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?

Helping Hands

Whoever said that many hands make light work has never tried to complete simple household chores with a 2 and 4 year old.

A while ago I asked my kids if they felt “strong” enough to help me rip the sheets off of my bed. Oh they felt strong enough all right. I left my room for less than 30 seconds to grab a new set of sheets from my bathroom only to return to two ghost-like shapes poking from under my mattress cover.

They had crawled under the bottom-most sheet and were using it as a tent.

I read somewhere when I was a brand new mom that you should rest when your child rests, eat when they eat, sleep when they sleep, etc. Well, I have tried to take that advice but it’s too hard for me. If I do that, not only do I leave out any extra time for myself, but I leave out any cleaning time. So, I took another approach and decided to enlist their help while cleaning.

I don’t know if that was a good decision. Sometimes my boys are too “helpful.”

You should see me try to clean our fish tank with their help. One of them helps scrape algae off the glass while the other holds the siphoning hose’s end in to the water bucket. Not only do we end up nearly killing Nemo, but inevitably the hose gets dropped and we splash water all over the wall, ceiling, floor and ourselves as we try to suck the tanks rocks clean.

How many of you have tried to clean your bathroom with your young kids’ help? No matter how many times I tell my 2-year-old to stand back while I’m using bleach cleaner on the bathtub, he still ends up with a bleached out streak across his clothes near his tummy. The curiosity is too much for him and he has to lean over the ceramic edge.

Dusting is also pretty fun for us. My boys fight about who gets to be the “sprayer.” Then whoever wins that battle usually wastes half the bottle of furniture polish because he likes the way it foams. My shelves definitely get shiny. Just don’t hop quickly onto our piano bench on any day we’ve dusted. You’ll launch yourself across the room.

Vacuuming has got to be one of the hardest chores to get done with their “help.” They both love it so they fight, scream and yell for their “turn.” That’s one chore I wish I could do while they were sleeping.

I don’t know what the answer is. I could clean after they went to bed but then they wouldn’t learn how to help. They really would think a fairy came in the night to clean things up.

I think it’s good to have their help. It’s good to teach them how to do chores. I just have to make sure to clean on days that I have a lot of patience saved up. For many times their helpful cleaning leads to more messes. Maybe they have the saying wrong, it’s not that many hands make light work but its many helpful hands make light work.

%d bloggers like this: