean windows make me happy. *chuckle* I’m telling you, these types of little things keep life nicer and not something to be simply endured until kids are older.
~ Important papers pocket. I hate to admit it, but I’ve been pulled over before (for not making a complete stop before taking a “free right” at a light – be fore warned) and in my flustered state have searched around the car for my vehicle registration and proof of insurance, which I know are there somewhere, while wasting the officer’s time who’s trying to…help me. *wink* In the future I will know exactly where these papers are. So This nifty zipper closure pocket (a couple dollars at Wal Mart) which attaches to the visor contains our vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and also a list of places in our area that I could call for road-side assistance if I ever needed to (put together for me by my loving husband). All in clearly-marked envelopes.
~ Console compartment contents. My driving essentials (no laughing now).
- calculator (for when making bank deposits), before I had one in my phone.
- hand lotion
- a Tide Pen, for getting out stains immediately when we’re out
- extra hair holders (in a baggie) for girls who lose theirs; clear so that they go with any outfit. I can’t stand hair in their faces (which then gets in their food).
- quarters (in a baggie) for the drive-up vacuum cleaners at the car wash
- direction booklet for my Blue Tooth ear piece
- Sea Bands – orange child-size elastic wrist bands to help a child with motion sickness
- the latest messages on CD that we’re listening to
- a few post-it notes to myself which I use regularly, so I don’t have to re-write them all the time; I just pull out the one I need and put it on the console where I’ll see it *chuckle* (i.e. get “Gas”, “wash van”, “vac. van”, “drop V.V. [Value Village] bag”, “drop [library] books”). Without my notes I often get home and find that I have forgotten to do one or more of these errands I meant to do while I was out. So irritating.
~ Immediate “needs”. Kept in the top of the console are things I regularly reach for while driving or at a stop light: Post-it notes (of course! *laugh*) and a liquid pen (not a ball point, which gets cold and then does not write fluidly), sun glasses, chap stick, protein snack food almonds in a baggie (deters my inclination to get a “treat” while I’m out), and bottled water or now I have a permanent commuter water bottle that lives in the van.
~ The clean way to throw up. *smile* *chuckle* Did you know there was such a thing? After many episodes over the years of a child throwing up in the van due to car sickness or actual sickness, I finally bought a deep, locking-lid Tupperware container to keep under that person’s seat. It’s been a miraculous plan! She has grabbed it, used it, and then locked the lid down until we’re arrived at our destination! No soiled clothes to deal with, no embarrassed sweet pea child, and no powerful smell in the van for us all to ride with.
~ Diaper bags on hand, but out of the way. We used to have 3 diaper bags (4 children in diapers, 2 of whom are twins), and they were kept underneath the bench seats, out of the way but handy.
~ Place for the garbage. If there is not a designated place for garbage, then the place for it will become either the floor, or a hidden side compartment inside the van where it stays until discovered – yuck.
~ Baby wipes for cleaning…everything! *laugh* Hands, faces, hair, clothes, car upholstery, or even dog poop off of shoes. A package lives in our van at all times. And the Costco Kirkland Signature brand wipes stay wet forever – so nice.
Hope you’ve found some helpful tips here! Please leave a comment and share with the rest of my readers your own great “mom tips” for the car!
Blessings on your traveling experiences,
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