Taking care of a home and family is a surprisingly complex job. Managing schedules, planning meals, organizing daily/weekly/seasonal tasks, keeping track of home-related information and so much more. Creating a homemaking binder can be a huge help in getting it together and staying on top of all that it takes to manage a home and family.
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How To Create a Homemaking Binder
I first heard of the concept of a homemaking binder many years ago when I began following The FlyLady. She calls her version a “Control Journal”. She now offers a number of free journal downloads including versions for holidays, packing, office, student, home maintenance and others. You can see all of them here:
Initially, however, it was a simpler concept including a list of cleaning zones, daily cleaning, weekly checklist, detailed cleaning lists, daily spiritual focus, and a weekly schedule. It also included an address book and I think a menu planning sheet. One thing she recommended which I think is a good idea is to put your daily and weekly checklists in clear plastic sheet protectors. You can then use a dry erase marker to check things off and then erase and use again.
The next major source of information regarding homemaking binders that I ran across was on Organized Home. They referred to it as a Household Notebook and offered a large number of free printable pages. It was more detailed and wider in scope that The FlyLady Control Journal, although perhaps a little less personal. Unfortunately, the site closed down so all those wonderful free printables are no longer available.
When I put together my homemaking binder I used resources from both The FlyLady and Organized Home. I bought a white, 3 inch, three-ring binder and printed a cover sheet with “Deanna’s Household Notebook” on it which I slipped inside the front cover.
Over time I added sections for birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions, menus and grocery lists, emergency information, health and medical, holidays and personal. I also printed helpful or inspirational articles about homemaking and tucked those inside.
And then I didn’t use it. Oh, I’d occasionally drag it out and read through parts of it. But honestly? It became a symbol of good intentions and lack of follow-through. Otherwise known as “the story of my life”.
And yet I’m convinced that there is great merit in creating some form of a homemaking binder. The key is in determining how you plan to use it and what it should contain in order to make it genuinely useful for YOU.
You see, just because something works for someone else and sounds really cool doesn’t necessarily mean it will fit your lifestyle and your way of doing things.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before creating a homemaking binder/household notebook/control journal or whatever you prefer to call it:
- Do you prefer paper or digital? This is a big one and deserves some serious consideration. If you love using the latest technology and like to be able to access everything from all your devices, then perhaps a physical binder is not for you. You can definitely create a digital “binder” instead and that might work much better for you.
- Where do you spend most of your time? If you are at home full-time with few outside activities then a large, single binder containing everything you need to run your home and schedule could work well for you. However, if you work outside the home or are involved in many volunteer activities you are not likely to drag around a big binder all the time. You may need to consider a digital version or keeping some information and lists in a binder at home and others in your phone or a small notebook which fits in your purse.
- What is YOUR purpose for a homemaking binder and what will make it useful for YOU and your family? When The FlyLady first created her Control Journal I recall that she considered it not only something the homemaker would use but that it could be helpful if someone else needed to step in and help manage your household in case of illness or for some other reason.
After you have considered these questions here are the steps I recommend for creating your very own homemaking binder.
1. Make a list of what you want in your binder.
Some possible ideas include:
- Daily cleaning tasks
- Weekly cleaning
- Monthly or seasonal tasks
- Morning and evening routines
- Menu planning sheets
- List of favorite recipes, perhaps including the cookbook and page number where it’s found
- Emergency information
- Family medical information (blood type, surgeries, medications, doctors, pharmacy, etc.)
- Addresses and phone numbers (this may sound old fashioned and unnecessary – until your phone dies and wasn’t backed up recently)
- Household information such as heat and air filter size/type, refrigerator water filter number, list of special types of light bulbs, paint colors, various measurements, etc.
- Household project list (maybe include a pocket folder to hold paint and fabric samples, magazine pages for inspiration, receipts, etc.)
- Household budget
- List of birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions
- Vacation packing lists
- Freezer inventory list
- Pantry inventory list
And on, and on…
Carefully consider which of these will be useful to you. There’s no point in a packing list if you rarely go on vacation. And some of these things I listed might well be kept in some other place besides your homemaking binder. Just because someone made a free printable for it doesn’t mean it needs to be in your binder.
2. Purchase a binder or notebook.
Once you know what you want to include, then you can shop for the perfect binder. You might be tempted to reverse this order but you need to know how much it will contain so you can decide what size to purchase. As I mentioned above, I have a 3-inch binder. And it’s quite full. If you plan to create a very comprehensive binder and especially if you think you might want to include pocket folders and/or an address section, then I recommend a 3-inch version.
On the other hand, if you are more interested in a streamlined version with just cleaning lists and a few other things, then choose a slimmer size. This may be especially important if you plan to leave it out somewhere during the day to check things off. If it’s too big and bulky it might just end up staying on a shelf somewhere.
Or you might have two binders. One large, rather comprehensive binder with everything you could possibly need for running a household, and a slimmer one that just holds the pages you need on a day-to-day basis. For instance, family medical information, air filter sizes and vacation packing lists could reside in the larger binder which would usually be on a shelf somewhere, while daily cleaning lists, menus and morning/evening routines would go in the smaller binder and kept out in an easily accessible place.
You might even consider a bullet journal style notebook rather than a binder. The downside is that you will have to write out everything yourself rather than using pre-made printables. On the other hand, it is highly customizable and the small size means it would be easy to carry with you outside the home.
Mine is just a plain white binder that I’ve had for over 15 (or 20?) years but I’m ready for a change. I think I “need” something prettier. I’m going to be doing a major overhaul of my homemaking binder this summer and am now in the process of finding just the right notebook/binder. I’ll be sure to share a photo and I’d love to see yours, as well.
3. Print the necessary sheets.
There are countless sources of free printables. You can certainly create your own and one of these days I just might create some specifically for you, my Life With Dee readers. However, chances are you can easily find any type of page you desire.
Here are a few sources:
Unless you are keeping it very simple, you’ll likely want some dividers so you can easily locate the section you need. You can make your own with card stock but I like something like these with pockets and tabs.
4. Use it!
This is where some of us lose the plot. Like any new habit, it takes time to implement. Once you’ve determined your purpose for a homemaking binder you can then decide how it will best serve you. Is it something you will leave out and utilize every day, checking off daily tasks and referring to often?
Or is it more of a resource for occasional use? If that’s the case, it’s way too easy to forget about it. I recommend setting up some type of reminder to pull it out and look through it on a scheduled basis. Even if you are just using it as a household information resource, it will soon become out of date without regular updates.
5. Schedule an annual review and update.
As soon as you get your binder up and running, get out your calendar. Schedule time one year from now to do a thorough review of your binder. Remove sections you aren’t using. If you have sections for addresses, passwords or other information that has changed, update those. Perhaps you’ve thought of something else that would be helpful to have in your binder. The key to a useful binder is to keep it up to date and relevant to your life. Things change…so should your binder.
Do you have a homemaking binder? If so, is it working well for you? I’d love to hear about it. Keep scrolling for more resources and helpful links.
I’m loving this Vera Bradley binder:
A plain binder with a clear pocket in front is also a great choice, though, because you can create your own cover and slip it inside the front pocket. There are more size and quality choices as well.
If digital is your preference, here is a resource that you might find helpful:
You may also enjoy:
This post is linked up at Linda’s Lunacy Homemaking Linky: