Ask the Experts

Neat-Car Tips for Adults with ADHD

“I was asked, at the last minute, if I could take my son’s friend home from school while his mother dealt with an emergency. To my embarrassment, there was no room in my car for a third person. Do you have any tips for how to organize the car?”

There are two simple rules for keeping the car clutter-free: 1) be resourceful and 2) expect to take one minute to unload every evening.

Let’s start with Rule 1. Do the kids need multiple games, or can they take only one device, look out the window, or listen to the radio? If you have a cell phone and a minimart on every corner, do you need a first-aid kit? Food? Drink? Toiletries? Can’t you find those things when you need them? Limit your in-car supplies to one clear gallon-sized Ziploc bag that fits in the console or glove compartment and contains the essentials; they will be different for everyone. Allow yourself one free-floating “most used” item — possibly Kleenex or ChapStick — and tuck it in a convenient nook.

As to the second rule, organizing is about maintaining — no organizational system will work unless it is regularly maintained, so make unloading easy. For those items that are transported often but not daily, look for ways to store them near but not in the car. If you have a garage, a nearby shelf can hold often-used athletic equipment, sale samples, and so on. Toss fast food wrappers and other trash in a lined garbage can.

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Ideally, the car would be emptied every time you leave it, but emptying it after the final trip of the day is sufficient. All passengers, your son included, should be expected to empty their own items from the car.