When I was in the workplace, the only way I could manage my work and personal life was through my planners. I had my blackberry for my personal diary and contacts, a day planner at the office for my work schedule, a Rolodex at the office for my industry contacts, a calender at home... you get the picture. When I left work to have kids, other than my blackberry, it pretty much all went by the wayside. And that was fine when my kids were babies. But now that the kids are a little bit older, and I have activities and classes and teachers to keep track of, I needed more. In a period of serendipity, just as I started realising that my blackberry on its own wasn't cutting it anymore, I started coming across the concept of the family organiser (sometimes known as a household notebook or home management binder) across the web.
These family organisers take various forms, from simple family diaries to complex binders that cover every aspect of the household. The basic principle of the family organiser is that the household's important information is stored in one place, which is easily accessible by everyone in the family. It contains schedules and phone lists, pantry lists and warranty inventories, planner forms and school notes. The idea is that all of your info is in one place, and most importantly, easily found. It is a one-stop-shop; for you, your husband and your children.
My family organiser is based around the Schoolwise Family Organiser that I received free in a goody bag at a baby show just after Irini was born. The Schoolwise Organiser comes in its own binder with various forms in 5 chapters: Calendar, School, Activities, Phone Lists and Personal and was a wonderful leaping off point for creating my own personalised organiser. I have transferred the contents into my own linen bound binder (since that looked so much better than the plastic one it came in!), added in my housekeeping control journal, and additional forms that I have gathered from the web. An excellent source for forms is LifeasMom; FishMama has some great ones that only another mum could have thought of! As well as forms, an indispensable element for me is a number of empty page protectors. I use these to gather together any notes, enrolment forms or letters that I need to deal with.
My family organiser now contains everything important to running our household and our daily lives: phone numbers (from emergency numbers like fire and police, to tradesmen, to the playgroup's mothers numbers); Stephen's kindy details, including the teachers' names and after hours contacts; and personal information such as insurance details, a household warranty list, superannuation details, and birthday lists. It even has a stain removal chart, a gift closet inventory and my recipe cheat sheet that I found at Angry Chicken. If you meal plan (which I am planning to start doing, no pun intended!) this would be the perfect place to include it. I store mine in the kitchen at my command centre. Here it is in a central location, is right next to the phone and if your household is anything like mine, I tend to spend a LOT of time here!
Your family organiser should be a living organism; it should change and evolve over time. Once Stephen starts school and after-school activities, I'm sure the currently empty Activities section will fill up. As I come across new forms I add them in if they are useful right now, or file them at the back if I think they will be useful in the future.
Now don't get me wrong, my family organiser hasn't replaced my Blackberry or my MomAgenda planner that I got for my birthday last year. Both of these are still indispensable to me! But having a one-stop-shop for all the household stuff has made my life and my husband's much easier.