Monday, January 5, 2009

Digital Camera for Cleaning and Organizing - Seriously!

After reading the title (without reading the article because I need to get off the computer!) of the post Using Photography to Declutter over at Blissfully Domestic, I walked around my house thinking of how we could use photography to declutter. I was inspired, but I went in a completely different direction than the author of that post (which is very good, but not applicable to my stage of life), but I did use my digital camera to help me and my children stay on top of things. Think about it, photos show everything! They show that you didn't vacuum when you got that awesome picture of cat doing some weird thing, or the group of kids being goofy; they show that you hadn't cleaned your counters off before carving pumpkins...basically, everything you skim over shows up in pictures. So, why not use that? That is exactly what I decided to do.

After battling for the umpteenth time with my children regarding what constitutes a clean room, it occurred to me that they just didn't see their rooms with a critical eye, so when they would tell me they'd cleaned it up, they truly meant it. They didn't see the stuff they left out, because their rooms are filled with things they love, have finished activities, piles waiting for them to come play. How could I get them to see the things I was seeing, without coming in and nitpicking and bullying to get the job done? (Here is where the inspiration comes in!) Thinking of how often I'd seen "clutter" ruin otherwise good pictures, I had them take pictures of each of their rooms and we put them up on the monitor. Shazam! It worked like a picture on the monitor, they could see their rooms the way parents do, the way their friends do, and realized that what they saw and what we all saw was completely different. All the little stuff they would leave on the floor when I asked them clean up was clearly evident in the photos. They didn't need me to say anything. They could see it for themselves. They were actually eager to clean their rooms to match their internal visions and were very eager to do before and afters. When they were done, we took more pictures and they got to compare the before and after and really "got" it.

I am not certain you can clearly see in the before and after of Valiant's room, but the floor is clean in the after, the bed is made deliberately, and the clutter has been disposed of.

So, use your camera to help you get things cleaned up, or, my favorite trick, take a picture to see if you like the decor or furniture arrangement in the picture. What you might describe as homey in real life could turn out to be just plan messy. Conversely, what you might think is not enough might turn out to be just right! And furniture arrangement that has you stymied might become clear in a photo. (The third picture? That was after I decided the room would flow better if I switched the dresser and the desk. I was feels much bigger now. Oh, and it has his new duvet cover!)

The greatest thing about this trick? You don't have to print the pictures...when you're done...hit "delete"!

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