Well, “finished” as in as complete as any project done by a perfectionist could possibly be. I’m doing my best to let it be what it was intended – a tool that our family USES – and not merely a piece of art that adorns my desk.
So, what exactly is a Household or Family Notebook?
I suppose it’s not the same for everyone; but, for us it’s a collection of documents to manage our family “business” better. It will help me be even more organized, and it should provide valuable information for Doc Sci or anyone else who might need to take over daily affairs for some reason. It should also provide quick access to vital information during an emergency situation.
I started out researching what other people had in their notebooks (using Pinterest and Google, of course). I made a huge list of ideas, and then I narrowed that list down to 15 categories. In those 15 categories, I wrote down items that were appropriate to the category and would be referenced or used frequently. I then searched for existing templates that I could use as a springboard to design my own documents.
When poking around online, I noticed some people had four binders instead of one. Other people used their binders exclusively to pay bills and didn’t include anything else like meal planning or personal health records. I didn’t want my notebook to be a replacement for a file cabinet – but, I also didn’t I want my desk to be overwhelmed with a library of resources.
Ultimately, a Household Notebook needs to be something useful for that particular household.
So, what’s in my notebook?
My 15 categories and a few examples of the documents in each are as follows…
- Contact Info
- Emergency phone numbers
- German & American contact numbers
- “In case of emergency” document
- 2012 and 2013 at a glance
- Important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, etc)
- Yearly calendaring list (everything from dentist appointments to dryer cleanings)
- German and American holidays including daylight savings schedules (they’re different for the two countries)
- Doc Sci’s work schedule and my weekly schedule
- Party planning checklists
- Home Management
- Deep cleaning checklist
- Storage unit contents – Germany and USA
- Stain removal guide
- Garment care symbols
- Grocery lists for regular grocery stores
- List of items only available at specialty shops
- Meal planning sheets
- A list of staple meals
- A list of meals to try (and space to write the verdict)
- Restaurants to try (and space to write the verdict)
- Seasonal produce guide for menu planning
- Stockpile inventory
- Children’s current sizes and measurements
- Chart with American and European sizes, including shoes
- Children’s daily schedule and routine
- Babysitter notes for nights out
- Birthday party ideas
- Chore chart ideas
- Medical history for each family member
- Physician phone numbers
- CPR instructions
- School contact info and phone list
- Home school weekly planning sheet
- Home school year overview
- Money & Finance
- Family budget
- Wallet contents including card numbers & contact numbers
- Password log
- Yearly schedule of the best time to buy household items
- Auto insurance coverage details
- Ideas for local family outings (not overnight)
- Vacation destination idea list (overnight)
- Packing lists
- Before-we-leave checklist
- Frequent flier mile information for all family members
- Expat Living
- Copies of passports
- Resources for renewing visas
- Generic to do list
- Generic project work sheet
- Generic week at a glance schedule for completing a project
- Thanksgiving guest list, meal planner, and grocery list
- Thanksgiving week planner
- Christmas card labels
- Gift gift lists
- Christmas cookie swap party planner
- Christmas guest list, meal planner, and grocery list
- Blank copy of December 2012
- Ideas page for future posts
- Yearly calendar for planning
- Local public pool schedules
- Local sport club classes for kids
- Ideas for activities during summer and holidays
- Items I frequently (and currently need to) request from the US
- List of topics to research
- Household items to fix
- Generic sheet for thoughts on a particular topic
Using the documents I found online, I created my own set of documents in Illustrator that fit our family’s situation (living abroad, don’t own a home, etc.). I also had to make sure all the pages matched and looked pretty!
After designing all the documents, I organized them into folders on my computer hard drive that matched the categories above. That way, when I need to print out new menu planning sheets, I can just open the “Meals” folder on my computer the same as I could flip to the “Meals” tab in the notebook.
I wanted to print out the documents at a lab so they’d look nicer. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any existing print labs in my city, so I had to settle for our HP Deskjet. Surprisingly, Illustrator did a great job with color, and what I saw on the screen was how it looked on paper. Sweet!
Some reference documents went in page protectors, and some were just hole-punched and placed in the corresponding category tab.
I bought a plastic envelope to put in the back of the notebook to hold takeout menus and other small scraps of paper that didn’t fit anywhere else. Unfortunately, it was too big, so I’ll have to check a few other stores for smaller pouches.
I have a few finishing touches to put on the notebook (for starters, filling in the budget and phone numbers by hand). After that, I’m looking forward to how this notebook will help streamline my “mama” job and make life easier for Doc Sci when I’m out of it for a few weeks. I think my Household Notebook will be a great tool for our family in the years to come.
How about you? Do you have a household notebook? Why or why not?