We all have them—the places in our homes where we turn a blind eye. You know what I’m talking about. They are the corners and surfaces around the house where stuff just seems to pile up. And up. Or messes are left stained or uncleaned for days. Or weeks. Or there are projects you’ve left half done. Somehow, when you are responsible for the well-being of one or more little humans, the blind spots seem to multiply.
I try to keep organized and neat mostly by minimizing the amount of stuff we have crammed into our 1100 sq ft house. But I seem to have a blind spot in every room. After reading and nodding in agreement through the Herd Management post on a Truthful Home Still Life, I decided to take my camera on a hunt and bring those spots into the light. It was an exercise in humility with a surprising psychological and physical result.** Before I get to that, here are the top five places/things in my home to which I’ve turned a blind eye. Do any of these resonate with you?
Blind Spot #1: The Entry Way
Winter jackets, boots, gloves, scarves, and hats pile up in our entryway—and I’m only talking about my own. Somehow, in the course of three days, I can wear four different jackets and five different scarves, and none of them seem to walk back to the coat closet when I get home. Instead, they all pile up on the small hooks hung by our front door which I can only imagine is a terribly welcoming sight for any visitors who come our way. “Welcome to our home! Would you like to put your coat on top of the 4 feet of cotton, polyester, and batting we have proudly mounted on our wall?”
Blind Spot #2: Our Backyard
We are those neighbors with the junky plastic toys strewn everywhere. If I claim to be a minimalist and generally organized inside, I make no such claim in the backyard. The only time I make an effort out there is when I need to mow or we are planning to grill out with company. In the winter, neither of those things happen, so our backyard goes unchecked. Fortunately(?), one of my boys’ favorite games is to dump all their stuff in one spot and call it the garbage truck. While I loathe this activity indoors, I really don’t care if they do it outside. Thus, my boys affectionately call this old, rotting raised garden box their ‘Junked Up Boat.’ At least everything has a home. Sort of.
Blind Spot #3: Holiday Thank You Card
I’m not sure what the hold up was this year, but I dutifully wrote and addressed thank you cards for our family’s holiday celebrations in early January as my mother drilled into me starting at a young age. And at the time of this picture (late January), they were still sitting on my desk. I intended to have my children draw on the top half of the card, and I only had enough stamps to cover about half of the envelopes. But while I was (and am) extremely grateful for the meals and gifts and time spent with loved ones, I just left these suckers on my desk unfinished. I have no idea why, other than the fact that corralling the boys to sit down at the table and talk about our family and the fun we had in December with markers or crayons seemed like an formidable task. And going to the post office? Geez, that’s another step in this venture that would require me to actually leave the house (brrr!) or the car (brrr!). So there they sit on my desk and not in the hands of our treasured loved ones. Fail, mama.
Blind Spot #4: The Top of the Piano
This is the place where toys and other objects that prove too tempting go to die and things that need an action from me lay in wait. Do you have a place like this? It’s the highest surface in the house and it’s literally in our most central room, so it’s the natural place for me to put things that I know I need to take care of and don’t have the time at that moment—or to put the things I take (or want to keep away) from my children. It’s way above their sight but directly at my eye level, so I guess my intention is to keep these things front of mind for when I find that glorious minute to do random things around the house. Unfortunately, it’s also at most other adults’ eye level as well, and it just looks like clutter to everyone else.
On this particular day, on the piano lies a Sophie giraffe (Even though neither of my kids are under one or teething. I’m not even sure why this found the light of day again.), a lanyard that was causing a disagreement the boys were unable to solve on their own, Franklin’s piggy bank that is missing a stopper on the bottom and thus doesn’t hold money, my home-from-the-hospital infant shirt that we took to Cooper’s school for show and tell last week that didn’t make it back to the hanger (on which it has lived since my mom gave it to me five years ago when we announced we were first pregnant), and a stack of papers that need to be sorted. Additionally, there are all the decorations and knickknacks that usually live up there.
Blind Spot #5: Laundry
I don’t have much to say about this except that I avoid folding laundry at all costs. I can get clothes from dirty to clean and wet to dry with no problem, but sorting and folding is the bane of my stay-at-home-mom existence. Thus, I let four loads of clean laundry pile up in the one laundry basket we own (I never met a wrinkle I didn’t like) before I even consider breaking down and folding the lot of it. My kids have gotten used to looking for socks and underwear in the laundry basket if they can’t find any in their drawers. They don’t even ask me first. Oy.
So, I’ve confessed my pile up places. Where are yours? If you’re up for a challenge, take 3-7 pictures of the areas in your house to which you turn a blind eye!
**TOTALLY WEIRD PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECT:
I took these pictures about two weeks ago on a Saturday. Over the weekend, I composed captions and then…I cleaned them. All. And they’ve stayed clean.
I picked up the extra clothes and gloves and snowpants and put them in a bag in the closet (amazing!). I combed through the garden box, threw away the broken, junky plastic things, and organized the sports equipment and wheeled things on the back porch (not perfect, but WAY better). I sat down with the boys and finished the thank you cards, went to the post office for stamps, and sent them on their merry way. I put away the crap on top of the piano. And, most impressively to me, I came up with a system to tackle the laundry. That is, I wash during the day and dry over night, and then I fold whatever clothes are ready first thing in the morning. Literally, it’s the first thing I do after getting out of bed. The boys usually play with puzzles, and I used to check my email and facebook. Now I fold the laundry and we put it away before breakfast based on Mark Twain’s famous advice:
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
After taking pictures of every spot that I usually ignore, my brain wouldn’t let them go. I had to do something about them—and each spot only took a few minutes to straighten. It was awesome! Now I have a new list of blind spots (of course!), but I think I’ll tackle them this weekend. Maybe I’ll go take some pictures right now…