I’m trying to be intentional with this increasing time we have in the car together. It’s a time when I’m not busy and they’re not running around or demanding snacks. We can talk. They can learn. They can be bored! It’s good for kids to sit in quiet and look out the window and let their brains rest sometimes.
Our minivan might be messy and appallingly dirty, but we do have a few rules. Here we go:
As I shared with you in my favorite mom hacks post, we usually listen to my stuff on the way to our destination and theirs on the way home. I like to listen to messages on Moody Radio, so I understand they don’t want to listen to grown ups talking every car ride. This is a fair compromise and usually works well.
My favorite kids CD is 30 Bible Songs & 30 Bible Stories. I love that it has short Bible stories between each song — they’re good reminders for me too! It has all the songs you might remember from Sunday school and it will melt your heart to hear the kids sing along to songs about Jesus. It’s free to stream with Amazon Prime and is only $3.99 on iTunes.
We have a TV in the van, but I don’t typically turn it on unless we have a car ride over 30 minutes. Oooor I don’t want Clara to fall asleep before we get home for a nap. That girl can sleep 5 minutes in the car and think “There, I did it. I took a nap. Happy?” No.
But overall they probably watch too much TV at home, so it’s good for them to have quiet time to think, process and even be bored! It’s actually good for children to be bored occasionally. Psychology Today says it gives an “opportunity to demonstrate creativity, problem solving, and to develop motivational skills that may help them later in life.”
Unless we are on a road trip, they watch something educational in the car. I don’t even have other options available. This is our Leap Frog collection in my visor organizer. When Luca was in preschool his teacher told him he was doing a very good job with letter recognition and sounds. Instead of letting me take any credit of the molding of his little mind, he told her its because he watches Leap Frog on TV. True story. I highly recommend The Letter Factory. He’s right, it’s the only reason he learned his letters.
They don’t ever choose Leap Frog to watch at home, so this is the only way I can get them to pay attention to it — as a captive audience. And because these are the only current options, they watch them repeatedly which helps them retain the information.
I should probably add in something like Super Why or Word World at some point to help with reading and shake things up. I also thought it would be great to get some Italian language DVDs for kids. For having a bilingual father, I really think we’re slacking in this area!
As the kids get older, I hope we can use this time for conversation. Right now our conversations involve spotting birds that one frustrated child inevitably can’t see, guessing where the cars are going and my oldest asking if I’m being kind to other drivers. We have room to grow in this area.
I have about zero room to talk on car organization, but I really want to get a handle on this. This is all the junk I pulled out of my van yesterday! Bunch of hoarders.
My car is usually a mess, but I do have a little diaper changing station set up with diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer and plastic bags.
I keep a first aid kit in the glove compartment because little boys are always getting hurt.
I keep a pile of my favorite books and Bibles handy to give away.
My favorite reusable canvas totes for groceries and shopping. I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people who tries to carry everything in on the first try and these bags hold a lot!
I put seat protectors under the car seats and it has saved me so many times. I’ll spare you the disgusting details, but these are worth the $10.
I still use color coded baskets from the Dollar Tree in the garage and that is working, but I need to enforce getting the shoes to travel from the van to the basket!
What are the rules in your car? How do you keep things picked up?
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6 thoughts on “Minivan organization and car rules for kids”
Hi Kate, I just loved reading your suggestions re vehicle organisation while travelling. You are very organised! I am thinking of buying the Leap Frog discs for my grandson, with my children we played a game in the car whilst I was driving to read vehicle registration plates, you can add the numbers or even guess where in the Country the travellers are from! Moms are just super geniuse’s! We all loved the family photo shot in the van. Looking forward to your next newsletter. Go well and enjoy those beautiful kids, Clara looks very regal with her tiara.
Yes, we should play the license plate game! In Florida there are so many tourists, so it would be fun. Thanks!
The two best “rules” that I have come across in my homemaking are “Only touch things once.” (put it away, don’t even set it down) and “Leave a room as you would like to find it.” (If you would like to come back to a mess, by all means, leave it a mess!) The second is the principle that I’m trying to practice with my van, but with my youngest being only 2 months old we are just beginning to get into a normal routine again! :)
Thanks, Hannah! I just recently heard the “touch once” rule and it has really made me think! And leave a room as you would like to find it is great advice too. Hopefully as my kids get a little older I can practice more of that too!
We live out in the middle of nowhere, so have an hour drive to anything… I can completely understand why people don’t allow the kids to eat in the car, but it just doesn’t work for us…. The things I find… In the warm months (usually April to Octoberish), the bigger kids help to clean the van.. If they don’t help, I throw away… pretty much any toy without much thought… This has helped them remember to grab their toys. Now to get a handle on the trash issue… We just bought a bigger van, so I’m thinking a small trash can should fit by feet.. I’ve heard velcro sticks to the carpeting in cars, so I’m going to try it. All it takes for them to remember just how gross food is when it’s left in the van is one time cleaning it up. We haven’t really established rules for the car…other than no fighting..
That’s how I grew up — we had to drive 45 minutes to anything! Thanks so much for sharing your ideas. They’re great!