My desire to have a perfectly organized life is rivaled in magnitude by my love of office supplies. Unsurprisingly, one of my favorite WW projects is working on my family binder.
What Is A Family Binder
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, a family binder is a notebook that contains all of the important information and documents for your family. No two family binders are identical. Every mom differs in terms of how she operates and in what types of information she wants to track. Whatever your intentions are for your family binder, here are some things to help you get yours together.
What To Keep In A Family Binder
My personal preference is to keep two binders. One binder contains everything I need to keep my day-to-day family life organized. The other one is the one I would grab if the house was on fire. It’s also the one I grab whenever I have to do something like register the kids for school, take my son to apply for his learner’s permit, or to the post office to complete passport applications. I’m going to provide you with a list of items you would want to keep in each, as well as several pages and links to templates so you can create the perfect binder for you and your family.
Here is what I keep in my emergency binder:
- Official copies of each family member’s birth certificate
- Official copy of my marriage certificate
- Official copy of my husband’s current military orders
- Current shot records for each of my children
- Photocopies of our insurance cards
- Current vet records for my cat and dog, including copies of their rabies certificates and microchip information
- Copy of our lease
- Photocopies of our social security cards (we keep the actual cards in our fireproof safe)
- Photocopies of our drivers’ licenses and military/dependent ID’s
- Photocopies of each child’s most recent report card
- Copies of mine and my husband’s official transcripts
- Copies of our car insurance policy
- Copies of our homeowners and renters insurance policies
- Copies of our life insurance policies
- List of all financial accounts with contact numbers for each bank/financial institution (including savings, checking, credit cards, mutual funds, and mortgage)
- Power of Attorney
And this is how I have my family organizer binder arranged:
- Calendars – I track all of my family’s commitments on our wall calendar in the kitchen and on my phone, but in the binder I keep copies of all the calendars we collect from our various activities
- School calendar
- Sports schedules
- School lunch calendar
- Religious education schedule
- Contacts – I keep all of my personal contacts in my computer address book, which also syncs with my phone, but in my family organizer I keep all the other numbers I need.
- I have several business card holder inserts in which I keep business cards for all the places I ever need to contact (e.g. dentist, handyman, hairstylist). If you do this and you are bad at remembering names, like me, organize these in alphabetical order by what the person/company does, not by their name.
- I keep a list of the local utilities and non-emergency services and their contact numbers.
- Rosters (children’s classes, sports, book club, etc.)
- Kids – I have one section for each of my children so I can keep each of their schedules and activities straight
- Class schedule
- School floor plan (grab one at open house)
- Important paperwork from teachers (usually given at open house at the beginning of the year)
- General school and transportation information sheet (click here)
- Contracts for activities (e.g. gymnastics contract, musical instrument rental agreement)
- List of magazine subscriptions
- List of charitable contributions and poly envelope insert for keeping receipts
- List of home improvements and poly envelope insert for keeping receipts
What You Need For A Family Binder
My binders are pretty low-tech. I use page protectors for everything so I can easily slide schedules, rosters, etc. in and out. So, on the simple side, you need a binder, page protectors, dividers, and maybe a few special binder inserts like business card holders and large pockets or envelopes.
I’ve found that I don’t do well with templated sheets that I have to continually update, but if you prefer that system, there are several sites with cute printables specifically designed for family binders. This definitely “ups” the cute factor of the binder. Here are some of my favorites (due to designs and variety they offer):
If you’re willing to spend some money, momstoolbelt.com has a great one with every type of page you can imagine. You pay $24.95 for a lifetime membership allowing you to download as many templates as often as you want forever!