Organize Your Family with a Family Binder

Every Tuesday is Finance & Family Day at Zen Habits.

I’ve had a lot of questions and comments about raising six kids, which I have to admit is a bit of a challenge (and one that I thoroughly enjoy!). Most questions arise around the finances of a large family (which I’ve addressed before) and how to stay organized. I’ll address one of my favorite hacks for the latter question – our Family Binder.

Basically, there’s a lot of different information your family needs on a regular basis that often ends up being scattered around the house. The Family Binder makes it easy to keep everything together, in one reference book.

Putting one together is easy: Just get any kind of three-ring binder, and a bunch of plastic sheet protectors. Then just print out a bunch of forms (you can make your own, as I usually do, or find them on the internet) that you can fill in as needed.

What goes in the family binder? Anything you need. Here are some ideas (including some that I use) — but you should feel free to customize it as needed:

  • Emergency info: Phone numbers for your doctor and pediatrician, emergency numbers for fire and police and hospital and poison control, other important numbers.
  • Important info: Social security numbers for your kids, health insurance info, anything else you need to refer to frequently.
  • Important docs: Birth certificates, marriage license, insurance stuff, shot records, etc.
  • Weekly menu: Plan out your weekly dinners for the next week or two.
  • Family calendar: I actually use Gcal, but if you prefer a written calendar that anyone can look at, insert it into the Family Binder.
  • Recipes: Your family’s favorites, which makes it easier to make the shopping list once you’ve done the weekly menu.
  • Gift ideas: write down ideas for birthdays and Christmas as they come up.
  • Reading/watching lists: books, dvds, cds, other things you want to buy/rent.
  • Checklists: any checklists that help you remember things: packing lists, chores lists, car maintenance schedule, etc.
  • Finances: your budget, spending log, bills to pay, etc.
  • School stuff: school calendars, newsletters, any other papers that come in.
  • Ideas: I print out lists of activities I like to do with the kids, and other idea lists. Stuff from Zen Habits would be ideal. 🙂

You can probably think of other ideas. Make this notebook your own. But it’s probably one of the best tools possible for keeping your family organized.

Have your own ideas? Let us know in the comments.

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Some resources elsewhere:

  • About.com
  • Melissa’s Blog
  • Organized Home
  • Homeschool Blogger
  • Frugal Families

Other family day articles:

  • 50 Grocery Shopping Tips
  • Best All-time Children’s Books
  • How to Teach Your Kids Good Habits
  • Get Your Kids Outdoors
  • 100 Ways to Have Fun with Your Kids for Free or Cheap
  • Family Day and Family Meetings
  • Baby Makes Eight: Raising Six Kids, Part 1 (Finances)
  • Baby Makes Eight: Raising Six Kids, Part 2 (organizing)
  • Positive Parenting

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