If you never know where to find contact information for your child’s teacher or that repairman you love, you need a home management binder!
A binder is a great way to consolidate all of the important information or ideas you have been collecting, from post-it notes to magazine clippings. A home management binder is also a huge help in organizing all that’s involved in keeping your home running smoothly.
Learn how to create a home management binder that is personal and unique to you so that it serves your family well and doesn’t just collect dust on a shelf!
What is a Home Management Binder?
A home management binder goes by many names: family notebook, household planner, home file, and home binder. These are just some of the names you will find them to be called by others.
But whatever you choose to call it, they all share one common purpose: to consolidate important information that you need to refer to often.
Think of a home management binder as a file for items that you need to reference often, as opposed to other important documents that should be kept in a fire-safe box (i.e. passports, birth certificates, social security cards).
A home management binder is designed to help you run your home more smoothly, and therefore is personal to you. Every home is run differently, so you can definitely end up with unnecessary stuff in your binder if you simply copy what other people have done.
Why Would I Want a Home Management Binder?
There are 3 main reasons why you may want a home management binder. You can use a home file or binder to:
- manage the paper clutter
- keep important information in one centralized place
- be prepared for when someone else needs to run your home or care for your kids
Manage Paper Clutter
Paper clutter is an issue for most of us and is something that we are constantly needing to stay on top of (which is shocking in this digital day in age!). Between all of the mail and school or activity papers, we need to have a system that works well and fight continuously to maintain it.
A home management binder can be an excellent part of that system. You will still have to stay on top of recycling papers that aren’t needed, as well as papers you may want to store for keepsakes. But, for all of the papers that come into your home with important information on them that you will need to look at often, a binder is a great place to keep them.
Have a Centralized Location for Information
When you have all the important information that you look for often in ONE centralized location, it’s easier to stay organized. You don’t have to wonder, where did I put that flyer from the neighborhood babysitter? or what level did my kid pass in swimming lessons again? You can keep all types of important information in one central place so that you always know where to look.
Another reason that some people decide to put together a home management binder is to be prepared in the event that someone else needs to temporarily run your home in your absence or watch your children. Some people include pretty much everything you could ever want to know about running their home so that anyone could look through the binder and figure it out.
Even if you aren’t going to make your home management binder that detailed, it is a good idea to include important information for your babysitters. That way, you will always be prepared to pass off household duties and contact information quickly when you are in a hurry.
What to Include
There are a lot of things you could include in your home management binder, but that doesn’t mean that you should include them. Only include things that will make your life easier. Don’t make it overcomplicated!
First of all, don’t include important documents like birth certificates, social security cards, or passports that need to be kept safe or rarely need to be accessed. Instead, use the binder for items that you or your family members need to reference often.
Second of all, you may not want to include documents that are going to be difficult to keep updated. If you love using pen and paper more than digital files, then, by all means, put all the things in your binder and update them regularly. If, however, you already have a non-paper solution that is working well, don’t make it harder on yourself by adding a paper copy that you have to upkeep just so that everyone is on the same page.
Remember, if including something in your binder isn’t going to make your life easier, leave it out. If you or someone else in your home doesn’t need to refer to it often, leave it out. It is just going to cause you unnecessary stress to keep your binder up to date. And not only that, including unnecessary things, just clutters up your binder, making it harder to access the information that’s important.
Below are tons of examples of what you could include in your home management binder. Look through this list and find what makes sense for your home and the purpose you need the binder to serve.
Some Ideas For Your Binder:
- list of cleaning tasks
- cleaning schedule
- laundry schedule
- kids chores
- directions for how to clean certain areas of your home
- pet care directions or schedule
- addresses and phone numbers
- personal information to reference for gift-giving times (i.e. shirt size, favorite store)
- emergency contact information for babysitters
- information on what to do in an emergency (i.e. where to go if there’s a fire)
- business cards and flyers from your favorite tradespeople
- family goals and plans to reach them
- vacation plans
- party plans
- home renovation plans
- holiday preparation checklist
- weekly and/or monthly calendars
- upcoming event information
- list of go-to meals (to always have on hand when you don’t know what to make)
- weekly or monthly meal plan
- shopping list
- master meals list
- allergy information
- fridge/freezer/pantry inventory lists
- house maintenance schedule
- project list
- information on the items in your home (i.e. paint colors, flooring brand, and name)
- home inventory list (in case of theft)
- utility information (which company services each utility)
- lists of repairmen and other tradesmen
- vehicle maintenance schedule
- vehicle maintenance records
- teacher contact information
- parent log-in usernames and passwords for websites and apps
- child log-in information for websites and apps
- lunch account number and menu
- school calendars
- class schedule
- parent handbook
- information on your child’s next field trip or fundraiser
- sports and activity calendars or schedules
- activity level information (i.e. swimming lessons level so you know which level to sign up for next time)
- membership information (i.e. gym memberships and guest passes)
- financial goals
- spending tracker
- debt tracker
- savings tracker
- bill tracker
- wish lists (i.e. Christmas lists or items you are saving up for)
- account information and passwords
- gift cards and certificates
- holiday shopping list
- packing lists
- list of what to do before leaving on vacation
- vacation and staycation ideas
Supplies You Will Need
Once you decide what you want to include in your binder, it’s just a matter of gathering all of the documents and organizing it all in your binder.
Here are my recommendations for home management binder supplies:
- Binder. A binder makes your home file more adaptable and portable. You can easily add, remove, and move pages and sections around! (If you want a binder with clear plastic on the outside for sliding in a cover page, check out this binder.)
- Dividers. Dividers with tabs make it easier to find what you need and keep your binder organized.
- Sheet protectors. Plastic sheet protectors protect your documents from tears and spills, allow the pages to be wiped down if needed, allow you to include pages without hole-punching them, and allow you to have extra copies ready in your binder! (You can also get trading card sheet protectors for holding gift cards and business cards or these business card sheet protectors if you prefer.)
- 3-Hole punch. A 3-hole punch is necessary if there’s anything you want to include in your binder without a plastic cover.
And there are some optional supplies to consider as well:
Colored pens– I love these! (to use a different color for each category or person)
Label maker– I own this one! (to label the divider tabs)
Printables– get my printables by clicking the image below, or a quick search on Pinterest will uncover tons of other free printables (i.e. cover page, category cover sheets, checklists, worksheets)
How to Put Your Binder Together
In order to put it all together, you first need to decide how it will be organized. You can alphabetize your binder, put documents you access most frequently toward the front, or put any more personal information in the back. Whatever you decide is fine…just find what makes sense for you and your home.
Second, create your own categories (or use the ones I used in the lists above) and divide the binder into category sections using the binder dividers. Write the category name on the divider’s tab.
Third, add plastic covers between category sections and add in all of your documents.
Finally, fill in any necessary information missing from pages you may have printed.
That’s it! It can be pretty simple to put together a home management binder, especially if you are mostly using it to consolidate all of your important information for reference.
A home management binder has the ability to simplify your life immensely by providing a centralized location for all of the important information you need to access in order for your home to run smoothly on a daily basis. Create a binder that suits your family’s needs, and it will make all of your lives so much easier!
Theresa Bedford is a syndicated freelance home and travel writer with regular contributions to the Associated Press wire and MSN. She helps everyday people love the life they have through simplicity, organization, and prioritization.