Home Binder 101

This phrase “Home Binder” has been mentioned throughout many posts over the years. At one time I did include a video with more information, but have yet to actually write the post….hello mom brain. We’re going to fix that by going through, step by step, what is a home binder, how to set one up, and how to use it.

What is a home binder?

It is literally a three ring binder filled with the most valuable information you need. Everyone will have different things in their home binder, but consider it an extension of your brain and a guide book to running your home.

Most of the time, I’m the only one that uses our home binder….simply because I’m the one who is in charge of the home. But what happens if I’m sick, or have a newborn, or am away on a trip? The beauty of having a home binder is it can be used by others who need to know what has to be done and how your home functions.

It is also a good idea to update your home binder on a yearly basis, especially if you include school or medical information.

So what exactly are we putting into our home binder? Like I said, everyone is going to be different…but here is a list of common information to be kept in a home binder. I don’t have all of this in my own, but the option is always there.

  • Family information sheet. This will have general information for each family member of the house. Name, birth-date, favourite colour, clothing sizes, etc. This comes in handy when the holidays roll around.
  • Emergency sheet. This is the sheet you don’t want to need, but need to have. It will have contact info for everyone’s doctors, medical issues, life insurance info, health insurance info, emergency contact info, and poison control.
  • Vehicle maintenance sheet. Here is a good place to keep your maintenance records and car insurance information.
  • Home maintenance sheet. Do you really know when you last changed the air filter? Maybe you should write it down on this page so you never forget again. You can also keep a copy of your homeowners policy here for quick reference.
  • Account information (log ins and passwords), bank information, loans, subscriptions…etc. This will become valuable information to have on hand in case you become incapacitated.
  • A yearly calendar to keep important dates written down.
  • Workout, sports, or extracurricular schedules.
  • Shopping List of items you frequently buy and where to get them.
  • Cleaning schedule.
  • Daily routines and chores.
  • Pet information such as veterinarian numbers, medication lists, and papers.

I know this list seems like a lot, but there isn’t a single day when I regret taking the time to set up my home binder. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to put all of this in your home binder if it isn’t relevant or if you already use another system for some information. We personally keep policies and sensitive information in a safe, but not everyone does. Remember this can be customized just for you and your needs.

We’ve figured out what to add into our binder, organized it how it works best for your needs…now what? Now we watch the magic happen. Lets say it’s a new month, does my car need an oil change? Is there a potluck I need to bring something to? Does my kitchen need a deep clean? How did my workout schedule go? Just check your binder! Everything you need to remember, in order to keep yourself organized and a happy home running, is in this binder.

My own personal home binder is where I keep my daily routines, schedules, meal plan, shopping lists, workout pages, and homeschool lesson layouts. Whenever I start to fall out of my daily routines (habit training can be hard at times), I just open my binder and it helps me get back on track. Like an old faithful dog, it will always be there for you when you need it most.

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Homemaking Skills: Morning Routine

Everybody raise their hand, if they’re a morning person? Gotcha, so most people aren’t….myself included. I’ve tried so hard to be a morning person, but to no avail. I can function without coffee or tea, but even after I indulge in my caffeine addiction, I’m still not a morning person. So how can you have a fantastic morning without being a morning person? By having a solid morning routine, of course!

Lets get some quick info out of the way first:

“I can’t get up at 5am to do chores….that’s too much!”

That’s fine…because I’m not up that early either. A Morning Routine can be done anytime in the morning, and even sometimes around noon (life happens). The routine is what gets you going and motivated.

“I just can’t stick with a morning routine.”

It takes a good thirty days to form a new habit, including getting completely used to a new routine. Give yourself grace and keep going.

“My partner is on a different schedule than me.”

That’s okay! This is your own person routine and you can adjust it to fit any home.

Now that we’ve knocked out a few FAQs, lets get down to the how. When you’re making a routine, no matter what it is, keep in mind what is realistic for you to stick with. Are you willing to wipe the baseboards and steam clean the rugs every morning? I sure hope not…so lets not add something like that. Focus on simpler tasks like wiping down the bathroom counter. We want to set ourselves up for success and longevity.

