How To Clean A Backpack
By Megan Wirts
The school year is over and summer vacation is finally here. My small people loved their teachers and they learned and grew so much. Seriously, I think both of them grew at least a foot. It’s mind-boggling how many pairs of shoes and pants an 8-year-old boy can grow out of in less than a year. When will they stop growing!? Anyway, I’m getting off track. What I really want to talk about is my step by step process for cleaning a messy backpack at the end of the school year. After 8 years of end of the year backpack cleaning I feel like I have the best most efficient technique.
Step 1: Slowly pick up your child’s backpack off of the floor, because why would they take the 2.5 seconds to hang it on the...
...special hooks their father so lovingly hung with their names above them. That would be too much work. Remember to lift with your legs, not your back. You will quickly realize your mistake as soon as your back starts to spasm and you stand there, bent over and cursing the 50lbs of important papers that fill said backpack. Once your body is finished screaming at you, set the bag on a table.
Step 2: Open backpack, slowly. These things are filled to the brim and too quick of an unzipping and the contents could explode all over the room with papers, half chewed up pencils, pine cones (why, must they pick up every single pine cone they see?!), erasers, paper clips, rubber bands and broken crayons all over your kitchen floor. All. Over.
Step 3: Begin the unloading. You may want to gather extra supplies for this. Safety goggles, rubber gloves, filtered mask and garbage bags. Gently reach in and pull out the bigger things you can easily grab. Like that sweatshirt you were looking for one morning for 25 minutes while your daughter cried and said that everything she loves gets ruined or lost and life isn’t fair and now she is going to be late. AHHHHH!!!
Step 4: Deep breaths. Slow. Deep. Breaths.
Step 5: Look at each paper and lovingly swoon over your little one’s precious art and adorable stories. You may say to yourself, “Oh, I should frame this one! Ooo...and this one! My children are geniuses! They are so talented!” and then after the 10th masterpiece of art and literature that you find you may start to change your tune. You may instead start saying things like, “Toss it. Why did they keep this? Was this an assignment? No. Why so many papers? Toss. It. All.” That is when you move on to the next step.
Step 6: Tip that bag upside down and shake that thing out. Shake it. Shake it good. You may even want to put on some good bag shaking music. Shake it until every last chewed up eraser, candy wrapper and pine cone (seriously, enough pine cones!!!), come flying out and into the garbage can.
Step 7: Throw that bag into the washing machine and then into the dryer. During this time, you can contemplate why your children would feel compelled to keep every single broken crayon and pencil they have used. Are you creating mini hoarders? Are you a good enough parent? Did you not feed them enough well-balanced meals? Where are they getting all this candy? Why do they need so many pine cones!?!?!?
Step 8: Pull backpack out of the dryer. Notice that it now has beautiful red streaks all over it and you see the red crayon melted with pieces of pine cones all over the inside of your dryer. You realize that you forgot to look in the front pocket. You let out a stream of choice words followed by a low and guttural growl.
Step 9: More deep breaths. In, out, in, out, in out.
Step 10: Take the backpack outside and put backpack in your fire pit and set that smelly, crayon and pine cone infested piece of trash on fire and just burn it. You then realize you should have skipped steps 1-9 and say that next year you will remember this.
You tell yourself that next year you will check that bag every day. You will be diligent and you will finally get your children to understand that their backpack is not a garbage can or compost pile. If that doesn’t happen, don’t beat yourself up, skip ahead to Step 10 and know that you are not alone.
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