A Home Management Binder can be a sanity saver when you have more than two things going on in your life at any given time, and let's face it, moms usually do. My HMB was inspired by another blogger and knitter, Little Turtle Mama. She wrote a very detailed post about her family and their HMB, and I realized it was exactly what I'd been looking for. Hence, the Stillar Home Companion was born.
It started as a typical three ring binder, doomed for a life of homework projects until I happened along that day. What sold me was the pink. Unlike it's fellows with the clear plastic covers outside, this one was beautiful hue of rosy pink. It, along with some dividers, a few folders, some paper and a handy zippered case accompanied me home, and the work began.
I started by going through my stock of scrapbooking paper until I found one that complimented the pink. It had spring sayings, interspersed with small graphics of all things spring. After cutting a small rectangle of that paper, I backed it with a heavier blue cardstock, leaving just enough peeking out for a nice border. Of that same cardstock I cut out a replica of one of the small graphics, a bird to be exact, and attached that to my faceplate. I did some scratchy outlining to anchor it and add the details, and then finished with some funky black stickers: Stillar Home Companion. A matching paper/cardstock combo finished off the spine, and then the inside work began.
I wrote a list of the areas of my life and what each might need to be kept organized. First and foremost in my binder, the first thing you see when you open it is my emergency contact information. It has everything that might be needed in a real emergency that might be forgotten in a panic. My husband's and my numbers, along with several other family members not too far away, our address and nearest cross streets, directions for the quickest route there, what color the house is, emergency type numbers like poison control and the fire and police stations, and finally, where the first aid and medicine is located in our house. Every time we leave the house in the hands of the babysitter, the binder is left open to this page on the counter.
Directly behind that is a cheat sheet for the babysitter. A tentative schedule for the kids, their likes and dislikes, what's allowed and what's not, and a space to write any special instructions for that particular day. Since all of my sheets are in sleeves, I can write in dry erase marker and keep reusing the same sheet over again. And finally, behind that and finishing off the vital info section is a page from their pediatrician's office with their numbers, website, and after hours numbers.
The next section is Home Upkeep, which has one lone sheet...my chore chart. The days of the weeks are at the top, and a list of all my weekly chores at the left. In the chart, certain chores are highlighted for certain days, with more on the days I tend to stay home, and less on days I always have other stuff going on. Every day, even if I accomplish nothing else, I do these chores so that I have a constant rotation. When I get done, it gets crossed off in dry erase. If a chore on that day doesn't need to be done, say, my kitchen floor still looks fine and doesn't need mopping that day, I cross it out on that day, and pick a day to move it to a couple of days ahead, and then outline the box on that day so I remember. Under that I have a list of chores that need to be done at least once a month, and under each month's heading, I cross them off as I do them that month. This is probably the most used and loved section for me, because as a mother of two under three, a wife, and a woman who runs a business out of her home, time can be a crunch for me and this keeps my house looking (for the most part) that I'm still on top of my house as well.
Behind that is Menu Planning, which will start getting more use this winter as I'm shut in more and need to have more structure, since a quick run to the store for something I forgot becomes an ordeal of getting two kids and myself bundled and then driving through snow and ice. My husband and I will sit down on Saturday night, the night before our weekly grocery run, and plan our week's menu. Then, list in hand, we can journey to the store with the exact ingredients for each meal. I don't have a Monday, Tuesday, etc. list, more of a series of bubbles that allow me to write in seven meals, and that I can pick at random any given night according to what we feel like.
Fourth is my Home Planning section, which holds plans, receipts and contacts for upcoming home renovations, ideas I'd like to implement, and general dreaming and scheming.
Last in this area of the binder is the Holiday section, which houses a list of every birthday of every person we know, from remote relatives to close friends. Behind that is a Christmas list chart, with all the people on our gift list and a place to write what they're getting, if it's been bought, and if it's been wrapped. Cuts down on the "I bought this sweater for Auntie Ruth but forgot about it and bought her a vase and now I've found this ugly sweater in June and I'm stuck with it" kind of ordeals.
Behind the organization section is the people section. Each family member has folder sleeve, including Bella. Notes, things to remember for that person (or dog), records, etc. is in that section. Bella's holds vet records and checkups, mine and Evan's houses medical records and appointment info, and the kids' is an assortment of drawings, appointment cards, and even a fingerprint record for each should something happen.
Behind this is three regular folders. The first houses all sorts of random contact information: phone numbers written on paper scraps, church directories, business cards - all the important stuff you always mean to transfer into an organized address book but let's face it, you won't find time to.
The second holds coupons. Gift cards, pizza flyers, special coupons for sales we can't pass up. If I need a coupon, there's no hunt for where I might have put it, because I know exactly where to find it. Note: this can become a bit of a trap if you don't clean out the expireds about once a month.
Last is the catch-all folder. This is where I put the papers that need to be filed or tucked in the binder when I don't have the time just then to do it, and then when I do find a moment, I know exactly where to look for the random bits of life that need to find a home.
In the built in pockets at the front and back of my binder are quick grab necessities. In the back are extra spreadsheets, should I need one for some other dreamed up organization or need to add to an existing one. They also work nicely as scratch paper. In the front is an assortment of blank "Thinking of you" type cards for an easy outlet when I just have to let someone know something and an email seems too modern. I like the little touches of snail mail and a handwritten something. I also put in a zippered case at the front that holds some pens, a hole punch, my dry erase marker, and some sticky notes. It's nice to have everything right where I need it. There's also a quote there, which was in the original inspiration binder that I loved which reads, "Don't let what you don't have spoil what you do have."
Throughout the binder is more scrap paper to dress it up. I find that when I add these touches, and make it pretty as well as functional, I use it more.
This binder has saved my life, and while some sections are used more than others, each is useful. Sometimes I forget in the middle of a hectic week to keep it updated, but the weeks that I do go much more smoothly and keep me a little more sane.
And that concludes your tour of the Home Companion.
*Note: Since originally writing this, I have added something to the binder. Not in the binder, but as a helper to it. It's a small notebook that I carry in my purse with a pen. It has two pockets and a handy string to keep it closed. When I'm out and about and get a business card or need to remember something that would normally go in the binder, I can put it in the little folder or jot it down, then transfer into the binder at a later date. It has a matching faceplate on it, and goes by the name "The Companion's Companion".