Household Notebook / Home Management Binder / Control Journal 101

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by Debra Dane on November 30, 2011

in Home Life

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.

Cooking measurements at a glance

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

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Leah November 30, 2011 at 6:26 pm

You are a legend.

Embarrassingly, I’ve currently lost my control journal. Sums up my house really, doesn’t it?
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Debra Dane November 30, 2011 at 7:19 pm

You just made me laugh out loud – you know I am positive you are not the first one to lose their control journal. Will you give it another go? If you want to tell me any feedback on your experience with it, any questions and I can answer them on another post…
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Bianca November 30, 2011 at 8:01 pm

I had to admit to myself that our control journal was not working the way it should in our new house – it worked brilliantly before but here there is no space for it to be left out so we didn’t use it. I have been trying out a new kind of system for us and so far so good. Might post about after a while longer when I know it’s working long term!

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Debra Dane December 1, 2011 at 10:53 am

I look forward to reading about it. Mine lives on a bookshelf and i just grab it when i need it.
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Marie November 30, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Not long ago I threw out the Household Notebook I’d made when we were doing this way back on the BW boards. I’d put it on a shelf and never used it, for the very reason you’ve mentioned…. it just became impossibly cumbersome and more of a millstone then a helpful tool. Every time I try one of these I get way to hung up on making it look “right”. *slap* to my inner perfectionist there I think. I am getting much more able to let things go and be not so controlling as I get older though so I might consider giving a HN another bash.

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Debra Dane December 1, 2011 at 10:55 am

Yeah – it works better when you just focus on what it is meant to be helping you with. After you achieve that you can enjoy prettying it up. I always test out forms for ages before even committing to them.
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Beth November 30, 2011 at 8:50 pm

I have threejournals. One for householdy (totally a word) items, one specific to the kitchen. The kitchen get’s one of it’s own purely because I love the place so much and I am more particular about that area than anywhere else in the house and sewing is the third purely because of the bulk of information I keep and refer to daily.
I hate to think how disorganised I would be without them or how much I would forget :s
Great Entry Deb x
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Debra Dane December 1, 2011 at 10:56 am

You sound truly on top of things beth – what do you keep in the kitchen one – is that all things like the meal planning, grocery lists, etc
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Sonia @ Life Love and Hiccups November 30, 2011 at 9:24 pm

I have one that needs to be updated. I think I have too much in it :) xx
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Debra Dane December 1, 2011 at 10:56 am

I bet you do – go update it and I hope it starts working for you. Let me know if you need any special printables and i will make sure I try to include them next week.
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