How to Create a Household Management Binder
We live in a fast-paced, sometimes chaotic society. Most people these days are extremely busy and when you throw in the varying schedules and needs of every member of your family, life can sometimes be overwhelming. This is why it is important that you stay organized.
Most parents work outside the home these days, and a household management binder is great for being informed on what is going on with your family. Even still, sometimes being a stay-at-home parent poses scheduling and organizational issues that can be difficult to keep up with. The concept of creating a household management binder can also help in roommate situations and minimize misunderstandings and conflict.
Regardless of your situation a household management binder may be the way to help life run a little smoother. Whether it is children, parents or roommates, everyone will know what is expected of them and understand the agreed upon rules of the house. In essence, it puts everyone on the same page.
Many people, whether it be parents or roommates, utilize a chart system. This, however, can clutter walls, especially for those who have a chart for almost everything. Don't worry, you don't necessarily have to get rid of the chart system all together. With the household management binder you can neatly file it away but have it easily accessible. And if you still aren't ready to take all of the charts down, that is okay, but you can choose a couple that are more important to have displayed over the rest, such as a calendar and a potty training chart.
For starters, you are going to have to buy at least one 3-ring binder, plus a binder for each individual in your household. Consider using a larger binder, such as a 3" master binder, to have available for the entire household. Then use somewhat smaller binders for individuals and in accordance with their needs.
Binders that allow you to slip a coversheet in the front enables you to personalize the binder for the individual. This helps not only state what the binder is but who the binder is for. This also helps older children and teens focus on their responsibilities without being overwhelmed by seeing everyone else's chores and responsibilities.
What if you have preschoolers that aren't reading yet? Make the book interactive for them. Find pictures or draw pictures that help show each rule. You can also include their reward charts in their binder. Again, it is all about personalization.
And what about a roommate scenario? Simple. Create a binder for each roommate. Come together at least once a week to share any new information for the upcoming week, such as schedule changes.
There are a variety of different sections in a household management handbook. You can modify sections to suit your own needs. Although there are some suggestions below, you know your family or household needs better than anyone else. Feel free to add more sections than listed here or even omit some.
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Create household rules for each room along with general rules for the whole house. Make sure to write every rule in the simplest of terms. Also included rules that you would think would be common sense just so every basis would be covered. You don't want someone, especially one of the kids or a roommate, coming back saying "Well, it wasn't in the handbook."
At the end of each rule, there will be listed what degree of consequences will be applied for not following the rule. This will be covered in the next section. The point to this is to let the children know what to expect. If they break the rule, they know there are consequences that come with making that decision. However, with a roommate situation it is up to the household to decide on consequences, if any should be taken. Hopefully at this point in life your roommate has a sense of responsibility and the household rules are just to be informed.
You can also include various etiquette rules to use in a variety of situations such as fine dining, birthday parties, going to a funeral, and so forth. This helps kids and some adult family members know appropriate ways to behave in various situations.
In a roommate scenario, it could simply be some things such as eliminating a habit or behavior when certain family members are visiting. For example, let's say your roommate using curse words that your parents would find offensive. By having the household rule of when your parents are visiting there is no curse words to be used, it will minimize any awkward moments or future lectures. Another example would be that perhaps you smoke cigarettes and your roommate is an asthmatic. Creating a rule of where to smoke, such as outside on the porch or balcony, could literally save your roommate's life.
Include a variety consequences by using a degree system. There are three degrees of consequences. First degree is less severe than second and third degree. Third degree is the most severe set of consequences. Outline various disciplines for each category.
In the case of raising children, first degree could have something easy as "grounded from the phone for three days" or "no television for a week." Second degree steps up the punishment and may include longer punishments and more severe punishments than the first degree such as "writing an essay on the topic of Mom's choice," "not allowed to hang out with friends for two weeks," "extra chores" and so forth. Third degree is more severe. This could include "grounded to room with no privileges for two weeks to one month," and "more intense extra chores such as cleaning the floor with just a sponge." You decide what punishments are appropriate for each degree. The point to this section is that your kids know the rules and the consequences. They know what to expect and thus can't use the excuse that they didn't know.
When it comes to roommates, sometime consequences aren't as feasible. However, in some instances, they can be modified. The key is communication and agreement. For example, if Jimmy shaved and left hair all over the sink, a consequence could be that he must be the one to clean the entire bathroom for a specified amount of time. Or say Toby left a mess after cooking some food. His consequence is not only cleaning up his mess, if another roommate hasn't already done it, but he must also buy all of his roommates dinner twice a week for a specified amount of time as agreed upon.
