Wash That Car

If any of you ever get the urge to take your kids with to help you at the self-service car wash, call me. I’ll talk some sense into you.  

A couple of weeks ago my van was filthy after I took it camping. I thought it would be fun to take the boys with to help me wash it off and vacuum it out. Boy was I wrong.

First of all, we prepped the van for vacuuming. I knew we wouldn’t have a lot of time on the vacuum limit so we took the car seats, blankets and all of the extra stuff out of the van and sat them on the ground. Then my boys each grabbed a section of the thick hose and braced themselves for the roar of the vacuum as they stood near the passenger side sliding door. I put a dollar’s worth of quarters in the vacuum and watched the machine flash 4:00.

Four minutes?! That’s all the time they give me to cover my entire van?  I knew time was going to be short, but I thought it would be a little longer than that.  I was feeling stressed before it all began.

Four minutes is barely enough time for me to skim the interior myself while racing from side to side. Trying to make it under four minutes with tiny arms stretching the cord as far as they physically can in an effort to “help” was going to be nearly impossible.

I was torn. I wanted to let them help, but I knew we weren’t going to make it. I tried to shout out orders to them over the roar of the machine as all three of us held the hose and brushed it across the carpet, but it was no use. We ended up popping two extra quarters into the machine after we ran out of time twice.

At that point I was sweating.

I glanced up at the pricing sign for the automatic garage-style car wash and decided that I didn’t want to pay that much. So we pulled into the nearest empty bay and hopped out. I should have known we were in trouble the minute I saw my oldest grab the hose/wand and raise it to his shoulder as if it were a giant squirt gun.

Because to a 5-year-old that’s exactly what it is. He doesn’t care about my van’s muddy exterior. All he wants to do is pull the trigger.

But at this point I still thought it might be “fun” to have his help.

I should have realized there was no way my scrawny arms had a chance in scraping off all of the hundreds of bugs that peppered the hood.

Not to mention I thoroughly pre-washed my left foot.

It took over 12 minutes to work through three wash cycles. I spent $7.25 to spray me, my boys and my van when it would have cost me only $5.50 to have the automatic machine do it for me.

Why didn’t I fork out that money?

Once again I find myself at a crossroads. Do I do things by myself in order to get them done quickly and right? Or do I continue to allow them to help?

I know I need to teach them work ethic, but next time my van is caked with mud and bugs I’ll wait until my husband can stay home with the boys and I’ll wash it alone.

What chores do your kids help you with? How do you keep calm while they help?

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Julie
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 17:10:20

    No, next time you send the husband and boys to do it while you sit in the quiet house, feet elevated, sipping hot chocolate. I think I have some things to teach you…

    Reply

  2. Christie Booth Jefferies
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 09:22:25

    Look for a self-serve bay that gives the option of unlimited time. The one by Starbucks down the street has that. Then the boys could help, and the pressure is off. As far as vacuuming? I used to strap them in the car seats on the pavement so they weren’t running around. 😉

    Reply

    • Natalie
      Oct 27, 2011 @ 09:35:39

      I love the strap-them-in-the-car-seat idea. I am laughing to myself right now at that mental image. Luckily I just bought vinyl/plastic car mats so I can just pull them out and shake them off! I am definitely going to have to try the unlimited time wash though. I didn’t even know that existed.

      Reply

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