5 kids ago we created a Van Seating Chart as we were headed out on our yearly trek to the mountains. I quickly scribbled the kids’ names on a piece of paper as we were dashing out of the house, luggage in hand. Now, I wouldn’t be caught leaving the house without my Van Seating Chart! It’s even laminated!
My goal with creating a seating chart was to allow the older children to rearrange themselves on a regular basis so that each of them landed the coveted front row seat where they could chit-chat with Mom and Dad and sit by the baby. I had hoped there would be an added benefit of NO MORE FIGHTING.
My dreams came true!
How to Make a Van Seating Chart
#1 – Choose car seat placement.
Cars seats don’t rotate. They are fixed in one location in the van, so you need to start your chart by working out where the car seats go. For our family, the youngest baby always gets the front row so that I have easy access to them. The next youngest in a car seat gets the next row back. I rarely have 3 in car seats that can’t be easily rearranged, so these 2 seats are the only fixed points. I don’t mind moving booster seats.
#2 – Consider personalities and conflicts.
Some kids just can’t get along. In the van (especially on long trips) I don’t want to fight that battle. For instance, I know I can’t put all the little boys together in one row. NIGHTMARE! I would be stopping every 5 minutes to deal with issues between them. Better to NOT put them together…EVER!
I will admit sometimes you NEED to train, and if you feel up to it, by all means, put the adversaries together in the same row. Personally, I don’t do well with a lot of noise in the vehicle, so I don’t use the van as a training ground.
#3 – Big kids need leg room.
Once upon a time, this wasn’t a factor. All my kids had short little legs. Now, about half of my kids are as tall as me or MUCH taller! The way we deal with this is by trying to give them outside seats where they can stretch out a bit more.
If dad isn’t with us, that frees up a front seat space for a big kid as well. That seat nearly always goes to the oldest and/or tallest child riding with us.
#4 – Plug everyone in and edit as needed.
Now you can start plugging kids into spaces and going back through your chart with a fine tooth comb. I read through every single rotation out loud to make sure I haven’t added someone twice or neglected to put someone in a certain seat.
#5 – Choose your rotation schedule.
When we first started using a van seating chart, I had the kids switch seats every time we ALL got out and then, ALL got back in. WHAT WAS I THINKING?! In case you are wondering, THAT is a very bad idea!
Here are the best options for rotations:
Anything outside of this isn’t likely to stick. We do daily, which basically means if it is a different day from when we were last in the van, then it’s time to change seats.
#6 – Accommodate the driver, not the kids.
Ultimately, the driver is in charge. I cannot accommodate everyone in the van all the time. Someone will inevitably not like where they are sitting on occasion. The answer to this is, “you only have to sit there today.” End of discussion.
That’s the beauty of a seating chart. Point to the chart – let IT be the bad guy. The rest of the trip you get to enjoy being Mom!
Looking for a large family van? Check out these van tours from other large families!