Consequences are merely accountability. If we, whether parents, children, or roommates, didn't have consequences then what would be the point of even creating the rule knowing it could be broken at anytime without anything happening or being held accountable?
Cleaning Rules and Schedule
In this section, first create a chore chart so that everyone in the house knows who cleans what and when. You can also list a laundry schedule in this section so people in the house will stop fighting over the washer and dryer. Then address each room individually explaining how to properly clean the room. This will include what must be done daily, weekly, and monthly along with clean as you go rules.
It can't be stressed enough on how helpful this is. The kids learn how to properly clean a particular room as well as know what their parents expect. When this is implemented, the house will be easy to keep picked up in half the time. Roommates also benefit from this concept, especially if one roommate is a neat freak and the other roommate has more of a slob mentality.
In this section, list each person's schedule for each given day. You can create a generic schedule for each day, but life happens such as appointments and so forth. If you know a day that will have an exception to the normal day, try to write out or print off an annotated copy as far in advance as possible. This way everyone will know what to expect ahead of time.
Knowing your roommates general schedule will helpful in some situations and great for safety. Let's say your roommate has work between certain times, and doesn't usually work overtime, yet the still hasn't come home all night. Then you would be more alerted to look around for him.
This doesn't mean you should have to check in with your roommate for every little thing, but if you know you aren't going to come home that night due to a trip or staying over at a significant other's place, then it is just common courtesy so there will be no alarm if you suddenly come up missing for a night or two.
If you don't have time to print a day by day schedule, consider a guideline schedule. Create a typical day schedule for each of the 7 days of the week. Keep it updated season by season. Also, explain that the schedule is just a guideline so they know what is expected of them and to help them manage their time. Be flexible with days that don't go as planned or have appointments or even spur of the moment family events.
Being too rigid can make life miserable. Be sure to leave room for spontaneity and fun. Having a schedule is supposed to provide structure but not to make the household feel like a prison.
Keep a budget section in the binder for the person responsible for tracking the household budget. Create a spreadsheet and project bills and payment dates. This helps to be more organized with the household money. Also list any creditor's information and account information so that you will have it handy when you need it. If you are sharing a household management handbook, you may not want to add your personal information. Even the children should have a budget regarding their allowance. This helps teach them budgeting skills early on.
When it comes to a roommate scenario, the only a shared budget should be included. This means a budget of living expenses, such as rent, electric, gas, water, etc. Individual budgets should be left up to the discretion of each roommate. And any personal information such as creditor and account information should not be shared.
Do you currently use a household management binder or willing to consider using one?
For those who implement individual binders, they can add a section that helps them keep up with their favorite website, login information and passwords. Again, this is completely optional. This is a suggestion for those who tend to lose or forget login information easily.
It also helps monitor where kids go on the Internet. The rule is that children and teens must give the parent(s) their login information for each site of which they are a member. Do not abuse this information by totally invading their privacy, but it may come in handy when another child may be bullying your child online or vice versa. Most children are too afraid and embarrassed to tell parents sometimes.
This is a wonderful section to the handbook. Most people have become too reliant on storing this information in their cell phones. However, technology isn't fail safe. Having a hard copy means you should no longer lose addresses, phone numbers, and emails. What's also good about this section is you can keep a list of your kids' friends' addresses, phone numbers, along with their parents' names and contact information. This has come in handy for when you need to reach your children when they are over at a friend's house. It is also handy for when the kids lose the phone numbers of their friends. Another plus to having this section is the fact that this helps minimize the stress regarding the sending out Christmas cards. You will have all of the information organized at the tip of your fingers.
This section allows you to keep up with birth dates, anniversaries, and so on. You can also make notes on things that interest a particular person to their clothing size. If you are the type who goes the extra mile to buy gifts ahead of time, you can also track that as well.
If you want to be extra organized, you can even include a weekly or monthly meal plan. Not only does it make planning a grocery list easier, but it eliminates the whole "what's for dinner" question. You can have set meal times or just simply list what is for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks on any given day.
No matter what sections you have in your household management handbook, the purpose is to stay organized and reduce the stress in your life. Feel free to modify the handbook concept to suit your own family or household needs.
© 2015 Linda Soaring Eagle Sarhan