Once upon a time, owning a “family car” meant purchasing a minivan or station wagon—those vehicles large enough to house several kids and durable enough to withstand everyday wear and tear. While these types of vehicles still have value for those with children, you no longer have to purchase a specialty car to transport your little ones around. With a few small changes to your car’s interior (and a regular trip to the car wash for a thorough vacuuming), you can transform any vehicle into the family car of your dreams.
- Don’t Clutter Up the Backseat: There are all kinds of additions and upgrades you can add to your car to make it look kid-friendly from afar. DVD screens, extra cupholders scattered throughout, toys for the road…these types of things work in theory, but they tend to crowd a backseat that’s already full to the brim with tiny humans. Instead of adding to the clutter, subtract from it. Take out any unnecessary features and leave room for your kids to just be. It will be so much easier to keep clean and organized that way.
- Purchase a Great Organizer: Instead of using the glove compartment, side panels, or seat pockets to organize your car, purchase a separate organizer designed for use with little ones. You can find some that attach to the visor or that wedge between two kids in the backseat. While too many organizers can add to the clutter issue (see above), one or two can allow you to organize wipes, napkins, snacks, and more without adding to the mess.
- Pay Attention to Material: Some people with kids swear by leather seats because it’s so much easier to wipe up spills. Others say to avoid leather at all costs because it’s impossible to keep in good condition. In reality, any kind of material will work just fine as long as you take care of it. Scotchguard surfaces (or use other fabric protectors), keep a bottle of cleaner on hand, and look for tips and tricks for your specific kind of material.
- Eliminate Cracks: The most kid-friendly car interior is the one without cracks. No matter how hard you try, snacks and debris have a way of falling out of little hands and into seat cracks, crevasses, and other convenient hiding places. You can’t eliminate all your car’s cracks, but you can reduce them. The best way is to purchase a seat cover that can be removed and washed separately, as it will trap debris and allow you to simply shake them out.
- Vacuum Regularly: The worst thing you can do for your car is give up on ever trying to keep it clean. Yes, it can be more difficult to tidy up a vehicle when there are three children vying for your attention in the backseat, but there’s something about a car wash that tends to delight kids of all ages. Stop by and run a quick vacuum or go for a deeper clean at least once a week. Kids can help and may even take some pride of ownership in keeping things tidy.
The best cars for kids also take into account things like safety and accessibility. If you want to keep things simple, always look for car options with good restraints, easily accessible backseats (two-door cars are notoriously bad for this), and plenty of space in the back.