How to Get Out of a Minivan

Please Note: If you saw the title “How to Get Out of a Minivan,” and you’re hoping I have something to offer by way of getting you out of driving a minivan or owning a minivan, you’re out of luck. Once you have a whole lot of kids, there’s no way out. No way I know, anyway. I’m sorry I had to be the one to tell you. Instead, this post is about how to literally get out of a minivan because we here at the Five Kids blog are dedicated to providing practical, every day advice for the busy family. Thank you for your attention. 


How to Get Out of a Minivan

She’s their younger cousin, only 4 years old, so I can understand why there was so much confusion. You can’t know everything when you’re 4, after all. Which is why it was a good thing my niece had my kids there to help her out. Literally out. Of our minivan.

Over the past months of carpooling from school, my boys have helped and helped and helped their cousin navigate our family’s chaotic world. It’s a steep learning curve for a kid who comes from a household that’s organized and disciplined. Like finding yourself thrown to a pack of goldfish-cracker-eating wolves who fight over the middle seat and tell fart jokes all the way home. I’ll tell you what, though; this kid is both resilient and tough. And her fart noises are coming along.

The only problem is, she’s small. Tiny. So even though we honed her mind and she adapted to our culture, she still had a little trouble with the ins and outs.

I thought you, too, might have little ones who are just gaining bits and pieces of independence — climbing into their booster seats, buckling their own seatbelts, unbuckling them again as soon as you get up to highway speed — you know, the usual. Just in case you have littles who need some help, littles who could use some good tips on ins and outs, I offer this tried and true tutorial — my boys’ cumulative, year-long advice — on How to Get Out of a Minivan.

ID-10045282Helpful Advice From Two Six-Year-Old Boys

  1. Do not stop and eat the crackers or the cereal from the seat cracks or the floor. Those are too dirty for eating and it slows you down. Except if there’s a whole one that isn’t squished yet. You can eat those.
  2. Don’t kick the garbage out. That’s littering. Kick it backwards into the van, like this.
  3. Do not kick the breakfast dishes. Those aren’t garbage. You push those under the seat.
  4. There is, too, room under the seat. You just got to push harder.
  5. Step over the banana, not on the banana.
  6. It’s okay. I can clean up the banana with my socks.
  7. Don’t wrap your hand around the outside of the door to get out or else you’ll have to wash your hands. Also, don’t touch the inside of the door because it’s sticky. Also, don’t touch any of the stuff inside of the van.
  8. How about you just don’t touch anything and jump? That’s what I do. I’m a really good jumper now.


What about you? Do you have other tips for getting out of a minivan? (Anyone up for confessing what’s in your car right now? Hehehe. Double dog dare you.)


“Van” image credit to digitalart via


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33 responses to “How to Get Out of a Minivan”

  1. I think the minivan is your way of fully supporting your husband’s apocalypse plans. When my husband complains about the messy state of my minivan I simply let him know that if there was natural disaster and we were without electricity and food and running water for many days we could totally survive off the goldfish, fruit snacks, half-empty water bottles and other items that can be found in the pockets and under the seat of the van. Truthfully, it is more of a hazard to have a clean mini van because then we don’t have what we need when we need it. Case in point….drive 30 minutes to church…9 year old realizes he has no shoes on….”Mom, why did you clean out the van!?!?!?!? I had at least 2 or 3 pair in here before!!!!!!”
    What kind of a mother am I?!?!?!?!?

  2. Getting in and out of the can isn’t supposed to resemble Lord of the Flies, with a brawl over the randomly chosen “best seat” (usually next to the 16 year old who wants to curl up and disappear). Since they are now 4 and 7 I have learned the crafty “go clean the van” punishment and *I feel so clever!*. Because at 40 something, I want very much to not be embarrassed by the stench or the week old granola bar ground into the upholstery (among other things). I want to start feeling dignified. Can we start that now? But fart noises (they are not just for little boys) spitting, and general chaos, learned from a friend, turn up the radio and it all goes away.

  3. I absolutely LOVE this post. I laughed out loud and printed it up to put in on my fridge to remind me to stop berating myself for the condition of my minivan. Ironically, I had written a blog post which mentioned my own minivan and its disasters a few days before reading your post. As usual, you make me feel right at home!
    Here is my mini confession–to put into detail that amount of crap in my van would fill up way too much blog-o-sphere space! Keep in mind my 6 year old attends a super fancy charter school, where I am pretty sure everyone else is driving a brand new hybrid car that is spotless and has never had an empty Mcdonalds bag stashed inside. 🙂

    “So what do we do with the drudgery, with the daily grind? With dirty diapers and unpaid bills and a minivan so full of crap and kids toys that I can barely open the door without something falling out onto the ground? (Which makes me feel super good about myself, by the way, when I speed into the drop off lane at my 6 year old’s school and yell at him to jump out of the car quickly, all in a desperate attempt to avoid yet another tardy mark on his already checkered record. The cool moms who arrived early enough to park and walk their kids into school on time must think it is comical (or worthy of pity?) to see my poor kid being rushed out of the minivan, a stream of trash and toys trailing out behind him.) What do we do when we feel like our lives are cyclical chaos, and every time we get a grasp on a routine, things spin out of place once again?”

