(Originally published 7/7/2011, updated 4/7/2015)
A Family Reference Binder is a wonderful tool to keep your household running smoothly. Although computing and phone apps continue to make life easier, some things still feel best on paper.
To make a Family Reference Binder, all you need is a 2-inch three ring binder, 8-12 tab dividers, 5-10 sheet protectors and access to a printer or copy machine. The purpose of the binder is to consolidate information used with your recurring household activities as well as your ongoing home improvement projects. You will need to customize your binder to what suits your family but for a general idea, here are a few of the things you’ll find in mine:
- Grocery List - after tiring of rewriting bananas, milk, eggs, etc. each week I made one master list, copied it 50 times and each week I pull one out and simply circle or write in what we need.
- House Cleaning Checklist - again, the same activities must be done every week, so I have one master checklist, copied in bulk, which I pull out weekly, post it to the refrigerator and ensure its all checked off come Sunday.
- Frequently Called Numbers - no matter how mobile the family is, these lists have been accessed numerous times. Include the community gate house, your home service repair team, restaurants, and kids’ phone numbers including doctors and friends.
- Annual Goals & Budgets - No matter how much we want to shy away from committing anything to paper, there is no getting around the truth that writing our goals down forces us to be thoughtful about what we’re driving to achieve each year. I also post my Personal Goals Sheet on my laundry room cork board so its visible in one of my most frequented places!
- Home Improvement Lists- Keep a master list of all the things you want to do on your house, big and small, from changing out the lighting in one troublesome room or redoing the mulch or adding crown moulding, etc.