Saturday, February 5, 2011

Organization: Family Notebook

My friend Mary recently started blogging, and her main focus is on how being creative & thrifty saves her family money. She has some great ideas, and being that her four children have all survived to adulthood, or near adulthood, she's an inspiration to me. I have a certain four year old whose mouth is going to get him sent to boarding school very soon. Come to think of it, Mary told me last summer that she covets him, so maybe I should just drop him off on her doorstep. Don't judge me, I would punch airholes in the box first.

Anyhoo, Mary's thoughts on thriftiness made me think about my own strength, which is organization. I love organization. I mean, I really ♥ it a lot. My house isn't perfectly organized, mostly because of the kids who undo all my work, but it's pretty great I think.  I spoke at my MOPS group recently (as one of a panel) on this topic, and specifically on our Family Notebook.

I got the Notebook idea from Organized Home. It's pretty much what you think it is: a notebook for our family full of important information and papers that need to be saved. I have a stainless steel refrigerator and you can't put magnets on the front of it. It's also giant (yay me!) so it encroaches on the walkway next to it that leads to the living room. This means that if I hang papers on the side of the fridge, Tom will inevitably walk past and send them all flying. This makes him very cranky. So I started putting important papers on the corkboard in the same walkway. This didn't work very well either, because I would have to flip through the stack under the push pin to find what I needed. I have a low threshold for tedious things, and this was right up there.
So I went hunting for another way, and found the Family Notebook idea at OH. (They have printable pages if you want to check them out.)
I was going to post a picture of ours, but it's nothing to look at: just a plain green binder with dividers.  Here's what I've put into ours:

emergency numbers page: I leave the binder open to this page when the neighbor girl sits for us. Every number you can think of, including other neighbors and grandparents along with police, etc.

schedules: small group and shuttle (Tom drives the church shuttle once a month). The shuttle schedule also has a contact list on it, a must keep piece of paper!

finance: We just started this section since we started taking the Financial Peace University class at church. ( This section includes budget, allocated spending, debt snowball and so forth.

kids: I have a main section for them, with three subdivisions. Anything that applies to all three kids goes in front. This includes the Awana calendar and policies, info on swim lessons and head lice info (please God, let me never have to refer to that page!)  A has papers on student council, class schedules, chorus info, teacher agreements (each of her teachers seem to have a policy she has to sign, which seems awfully high maintenance to me, but whatever). We also have her Reading Olympics info in there, so she can keep track of the books she needs to read for it. We have a parent access center in junior high, so the page with my login information is vital. I can check her grades on every single assignment, as well as any disciplinary info. I'm sure this will come in handy when E is a student there in a few years. Thankfully the girl is a good kid and behaves herself.  Speaking of E, I have schedules and school info in his section, but because of his special needs I have an entire separate binder for him as well. (If you ever want to impress a special education teacher, show up to a meeting with one of these. They will love you.)

recipes: The final section is all about food. I titled it recipes, but I have a lot of other things in there: powdered milk conversion chart, alcohol substitution chart, spice & seasoning inventory, pantry inventory & deep freezer inventory

The list goes on and on, including TC's asthma medication papers, but you get the gist. The notebook is for anything that you need to keep, but need to refer to often and don't want cluttering up your kitchen or filing cabinet.


Mary Garven said...

I love it - not just because of the shout out - "eblogger Mary Garven That Makes Cents" - but because of the great idea - I have folders, but same idea - we no longer need the babysitting page - your day will come and you know I would take T. anytime!!
Don't you just feel good when you are organized - it is like all the endorphins are humming!! thanks for the inspiration - I'm going to go put the newspaper back in order :)

Julie said...

I'm totally opposite of you when it comes to organization. I just haven't been able to find a way to keep myself organized when it comes to my home. I love the binder idea! We too have a stainless steel fridge so everything gets stuck onto the side of it. The problem is that the affected side also faces directly into our living room (especially since we took down the wall b/w the two rooms). It's a real eyesore!!

On a totally different note, Tony and I are starting FPU class next week (intro was last night) and I can't wait! I'm really hoping it'll help us get onto the same page when it comes to finances.