Those of you who’ve been around since we launched Organizing Your Way almost four years ago or who know how type-A I am in real life might be surprised to discover that our van is often a disaster.
I mentioned in my introduction to the Simplify for Fall Challenge that in addition to tackling our physical clutter this month, our family is also attempting to develop some new habits and routines in areas where our behavior is causing clutter and stress on a regular basis.
We’re working on several of these at once, and the key for doing that without getting overwhelmed is simply being intentional about our goals without expecting perfection right away, so that each time is a new opportunity to do better!
The one I want to share with you today is our attempt to keep our car uncluttered and clean.
Unlike Becky, who shared five ways to keep your car organized during the summer months a couple weeks ago, we’ve never really been great at keeping our van clean. Our drive “to town” is 30-45 minutes, and we often find ourselves running errands or “commuting” at meal time, so not eating in the car isn’t realistic for us.
Because of the amount of time we spend in the car — and how often one of us will sit in the car with the girls while the other runs an errand — we also let the girls choose toys to bring on the road each time we head out.
That means that for the past three years, we’ve fought against trash, leftover food and abandoned toys, usually resulting in us throwing up our hands and declaring — once again — that the car is a disaster and we’ve got to do better.
To fight back against this cycle, we’ve finally instituted (and enforced) a simple rule: Everything must go inside when we get home.
This is nobody’s idea of fun after several hours in the car, but slowly — by forcing ourselves to do it even when we don’t feel like it — it’s becoming a habit.
We’ve also discovered how much easier this is to do when we have plenty of plastic bags for collecting trash and reusable bags for carrying things inside. It’s even less fun to carry an armload of trash inside, so being able to toss it into a bag really helps.
Our car’s still not spotless, and we’ll probably always have to deal with crumbs, but it’s no longer full of trash and clutter, which makes it easier to maintain. The girls are getting used to this expectation, so there’s not quite as much argument when we remind them to do it, and they’re also being more careful with their stuff because they know they’ll have to spend time cleaning it up.
Are we doing it perfectly? No, not yet, and I am sure there will be times that we leave the clutter in the car, especially when we get home from somewhere late at night. But we’re doing better, and it’s already making a difference!
Next week? The touch-it-once rule.
Is your car neat and tidy? What area would your friends be surprised to discover is not organized?