Posted in Family, Travel

The Joy of a Tidy Car

McDonald's Happy Meal logo in Spanish
Have Happy Meal, will travel

As we sit in the front of my car for a speedy lunch on the move, my daughter Laura decides that my car’s designers haven’t thought their task through properly. It is proving near impossible to find a place to stand all the components of  a McDonald’s Happy Meal (don’t tell my  husband), without spilling something that will stain the pale grey carpet.

heart-shaped air freshener in my car
I Heart My Ka

I love my trusty Ford Ka. Its cheeky, chunky shape oozes personality (a bit like a Weeble) and it’s full of useful storage pockets and cubby holes. The lidded cupboard in the back is what clinched the deal when I bought it a few years ago, when Laura was small enough to travel in the back seat. The salesman clearly knew when he had a pushover before him.

small cupboard in the back of my car
The travelling toy cupboard: every mother’s car should have one

“Look at this cupboard – it’s perfect for storing all the little one’s toys!” he beamed. “And think how practical the leather seats are! Easy to wipe clean when she spills her drink or has a little accident!”

He sure knew how to hit my hot button. (The six-disc CD player didn’t hurt, either.) But now Laura’s 9 and promoted to front seat passenger, her standards are more stringent.

“What this car needs, ” she advises, “is a little button just here on the dashboard.”

She points to a space equidistant from our seats.

“And when you press it, a bit of metal pops out, with two rings, just the right size for holding McDonalds cups.”

It’s certainly a good idea – and it would work better than balancing them precariously on our laps, as we are doing now, while french fries cascade onto the floor.

But it’s not all Ford’s fault. There are plenty of storage spaces – it’s just that they are too full of junk to be of any use just now. The trouble with discreet cubby holes is that it’s too easy to stuff them with rubbish and then forget to empty them.

sun tan lotion and book in door pocket of car
The only in-car reading any travelling family needs (for when you run out of Brownie campfire songs)

So I set about with decluttering my car with a vengeance. From the depths, I extract used tissues (but no clean ones), empty plastic food wrappers, used envelopes, tacky lolly sticks, and a small bathroom hand towel (how did that get there?)

Handier but hidden I find charger cables, car fuses, spare car light bulbs, and an ocean of other non-vehicular accessories. A nearly empty bottle of suntan lotion (last year’s), spare sunglasses, fleecy gloves and an ice-scraper show that I’ve inadvertently been prepared for all seasons (handy when you consider the November-like weather we’re having in June). I draw the line at delving into the pockets behind the front seats: my daughter’s territory, these need to be tackled with more determination than I have to spare right now.

sunglasses stored in car pocket
For when my Ka needs a disguise

But with a little application, I discover my sunglasses fit neatly into the mesh pocket above the rear-view mirror (ah, so that’s what it’s for!) My charging cables coil neatly into the redundant ashtray. The passenger door pocket is swiftly transformed from a rubbish bin into a tiny and pleasing mobile library. A new, pristine, unopened packet of tissues is soon nestling by the gear stick, while my indispensable Body Shop Lip Butter looks right at home in a dimple to the right of the dashboard.

All I need to rehome now is my fleece gloves. I glance about for somewhere to keep these constantly accessible (a leather steering wheel can be a very cold thing early in the morning or late at night) and my eye alights on the glove compartment. The glove compartment – of course! Why didn’t I think of that before? Now we’re really motoring…

glove compartment in dashboard
The glove compartment: what will they think of next?

If you enjoyed this post about driving with my daughter, you might like: 

Bubble Mum

Or a post about my battle with another feature of modern cars, try this:  

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the SatNav


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

7 thoughts on “The Joy of a Tidy Car

    1. Thanks, butteryflyexperience, but I must confess it doesn’t happen often (that’s why I have to make the most of it!) May even treat my faithful Ka to a trip to the valeting service place now – though conscious that this is like tidying the house before the cleaning lady arrives!

      1. haha, I know the shame of a cleaning lady seeing your house dirty!
        I do however know someones cleaning lady that quit because the house was too messy!!!

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