I’m excited to be writing again for Kids Week! This year for Kids Week I’m sharing an organizing tool that changed my life! Really! I swear! We went from slightly controlled chaos to purposeful and organized days (most of the time) !
Ever feel like the day gets ahead of you and then all of a sudden it’s bedtime and half of your good intentions and plans failed to be fully executed? You need a home management binder. I wish I had a less nerdy name for it, but I’ve racked my brain and can’t come up with a better one for you.
There really isn’t enough time in the day, especially as a mother. And why is it when you have kids that days and weeks are now moving not just quickly, but in super fast high speed chase pace? Even as a stay-at-home mom, it’s hard to remember everything and even harder to fit everything in the day. I get this smug little smirk on my face when a person asks, “exactly what do you do all day as a stay-at-home mom?” I think to myself: Well let’s see… we go to Japanese class on Monday, Spanish playgroup Wednesday morning, family yoga on Thursdays, beach playdates, Monday music class, daily hikes, swim lessons, and toddlers don’t just move swiftly throughout the day as self sufficient and tidy little people. There are giant messes to clean up, nutritious meals to plan, potty training, napping…all while trying to teach patience, obedience, respect, and kindness to a two year old….just to name a few things we do all day. “We just go to the beach, it’s a great job”, is my usual reply (insert smug smirk).
The home management binder organizes all of it. It’s a go-to, catch all for the piles of to-do lists, appointment reminders, sticky notes and calendars. It’s my secret little organizing tool that provides a rhythm to our week and direction for our days.
An excellent place to start would be to gather up all the post-it notes, the grocery lists, the weekly planner, the to-do lists and sort them into piles by similar subject matter. Next, create a section in your binder for each of these subjects.
Here’s a look at my binder:
I have a cute chevron stripes binder I found at Target. You want your binder to look nice, because you’re going to be using it often and need to see it often in your home. I use rainbow color section dividers that I also found at Target. My binder has clear page slips to create a reusable surface for pages I frequently use and don’t want to print over and over.
I’ve linked the different lists, templates, and pages I use back to the online printable.
The first section is titled weekly movement.
This section is filled with pages devoted to the organization of our week. I have a weekly schedule, organized by time and day. I created my schedule using Google Documents. I make a table to represent the morning, afternoon and evening of the seven days of the week. On Sunday nights I fill in the appointments, events, and activities for the week. I print off a copy for the binder, punch with a three-hole press, and insert into the front page of this section. I like using Google Documents for my schedule because not only can I print it off and keep a hard copy in my binder to reference, I can also access my schedule from my smartphone when I’m out and about.
Next, I have my ongoing to-do lists, you can find the printable I use to keep these organized here. The list includes a checklist of ‘errands’, ‘emails/calls’, and ‘chores’. I print this off on Sunday night and keep this list ongoing throughout the week.
After that I have my son’s chore chart, the printable I use is here. You can download a blank chart and write in your own chores and duties. He has eight focused tasks he must complete each day to receive eight stickers. He absolutely loves earning a sticker for each task. As soon as he brushes his teeth he knows he gets to go get a sticker and put it on the chart in the binder!
Following that I have my weekly meal planning and grocery shopping list, you can find here. Again, on Sunday night I spend about 30 minutes reading food blogs, scanning Pinterest, and planning out my meals for the week. I like the meal planning sheet you can link to above because it organizes your shopping list into categories such as: dairy, meat, produce, frozen, etc. This makes weekly market trips more efficient both for time and budget. And finally in the weekly movement section I have my weekly cleaning chart.. This sheet I place in one of the clear slips so I can simply check off when I’ve completed the cleaning task for the day. Unlike Amanda, I find joy in vacuuming floors, and if it weren’t for my cleaning checklist I would probably do this task along with all other household cleaning way less than it needs to be done.
The second section in my binder is titled family.
In this section I have all of our family’s emergency & medical information. I also keep a master copy of a page I can easily copy and print for babysitter’s notes. I like this one because it includes meal ideas, bedtime routine information, and a place to fill in directions to your house in case of emergency.
The third section I have is titled friends.
In this section I have contact information for all of our family’s friends and contacts. I use this instead of an address book. Second I have a list of birthdays and special events organized by months. This helps me not forget birthdays and special dates!
The fourth section in my binder is titled records.
Here I keep car maintenance logs for each vehicle. I record oil changes and any information about trips to the mechanic. I don’t use a pantry stock log or freezer log, but this would be a great spot to put one if you like to keep record of what you have in your freezer or pantry.
The fifth section is titled amusement.
I keep many different lists in this section. I have a list for gift giving ideas that I find really handy. I often will think of a great gift idea for someone, than forget about it when that special day comes around. This list details who the gift is for, the gift idea, where to purchase, and the cost. Second, I have individual reading lists for each member of our family. We love to read, so this is where we record book recommendations and desired reading titles. Third, we keep ongoing ‘wish’ lists in this section. There are a lot of things I would love to spend our money on, but we are following a budget plan (which we do not use the binder for, I use the online Mint application, but the binder would be a great place to write out budgets if you prefer pen-and-paper budgeting). Each member in our family gets a wish list where we write down the things that we wish for! Next, I keep sheets that detail fitness logs for myself and my husband. We keep track of cardio, weightlifting, and yoga to make sure we’re keeping healthy and in balance! Also in this section we keep our list of family traditions. I love this list. It’s so fun to start incorporating family traditions into our little family’s yearly rhythm. I really like the printable I linked to because it also lets you write down family tradition ideas. In our house we make peach dumplings in the fall, flower leis for birthdays, and coconut and banana waffles every Saturday! And finally, in this section I like to create and print seasonal ‘bucket lists’. I download the blank template and fill in inspiring and exciting adventures for the season! It’s a fun way to make sure we check off all those activities and projects that sound like fun! I also print and insert a copy of our local yoga studio’s schedule, the community pool schedule, and the YMCA group fitness schedule into this section.
The sixth section in my binder is a catch all etc section.
In this section I keep master copies of house guest planning check lists, travel packing check lists (I created my own), CPR instructions, and party planning check lists. I also keep clear page slips here to organize papers that would usually just be piling up on the counter, or cluttering up the fridge under magnets. In my clear organizers you’ll find my son’s library reading logs, retail coupons, instructions for downloading ebooks, etc etc. And finally I have clear business card size slip organizers here with gift cards and merchandise return cards for stores.
It will take some time to set up a home management binder, but you’ll be so glad you did! A few hours of investment into planning a binder, and 30 minutes or so of weekly Sunday night planning can completely transform the efficiency and energy of your week! Happy planning!