Spring Cleaning Your Itinerant Vehicle

Spring cleaning has come to mean something different for me as an itinerant teacher.  I am beyond ready for better weather, green grass, flowers and the leaves on the trees. With all the beauty and regrowth I long for a clean car.  I realize that not everyone who travels all day lives in a climate that makes their car disgusting 6 months out of the year.  I drive through it all: rain, snow, slush and ice…and with all of that wintry awesomeness (not really) is a heavy coat of road salt. My black beauty was beginning to look greige.  One day I was in a school parking lot and I actually thought my car was gone! For everyone who loves winter, like my child, I say you love it to the fullest, but if your like me- you want to be done with hats, boots, a heavy coat and trudging through it.  I think if my car could talk it would tell old man winter to take a nap.

So, now that the snow has melted and we are starting to thaw out, I take full advantage of the intermittent nicer weather. When it is 50 degrees out I do the biggest happy dance and roll down a window.  It feels so amazing to blow the winter out of my car. Then I start daydreaming about actually cleaning and organizing the inside of my vehicle.  I think about how it will look, smell and feel.  The outside is easy….drive through and watch the bubble show, but the inside is where the real work is.  I have always thought it would be awesome to use a planning period to clean my mobile classroom. Classroom teachers can whistle while they work and tidy as much as they like during the school day.  Just a thought.

Spring break is just around the corner, which means I will devote at least 1 hour to my “classroom”.  Here are a few ideas I have to freshen up your vehicle:

5 Ideas To Put Spring In Your RIDE

The Wipe Down

  • Whatever you like to clean with…whether you buy it new, dig it out from a cupboard or make it-use your cleaner of choice to wipe down all the hard surfaces. I personally like a combination of items. I like a wipe or a natural spray with a microfiber cleaning cloth to attack the winter dust, salt and mystery smudges. I think as long as you are wiping away all the germs that have been hibernating you are doing something awesome for yourself. I consider this practicing self-care.

What You See Is What You Get

  • I love opening a window but I “forget” to clean them. My car is no different than my house-sadly! Time to put on my big girl pants and use some elbow grease. I prefer to use paper towels and window cleaner or a mix of water and vinegar. I am not fancy. It is simple, basic and gets the job done. I realize this isn’t a news flash but somehow clean windows, inside and out, can give you a fresh view.

Suck It Up

  • Okay, so here is a job I do not like in my house or car. If my hubs is available and in a giving mood I will try to get him help me out. He does a way better job than I do (not just buttering him up with that statement…it is a fact). He uses the shop vac and you would think he had a part time job at the car wash-impressive skills and attention to detail! Now if I am going to do it (sad face) I will get out my vacuum. Now there are 2 ways I handle this job -the lazy way ( which usually wins out) where I vacuum and leave the floor mats in the car and then there is the right way, where I remove them. I used to have fabric floor mats which would come out stiff and white every April. Now I have the rubber floor liners that can be power washed. So awesome. However, I don’t like cleaning them either, so if I am really LUCKY the floor fairy will come out and help me. No matter how it gets done I am typically happy and feel like I got a new car. Bye bye salt! Even if you don’t have salt to remove, you deserve a clean and fresh floor to put your very busy , possibly tired feet.

Organize, Purge and Prioritize

  • This is my favorite part. I love to purge. Considering that I am getting things in and out of my car in windy, frigid conditions for many months I am not always motivated to keep my teaching things perfectly organized. I get a thematic build up every year. My littles need more seasonal teaching materials, so it isn’t weird or unlikely to find Christmas materials in my car bins in April. I go through everything. I look closely at materials that maybe seem like an all year resource to use, but if it is April and I haven’t popped it into my bag since September it might be something to stash in the basement or toss. This is where I prioritize things and myself. I know as teachers we think we will find a purpose for it…we will use it….what if I need it, but it is OK to toss something or pass it on to a peer. I am slowly coming around to the idea that I can survive with less. Clutter slows me down and this gingerbread girl needs to be quick.
  • Travel lighter my friends!!!

Pretty It Up

  • Find something that makes you happy. If you are like me and get in and out of your car multiple times a day you deserve something that brightens your day. Think about getting something functional and fresh: a new air freshener, cute box of tissues, new hand sanitizer, or lip balm. If you want to treat yourself even more think about a new travel mug/cup, colorful umbrella or switch out your bag. I know by this point in my year I am sometimes overwhelmed by meetings, data and IEPs. I might need a inspirational or motivational lift, so I will picked up something I can read or see that will give me a boost. I have also created and ordered personalized phone cases and key chains. I love looking down at my daughters face or a vacation memory on a hectic day. This refocuses me and I feel like it is a great reminder of my purpose.

Springing Forward

These are just a few tips and ideas I have to keep myself balanced and recharged as I cruise on into the last 10 weeks of school. I hope that you can take at least one thing away from these ideas. Being itinerant or traveling for work can make you feel like a little island or disconnected. Remember you are not alone. I hope you enjoyed this post. I will be back at it with new ideas and thought. Please feel free to like, comment & share!

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