Making A Home Management Binder You Will Really

Often I am better at making up systems and charts and lists than I am at actually using them. I will sometimes see someone elses system, see its merits, and then try to recreate for myself. A couple of weeks later, it has failed to meet my needs and it is cast aside. The hours spent making the system are wasted, and I walk by, sending a guilty glance its way. So how can you avoid spending hours creating a new system, only to see it cast aside in a few weeks? Your home management binder should be a very useful tool for you; therefore, start with information you use all the time and put it in one easy-to-access place. Here are some examples: Phone numbers that you or the family uses frequently (I actually print out our entire list from Outlook.) Sports schedules Club or co-op schedules Directions to places you go frequently (but cant easily recall) Babysitter instructions Copy of the months calendar Addresses and directions to any activities in case a different parent or grandparent is taking the children to activities Birthday list for your extended family Extra copies of your grocery shopping list (keep an active one on the refrigerator so that others can add needed items to the list) Frequently used recipeslaminated or filed in plastic sheet protectors to keep them neat while cooking Once you have started putting all this frequently needed information/items in there, you may want to use some nice tabs to keep the binder organized. Your tabs might include these: addresses, chore charts, shopping forms, calendars, reference sheets. To make it even more useful, add a zippered pocket to the front in which you can keep a pencil, pen, and some sticky notes. If you have some stamps and a couple of envelopes, add those too. Since we pay most of our bills electronically, I am not usually in possession of these when I need them, so having a couple on hand is nice. Next, think of ways to make your home management binder pull extra duty for you. My older homeschoolers have checklists for their schoolwork, which I created with the TOS Schoolhouse Planner. I can print out a dozen or so at a time and keep them in the binder for them to retrieve as needed. When they get low in quantity, I just print out more. This works better than handing the children several sheets at once, because inevitably, they will get wrinkled and misplaced. Finally, think about it as an emergency binder. If something stressful happens you will be glad to have the following information in your binder: Approved sitters and their phone numbersThis is important. If any of your babysitters need help finding something or need to ask you a basic question and cannot reach you, it is likely that another approved sitter would know the answer. Directions to your house from major streets/highways Your home address and phone number Emergency medical release forms for each child Instructions for each child: bedtime, medications, food allergies, preferences Name, phone number, and address of nearby neighbors I also have my family work broken down into days: Laundry Day Errand /Town Day Office Day Kitchen Day For each of these days I have taken the time to type up a complete list of all the possible duties for that day. I do not expect to accomplish all of the tasks on the entire list, but I go through the list briefly in the morning and pray about my day. Then I identify the top three things I need to do that day. If I complete those, then I tackle three more. In this way, those occasional chores are not forgotten, and often I finish several things on the list before the children are out of bed. This offers a sense of direction to my day, even though each day does not look exactly like the others. Whatever your chore system, it is a good idea to have it documented in your management binder so that you always have it on hand. We keep ours in the kitchen by the phone. Finally, I suggest that you make a pretty cover for your binder. You can use Word to do the layout and add a favorite Scripture verse and some clip art. Here are some of the lists I keep in my binder: Errand Day The Day Before Errand Day: Balance the checkbook. Check with other family members about errands that need to be run. Plan menu and make shopping lists. Put lists in your purse. Pack the diaper bag. If you have items to take to town, put them in the vehicle. If you have stops to make after the grocery store, then put an ice chest in for your cold items. Plan your route, in order to be as efficient as possible. Plan for food, depending on the route. Lay out town clothes and shoes for everyone. Plan car activities for everyone. Thaw meat for slow cooker. On Errand Day: Load slow cooker Library Grocery Sams Club Life Bridge Friends houses Bookstore Post Office Used curriculum store Pharmacy __________________ __________________ __________________ __________________ Paperwork Day Filing Update calendar Bills Banking Grading Filing school paperwork Book orders from the library Clean out purse Grocery lists Meal planning Lesson plans Email purging Notes and letters of encouragement Insurance phone calls Make appointments Update and print calendars Plan stops for errand day Schedule appointment with each child to discuss schoolwork Clean desk area Gather library books and put in car Update file folders _____________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________ Gardening Day Adult/Teen Assignments: Mow lawn Trim bushes Weed flowerbeds Weed garden Water garden Fertilize Plant Garagestraighten and sweep Lawn mower maintenance Childrens Assignments: Porch, deck, walls Weeding Vehiclestrash, stuff, vacuum Toy and trash pick-up Refill bird feeder Laundry Day All laundry washed, dried, folded, put away Clean laundry area; check supplies Organize/purge drawers Straighten clothing closets Repair clothing; sew on patches Identify clothes that need to be replaced Kitchen Day Meal in slow cooker Clean/Purge refrigerator Remove counter clutter and wipe counter Clean kitchen windows Scrub kitchen sink and faucet crevices Wipe appliances Clean top of stove Clean stove hood Clean oven Clean under oven Bulk cooking (brown meat, soups, granola) Bread baking Organize and clean one drawer Organize and clean one cupboard Organize and clean one pantry shelf Clean top of refrigerator Clean under and behind refrigerator Mop floor Dust Cobwebs Just remember: You do not need to spend lots of time creating a whole new family management binder instead, simply gather all your most-referenced papers in one place and keep extra copies of consumables. Once you have the basics, if you want to spend some time making it prettygo ahead! Women crave beauty and order, and your home management binder can be both! Malia Russell is the blessed wife to Duncan, thankful mother to five children (newborn to 21), and an author, conference speaker and director of and Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices. 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