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small first aid kit laid out.

Best car hacks for busy moms (organization and tips)


pin for busy mom car hacks.

These car hacks for busy moms will give you plenty of tips and ideas for organization.

As busy moms, we need a few organization hacks sometimes! Whether you’re going on long road trips, or just want to be prepared for any family adventures, we have you covered.

A fair warning… Once you get used to having these things at your disposal, you’ll never want to be without them again. 

I’ll also share a few things that we have implemented that ended up not being helpful in practice.

*Disclaimer: I am a minimalist. I believe it’s great to acquire things that are truly helpful, but too much clutter is just going to add to the problem.

I encourage you to see what you already have that can be useful before purchasing things. If we’re not careful, we can want to purchase all the specific trinkets for car organization.

Car hacks for the glove box

The glove compartment is a super important spot for a few “just in case” items.  The glove box will contain the car manual and other important items like insurance cards.

glove compartment containing a green scissors napkins, cups, and flashlight.

These are the things we don’t want the kids to get into. We also keep in the glove box: extra napkins, paper cups, and a scissors.

The napkins are for obvious spills and snacks. The paper cups are essential to doling out fries or snacks (do you sense the theme?).

The scissors are SO handy! We can’t even count how many times we’ve needed a pair of scissors, and they’ve saved the day.  

If you purchase a small one, they just hide in the glove box perfectly. 

Car hacks for the center console

red first-aid kit.

The center console is another spot that the kids likely won’t be rifling through. This is a great place to keep a small first aid kit.

If you purchase a pre-packaged first aid kit, be sure to familiarize yourself with everything that’s in it, so you will feel comfortable reaching for it in a time of need.  

Also in the center console, you’ll want to keep a pack of jerky for emergency protein snacks.  

Anyone who’s ever had to apologize for overreacting while hangry will appreciate being prepared for low blood sugar.

I'm sorry for what I said when I was hungry.

Car hacks for the cup holders.

If you have a vehicle with lots of extra cup holders, I’d recommend putting a large pump hand sanitizer.

large hand sanitizer in a cup holder.

It’s so handy to hop in the vehicle and just grab a pump of sanitizer without having to dig for it.

If you don’t have any extra cup holders to spare, then just keep a big one in the center console.

Car hacks for the back seat pockets.

This is the best place to stash a few small garbage bags.

Those seat pockets are usually massive, and the plastic bags will take up very little space. The bags will be a great thing to have if something gets wet or dirty (clothes, blankets, diapers…)

small book in a back seat pocket with a plastic bag.

The back seat pockets are fantastic for a couple small toys also.

A little board book, a popping toy, a notebook with a pencil, are all nice things to have around for bored kids.

Just a few little things that are only played with in the vehicle.

Car hacks by avoiding a toy bin

We have tried having a “toy bin” in the van, and it was a disaster. Everything in the bin was eventually destroyed by getting stepped on.

Things were strewn about and the clutter was awful. It was not helpful in the least. 

That was our experience, but just a fair warning that a toy bin could be more work than it’s worth. 

When it comes to having toys in the car, we’ve found that less is more. (There’s that minimalism again.)

Car hacks for back of the vehicle

This is the biggest and most important section here.

If you have a van with lots of storage in the back, you will have lots of compartments to squirrel things away. 

If you have a vehicle with a smaller trunk area, you might want to consider a trunk organizer for the trunk space.

You’ll want to keep a roll of paper towels in the back of the vehicle, as well as some baby wipes or sanitizing wipes for cleaning up messes (or messy people!).

paper towels and sanitizer wipes in the back of a vehicle.

Don’t forget a set up jumper cables in the back, along with a pair of leather gloves in case you need to change a tire.

Car hacks for the back of the vehicle… The car kit!

​The car kit is the one thing I never want to be without. 

I’ve seen car kits in tote bags before. This might be a great space saving idea.

In my experience a small plastic tote is the best option. It won’t get all smashed in the back of the vehicle, and things inside will stay somewhat organized.  

Car kit in a plastic tote.

You’ll want to pack a spare set of clothes for each kid.  

Pack a whole outfit for each kid, plus maybe a shirt for you.

This may look different depending on the adventures you tend to take, but you’ll be glad to have some backup clothes for the family!

Just make sure to pack away clothes you won’t be missing for everyday wear. We’ve utilized those old soccer shirts and second-hand leggings for the spare outfits.

This is just to get us home! It doesn’t have to be fancy.

*The key with the clothes in the car kit, is remembering to repack them back into the tote after you’ve used them. 

The meal preparation in the car kit

It’s great to use a gallon ziploc bag to contain all of the things you might need in case of an impromptu picnic.  

The ziploc will nicely fit a stack of paper plates, some plastic cutlery, and napkins.

gallon bag containing paper plates, napkins, plastic cutlery.

Even when we are ordering pizza in a hotel and they forget to bring plates for us, it’s been wonderful to have the option to just run to the van and grab our little pack of plates.

If you want to be more environmentally friendly, you could use a silicone bag!

Also in the car kit…

plastic tote opened next to a beach towel with wipes, plates, and multi tool.

A few extra things to keep in the car kit include: a large black garbage bag, a beach towel, and a multi-tool. 

The big garbage bag can double as a picnic blanket or tablecloth at a picnic table.

The beach towel can be great for cold kids who need a blanket, or it can be used to keep seats dry in the event of wet pants after an adventure.  

A multitool is fantastic, but might be an investment.

a multi-tool being held.

Research what you would feel comfortable using, and get one that fits your personal needs. These can be found at second-hand stores, but the knives will be sharpest if you purchase new.

These are usually very heavy duty and will last forever if we can manage not to lose them.

A more in depth first aid kit might also be wise in the car kit.

nail clippers, hair tie, sunscreen, bandaids, on a small zipper pouch.

Again, just make sure you’re comfortable using whatever is in there!

I will encourage you that we can usually do so much more than we might at first think.

For more ideas on medical tools we should keep on hand check out my post on “Homemakers taking dominion”.

Sun screen and bug spray are great to keep on hand in the car kit as well.  Just be aware of how hot it might get in the back of the vehicle in the summer, so make sure you either pack them in a ziploc bag, or get a stick of sunscreen instead of the lotion.

We don’t want all those clothes getting full of bug spray! 

If you want to pack any emergency snacks, keep in mind how melted things may get.

Packing jerky, chewy granola bars, and nuts will be better than anything that will make a melty mess. 

Lastly, in the car kit, it’s a good idea to have a bottle of water. This is basically an emergency water.

You never know when you just need a splash of water to wash out a skinned knee, or wash your hands.

It takes up a small bit of space, but it will be so nice to have if you ever need it.

​Final encouragement

If you’re better at car organization, you might benefit from backseat organizers or clear shoe organizers on the back of the seats.

But depending on the personality of the kids, this could just end up being a frustration. If there’s just more things to try to keep tidy for a clean car, it could just be asking for more stress.  

If you think this would work beautifully for your family, then please give it a try! You know your family best.

Having your vehicle equipped with a few handy things will leave you feeling better prepared for summer adventures or even long trips.

This is for your individual family car, and you know what your family will need most.

Think through what will be the best way to serve your family for the adventures to come.

Happy travels!

Hi, I’m Stephanie! I’m a Christian wife, mom of 4, homeschooler, and a technically trained chef. I love creating a simple, beautiful life with our sweet family.

I’m so glad you’re here!

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