2012 Family-Car Resolutions

Despite our best intentions as parents, sometimes we fall a little short. We harp on our kids to keep their rooms picked up, and we may even dock their allowance if they don’t—yet look at our own cars. They’re filthy. Disgusting. What if your pay was docked for not keeping your car clean?

Our team of Family contributors has learned a lot this past year driving car after car with our combined gaggle of kids in the backseat, and we’re sharing our lessons with you. Here are our top family-car resolutions for 2012:

Clean out your crumbs: Every parent should own an in-car vacuum. Our cars get so messy on a daily basis with dirt, sand, snacks, you name it. The ability to quickly suck those puppies up would be indispensible. We also all need to invest in an in-car trash can of some sort. Are you starting to notice a theme here?

Believe the electric hype: Mom reviewer Jennifer Newman spent a good part of 2011 behind the wheel of the 2011 Nissan Leaf, which purchased for a long-term test drive, and it’s one of her favorite cars. The power is instantaneous and zipping past gas stations without a care is a fantastic feeling. If you’re a two-car family, the Leaf should be on your must-try list.

Don’t slim down your BubbleBums: To solve a whole slew of family car problems, this year all of our reviewers will be buying more than one BubbleBum booster seat. The dreaded three-kids-in-boosters-across-one-backseat conundrum? Solved. Trying to lug booster seats through the airport while going on vacation? Solved. Worried about your kid’s booster becoming a dangerous projectile while she’s not in it? Solved. World peace? We’re still working on that one.

Safety first: Despite our best efforts to educate the world on the dangers of kids in and around cars, every year more than 50 kids are backed over in the U.S., according to This year we resolve to get an aftermarket backup camera in our car, or if we’re buying a new car, we love the 360-degree cameras popping up on higher-end vehicles like the 2012 Infiniti QX.

Never drive tipsy; never drive drowsy: After a scarily eye-opening “MythBusters” episode last year that determined that driving drowsy is between three and 10 times more dangerous than driving tipsy (and a few late-night drives home from the airport in which we couldn’t actually remember driving home after the fact), we resolve to never drive drowsy. Instead, we’ll just stay an extra night in the hotel on our business trips. Room service, pajamas and catching up on tacky reality TV that’s entirely inappropriate for the young ones to see? That sounds much better than risking our lives driving home late while drowsy.

Ignore the children: We vow to occasionally ignore our children when driving. Distracted driving is a real problem, and people need to make sure they’re paying attention to the road. This sometimes means having to ask the kids to pipe down so we can concentrate on getting through a tangled intersection or busy parking lot.

Kristin Varela is the senior family editor at Opinions expressed within this post are solely those of the author.