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Quick Tip: Clean Your Car During Carpool Pick-Up Time

As I’ve shared before, I am certainly not the queen of clean cars. I am in my car constantly, ferrying kids (and myself!) from one activity to another and despite my best intentions, my SUV can quickly resemble a mobile trash heap. But whenever I find myself with those extra 10-15 minutes between pick-ups — long enough to feel like a waste of time but too short to squeeze in another errand, instead of getting annoyed, I remember a tip a friend taught me long before I ever had kids. Use that time to clean your car or purse.

I keep a stash of plastic grocery bags in my car (yes, I also have my reusable ones) and use one for a “stuff that isn’t trash but doesn’t belong in my car” bag, one for a “trash” bag and one for a “recyclables” bag. I can quickly go through the car in a matter of minutes, working from front to back, gathering loose items and sorting them into one of the three designated bags (don’t forget to look under the seats!) Since most places have an outdoor trash can, I can immediately dispose of the trash bag, and if they don’t have recycling, I just tie a knot in the handles and recycle them when I return to the house. As for the “stuff” bag, depending on whose stuff it is, when we come home, I’ll ask one of the kids to spend a few minutes finding the rightful home for all the items, or if I’m the main culprit of the clutter, I take charge of emptying the bag.

If I’m stuck waiting in line at a grocery store or inside somewhere, I take the opportunity to clean out or reorganize my purse (when I carry one.) I go through receipts in my wallet, put random pens back into the zippered pocket, make sure loose change goes back into my change purse and so forth.

If my physical surroundings are in order, then those otherwise wasted moments are a great time for me to get my iPhone and digital files organized — filing away apps I’ve purchased, updating my digital checklist, cleaning out my email, or just catching up with friends on Facebook. Taking a few moments — away from distractions of home — to deal with small islands of chaos allow me to feel a bit more relaxed and ready to welcome my kids back into my arms with an even bigger smile on my face.

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Quick Tips illustration put together by J.J. Newby using elements from Microsoft Clip Art Gallery and Fuzzimo.