I start my morning around 6:00am. This isn’t by choice, it just happens to be when the baby gets up to nurse. Once fed, he gets put in the living room with a few toys while I get washed and dressed. I’ve set our Alexa up so she turns on the house lights, plays relaxing music, and tells us the daily weather and plans. This is where technology can be quite useful and helps set the tone for the home. Now, the most important tidbit is to get dressed. This doesn’t mean get on a fresh pair of pajamas….and I don’t mean to be harsh. But a huge part of feeling motivated, fresh, and ready to take charge of your day starts with getting on some proper clothes. Of course they can be comfortable clothes, we’re not attending a Red Carpet event after-all, but they do need to be clean and appropriate. Most days I don’t wear makeup, but I do fix my hair, and on my face I put some fruit stem cells…or whatever it is that comes in tiny bottles and cost too much. Everyone will have their own rituals when it comes to getting ready, and this is the easiest part of our morning routine.

Now that we’re dressed and ready for the day, we can move onto what we want to accomplish right off the bat. Since my little ones are most cooperative in the morning, I like to tackle projects that are easier to do without “assistance”. The best news is all of these tasks will take less than thirty minutes to complete, and I guarantee you will see a difference in how your day flows.

Let’s get going!

  • After you’ve gotten ready, go ahead and wipe down the bathroom surfaces and put away your products. Spray and wipe down the toilet….yes I’m serious. It takes a few seconds and now you have a fresh clean lavatory. Straighten those bath towels and bring any dirty clothes to the hamper.
  • If you’ve done your night routine, you can switch the loads of laundry or start a new load. Now, you have fresh clothes and no mountain. Yay!
  • Speaking of a night routine…go and empty the dishwasher. Once empty, pop those dirty breakfast dishes in, so your sink is cleared. Now is a great time to wipe down the kitchen counter as well.
  • We’re dressed, have a clean bathroom, clean kitchen, and are cruising right on to the last step in the morning routine. Time to make your bed. It’s a simple task, but is a very rewarding sight.

Will this work for everybody? It can, but some people will still struggle with the most crucial part. You have to keep going and strive for progress, not perfection. One issue some people come across is having too much stuff and nowhere to put it. I like to call this “homeless clutter” (This blog post is coming soon). Having excess clutter makes a quick tidy a daunting task, so if this is you…I’d make sure to add a set time to declutter items from your home. Ten minutes is all you need and it will make a big difference. Remember that you’re going to have to tweak this routine from time to time. Maybe you have a new baby, a big life change, or it could just be a difficult season….either way, keep it simple and keep going.

You can do this, I know you can.

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Homemaking Skills: Night Routine

As difficult as it is, the best way to have a good morning, is to prepare the night before. This is rough…especially for those of us that just want to rest and zone out after a long day. But is it worth it? I truly believe so.

I first started writing down my Night Routine when I got sick of waking up to a sink full of dishes. Tired, I now have to wash dishes BEFORE I make breakfast…and then have MORE dishes. (Ugh) I know many of you are nodding right now. Because I’m a full time homemaker, I absolutely need the house to be running at all times, so I had to get things straight!

The first step is to write down what irritates you in the morning (You can’t write down kids…sorry). Dirty sink? Wet clothes in the washer? No lunch made? Etc. Once you have your list, figure out how much you can get done the night before. But here’s the key, you need to be realistic. I have four little ones, and some days I’m beyond exhausted by the time the baby is asleep (or sometimes he doesn’t give me any time). My Night Routine is what I “plan” to get done, but sometimes that plan doesn’t work out and that’s okay. You always have the next evening to get back on track. Remember we are trying for “Progress, not Perfection”.

But I digress…

My top things that I try to have completed before heading off to bed are as follows:

1. Clean the sink, and run the dishwasher.

There is no better feeling, than waking up to a clean kitchen. When I get up I empty the dishwasher, making breakfast cleanup a painless chore. If I get anything done, it’s this step.

2. Run the washer and dryer.

Many municipalities charge less for electricity during “non peak hours” also know as nighttime. Since we use a dryer, I like to do this at night when it’s a bit more frugal and won’t heat up the house….welcome to a sub-tropical climate.

3. Tidy the main rooms.

We have a “10 Minute Tidy” at 1:00 and 6:00. During this time, the kids all pitch in and put away their toys and paraphernalia. In all reality, it usually takes them five minutes…but what they don’t know won’t hurt them. This way we (typically) don’t have a huge mess to clean at the end of the day and I can enjoy my mornings a bit more.

4. Run the Roomba.

Best. Investment. EVER. I will forever be in love with our Roomba. All of the sand, crumbs, and dog hair gets cleaned up while I’m sleeping and it takes a lot off my plate.

