Saturday, July 28, 2012

Create a Household Manual, Household Notebook, or Family Organizer

In it's simplest form, a Household Manual (sometimes also known as a Household Notebook or Family Organizer) is just a binder where you keep all the information that is necessary for the smooth running of your home. (The one above is available here.)  This is a very useful thing to have in your home not only for your own reference but also should you ever find yourself in an emergency situation.  If you are away or sick and someone else needs to take over your responsibilities they can check your binder and know exactly what needs to be done and where to find everything.

There are many specialty binders and kits available now, but really all you need are a few supplies and you can quite easily make your own.

To make a basic Household Manual you will need a 2 inch or 3 inch binder.  I prefer white ones like these with plastic covers so you can insert your own cover sheet.

Some plastic page protectors
And some dividers.  The ones that are extra large to use with page holders.These are available at any office supply store, or if you prefer the convenience of ordering online like I do you can also order them through Amazon through these links :
Wilson Jones Economy Vinyl Round Ring View Binder, 8.5 x 11 Inches, 3 Inch Capacity, White (362-49W)
Avery Big Tab Insertable Plastic Dividers, 8-Tab Set, 1 Set (11901)
Avery Top Loading Non-Glare Poly Sheet Protectors 100 Count (74102)

Now what do you put into your Household Manual?

The first page of your Household Notebook, regardless of who you are, should contain emergency information.  Hopefully you will never need it, but if you do you will be so thankful you thought about this ahead of time.

I have a 3 inch binder that I use as my Family organizer because I have a section for all my instruction books and warranties as well.  When the dryer needed fixing it was very handy to have all the relevant product numbers at my fingertips. (above example from )

I also have a section in my Household Manual for my menu plans and cook ahead plans.  I keep them in the plastic page protectors and when I am going to work on a plan I can tick off the steps with a marker as I do them.  Then, when I'm finished, I just wipe the marks off the plastic and file it back into my binder.
To give you an idea of what to put into your Household Notebook (Household Manual or Family Organizer) I recommend you visit  If you do a Google search you will find there are several sites that show you how to set up a Household Manual, but I think this is one of the most thorough and one of the best.  It walks you through making your manual step by step and suggests exactly what to keep in it. It has numerous downloadable forms that you can use.

They even have a cover and binder spine (see above) that you can print as well.  This is what I use because I think it's very clean and unfussy.

Of course there are some people who don't consider unfussy an asset, and that is where, if you buy a plain white binder, you can personalize it any way you wish.   Here is a very colourful example fromlibbywithnall's photostream

Here is another one from where they made this very innovative binder cover  from an old pair of jeans.   What a creative recycling idea!

Even though it's pretty easy to make your own, you might prefer to buy a binder that is all set up for you like these, and then just add other sections to it as needed.

  Mom's Ultimate Family Organizer: A One-Stop Planner for Busy Moms

Home Keeper: The Ultimate Organizer

The Ultimate Home Journal & Organizer

All three of these are available on Amazon with full descriptions, and the first two have the "look inside" feature so you can have an idea of what it looks like.  Each one is set up a bit differently, so you will need to read the description to decide which one is best for you.

Most people use these binders for reference, but some work-at-home mothers also use them as a Family Planner like this example from

Others, like  use them to keep track of all sorts of household projects. Opening this colourful binder is sure to brighten anyone's day!

Much as I am a firm believer in minimizing paper as much as possible, there is some paper that you just have to keep, and that seems to be especially true when it comes to things to do with your home.  Everyone has guarantees, warrantees, instructions and receipts that they need to have handy for repairs and general maintenance, so having one place for it all that is easily referenced when needed will make your life a lot easier.

And of course the idea is not just to have it but to use it.  Fill it with information specific to your lifestyle and it will become a very useful tool that you will never want to be without.

By the way, never let your Household Manual leave your home.  It's too easy to loose the contents somewhere and usually a lot of what is in there is irreplaceable.  At home is where you need it most of the time anyway.  If there is something you wish to take with you either just take out that particular page or better still make a copy of it for your purse.

Technology is a very useful thing, especially when you're trying to minimize as much as possible as I am, but paper still has it's uses as well, so the best thing is to let the two co-exist and work together - for your benefit.  Whether you want to call it a Household Manual, a Household Notebook or a Family Organizer, if you really want your home to run smoothly you need to have one.

 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw

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