Tutorial Tuesday: Home Management Binder
When I originally devised the Tutorial Tuesday idea, I planned on it being for knitting tutorials. So, naturally, my very first Tutorial is going to be on something completely unrelated to knitting. Well, not really unrelated, since getting organized frees up time to (you guessed it!) KNIT!
I get asked often, as the mama of four boys, how I manage to keep my house in order and my sanity intact, which still keeping up with my business. It’s no easy feat, and for
a few many years, I was completely unsuccessful. As my kids grew (and multiplied) I got further and further buried under housework and laundry. (Oh, the laundry!) So, after trying all the various programs out there (Flylady – the emails killed me), reading all the books, and listening to whatever advice people wanted to give me, I realized that I needed to just buckle down and Do It.
I needed to get organized. I needed to get my house in order. And I needed something that would help me keep it that way. Enter, the Home Management Binder. Otherwise known as The Brain. The Brain has revolutionalized my life. I’m actually organized. My house is actually clean. My laundry is actually washed and put away(most of the time.) Most importantly, my sanity is intact, and I don’t waste entire Saturdays trying to clean the house from top to bottom. (I know I’m not the only one who has done that, fess up!)
You, too, can have these things. You can get the organization. You can get the clean. You can get the peace. You can get the sanity. You just need to get a Home Management Binder. Here’s my set up, which I hope inspires each of you to get your own and find the home groove.
On the left are notecards so that when I need to send a thank you note, they’re readily available. Behind the cards are things that need to be filed in the binder that I haven’t gotten to yet. (It’s always a work in progress, that’s the key! You’re never “finished” with the binder, but it’s always morphing with your family’s needs) The note across the right says: Don’t let what you don’t have spoil what you do have On the right is the pencil case, which holds the dry erase marker to using on the clear page protectors, a pencil, a few pens, sticky notes, and stamps. Let’s flip the pencil case, and take a look at the first page divider: Vital Info. (notice the pretty scrap paper – if it’s pretty, you’re more likely to use it!)
Vital Info‘s first page is Emergency Information. It’s a central place that everyone in my family knows they can find important info, like:
- our address
- directions to our house
- the fire dept phone number
- police dept phone number
- poison control
- emergency contact numbers (grandma, neighbor, pediatrician, dentist, mom cell)
- where the first aid kit is located
- where our family “meeting spot” is if we need to evacuate the house
- where medicine is located
While most of us think that this is information we “know” it’s nice to have it in one spot, because in an emergency you just might forget it! The next page in this section is my Emergency Supply Checklist. It’s a great list complied by the folks at Real Simple. Last is the Crib Sheet for anyone who spends time with our boys. It’s a handy list of rules, kids habits and quirks. Great for the evenings when Grandma babysits and I’ve forgotten to tell her that Rusty won’t be able to go to sleep without his music and duck.
The next section is the Calendar.
I keep our family’s master calendar with Outlook. Each person is assigned a color, and every activity gets input to the calendar. At the beginning of the month, I print out the next two months’ calendars, and they go into the binder. Behind the family calendar is the lunch calendar that the boys’ school sends home. They’re allowed to buy lunch once or twice a month, so they highlight the day that they want on the calendar and then in the binder it goes.
The next section is probably the most critical, and definitely the most used, in my binder. It’s Homekeeping, and this is where the Brain Files come into play.
I’ve got a sheet of Daily Chores, then an assigned room for each day of the week (except Sunday, which is officially Mama’s Day Off) Each day is broken into chores that need to be done each week, then rotating monthly chores, and finally, seasonal chores. You cross off each job with the dry erase marker as you go, and then wipe it all off at the end of the day. Super easy! Please download the Brain Files and use them! I promise, if you don’t do any but follow the brain files, after just two weeks your house will be in much better shape.
After the brain files cleaning pages, I’ve got a bunch of other pages related to keeping house. There’s a Stain Removal Guide, an excerpt from Martha Stewart’s HomeKeeping book that I clipped from a back issue of Living, and a fun little page called the Elements of Clean, from Real Simple. It’s a basic list of cleaning chores, done a la Period Table of the Elements.
The next section is Contacts.
This is where I’ve got a page of phone resources, the “note to teacher” pad from my boys school (to make absence and late notes easier, it’s pretty cool. You just check off the reason, add in the date, and sign the note), a page protector will all of my frequently used take-away places, and then finally a page protector will my address book and the member book for our church.
Next is the Holiday section.
For the most part, this section isn’t super active until late September.
Year-round, there is a gift list that I’ll add to as I find good gifts for the people on my list. At the end of September, this section will get a schedule of things that need to be done for holiday prep, and then closer to Thanksgiving it gets a calendar with events we do and a plan for getting the holiday prep finished. This section also has a Birthday Worksheet that lists our family and friends’ birthdate and gift ideas.
Next is Health & Wellness.
This is where my workout log is, a clipped weightlifting workout from Self (that I am trying to get motivated to do!) and other interesting articles I come across that I want to read or save. There’s also a sheet in here for each person in my family, listing allergies, medications, illnesses, doctor visits, etc.
Next is Crafts.
This is where I file craft ideas to do with the kids, clipped from magazines, written down from friends, or printed from the net. When the kids are crazy, I send them to the binder to pick out a craft for us to do. It usually buys me 10 minutes of non-crazy, but hey, I’ll take anything!
After Crafts is Parenting. This is where I clip and file all those article that I want to keep referring back to (like Argue with Me
) and a fabulous little one from Women’s Day on the things your kids should know before they move out of your house (gems like knowing how to pump gas, change a tire, sew on a button, read nutrition labels and do laundry)
Last in my binder is the Home Dec file. This is where I put all those gorgeous magazine spreads that inspire me in my decorating – it’s a virtual dream file for how I want my home to look and feel as I work on my home.At the very end, there’s extra page dividers and extra clear page protectors.
Now that you’ve seen the binder, and hopefully gotten some inspiration for making your own and embracing the Brain, I’ll show you what might be the best part. Do you suffer from serious paper clutter? Never know what to do with the mail that comes in, or all the papers that your kids seem to generate. I keep this little basket on my kitchen counter.
In the very back, you can see the binder peeking out. In front of the binder is my coupon book (that’s a whole ‘nother post!) In front of that is a file folder for each person in my family. When the kids get home from school, and papers that I need to see/read/sign, then know that they have to put it in my folder, or I won’t see it. Mail gets sorted right in front of that basket. DH’s bills and magazines? Right into his folder! My bills and magazines? Right into my folder. In the boys’ folders are magazines, papers they’ve drawn, and often, a little love note from mom. This one little basket has cut down tremendously on the paper clutter that used to permanently reside on my kitchen counter. The basket was less than $6 from WalGreens, and is easily one of the best purchases I have ever made!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour of my home management binder. It has been such a blessing to me in my own home, and I pray that it blessed you in our own homemaking adventures!