The Best Car Hacks from a Large Family Mom

What's in my car? It may just look like junk in my trunk, but I'll tell you tWhat's in my car? It may look like a lot, but I'll tell you the reason for each item! Check out these Car Hacks from a large family mom!

What’s in my car? It may look like a lot, but I’ll tell you the reason for each item! Check out these Car Hacks from a large family mom!

Are you in search of some car hacks? Have you ever driven around in your car and stayed out a little longer than anticipated? Maybe you had bored kids or hungry kids. Maybe it was a really long drive and a newly potty trained child with a fear of public toilets really had to go… The scenarios are endless, but the ease of packing the solution to each problem lies in the next few paragraphs. Dun, dun, dun! Are you intrigued to learn the secrets from these car hacks? Then read on!

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t, but I'll tell you the reason for each item! Check out these Car Hacks from a large family mom!


First item of business: Get some sort of container to pack all of your stuff in. This may be a box, a travel bag or duffle bag, a Rubbermaid tote, a trunk organizer, etc. You just need something that will hold all of your items in an organized manner. You get bonus points if you find a container that doesn’t take up too much space and that can’t be rummaged through by children on a frequent basis.

Extra Clothing

I keep unisex clothes in various sizes in my car. We always have socks, underwear, sweat pants, and t-shirts. You never know when you’ll have an accident with the bathroom, food, a wet slide, or a fun impromptu run through the sprinklers moment. In the winter we also include winter hats and mittens. It sure puts a damper on plans when you get to the sledding hill only to realize that not everyone has mittens!

Bathroom Needs

We have either been potty training or had a kid in diapers for more than a decade, we have learned that it is best to keep a healthy supply of baby wipes. These are also good for wiping sticky fingers after a stop for a fun treat, or dirty hands from a park playdate.

When we had kids in diapers, we would keep a padded changing pad in the car so we could easily change diapers wherever. We also kept diapers stored throughout the car so we would never completely run out. If we have a baby, we ALWAYS keep a change of clothes or even just a onesie in their current size, because you never know when they’re going to have a blowout!

When we have a child who is within a year of being potty trained, we just keep a potty chair in the car. This has been helpful for kids that are terrified of public toilets (especially the ones that flush automatically). It is also great for winter time when many of the restrooms at the parks are closed for the season.

In case of an accident, the clothes listed above and the bags listed below are a necessity. I also keep an extra change of underwear and shorts in my purse when we are potty training.


We keep a handy stash of both garbage bags and plastic shopping bags. You never know when you are going to need to pack out some wet clothes!


We keep fleece blankets in the car to put on top of kiddos in the car seat. Besides being a pain to buckle a kid in a car seat when they are wearing a coat, it is also not safe! We have a warm, thin jacket for our car seat kids to wear in the car, and a thicker coat for when they play outside in the snow. The blankets are easy to throw on top of the kids if they are cold, and also a good emergency supply to keep in the car in winter time. (For more emergency preparedness tips, check out my blog post on our 72 hour kits!)

We go on picnics quite frequently in the summer. I like to keep a waterproof picnic blanket in the car so we can have a picnic at all times, even if the grass is just a little bit damp.

A towel or microfiber cloths are nice to keep in the car in case the bottom of a slide or a swing is wet from sprinklers or rain. If you don’t get to it before your kids do though, you will be grateful for those extra clothes and bags to tote them home in!

Busy Bag

This is an extra bag that stays in the car at all times. It is filled with activities to keep my kids busy if we end up being someplace longer than anticipated, or if I forget to pack a bag before we head out to the drs office or something. I try to rotate the activities in there after every couple of times I’ve used it. Some of our favorite items are: books to read, coloring books and crayons, simple games such as Memory, Uno, Go Fish, and activity books.

Baby Transportation

I can’t tell you how many times we have gotten someplace and I wished I had a stroller with me. We keep the umbrella stroller tucked away so it is always available if I choose to use it. It’s nothing fancy, just something to get us from point a to point b if we need it. We also keep some sort of a baby carrier for days where the youngest is more clingy and tired. I prefer a ring sling, but if my husband is coming with us or we are going to be doing something more grueling, we will take our baby backpack.

And of course we have our car seats and booster seats. These can get so expensive and there are so many options. I have written a whole post on car seats. We have these car seats. If I had unlimited funds I would get these car seats.

Other Essentials

There are so many little things that you may not think about, but that we constantly are needing in our car! First aid kit, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, chapstick, hair bands, safety pin, small sewing kit, feminine hygiene, lotion, umbrellas, throw up bags, etc. We also keep extra snacks and cups to pass out those snacks in. I try to keep snacks that don’t make too big of a mess, but kids have a talent for surprising us, don’t they? I also keep all our coupons in the car so we can be spontaneous and still save money, and also never head out and accidentally leave the coupons at home!

What's in my car? It may look like a lot, but I'll tell you the reason for each item! Check out these Car Hacks from a large family mom!


When we purchased our car, we decided we didn’t care if we had a tv in it or not. We had a tv in our last car, and it broke and we didn’t really miss it at all. Instead, we listen to audiobooks whenever we are in the car. My kids look forward to this so much that we had to make a rule that they can’t ask for the story until we are on the freeway! A charging cable and audio cable make the audiobooks possible. I also like having a phone mount in case I am using navigation or need to pause the story to hear a kid in the back seat.

And last but not least,

Car Care

I would love to be one of those people that always has a clean car, but I’m not. I realized early on that it was more important for the kids not to dread going places with me because I was too worried about the state of the car. We try to keep the car clean, but it’s not perfect. I’m not asking them to take their shoes off before they get in with wet shoes. These weather tech mats have helped ease my craziness over messy kids!

We also have tried so many different variations on a garbage can in the car. I have tried an open can, and non-garbage items fell in. I tried a garbage can with a lid and people would put garbage near the garbage can. We finally settled on keeping a plastic grocery bag up in the front of the van. It’s easy, accessible, I don’t have to wash it, and when it’s full, we tie it up and throw it away. Just keeping it real, here!

So, if you haven’t picked up on the theme to these car hacks, the key to packing your car, is thinking ahead. If you have anyone in your home that is still in a car seat, you have such a short window to get out the door before someone needs to eat, sleep, or use the bathroom/have a diaper change. Keeping all of your essentials in your car keeps your mind focused on getting out the door with all of your kids, rather than frantically packing a bag while trying to think of every possible scenario. Hope this helps you be a little less frazzled!

What essentials do you always keep in your car?

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