Clean Car = Happy Mom

“My car is not a garbage can!”

Yep, that’s what I used to yell when I felt frustrated over my car being such a mess. Now, I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure if I could figure out a solution considering I had small kids, but I knew I had to try something. So after exhausting a few fruitless ideas, I decided to treat my car like I did my home.

In my home, I don’t allow the kids to throw their trash on the floor or make messes without cleaning them up or eat in certain parts of the house without some precautionary steps in place, and I decided to try the same in my car.

Here’s how my family mastered a clean car.

Step One – The Discussion

The first thing I needed to do was to have a discussion with my kids. I told them that we were changing a few things, that the car was not a toy (it is a very expensive necessity) and that we needed to take good care of it.

Step Two – The Expectations

We also needed to let everyone know what was expected of them. It was no longer okay to throw your trash on the floor or leave anything in the car that did not belong there.

I expected that as soon as we pulled into the driveway, their first job was to clean their seat and floor area. They were then told to get an inspection from the person sitting next to them (counter clockwise).

The inspector had to get me for the final inspection.

The kids were instructed that they would rotate their seating positions clockwise every time we took a new trip (this would ensure that all areas/seats were being cared for).

Step Three – The Detailed Instructions

I then gave everyone the new procedure for exiting the car when we arrive at home. This procedure was explained in detail verbally and then written down. I slid it in a sheet protector and kept it in the glove compartment. Here’s an example of what I did:

You are not allowed to leave any of your things or garbage in the car
You are responsible for your seat and floor area at all times (show them what that looks like)
Eating is only allowed if it is over a napkin or old towel (which I keep in my trunk)
Use wipes whenever necessary (also in my trunk) – sticky doors are not allowed
Get an inspection from the sibling sitting next to you before you go in the house
The inspector must get an inspection from mom to be cleared
If it wasn’t done correctly, the inspector had to redo it himself (which made him a better inspector)

Step Four – The Conversation

We talked about this before we got into the car. We talked about it while we were in the car. We talked about it just before we pulled into the driveway. Talking about it is the key to keeping kids aware of always picking up after themselves.

The conversation looked something like this:

“Okay, everyone remember that your garbage must be taken in, and you’re not allowed to leave anything in the car that you brought out to the car. You must look all around the floor, the seat and in any nooks and crannies for your things or garbage before exiting the car.”

Soon the kids were reminding each other to pick up after themselves. They would say, “Hey, don’t throw that on the floor!” or “Don’t forget to take your books in the house.”

They became aware of their personal space and conscientious of their things, and this made mom very happy!

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired
tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan
organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy.

As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation.

She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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