I have had a few requests recently for guidance and even guest posts on simplifying and organizing the home. When these questions and requests roll in I tend to give a little snort – a stifled laugh – thinking, "If you only knew…".
I am not what you might call a pillar of organization. But sometimes organization comes out of the contrast of our normal tendencies. Everything moves towards chaos (including my kitchen, closet, and wallet), right? It is a universal law that we are moving against every day that we strive to maintain order. And to move in an organized direction I need all the help I can get.
Today I have six more bags of thrift store donations by my front door (that bit of organization dates back to this post, in case you are new here). Less stuff equates to less chaos. But there is some stuff that we all inevitably live with. And the paper bits seem to be among the biggest offenders to maintaining or creating order. Receipts. Bills. Meal plans. Grocery lists.
Enter the Family Planner Book. Call it your Binder, your Control Journal, or Family Organization Book. Make it frilly and fancy or boring black. How ever you put it together it does the simple task of corralling your vital/messy paperwork in one neat little package.
A Family Planner Book is custom made – by you – for you. Ours is divided into eight sections that fit our needs including Daily Rhythm, Chores, Meals, Homeschooling, Phone, New House, Calendar, and Other. What goes in your book depends on your family needs. As homeschoolers these were the categories we had needs for. You might want one for Travel, Budget, Garden, School, Work, or Emergency Information.
The point of the binder is to give you one place to go with and for all of the day-to-day business of running your family. When are your library books due? Where is your insurance card? What is the phone number of the yarn shop (this one is important, I tell you.) I made my binder two years ago and never looked back. I reworked my book last night so I thought it was photo-worthy enough to share with you today.
Want to make your own? You won't regret it. I promise. You can easily do it in an evening. Here's what you need:
Three-ring binder: every thrift store and many basements have many of these.
Colored Tabs: I found these at a thrift store but any office supply shop has them.
Clear page protectors: Smooth is better than matte if you plan to check things off of lists with a dry-erase marker.
Three-ring binder pockets: for receipts, cards, etc.
Decide on the sections you want to include. Do this by looking at your fridge, desk, and junk drawer. What needs a proper home? Below are some details on what is found within some of our sections.
Rhythm: As parents and homeschoolers and small business owners, having a rhythm to our day is vital to being productive and relaxed at the same time. Our Rhythm section outlines how our day and our week lays out so we all know what to expect. It also provides a reminder to make time for ourselves. Movie night, yoga, meditation, or date night are the types of things to get on your weekly rhythm.
Chores: To keep my house (relatively) clean I have chosen one to two rooms a day that I (ideally) clean. If I miss a day (which I do every week) it's no big deal. That room will be cleaned the following week. The children have also chosen chores they do each week and we keep a written list of these in this section.
Homeschooling: We jot down subjects the kids want to learn about, library book return dates, classes and activities and field trip ideas here.
Phone: Three phone lists: family, business, and kids.
New House: We're dreaming some big dreams right now. This section will ultimately become a binder of its own but for now a single pocket is plenty for inspiration and ideas.
Calendar: Our master calendar where we jot down all classes, play dates, and appointments.
Attach your tabs to the page protectors and pockets and start filling your binder. You'll be amazed at how wonderful it feels to always know where to find that important document and having less paper magneted to your refrigerator door. Happy organizing!