The Zones Of A Filthy Family Car

In some ways, I consider myself a bit of a parenting social scientist, making observations about life with 3 children.

In today’s post, I am sharing a detailed breakdown of what one may find in a family’s vehicle when in this season of life I am wading through. Consider it an archeological contribution to the documentation I’ve committed myself to.


The Desperation Zone is aptly named for the smell that accompanies it. Spilled and molding coffee from a variety of travel mugs and the paper Starbucks cups that roll on the floorboards usually provide the aromatic back drop for the piles of mail and receipts that serve no actual purpose in today’s digital world other than providing us something to nest in if we happen to become stranded.

Amongst unsigned permission slips, snot crusted baby wipes we’ve possibly reused more than once, and tampons that have leapt from the deepest corners of our purses to see the light of day, is the air of shame, which wafts out every time we open our door in a public parking lot.

The Toddler Splash Zone gets it’s name from the likelihood that you will be splashed with some bodily fluid while in it’s vicinity. Usually it’s a river of snot that accumulates across your infant or toddler’s face during a brief drive to the store. Half of this typically ends up on the window before you have a chance to grab a used baby wipe from the front seat to wipe it off.

When no used or new baby wipes are available, you can usually make do with one of the 4 hoodies on the floor, or maybe even a sock. In most desperate times, an old school project… perhaps even a Mothers Day flower made from coffee filters will have to do.

The entirety of this section is decorated with tiny footprints, made with whatever mixture of sand, dirt, and a dash of feces your children stomped through previously.

The Big Kid Pit Of Filth is easiest to ignore, and that’s what they’re banking on. Once you finally dig in back here, you’re bound to find a plethora of evidence that they have been sneaking forbidden snacks and candy in their pants pockets, or, more likely, their underwear.

Can’t charge your iPad because the charger’s been missing a week? It’s here. Your iPad probably was, too, but they had the good sense to return that. Perhaps if they would stop playing gaming devices back there, they would have noticed and maybe even read that library book that you profusely apologized to the school librarian about.

Note: I did make all these observations about my Honda Pilot last week while I cleaned it, in a shameful silence, purging it of it’s horrors while questioning my life choices. For now? There’s not even a stale fry on the floor. But… I did leave my receipt in the front console this morning. That’s how it always begins…


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  1. THIS exactly describes the state of my truck currently…. Thanks to my 2.5 year old and 3 month old…. I dread removing the car seat in fear of what may be lurking underneath….. Or growing…..

  2. Becky Walker Wise on

    A friend started a discussion on fb about the word detritus. There is no better environment to use this word. Those littlewells where the seat belts are bolted to the frame? Detritus abounds!

  3. Norma Louise Bates on

    I’m actually pretty proud of the fact that I’ve had my Envoy for a full month now and it doesn’t look like this……yet 🙂

  4. My old car got so full of stuff from being a student living between dorms and my now fiancé. No kids or it would have been that much worse. No we that I bought my first new car I hate to leave annnything in it, hoping to avoid this. Again, no kids. I’m sure that will go out the window soon enough c:

  5. Rachel Lehman on

    Haha this makes me feel a little better about my car. Last weekend I let my husband take it on a hiking trip but told him he’d want to clean it first. I think the dried milk rivulets and rings traumatized him. I’ve since banned any drinks besides water (for the kids) in the car!

  6. Julie Haithcock Taylor on

    I cleaned mine last week…big mistake! 14 month old had a snotty nose and I had absolutely nothing to wipe it with. I was going to wash and restock but hadn’t gotten that far yet.

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