Whatever you call it, a binder or planner that coordinates the details of your house can be a great asset to getting organised, saving time and reducing stress. It is not for everyone and I can testify to using it on and off in various incarnations over the last 6-8 years.
What is a household notebook or home management binder?
For those of you unfamiliar with these books, it is basically a place (usually a 2 or 3 ring binder with dividers) to keep handy papers / information you need to access regularly or for reference. It’s purpose is to be a single hold all of information anyone would need to run your household. If you get sick or go away it would allow your partner, a babysitter or friend to step in and see your life at a glance.
What do you include in a household notebook?
This is one of those “how long is a piece of string’ questions. If you search online you will find dozens of free printables covering every household topic imaginable. Therein lies the trouble. Many people see all the lovely ideas and pretty papers to print and go crazy and suddenly their notebook is 6 inches thick and sits on a shelf taunting them. I have seen printables for everything including one to manage your magazine subscriptions – if you have so many magazine subscriptions that you need a 20 line document you might want to declutter that collection or rely on renewal notices, which are still standard practice!
In my opinion you should think about what is relevant to your life, what information you need regularly, and what information could be collated in one place to make life easier.
In my case I used to have a bigger planner, but noticed I did not use it as much as expected. I sat down and realised I had a lot of things included that I did not need all the time and wanted to slim it down a bit.
Possible sections include: Meal planning, Cleaning and Chore lists, Budget and Financials, Schedules and Routines, Calendars, Contacts (Businesses you use + personal friends and family), Health and Fitness, and more. A lot of things you currently clutter your fridge with could go in a household notebook.
In my current HN I have 5 main sections as follows: (photo below)
Schedules: In here I have my current timetable from the gym, Lulu’s music school term dates, blank planner pages for my daily / weekly to do lists (have tried many and did a round up of free planner pages before), and a month at a glance calendar.
House: I include cleaning task lists and chore related items (although I am currently using my household cleaning card system), inventory lists (a quick glance list of what we have in our downstairs craft room, and clothes that are stored out of season or next size up)
Food: I have take away menus in a special folder, food ideas that work for one or both of my girls including foods to try (we are dealing with extremely fussy eating / sensitivities so it takes planning), lunch box planner, pantry inventory, freezer inventory, recipes to try, pre-typed grocery list and meal planning blank forms (my round up of meal planning printables includes these).
School: I use a week at a glance filled in with the girls’ activities both for school and after school (library day, P/E, homework due, swim lessons, sports, etc), the tuck shop (like cafeteria) menu, the current class list with contact details for classmates, the school calendar that we receive every 2 months with all key dates marked, anything else received from their teachers or the school administration that I will need to reference (but not need to action as I have a separate system for active information).
Miscellaneous: This is broken down into sub dividers:
Information – includes my passwords for non financial websites, a “things on loan” printable where I track items leaving my house, books I want to read.
Shopping: Special offers or information (like when Amazon was offering free shipping to Australia), my present stash inventory (items are stored in the garage), brochures for items I may want to restock (like the candle / scent list from the store “Dusk”), kids’ wish lists for gifts.
Health: blood test reports, details for after hours care if the kids get sick on the weekend, information given by the doctor (in our case Alice had a foot injury/condition caused by gymnastics so I filed the information here while she was healing and getting physio).
Vouchers and tickets: (I actually keep this at the very front of my binder) in a page protector I have any vouchers / receipts from deal sites or businesses plus tickets for upcoming events. I have a simple spreadsheet where I note the Store/business, the amount, and the expiry date and it is sorted by date. I print it out and at a glance I can see what is coming up that needs to be used.
If you have tried this idea in the past and not found it helpful I do suggest you think about if you had too much of the wrong information in there. I think trying to turn your notebook into a total reference repository can cause it to become unwieldy. It is also important to reassess regularly and change your notebook with your life.
When my children were babies and toddlers I had a section that covered their routines, preferences and notes on their current stage of life. As much as my husband was hands on he could never remember what time they ate lunch or what solids were around etc. Now the information for them is more school and activity related with their food still playing a role. That is why there is a huge volume of printables available to cover all stages of life and different households.
No one needs all the options – just because there is a planner for something does not mean you need to fill it out.
Next week I will create a big round up of FREE printables that were not covered in my meal planning or daily / weekly planning round ups. (link leads to that post!)
Do you have a household notebook or plan to make one?
Find your simple,
Cooking measurements – a great example of something to add to a Food section
Lunchbox ideas - for inspiration when planning kid lunches
Dream your house is clean - links to a heap of how to guides for cleaning