  4. I have a 3-1/2-month-old daughter and a Toyota Echo. Oh, and a husband -> I’ll blame him for the mess. Other than the “normal” (car seat base, fast food garbage, gas receipts), there are also clay pots (from my mother-in-law; I keep forgetting to take them out and actually plant anything), a small gas tank (my husband uses it for oddjobs/apocalypse backup), toolboxes, and bleach (still not brought in after cleaning out my grandfather’s house last year).
    Also, every time I suggest cleaning it, my hubby’s excuse is “but it’ll just get dirty again…” LOL

  5. I’m so very embarrassed to post this on this thread, but I’ll do it anyway.

    So, um…I don’t have a minivan. I used to, but I’m just not that mom. Nope, I drive a Ford Focus station wagon. With a carseat and 2 boosters in the back.

    And (this is the embarrassing part) it’s clean…and vacuumed…because it’s so tiny I can’t stand anything to be left in it. I even bought two totes for the back end…one for our “busy bags” for travel and one for my “emergency stuff” like jumper cables, that vacuum cleaner, and a just-in-case picnic blanket.

    The secret to a clean car with 3 small kids is to get a tiny car. My van? It was a disaster. The Ford Expedition I drove after the van? I think it took a week to clean it out. My teeny tiny matchbox car, though? I cleaned it out…EMPTY…in under 5 minutes last week so I could hit garage sales with my mom.

    (See? I told you it was embarrassing!)

    (P.S. Please don’t ask me to tell you what all I have stored in my bedroom. Because that? That space couldn’t be much smaller and it’s overflowing with who-knows-what. That’s probably where you’d find my goldfish mulch.)

  6. This is hilarious! You know . . . I’ve already bought my boys 4 pairs of sunglasses this spring because we keep losing them IN THE VAN!? In about 18 years when I finally get around to cleaning it, can you imagine how many pairs I’ll find! I’ll be able to quit blogging and open a sunglass shop! Then the money will really start rolling in!

  7. How about water bottles. If you can still some what see through the water, and/or there isn’t mold in it, your good to go. A hint from “Mom” no matter how far in the back of the van you throw those bottles, they will ALWAYS roll under your feet while driving.

  8. How to Get Out of a Minivan? Simple: don’t have kids.

    …Whoops, my bad. You meant ‘How to EXIT a minivan’ rather than ‘how to get out of having to DRIVE a minivan.’

    So, never mind.

  9. Ther’s enough stuff in my car for us to live there for a week, and it usually looks like we did. Recently, we had a rental van while our suburban was being repaired and when I returned it it took me two hours to clean it out at the car wash. I was there so long that the attendant came out twice to see if I needed help. We actually don’t have a lot of trash because whenever I get gas I grab as much trash as I can and throw it away. Mostly the car is full of “kid litter”, socks, shoes, jackets, dolls, sippy cups, sports equipment, books, toys from happy meals.

  10. Your boys’ instructions made me laugh out loud. I have just two kids and they’re teens now so I gave up the minivan a few years ago. I had resisted getting one for a long time–because they’re so uncool–but when I finally gave in, I actually ending up LOVING the minivan. I now drive an SUV. I recently let my college age son drive it to Beach Week and I’m driving his Honda Accord while he’s away. This morning, I ran errands and when I opened the trunk to put my bags in, I found–2 neatly wrapped foot-long subs. I’m sure they were delicious, and looked yummy, when purchased a few days before. But after 3 days in the heat of a locked car trunk–not so much. I texted my son and said, “guess what I found in your trunk.” And he responded, “Oh, yeah, my SANDWICHES!!” (To be honest, it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever found in his car. But that’s a whole ‘nother parenting story.)

  11. I WISH I had a minivan! For 1 toddler we only have a small car but, it is full. We have at least 6 hot wheel cars, 2 hand sanitizer bottles, 3 coats, baby clothes he has outgrown, a stroller, art from school, chapstick for my obsession, 6 books, Mater, Lightning McQueen, and a ton of tissue for allergy season. There is also probably a milk cup under a seat too. Or, it has water in it… I learned my lesson 2 weeks ago. Do not EVER open the sippy cup. Just toss it in the trash. There are so many crumbs in his seat they will never come out! I am working hard to get my life ready for a minivan. Is this enough stuff to fill one up??

