Household Planners are all the rage right now. People want to get back to simplicity of life and have guidelines to help them throughout their day. I can tell you from personal experience that my stress level has greatly decreased since I implemented the use of my planner. It is inexpensive and easy to maintain once it has been put together.
There are many reasons why we should keep a Household Planner such as to keep a routine, to plan meals so that you save time and money, to keep track of appointments and other events, and to keep all necessary information at your fingertips. I love the comfort of knowing that I can just grab my household planner and go to an appointment and know everything I could possibly need is inside. Since your family is different from mine your needs may not be exactly the same. However, the same basic principles will apply. Simply adjust the categories and forms to fit your needs.
Now, before you argue that you are too undisciplined to use a household planner, let me argue that that is the precise reason why you need one! I personally was great about implementing ideas but horrible at following through with them. Once my planner was created, I made a decision to commit to this task for a month. I was determined to give it a good try. After the month was up I couldn't believe that I had gone so long without it before. Just remember, it only takes 21 days to form a habit and this is a good one!
Let's start with categories. This is a list of what I would consider necessities for all Household Planners. They would include:
Emergency Information: This is a page that contains all needed emergency information; 911 information, our address and phone number, all family members and ages, phone numbers to poison control, sheriff's office, the kid's pediatrician, etc.
This is adhered to the inside front cover of the planner. I pray we never have to use it but if an accident should occur, my kids have been taught to grab this book and open it up to find out what to do and who to call. It is also handy for babysitters since it has all information that she might not be familiar with.
Calendar: I do use a packaged calendar system because I found it on sale (Wal-Mart $1.49). I knew I couldn't print it for that price. I immediately place all dated information in my calendar. This way I can toss out all unnecessary paper which can lead to stacks of clutter. As soon as we get home from church, I update it with upcoming events so that I can toss the flyers and such I received from church. When I open mail I keep it handy to jot down due dates and anything else I need to remember.
I look at my calendar every night before I go to bed to find out if I have anything to do the next day. If I do then I jot it down on my 'To Do' list for the next day. This saves me precious hours of sleep since I don't stay up wondering what I have to do and it also saves me from the chaos of realizing too late that I had plans.
TIP - My 'To Do' list is made up of printer mishaps. I simply cut them into 4 pieces and use the other side. This recycles my paper and prevents me from having to print or purchase something separate for this much needed task.
Grocery and Meal Planning: I keep grocery list forms and a weekly meal planner in this section. This is the highest form of monetary return for your planner. Deciding on a menu, whether it be for freezer cooking or day-to-day cooking, will save you a ton of money at the grocery store because you are not guessing as to what to purchase. I personally prefer to do about 25 freezer meals plus breakfast items and that leaves me about 5 days open in case I get a creative en vie to cook up a gourmet meal. Which I might add is done with whatever is in the kitchen.
I also keep a running list of items in my pantry, what meals I have frozen in the freezer, and a list where I jot down web sites and books that I want to check out about cooking. As I use things from the freezer or pantry I cross them out. These sheets are updated once a month.
Debt & Finances: This is where I keep my monthly budget, debt reduction plan, and bills worksheet. Fortunately, I have very, very, little debt. I once had to pay my way out of nearly 35 thousand worth of debt and I never want to get that way again. I want to point out that the reason I do have a credit card is because after paying off all of my debt and not having any for nearly 2 years, my credit score dropped drastically. I spoke to a financial advisor who informed me that no debt decreases your score similar to bad debt! So, gritting my teeth, I applied for a credit card and maintain a small balance just to increase my score. You never know when you will need credit!
I also maintain all of my utility bills in this section. I have a pocket folder that I use to store the bills in until they are paid. Once they are paid the get shredded. I have a record of the transaction through the check, the credit union, and online. There is no reason, in my opinion, to keep an additional stack of paper bills lying around. They just attract more clutter.
Daily Routines: This section contains my routines for the day. I keep my main form in a plastic sheet protector so that I can use a dry erase marker and check it off as I go. I reuse it each week and it serves as a reminder for all those little things that you would typically forget like when to exfoliate your face, or clean out the refrigerator, or clean appliances. I also have a space to take notes. I usually use this if I have a special project that I want to get done that week such as cleaning out the catch all drawer in the kitchen.
I also keep detailed notes about what to do in each room when I get to it on my calendar. You might notice that most of my routines in this section are FlyLady inspired. I highly recommend her book Sink Reflections for a good running start to getting your house out of CHAOS status (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). I also keep home maintenance schedules in this section. They include chores like changing filters, flushing out the hot water heater, defrosting refrigerator, etc.
Quick Reference: This section contains a section for each member of the household. Within that section is a 'Emergency Contact and Medical Info' form, their chore list, copy of their birth certificate and social security card, a parent's permission form to treat in medical emergencies, copies of any legal papers such as child custody agreement, and transcripts. This is very handy when I need information to send to the school board pertaining to homeschooling; to leave with the babysitter In case she needs it, or when we go to the doctor and such. I also keep a set of household rules in this section and addresses of family and friends.
Other sections that I have and you might be interested in are:
Spiritual Logs and Bible Study: In this section I keep a running list of bible topics that I would like to study, songs that I would like to put on my new iPod, ideas that I would like to write about, etc. You could also use it to keep track of prayer requests and things like that. I have a prayer journal which is the only reason I don't keep that in here.
Career Information: This contains my diplomas, certifications, resume, published articles, jobs I am interested in, and information I need for jobs I was contracted to do.
HomeSchool Planners and Curriculum Instruction: This section is about to get it's own planner! For now it contains lesson plans, reading logs, unit study planners, field trip information, notebook page originals, and other forms.
Some sections that I would like to add in the future are:
Extracurricular activities: My boys aren't participating in any sports right now since we are in limbo with my upcoming wedding and having to sell this house and move in with grandma until Ryan and I are married. So, once we are settled in I would like to get them involved again. I will keep schedules, stats, and other information regarding it here.
Scrapbooking: Woo Hoo! I want to keep ideas, color combinations, inspiring magazine articles, and many other things in this section. Oh the joy!
Home Improvement: This will be a great place to keep ideas for remodeling, paint and fabric swatches, photos, magazine articles, budget, and other things related to home improvement.
Some other ideas for sections are: Holidays, health and fitness, travel, family tree, family reunion, personal library, and much more. Make a section for anything that you need to keep track of and need to have easy access to.
The materials needed to create a Household Planner are:
1. Large 3-ring binder
2. Paper & printer ink
3. Sleeve Protectors - about a dozen or so
4. Dry erase marker
5. Tabs/dividers - manila folders would work well for this as well
6. Pocket Pages - optional