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I have a love and hate relationship with our family vehicle. While I never wanted to be a “minivan mom,” having four kids kind of leaves you with fewer vehicle options. I love my minivan because it gets us where we need to go, and it gets us there safely. Over the last eight years of owning it, we’ve been to so many amazing places in our van.
But I also hate it because it is way too easy for it to get messy. I could have it sparkling clean and organized, and then just have a really busy week where we’re running around town a lot. The next thing I know my van looks more like this:
This disaster of a photo taken a couple of years ago (but still very relevant) actually inspired me to write a poem about it. (Yep, I’m totally a poet and you didn’t even know it!)
Ode To My Van
I think it’s really kind of mean
That my van is never clean.
Every time I check the mail
It multiplies, and without fail-
It ends up here, it ends up there
Under the seat, and everywhere.
When we’re always on the go
snack food wrappers make it their home.
Socks and shoes and dirty jackets
Footballs, cleats, and tennis rackets;
Plates and forks and spoons and cups
I could fill the dishwasher with all this stuff;
A whole years’ worth of school art projects
An assortment of random unnamed objects;
Cans and bottles that could be recycled
This messiness is so unbridled.
My van looks like something from the show Hoarders
Maybe if I clean it I’ll find some quarters;
But no amount of money could buy the feeling
Of not having marker drawn all over your ceiling.
Maybe one day when my kids are grown
The van won’t look like it was in a cyclone.
But for now I’ll have to deal
With my trash heap on four wheels.
Luckily for me it doesn’t always look like that anymore. I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks to keep the mess under control and keep my van happy and healthy. Because your family van or car needs love too. So if you find your ride looking a bit like this:
Then follow these tips to get it clean and keep it clean.
1. Take everything out. Even if you think it might be something you’d like to keep in your car, take it out. You can put it back later. I like to grab a bunch of bags and organize all of the junk so that it makes it a little easier to put away later. I separate everything into trash, dishes, shoes/clothes, toys, and mail. The trash is always my biggest bag. No surprise there.
2. Vacuum and wipe. If you have a vacuum, use it. If you don’t, you’ll have to drive yourself to the nearest gas station or self-serve car wash. If you can do either, the least you can do it shake all of the mats out. Just get those crumbs out of there. Then grab a rag and wipe down any of the hard surfaces, if you’re lucky like me, they were probably sticky. Yum.
3. Organize. Take advantage of any organizational areas your vehicle might already have. You can put some kids’ books in the pocket behind the front seat, some extra pens in the glove box, etc. I have a drawer under the passenger seat that I like to keep anything I might need. Forks, spoons, napkins, pens, pencils, sharpies, tools, lighter, food, etc. Anything I might need in a minor emergency, like getting stuck in the mud.
I also have a little net basket in between the two front seat where I set my purse when I’m driving. I keep my food coupons and extra sunglasses in there as well.
4. More organizing. Get a trunk organizer, back seat organizer, or something similar. Let it be the catch-all throughout the week. Put a small bag in one in section for garbage, toys in another section, mail in another, etc. At the end of the week, instead of having to dig through your car to clean it out, just pull the organizer out and you only have to deal with that!
5. Don’t forget about the engine! Just like your interior, your engine needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. We try to get the oil changed every 3,000 miles as recommended since it’s older. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the most spare time in the world, and sometimes the idea of sitting in the dirty waiting room of a mechanic with my two little kids sounds like the worst thing in the world.
We started going to the Automotive Care Center at Walmart for our oil changes because we can just drop it off and get our shopping done while we wait! I pull to the side of the store and park, and bring my little ones inside with me.
It’s always quick and easy to get started. I just give them my phone number and car keys, they pull up my info, I tell them what I want (a high-mileage oil change with Pennzoil) and they give me my pick up slip. They use a couple of different brands, so make sure you request Pennzoil, if you want the good stuff.
All Pennzoil products help clean out sludge that lesser oils leave behind, and Pennzoil is designed for complete cleaning and protection that will allow you to drive an extra of 550 miles per year vs. a dirty engine. The high-mileage oil change helps to reduce leaks and oil consumption in worn or higher mileage engines. The oil used is specifically designed for new or late model vehicles with over 75,000 miles, to help keep the engines running clean and going strong for a long time. Since my van is older, I like the extra love it gives the engine.
Your pick up slip can also be scanned at any price checker and it will tell you where your vehicle is! It’s nice to be able to check on it from anywhere in the store, so you can time your checkout and be done shopping when your oil change is finished. Talk about being efficient!
Where does your family vehicle take you? Does it get all the love it deserves?