Welcome back to Blind Intuition. I was recently talking to my occupational therapist about a few things and we were talking about the one thing that has really helped me to regain my independence in the home. While we have spent a little bit of money on technology; the two biggest things I needed to maximise my vision; was as much natural light as possible and also changing our habits to simplify the organisation of the home so I don’t waste hours searching for things I need. While the majority of things are now well organised, there are some things I can’t control where I might be spending half a day with my nose in the grass like a beagle searching for things. For example: lost shoes that Archer takes off and socks. So how do I keep organised and simplified to make more time for the greater things in life? Here is how:
Blind, low vision or fully sighted, these ideas and habits may be of help to you especially if you are the person who misplaces your keys, sunglasses or find yourself rummerging through the drawers to look for your favourite wooden spoon.
1. Declutter, Declutter, Declutter!!!
Become ruthless; if you haven’t worn something or used a body lotion in 12 months, throw them out, donate, or give them to friends. Hauding things for me was frustrating and rummaging through clothes and cupboards for particular items took up so much time and I made even more mess than what I started with. In the last 12 months, my wardrobe has downsized by two thirds. I don’t miss that dress I wore when I went out in my Uni days. I have kept clothes of quality and now only buy quality and timeless things so I can wear them again and again. With toiletries, I wait until I run out before I buy or replace. It makes things much easier to find.
2. Get rid of dumping grounds:
I used to be a killer for this. Cameron is too. For me, my dumping ground was the kitchen table. For Cam, it was the buffet table near the door to the kitchen. This frustrated me because I always lost my keys, sunglasses, special items like jewellery and important documents. Cameron always used to dump the mail on the buffet table, not throw out opened envelopes, dump his keys, clean dishes instead of putting them away and many other things. The clutter piles would creep up and up and I would become stressed. I was always losing my keys, sunglasses and phone. I would waste so much time looking for them, and when you are blind, this isn’t cool.
When we moved to our new house, I put a system in place so we could keep our kitchen table and benches clear. When you walk in from our garage, you walk through a mud room that can be closed off. It was the perfect space for an organised dumping ground that I can shut away. You don’t have to have a mud room for this, you could just pick a designated spot that you can shut away easily. I got a cheap eight cube book case from Kmart and put baskets along the top row and left the bottom row. This means that each family member has pigeon holes for bags and shoes and baskets for their CRAP! This means I don’t have to look at the CRAP. In Archer’s basket I have put his hat and shoes so I can easily find them when we are going outside. In mine, I put my wallet, sunglasses and keys and my handbag in the bottom hole. I also keep a pair of thongs or flip flops there. I don’t know what Cam keeps in his, but I don’t care. The space also acts as a bit of a mail spot. We have our bills for the month on a pinboard and once they are paid they go in the bills tray until the credit card rolls over and we can throw them or toss them.
Appointment cards and letters go in their own tray and Archer’s green book and daycare letters go in a tray. This means if I need to find a bit of paperwork, I know the tray it will be in. I also have a large print calendar from Vision Australia where we write in Sharpie when bills are due, appointments and birthdays so Cameron and I are both on the same page. I know my technology enough now to pay bills independently to free up some time for Cam which is great.
3. Categoris and organise things into tubs
We are lucky enough at our new house to have ample amount of storage space. However it is no good for me if it isn’t organised. There is nothing worse than sifting through a cupboard where things are just stuffed in and don’t have a place. Before we moved in, I made it my mission to buy tubs and label them so all of us could access what we wanted easily. It fells amazing! I didn’t do this all at once. It takes time. When I packed up our old place, I did one cupboard at a time and did it over a period of months while Archer was asleep or in daycare.
4. Organise kitchen and pantry
Tubs, dividers and baskets work well for me. I have draw dividers in my utensils drawer to access them quickly. We have drawers instead of cupboards in our kitchen, so it is much easier to have designated drawers. However if we had cupboards, I would use baskets for smaller items like small containers and container lids. Our medications and multivitamins are arranged into baskets up high. In the pantry, things are either in tubs or baskets. It is hard for me to work with an opened bag or box of biscuits, so instead they go in a container with a tactile paint label for me to identify what is in the container. I have a measuring cup or spoon which stay in containers like self raising flour or oats, so I don’t have to wash them up. You can buy cheap measuring cups and spoons anywhere. It also means I am not rummaging in a drawer for a cup or tablespoon. I have a barcode scanner to identify some product like the difference between different sauces with similar colouring or my herbs and spices. The fridge is organised much the same as the pantry. We have an upright freezer with a drawer dedicated to leftovers, chicken, beef, lamb, chicken and seafood, so I don’t cook lamb when I was intending to cook beef or chicken when I was intending to cook flat head. I think I would sniff out the flat head though!
My wardrobe is simple. I have tops hanging on one side and dresses and skirts on the other. I can tell the difference now between colours and patterns so I don’t walk out mismatched. However if I was blind I would get a friend to colour code it and use technology to help me. Someone else might have a more practical way, but this is what I would do. I even have a couple of outfits put together with jewellery in clip seal bags attached to the hanger to easily locate. Anything that is folded or small goes in a basket or the chest of drawers to I have a compartment for them to easily locate. That way my training tops won’t get mixed up with my casual tops.
In the bathroom, it is a simply set up like the pantry. Baskets to house and categorise items. I have a set of clear plastic drawers for my make up in the order I put it on to make my products easily accessible. My make up brushes are arranged in the order I use them so I don’t put the wrong product on the particular brush.
6. Organising the kids
Archer’s change table is organised into baskets so I can change him quickly. Before I take his poo ridden nappy off, I hang a plastic bag on the change table ready for the dirty nappy and get a number of wipes ready. This saves time and doesn’t leave you needing something in the middle of a change and then as soon as you look away to find it, your toddler has eaten a poo crumb! This has actually happened to me! Yup a bad mum moment!
I have also organised Archer’s playroom. Books are up high so I can supervise him, making sure he doesn’t destroy them. His toys are either categorised into baskets or a cube. This means at the end of the day when I go to pack them up, I can put them where they belong. I am really protective of his toys and pack them up at the end of each day so bits don’t get lost. I can’t wait until he can pack them up on his own.
There are many ways to keep organised. It has really made our lives easier. Cameron has adjusted and Archer will not know any different. We are really lucky to have lots of room and space for things, however if you don’t, you can be creative with the room you do have. If it something you have been meaning to do for ages, but don’t know where to start… Start with one shelf and work your way through over six months. Or get an organised friend to come and help you. As a visually impaired person , being organised has reduced my frustration and anxiety and as a parent, made things happen more efficiently.
There are some great ideas for organising your life. Comment below if you have some cool organisation ideas. It may help someone who is blind or have low vision or even a fully sighted person to have a less stressful day!