Minivan mess

“Oh great,” I scoff when my husband tells me he needs to borrow my minivan to carpool down to the Bronx for a fishing trip. I silently say a prayer that all three car seats will fit in the back of his car so that I do not in fact have to kill him for trapping me at home on a beautiful Saturday with three kids. So beyond praying and being annoyed, I know this means one awful fact – I HAVE to clean out the van.

Over the years the minivan has become my purse (if I actually carried one). If you’ve ever seen the movie One Fine Day, then you know just how many crazy things a mom purse holds. So as I put on the latex gloves and started begrudgingly cleaning, it got me thinking how excavating the MANY layers of my van reveals all that matters to me most, and consequently what doesn’t. First let me warn you, the images you are about to see are graphic and disgusting. I take pride in a clean, but not perfect house, but my van is another animal entirely.

It ain't pretty folks, but when I ask myself what has to be brought in at the end of a long day the answer is always: just the kids.

It isn’t pretty folks, but when I ask myself what TRULY HAS to be brought in at the end of a long day the answer is usually: just the kids.

1. I BRIBE My Kids With Candy – The sticky icky layer of my minivan is most definitely evidence of the fact that I bribe my kids with candy almost every time I have no choice except to take all three kids shopping with me. They also manage to always bring candy home from camp, school, Girl Scouts, birthday parties and other venues. Judge me if you want, but my kids make it through the store without carrying on (for the most part) or begging me for any toys or other things and it only costs me around a dollar a kid. I try to shop alone whenever I can, but when I can’t candy is a real sanity saver. They ALWAYS have to make it through the entire trip to get to pick out candy on the way out. One sweet side effect is that my daughter has started asking if she can pick out candy for Jay even when he’s not with us.

2. I Pack For All WeatherRemember my post about packing for kids for trips. I found hats, towels, stray socks, umbrellas, sunglasses etc. in the second layer of the excavation. I’m always prepared. You have to be with small kids. But the unpacking always comes down to the same conversation either between me and my husband or just in my head, “What NEEDS to come in?” I’m usually dead tired after taking the kids out, especially if we’ve been gone all day and now I have three sleeping kids in the car. Usually the answer goes like the this – The kids. Everything else can wait. Unfortunately it usually waits till we have epic clothes mountains back there.

3. I’m Not A Crafty Mom – Before you go crying for my kids, you have to know that the third layer in the archaeological dig of my van is craft projects. They enter the van from church, camp, and school. Occasionally they make it out and on to the fridge, but more often than not they get dropped on the floor and forgotten about. They serve their purpose to entertain the kids for a little while, but beyond wearable art like bracelets and such (though I do find tons of stray beads on the floor) their usefulness to my kids is over.

There's no telling what child goo is hiding under those car seats, but I'm sure it will require hard scrubbing.

There’s no telling what child goo is hiding under those car seats, but I’m sure it will require hard scrubbing.

4. I’m Environmentally Conscious – I have reusable grocery bags in my trunk all the time. I also use the van to haul the garbage and recycling to the dump so going through the van pile means painstakingly pulling the recycling out of the wreckage because it pains me just to throw it all out. It also means you’ll see me out there with my homemade vinegar cleaner and cleaning rags instead of paper towels cleaning the aforementioned sticky messes off seats.

5. The Kids Have The Run Of The Place – So while I’m constantly picking up after my kids in the house I just don’t have the energy when it comes to the van. The toys, treat leftovers, towels or whatever else that can’t be stuffed in a bag and brought in usually waits. Why? It’s because I don’t want to hear the whining that it’s too heavy or they simply can’t carry it because they have a book bag or something else to carry or they’re TOO tired. Nevermind that I’m carrying the baby and at least two other bags at the time. One day I’ll have it in me to fight them on this, but for now I just let it go. One of the benefits of always buying used vehicles is that I’m never anal about keeping food out of the car or keeping it clean. Sure it’s a mess, but it’s filled with their childhood and one day they won’t have so much stuff to haul around (that’s what I tell myself anyway). It also means that I only have each van for three to four years and it’s on to a new van to make new memories and acquire more layers of sticky childhood memories. Maybe I’ll get it together (like the movie title says) One Fine Day.

Momfession Time: What’s the weirdest/grossest thing you’ve found in your vehicle?