Friday, April 15, 2011

Home Management Notebook

Several weeks ago, I mentioned that I'd always wanted to tackle a "Home Management Notebook".  I originally had read about this a few years ago, but never seemed to go farther than digging a binder out of my closet, loading it with paper, and making one "To Do" list.

Just the name of this thing "Home Management Notebook" sounds a little intimidating.  And there are so many different formats and examples out there.  Which one is best?  What will work for me?  Most of the formats were a little overwhelming for me or they didn't pertain to what was needed in my household.

And then, it happened.  It happened without effort really!  A friend asked me if I had actually worked on the home management notebook, and I realized that without even meaning to - I had made myself a home management notebook! (Seriously, let's call it HMN from now on, because this is getting ridiculous).

So here is my version of the HMN and my "take-aways" on some lessons I've learned.

Start Small

It all started with an impulse buy at Target:


Truth be told, I was really looking for yet another journal.  But this time...this time I would really write in it!!  That's what I always tell myself.

There was just something about the layout of this binder.  It really overcame many of the obstacles and annoyances of the average journal and binder combined.  The feel of a spiral notebook, yet the freedom of a binder to pull and add.

And that's how my HMN started.  It started with small aspirations - just a journal.


Notice that I didn't immediately label each tab with the section or need I "thought" should be in there.  I started with my most immediate need - a journal.  A place to record and process my day.  My journal has become my jumping off point for just about every other area of my HMN because it's here I process what my needs are and then those needs are translated to the rest of my life.  

For me, it makes a lot of sense to have my journal in my HMN.  

Think Practically

At this point in the game, I didn't even know I was creating a HMN.  And then, I signed up for E-Mealz.  Basically, each week you get two pages to print out.  One page with a list of the meals for the week and how to prepare them, and another page with a shopping list.  I plan on reusing these recipes and lists when my subscription runs out so I wanted a way to store them but also protect them from getting ruined while cooking or at the grocery store.  

Page protectors were the solution.  I put the two pages back to back and had an instant meal plan within the confines of one page!  It was so nice to have it all together in one place and not getting crumpled around in my purse or covered in grease while cooking.  And since it was in a page protector, it fit perfectly in my new binder.  What a great place to keep each weeks menus!  And that is how the next tab in my HMN came along - Meals.


One of the big keys for me here is that it is practical.  I can easily turn my spiral binder to this page and cook. I don't have to worry about ruining the pages and it's very handy to have it all in one spot.  After grocery shopping, I also tuck the receipt on the other side with the grocery list so I can compare weeks and prices later.  I have a six month subscription to E-mealz and my plan is to have a nice selection of meals and grocery lists to pull from at the end of that time.  I also make a note on each meal so I can remember which ones we liked and which ones I can scrap!

Be Flexible 

Once I started seeing the benefits of keeping everything I needed at my fingertips, I thought of other areas of my life that could be improved by using my HMN.  The next logical tab was for Hayden's Preschool lesson plans, schedule, and worksheets.  I have a rather large binder of Hayden's lesson plans and activities for the whole year - it is about 3 inches thick!  It's very heavy and time-consuming to sort through and it was making homeschool more difficult than it had to be.  I took a Saturday night to pull out all the lesson plans, worksheets, and other needs for the upcoming week and put them all together in my HMN.  I also sat down and wrote out a rough schedule for each day.

This made life so much easier!  Less digging around for papers and pulling out the BIG binder every time I wanted to check something.


Having a schedule was helpful, but we most certainly did not stick to it most days.  The schedule was my guide, not my master.  If I felt a trip to the library was better than a worksheet or other play activity, then that's what we did.  Being flexible, not only in homeschool, but with myself is so important.


I think flexibility is also important for your HMN.  If something is not working - get rid of it!!  If you make a schedule - for school or cleaning or whatever - and it doesn't work - change it! This stuff is not written is stone.  After all it is my HMN.

A Work in Progress

One of the last sections I have worked on is the therapy strategies I get for Corbin.  Each week we are given goals and suggestions to work on and I love having the week's ideas from all three of his therapists in one place.  I can easily highlight the things I want to try and then come up with a schedule for implementing the strategies during the day.


There will be many more sections to my HMN - of that I am sure.  It is a work in progress and will never be finished.  My life is in constant flux, and I will continue to change and rearrange things to suit my needs.  In the future, I can definitely see sections like children's ministry, a cleaning schedule, or an emergency information sheet for parents/babysitters.  That's the beauty of this - it's my HMN, not some formula or one size fits all example.  It really is just looking at my needs and trying to meet those needs the best I can.  I also love that I have been able to go at my own pace, slowly morphing it into what's best for me.  I have never been overwhelmed in this process - only excited and energized to finally have something that is working well for me!

If there is interest, I most certainly will write future posts on the changes and additions I've made along the way.  I certainly have a lot of ideas for future stuff!

Do you have a HMN? If so, what do you put in yours?  Or if you don't - what would you like to see in yours?


gsv said...

I need a cleaning section stat!

One fun idea I saw was a calendar section. I already a hanging calendar I write on, but this met more needs. She would put each month in sheet protectors, so that she could add things to go with the month. For example, 3 birthdays written in march, so 3 pre-purchased bday cards slipped Congratulation cards put in the months for anniversaries, someone's estimated due date month,etc. Bought tickets for a concert in June, put them with the June calendar, etc. This seemed brilliant to me, haha

Amanda said...

How funny...I had this one my list of things to blog about very soon. I have several things that I use, but they actually needed to just be put altogether in a notebook so I perused the aisles at Target and I really loved the one you got! I think I like that it is so flexible and isn't such a hard edge on the ring side. So of course, I bought it...thanks for the recommendation. :)

As for what is in mine...well, right now, I have a daily to-do list just to keep my brain clear on some of the things I need to accomplish (ie: things like bag and freeze meat that i just bought from grocery store yesterday). I also have my menu plan for the week -- which right now is also E-mealz. I used to put the recipes together (since they are also in protector sheets in my recipe binder) and put them with my to-do list, which worked well b/c everything was right there.

Lastly, I have sheets in plastic covers pertaining to cleaning. I have an everyday list, a weekly list (with tasks separated by day), and a monthly list. Each item has a checkbox next to it and I use dry/wet erase markers to mark the items I finish. (Similar to FlyLady type of schedule)

I am hoping to add a section for learning soon with ideas for each week so J and I can actually do some learning type play instead of just hanging out playing randomly. If that makes sense?

gsv said...

would you be open to sharing your cleaning lists?

Ticia said...

I totally missed this post when you wrote it. I usually skim your posts, but have missed the last several.......

I've started several, but not kept up with any of them. It's on my to do list also. As is purging large amounts of stuff.