Okay, so I’m kind of a nerd for hacks. I especially love ones that make life easier, help me organize better, or save time. Social media is chalk-full of them, and while others may enjoy mindlessly watching YouTube videos of late night TV show clips or crazy cats, I HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO STAY UP LATE BINGE WATCHING PANTRY MAKEOVER VIDEOS. Today I’m sharing some of my favorite blind mom hacks for managing clothing and laundry needs for our family. So, if you’re a blind parent, I hope these are helpful and if you’re not blind, I hope you’ll enjoy learning about some of the alternative strategies I use for everyday life.
Mesh or small garment bags: These are great for washing all of your socks and small children’s clothing (underwear too). It keeps things together, helps prevent lost items, and makes sorting much easier. Plus, you don’t have to worry about dropping that small onsie or stray sock on the stair THAT YOU MAY OR MAY NOT REALIZE UNTIL TWO DAYS LATER WHEN YOU’RE VACUUMING AND NEARLY SUCK IT UP. I use these KINDS OF BAGS for socks and hang them on the door knob or on the hamper in our bedrooms. I’m still trying to train my family to put their dirty socks in these bags, but this has been very helpful. Then, I can throw these bags into the wash with the socks and it makes sorting socks later a breeze. I’ll even admit that sometimes I just dump the bag back into the sock drawer without matching socks when I’m short on time.
Matching socks: While we’re on the subject of socks, here are a few things I’ve tried. As a blind mom, over the years I’ve learned not to get too attached to cute pairs of socks because they either get lost out in public from your child taking them off, or they get lost in the laundry. I’ve used safety pins to keep pairs together, and this works great as long as others in your family remember to match the socks back up before putting them in the hamper. My husband likes to just ball his together before he puts them in the wash. However, as our family has grown and our children have gotten older, I’ve found safety pins not to be a good strategy for my children’s socks. Instead, I’ve started just buying all of one style and solid color—white in our case. I know this sounds boring, but I’ve heard of A LOT of sighted moms doing this too (My sighted friend has four children and only buys black socks) . This way, you can easily grab two socks and don’t have to worry whether they match. We still have a few fun pairs that require a match, but since we don’t have as many choices, it’s easier to distinguish them by texture or style. As my children have grown, I’ve also enlisted them to help in matching socks. We make a game out of it. It’s an easy thing for them to do and great for giving them some responsibility. Also, I’ve even let my kids wear miss-matched socks on occasion, (I’ve heard it’s kind of a trend now) but I only do this if the socks are the same style. For example, my son has a few pair of Paw Patrol socks, so I’ll let him wear one Marshall Sock with one Chase sock even though they are not the same match. The socks are the same style and since they are the same theme, I don’t worry as much about others’ judging me for this.
Only buy white linens: I read this once on a home hack blog and it was so liberating for me. So, I now only buy white linens (i.e., sheets and towels,). Again, I’m not opposed to buying colored or pattern ones, but it is nice now to spare myself the stress of figuring out if I’ve grabbed a matching set of sheets or put the right colored hand towels and washcloths in the corresponding bathroom. But the real reason I switched to this was not just for the convenience, but the fact that by having all white, it is easy to bleach things and keep them white. No more worries about trying to get stains out or fearing bleach spots from washings, and I feel more comfortable knowing I’m not putting out a bleach spotted towel. (Wink!)
Safety pins: Even though I’ve just told about how we wear plain socks and only buy white linens, I don’t want to give the impression that blind people should stick to only wearing neutrals or plain things. Not at all. So, when it comes to these kinds of things, you need a way of identifying them. Safety pins are a great tool for this. For example, I position pins in different places on similar shirts to indicate to me what shirt it is. I may put a pin on a shirt on the tag or back of the collar, and place another pin inside of a similar shirt’s waist hem. I use this for things like t-shirts, button ups, and polos which all are similar in style. Then, I just have to remember which is pinned which way. Pins are also great for keeping outfits together. For example, with my husband’s suits, creating a matching pinning system can indicate which jacket goes with which pair of pants (i.e., pin inside the left cuff on the jacket and left cuff on the pant leg equals black pin-stripe suit, pin on the back of the collar and back of the waist equals blue suit, etc.) This also works well for keeping your children’s outfits together—pin the shirt with the pants before throwing it in the laundry. I’d also recommend cutting tags on clothing as a method for distinguishing between two similar items. There are such things as braille labels, but in my experience, some of these techniques work just as well and you don’t have to worry about the braille label wearing off.
Tactile Stickers: This is a great shoe identification trick for me. I have two pair of boots which are identical. When you find something you like you should buy it in more than one color right? So, I have a pair of black boots and a pair of brown boots. Since they are the same boot, there is no tactile distinction between them. So, I’ve placed a small bump dot sticker on the inside of the heel of the two brown boots. It’s completely inconspicuous and in a place where the stickers won’t get warn off either since it’s on the inside of the heel. This makes matching the pair so easy for me. I once had a high school teacher show up wearing one black pump and one navy one. Bet she would have liked this trick. This also works well on belts that are very similar—stick a bump dot on the backside of the belt to distinguish it from another one.
Pods for laundry: This was a great little hack for me but can be a bit more costly. I prefer to use liquid laundry soap, so this requires me to use my fingers to tell when the detergent slot is full in my washer. It always takes a few minutes to get the soap completely off my fingers too and is just a little annoying, especially when you use your hands so much. . I find that using laundry pods is a great way to avoid messy fingers and also helps me portion control better. My washer is designed such that the soap starts to drain from the slot immediately, so sometimes if I’m not quick enough, I end up pouring extra soap as I try to indicate the level in the slot, so I’ve found the pods to be a great convenience.
Organizing ties, belts, and scarfs: This one is a bit tricky, and you often have to reset the system if you’re not disciplined in putting things back right after use. I try to hang the scarf or belt back on the hanger of the item I wear it with in the closet. It gets a bit tricky if you have more than one thing which you can wear with different pieces, so it takes some memorizing too. Otherwise, if I have a bunch of things that can be worn with the same item, I’ll put multiple things on one hanger or near each other in the closet. We use this too for organizing my husband’s ties. For example, all the ties which he has that he can put with a black or grey suit are all on one hanger. Then, he can just pick one off that hanger and know it will match. For other suits of different patterns and colors (not basic neutrals) that may only have one or two ties that match, we hang the ties right on the hanger with the suit. My husband is pretty good at distinguishing his ties by feel and remembering what pattern they have, but it helps to simplify the system if they are at least grouped with the corresponding suit, especially since he has a lot of different ties.
Use a reader: It is a really good idea to have a sighted person occasionally go through your things with you to check for spots and help make sure matching systems (like scarfs, ties, and kids coordinated sets) are matched up correctly. . we occasionally ask a sighted friend or use a paid reader for these kinds of tasks (I’ve also used Facetime or skype with my mom but it’s a little tricky with lighting over a camera, so maybe good in a pinch but not a reliable method. Same goes for relying on your six-year-old—not the most reliable method.) There is a new app called “Be My Eyes” which I recently heard about. I have not used it yet, but I imagine it could be helpful for some of these tasks as well. I like having someone help with this periodically to make sure we aren’t wearing things that have spots or stains on them, or are generally looking too warn, and it’s also helpful to “reset the systems” because things don’t always get put back together.
So there you have it. Keep in mind, these are just a few little hacks. Our systems are always changing as needs change, and there are lots of other methods out there that may work better for others, but these are a few I’ve found that have been helpful for us. I’d love to hear what others do, so feel free to share in the comments below and thanks for reading.