5. Check my planner.

What’s the meal plan? Is there overtime or training? Did I pay that bill? Do we have a play date? I have zero space left in my head to remember all of the details in the week (thanks kids) so my planner helps keep me functioning. A quick check will make sure I don’t miss anything.

Like I mentioned earlier, this is my “plan” but that doesn’t mean it gets done every single night. I strive to get it done. I am also not perfect. Will your plan look just like this? Maybe, but that is why you need to figure out what is most important for you. Hence the beauty of creating routines, they’ll be catered to your own life.

Before I leave you to begin this routine, it’s important to know that from time to time you may need to update your routine. As life ebbs and flows, some tweaking to routines has to happen. It could be due to job changes, pregnancy, family changes, children’s ages…and you should always keep this in mind. When you routine seems like it isn’t working very well, it needs some changes.

Are you ready to get started?

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Homemaking Skills: Laundry

Ahh….homemaking. It is a wonderful, magical, experience. There are rainbows and sunshine, and a huge pile of freaking laundry. Seriously, this laundry is ruining my fantasy. Why does reality always do that?

But in all seriousness, laundry is one of those things that is always there and you can’t ignore it….at least not for long. Because if you DO end up ignoring it you’ll end up with something like this.

Mount Laundry (2021)

So how do you manage laundry without losing your mind in the process? It’s actually a lot less complicated than you’d think, but we’ll break it down into my top five tips.

1. Declutter

How many clothes do you have? Do you wear them all? Do you need them all? Are there any that are ripped, faded, or don’t fit? Then why are you keeping them?

Start going through your clothes and minimize the number of items that you have. An ideal set of clothes contains pieces that coordinate with each other and have enough pieces to cover one week of outfits. Of course you’ll have seasonal attire, depending on climate and work/formal attire. But I’ll guarantee there are many items that can be let go. The less you have, the less you have to wash.

2. Do it Daily

I once had someone tell me that “a load a day keeps laundry mountain away” and it’s stuck with me all these years. Most laundry machines will adjust to the load size, so why wait until you’ve filled the hamper? Doing a little bit of laundry, and by laundry I mean wash, dry, and put away, is much easier to manage than four large loads all at once. Which brings us to the next tip…

3. Complete the Cycle

Laundry is not throwing clothes into a machine and forgetting about it….and then running it again because your clothes are sour. Laundry is washing, immediately followed by drying, and then putting it away. Laundry is the complete cycle, not just the washing. Don’t start a task without following it through to the end, because that’s when overwhelming feelings often start to kick in and procrastination soon follows.

4. Keep it Simple

I don’t separate my clothes….at all. (Audible gasps) How is this possible? Can everyone do this? Is this witchcraft?

*Most* people can get away with not separating their clothes. The key is to buy similar fabrics, stay away from white clothes, and be mindful of potential colour bleeds. Always wash in cold water if you’re not going to separate and of course use a mild detergent.

This isn’t going to work for everyone, and from time to time we need to wash things by themselves (cloth diapers). But towels, sheets, the majority of our clothes, stuffed animals, curtains…yea, they all go in together and nobody has had an existential crisis because of this. Of course, use your own personal judgment on this, but after 25+ years of doing laundry, this has always been my preferred method.

5. To Fold, or Not to Fold?

I fold my own personal clothes and the linens. Do I fold anyone else’s? Nope!

The kids get called into the laundry room and carry their pile of fresh clothes to their rooms. Some of the kids will fold, but more often the clothes get stuffed into their basket or drawer and that’s that. I’ve let go of having perfectly folded clothes for the kids, because let’s be honest…Kids are kids and they have more important things to care about.

My other half hangs his clothes, so I just toss all of the items in a basket and put it in the bedroom. Most of the time they get put away before I even get a chance to help out….but I’m not going to complain about that.

Frankly, the fewer things I have to fold, the quicker the process. We also have some items that simply get hung on hooks (bath towels) or rolled up, which is a great activity for the younger kiddos to do…it’s not always pretty, but it does teach them perseverance and their type-A mother (me) patience.

Laundry is really one of those tasks that I don’t think anyone enjoys, but everyone has to do. While I’m doing laundry, I enjoy having nice music on in the background and a cup of coffee waiting in the wings. Podcasts and audiobooks are a great alternative to music, but between me and you…laundry doesn’t take much time at all if you do a little bit at a time.

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