Posted By Jennifer McBride on August 22, 2010
Guest Post by Kendra Fletcher ~ Originally posted Nov. 29,2006
Managing a household is never a small task, no matter the size of your family or the square footage of your home. We have seen both the size of our family and our livable space expand over the years, and with it all comes a growing realization that organization is essential.
Somewhere along the line I knew that what I wanted most of all was to create a peaceful home for my family, no matter the number of children we had. I have been in homes where one child resides and chaos reigns. So I began to think of organization and peace as synonymous. One of the major components in our quest for peace is my use of binders to organize my life.I began with a simple “Daily” binder, in place of the little “Daytimer”-type product I had carried in college. I just found that the smaller organizers were impractical; I always had papers sticking out of them, and inevitably would lose things because they just didn’t fit. So when a friend mentioned to me the idea of using a regular sized binder, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to try it for a while.
Now I feel I’d be completely useless without my binder. Into the binder go all those little lists I’d jump out of bed at night to write and then lose sometime between breakfast and lunch. Here’s how I’ve done it:
I use a zippered binder now but in the past I also used a 2″ binder with pockets for my children’s artwork on the cover to cheer me up. It contains the following:
- A monthly calendar, downloadable for free from www.organizedhome.com
- A master address list
- Current projects (currently this section includes Christmas lists and other seasonal to-dos)
- FOOD, with sub-sections:
-Menus (I make a month-at-a-time plan)
-Master shopping lists for Costco, Trader Joes, and Co-op
- Library (book lists and receipts)
The thing I like best about the regular binder (as opposed to the smaller organizer products) is that I can punch holes in nearly everything I receive that needs to be saved and store it in the binder. For example: all holiday party invitations got punched and put in the December calendar section. Information pertaining to classes, parties, weddings, etc. gets punched and put into the proper month’s section. I am never walking around the house wondering where the map to the reception is or which classroom the art class will be held in at the junior college anymore.
Aside from their affordability, binders are also terribly versatile. There are probably hundreds of ways you could run with this. Incidentally, I had not thought of a garden binder until someone who had heard me speak on organization a while ago approached me several months later to show me hers. I know another mom who told me that she puts all of her warranties and product instructions in binders, as well. Below you’ll find just a few ideas to get you started:
This is the place to file your dreams! Sections may include:
-Floor plans you like
-Interior decorating ideas
-Resources. Place paint chips in plastic sheet protectors for future reference. This is also a good place for business cards and contact information.
-Home maintenance lists- what needs to be done and when.
Even if you’re not an avid gardener, a small binder of ideas and articles from magazines could be really helpful. Like your life binder, you can toss it in the car when you set off to the nursery. Sections may include:
-Landscape (for general plans and ideas)
-Specific plant info
- SCHOOL RECORDS
-Your homeschool vision/philosophy
-Lesson plans/daily schedule
-Lists of books the child has read, and a list of books you’ve read aloud.
-Scope and Sequence or curriculum plan for each grade
-Goals for the year
-Field Trip info
-Attendance and HSLDA or charter school info
-Curriculum wish list
-A section for each child. Currently each of our children’s sections includes their curriculum for this year, their master reading list, and any other lesson plans I might have made for that child.
- PARENTING RESOURCES
-Newsletters, articles, etc.
- CURRICULUM CATALOGUES
-Most can have holes punched in them, and can be organized alphabetically or some other way that makes sense to you
- CHRISTMAS BINDER
-Punch holes in project directions or articles from magazines
-Décor ideas, such as articles and photos from magazines
-Be sure to check out www.organizedchristmas.com for free downloadable planning forms that will fit into your binder
- HOLIDAY BINDER
-Mine includes a section for each of the following holidays we celebrate: New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Passover, Easter, 4th of July, Reformation Day, and Thanksgiving
- CRAFT BINDER
-One year for Christmas, my girlfriend made me a “knitting record” binder. She included sheets that said: Project title, pattern source, date begun, date completed, yarn used, project cost, created for, notes. She also had a place for a photo of the completed project. Because I give the majority of my knitting away, this was a priceless gift to me- a record of all of the hours spent in one of my favorite pursuits.
- PRAYER BINDER
You can break up your prayer list into a daily schedule, such as:
M- family, personal
T- finances, illness, business
W- church and missions
Th-government and schools
- CAR BINDERS
Purchase 1” binders for each car and load them with page protectors. Store pertinent car information such as instruction manual, insurance cards, registration, emergency info, warranties, etc. in each page protector. You may also want to keep gas and repair receipts here. When it comes time for tire rotation, or if you get a ticket, you won’t be fumbling around for all of those items which can easily get lost in the car.
Our medical binder includes the children’s birthdates and basic medical info, as well as a zippered pouch for insurance and immunization cards. When we go to the doctor, I simply grab the zippered pouch and toss it in the car.
Just remember to use your binders or any other organizational tool that works for your family and don’t let them run you. The quickest way to organizational burnout is to feel you are being run by the systems you’ve put in place.
Kendra Fletcher is the mother of 8. She lives in California’s Central Valley with her dentist husband, children, in-laws, a flock of chickens, two turtles, and a golden retriever named Salsa. She also operates www.preschoolersandpeace.com for the encouragement of mothers of small children.