Now that we have a household binder, I can’t remember how we lived without one! Learn how to organize your bills, meals, home repairs, family illnesses and more. This is THE best organizational tool for any mom!
I am mildly obsessed with organizational tools, without being terribly organized myself. The thing is, I need my organizational systems to be strictly necessary, simple and super easy to perpetuate.
Enter: the household binder! This binder is all of the above, plus a super handy tool that you probably didn’t even know you needed.
This idea isn’t new, in fact I adopted it from a friend who learned it from a course somewhere, but it was new to me and it’s made SUCH a difference in my mental load that I had to share it with you all!
What is a household binder?
In essence, a household binder acts as your long term memory for everything related to being a mom or home manager, so your overworked mind doesn’t have to.
If you’ve ever been in the position of wracking your brain to remember when that one child got his braces on or who you called the last time you had a plumbing problem or what to pack for a family vacay, then you’re already going to start seeing the benefits of this organizational system.
Exactly what you put in your binder is completely up to you, but below are a few purposes we’ve adopted for it (and a couple things that a household binder is not).
What do you put in a household binder?
I put in any information that might be useful in the future, but that I don’t want to try to remember until I need it.
Ours is divided into the following areas:
• Home repair history including name & number of the service provider, as well as a record of major purchases (with warranty info) and cleanings
• Auto repair history including garage name & number as well as any recommended repairs for the future
• Separate tabs for each child to document injuries or other medical, dental and vision care history (especially helpful for children with chronic illnesses such as asthma, behavioral issues or migraines)
• If you ever pay paper bills, you can include stamps, envelopes and a checkbook, or just a place to document payment plans
• Vacation plans & packing lists: never inadvertently forget diapers again!
• Meal section including a basic grocery list (amazing how many times I forget to buy eggs if they’re not on my list) and an index of your family’s favorite go-to meals
• Emergency phone numbers, as well as those of babysitters (so much easier than scrolling through my phone contacts trying to find “that one girl I called 6 months ago”)
• You could also include: birthday lists, address lists (including who you sent Christmas cards to last year), chore charts, deep cleaning schedules, garden/yard notes, home renovation plans and so much more!
What a household binder is NOT
I’ve had to be careful to not transform my household binder into a catchall for random pieces of paper or into a filing cabinet. Here are a few things I don’t put in my binder, for fear of it getting swamped!
• Receipts for paid bills or other purchases
• Any information or documents needed to file taxes
• Other important documents such as birth certificates and social security cards, licenses or proof of insurance, past tax forms, medical transcripts, manuals for household items.
In other words, if it’s an important document you might need later, just stick it in your filing cabinet. If it’s a piece of information that you’re tired of carrying around in your head, put it in your household binder!
Why don’t you just keep a digital record of all this stuff?
The digital vs paper debate is always a valid question!
Some of the information in my household binder (basic grocery list, address lists, etc) are also in my phone for convenience sake, but there are a few reasons why my binder information is on paper.
- Other family members can easily access it. If I’m on a trip out of town and the kids get lice (yep, that’s happened before), it’s a lot easier to tell dad to look in the binder to see how we got rid of it last time, than it is to dig up a google doc somewhere and send it to him.
- It can’t get erased. If you’ve owned a piece of technology, then you’ve also had that technology fail on you at one point or another. I love the security of having all this information at my fingertips even if my phone happens to be dead.
- I just generally prefer paper! It’s totally OK if you want to try this same system and make it digital but there’s just something about old-fashioned paper and pen that makes me happy. If you try it, let me know if you agree.
So is this a totally new concept to you? Or do you already have a household binder that you use regularly? If so, I’d love to hear what you put in it!
If you want to know my other FAVORITE household organizational tool, check out this post on our kitchen command center.