  12. In our suburban (we used to have a mini can, but our kids aren’t small anymore. What we need now is LEG ROOM, cus momma don’t sit in the back seat even if she is smaller than you) we have two completely empty and perfectly clean trash cans. Because the water bottles, papers, Cliff bar wrappers, chex mix crumbs, and old sonic drinks are all rolling around on the floor.

  13. So, we have 3 kids ages 5 and under, one minivan and one Honda Civic. Three carseats in each. Enough food stored under the carseats to survive getting stuck in a snowdrift, plus a sleeping bag and duvet in the civic. Piles of artwork from school, library books that we’ve renewed 7 times because we can’t find them. At least one extra pair of shoes for each kid. At least one favorite snuggly toy that I’ll have to go searching for at bedtime. And once, we found enough change in the minivan to buy a 6-pack of beer! (of course, it was completely stuck together and needed some major work before the self-service check out machine at the grocery store would accept it…)

    • Oh, and my fiance just told me she found Cheetos from Christmas in there when she cleaned out the van today!

  14. Whoa! When did you set cameras up in our van? No fair, spying. You forgot the homework papers that had to be signed three days ago which are waiting on the floor next to the drivers seat. whatever you do, DON’T step on those. Even if we’re late, the teacher may still believe we’re organized and neat. . . unless you’ve spilled that secret already.

  15. Quick! While we’re in the drive thru, hand me the garbage! (I want to put it into the garbage can they put there just for me!)
    All of the garbage! Don’t we ever throw anything away???

    Stuff accumulates in my van, it’s not fair to ask now whats in it because it’s in the shop, so we cleaned it.

  16. No mini van here….yet. In my really cramped Honda Accord there are about 15 cups rolling around the passenger’s floor board (from where I drink my chocolate almond milk on the way to work and don’t bring in the cups when I get home) and 572 papertowels from wrapping up my peanut butter bread for breakfast. No banana peels because those go out the window into the grass. It’s not littering because its organic. 🙂 At least 3 coats for my 2.5 year old. Probably 5 or more books and random stuffed animals she has to bring with her for the ride to the grocery store or whereever. 3 or more pacifiers for my 6 month old who won’t take them and just chews on them for a few minutes before chucking them. Anywhere from 2-6 pairs of shoes for the 2.5 year old and myself. Approx. 20 hair bands of all sizes and colors. Lotion, 3 pairs of sunglasses and probably at least 10 or more wadded up straw wrappers. 5 or more burp cloths and a couple of blankets. This does not include the trunk. Lots more stuff there, but a “hole” just big enough to stuff all the groceries. 🙂

  17. “Don’t kick the garbage out. That’s littering. Kick it backwards into the van, like this.” LMAO!!! That will be us in a couple of years.

    I can’t run and check, but here’s what I know to be in our van: flashlight, banana peels, old newspapers, bungee cords, large mountain of fast food trash, potty seat, sun hat, cereal and goldfish mulch, first aid kit, empty jar of nutella, dirty cutlery, dirty snippy cups, a bunch of missing nukkies no doubt, odiferous dog blanket, about 10 tire gauges, probably about $10 in change, coffee coated middle console, and an umbrella (I hope).

    Also, not to brag or anything, but the passenger side sliding van door is missing a handle, there is a neatly printed “do not lower window” sign on the driver side window and duck tape over the switch (so fun at the drive thru to open the door to get our food and pay), and our lisence plates are taped inside the front and back windows because we couldn’t get the old bolts off. It is the talk of the parking lot at school (I’m a teacher).

  18. Make sure you push and shove your way through your siblings while trying to get to your seat the fastest. Cuz, you know, third is the one with the hairiest chest. Or sometimes the turd, depending on what kind of mood we’re all in.

  19. Two kids. One mini van.

    One double stroller and all it’s accessories. A snap on high chair. Two folding chairs from Food Truck Night exactly one week ago. A bag of half eaten Target popcorn. 3 “fridge packs” of Coke, from said Target trip that haven’t been carried in the house yet. At least 3 sippy cups. At least 1 fast food cup. A box that should contain spare diapers, wipes, water, burp cloths but mostly just has all those things around it. Two jackets/sweatshirts…. per kid. A pair of flip flops (kid size) and a pair of sandals (mom size). A half eaten granola bar, still in it’s wrapper. An oven mitt. Some papers that were given to me at Sunday School. A Thomas Train backpack. A baby doll. Several head bands or bows. Chapstick. Fast food coupons, that are probably expired. My husband’s Bible, that I think I was supposed to bring in, but I had my hands full…. obviously. A parking permit from a hotel we stayed in a month ago.

    And those are just the things I can remember off the top of my head….

    • I looked in my van this morning with this question in mind, and I realized it was terribly unfair of me to ask. I can’t possible list all of the things in there. The Balance Bar wrappers alone will take a few days to categorize. So well done, Jennie! This is an amazing list. Also, you’re allowed to ride in my van sometime. I think you’ll understand.

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