Managing your family with photos: A picture is worth a thousand words

Since the early 1900’s, newspaper editor, Arthur Brisbane, showed his readers that a picture is worth a thousand words.   Photos help to show a story and not just tell it – smartphone heaven!  It is important to have good communication skills with everyone, particularly, your family.   I don’t need to yell at my children constantly, although they may say that I do.  Yelling to them from another room just to communicate is
annoying and time consuming when they are scattered about.  Now that my four children are all old enough to “need” phones, I can text them instead.

When dinner is ready, it is not necessary for me to yell upstairs to two of them, into the basement for another one and hunt for the fourth one for several minutes before I realize he is asleep on the couch in the den.  Even my husband could be out in the yard or in the shed, not really in easy earshot.  Dinner could be cold by the time I find them all.   Even if I do yell, they don’t hear me because they have headphones in!

Photo Communication Opportunities:

  • Photo of socks flung on the floor, often from multiple days and owners. Text a pic to the guilty children.
  • Plate of cookies, brownies or grilled cheese sandwiches that are now ready to eat.IMG_3426
  • Visual grocery list for my husband who has an odd knack for getting the wrong brand or item.
  • Several photos of someone’s bedroom that is looking awfully messy at the moment.  These are particularly useful if one of your children wants to go out with friends or needs a ride somewhere.  I remind my teenage son that his room needs to be clean before he leaves the house; he forgets. When he texts to ask for a ride somewhere, I text back the photo of his laundry piled up on his bed.  No yelling necessary.
  • When they ask repeatedly, when will dinner be ready?: Text a photo of food in the oven and another of how many minutes left on the oven timer.
  • Not long ago, my son and I were in Philadelphia for an overnight trip. We were bringing home hand rolled doughnuts from Beiler’s at Reading Terminal Market.  We sent several photos of all the flavors to take orders.  No one could complain that they didn’t get what they wanted!  If you are in Philly and like food, a visit to the market is time well spent.
  • While trying to solve a home mystery of who forgot to clean a mess or broke something, I text out the photo to all of them. They are very quick to tattle on their siblings, even as teenagers!
  • I often leave a TTD list, Things To Do on the kitchen table for my children. They often claim they “didn’t see it”, I happily text it to them!
  • I can send my kids screen shots of their report cards and progress reports. This is available online before the real ones arrive in the mail.
  • When giving directions, I send screen shots of the maps. Grandma is now mastering her Google map skills. When she visits, she always asks for “the best way” to get to her friends house or a new restaurant.  Google maps to the rescue and Siri goes along as a companion!
  • I send my daughter photos of crafts or recipes I think we should make.
  • When I go to the store, I sometimes take a photo of exactly what I need. There are so many light bulbs and its really annoying when you bring home a different wattage or shade of color. I take a photo of the box so I’m sure to get exactly what I need.
  • I have done some shopping via photos.  I’m I’m at the store and for one reason or another I don’t have all my kids with me (often my preference).  If someone needs a particular item, like a hoodie, I can send them pics and they can pick out the color they want.
  • My husband goes to Home Depot and asks if I need anything. I can look up the item online and send him the exact picture of the item I need.   In the time it takes him to drive there, it gives me more than enough time to send him some photos.
  • Ive been admiring a perennial planting at a nearby landscaping company. After two years, I finally took a photo and asked someone inside to tell me all of the plant names. I brought the same photo to my the garden center to buy the items and was sure to get the same varieties because I could show them the photo.

** while trying to remember more examples of photo communication, I simply scrolled through my phone for real life instances.  Now that I have started this photo-talking, there is no going back. I love to speak with photos.

I’ve always been a very visual learner: when I read a book, I see all the scenes vividly in my mind.  When I cook, I do much better with recipes that have photos so I can see all the steps, tools used and the finished product.  When I clean house and decorate, I look at the room from every angle and corner to see how it looks. (Remember, a little less than perfect, is perfectly okay with me.)  When I take notes, I often include little doodles and sketches.  When I give someone directions, I draw a quick map.  For gardening, I draw a bird’s eye picture of my house and decide which type and color of flowers I need for where.  This way I can make one big trip to the store and get the discount for buying multiple flats.

There are always certain items that need to be fixed or maintained around the house.  My husband, who is quite handy, is very agreeable to fixing them, rather than paying someone else to do it.  The trouble is, he has a rather poor memory for actually doing the job.   I started keeping a list of things that needed to be fixed, but now I have upgraded to taking photo reminders.   We were preparing to host Thanksgiving and although I cleaned the dining room the week before, there was still an entire wall that needed attention.  His newly purchased leaf blower and rechargeable drill along with extension cords boxes and papers were still all over the floor.  Rather than saying a word, I simply texted him a photo of the offending area.  I made sure I was nearby when I sent it and I heard the familiar “ding” of his text alert. “Oh yeah, I guess I should put that away before Thursday…” -message received!  The beauty of this is I don’t need to be a nag.  If he continues to forget, I wordlessly text the photo again.   My husband attempted revenge on Thanksgiving morning by sending me a photo of the chair in our bedroom where a pile of my clothes is quite high. “If you want to cook the turkey, stuffing and veggies, I’ll put my clothes away now”.  My clothes are still comfortably resting on the chair for some other day, and our guests never needed to be upstairs for the holiday.  So funny, that as I am writing this post, my husband is on his way to the grocery store. As he walks out the door, he asks if I need anything and I have about 20 seconds to make a quick list.  He knows the routine and tells me to text him because he knows that I will!  My son is very clever and has also taken this game to a whole new level. While I’m at the grocery store, I’ll receive a text with a photo or two of what he thinks I should buy for him.  Kids, these days!

By the way, this may sound like I’m doing all the cooking and no one helps. Often, this is the case, because I prefer to have the kitchen to myself and I kick them out.   When I need help I do ask/make them help.  If someone needs help with homework, they do it in the kitchen so I can make dinner and answer math questions at the same time. Another custom in our home is that if I do all the cooking, everyone else cleans.  If they don’t have too much homework or sports, I enforce the rule.

Please share your photo communication stories in a comment!

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