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Getting Organized With a Family Notebook


Today’s Back-to-School blog post features an organizing tool that I have been utilizing for about 10-12 years. Last week’s guest blogger, Shana Chaplin, introduced me to the concept of a Family Notebook at a presentation she made to a mom’s group at my church.

The Family Notebook is a great way to keep all those papers from school, church, and activities organized and easy to find. I’ll list what I keep in my notebook later in the post, and you’ll see that many of the items could just be filed away. I chose to keep these items in my notebook because I know I’ll have to reference them often, and I don’t want to have to dig around looking for them when I need them.

A Family Notebook can be customized to meet your family’s needs. I have tabs that relate to each of my family members as well as general home information. Some people create home management notebooks that house their cleaning schedules, meal planning ideas, and small appliance manuals. My notebook does not contain these items. I specifically wanted a notebook to corral all the papers that come into our home that we need to reference frequently.

So, with that in mind, let’s start the tour…


I am using the Better Binder from Staples. After viewing other organizing videos and reading other blog posts, I have discovered this type of binder stands up well to a lot of use. Since I store this binder in a drawer in my kitchen, it needs to be sturdy as it is pulled out of the drawer and put back in on a regular basis.

I created the cover sheet using an old scrapbook program I have on my computer. You can personalize the cover sheet to your family’s needs or tastes.


Tabbed pocket dividers help me to sort out the various sections of my notebook. I have 8 dividers that I also purchased from Staples. I like the ones with pockets because I have some small items that can’t be hole punched to fit in the notebook.

Here is how I’ve divided my sections and what I’ve included in each.

  • Home-I keep a list of approved items for city recycling here. I’ve also kept a brochure about some cookware we just bought in case we need to know something about it. I’ll probably insert any papers relating to things in our home that I feel I’ll want to reference on a regular basis.
  • Medical-My kids’ shot records are stored in this section. It never fails that I need a copy to prove to the school or some other organization that my kids have had all their shots. I also use this section to store medical test results that I may want to refer back to as well as a vision prescription.
  • School-This section is for the general school information that pertains to both of my kids. The school nurses sent out a new medication policy this year, so I’ve included it here. I’ve also included important dates for the year and other info I’ll need to reference throughout the year.
  • Husband-My husband does not have a lot of paperwork for me to keep organized. His section contains a couple of contact information sheets for groups with which he is involved.
  • Son-My son is a tennis player and has a membership with the USTA. I keep his USTA card and info in one of the pockets in his divider. I’ve also included school information that pertains only to him. He is in marching band this year, so he has a full calendar of events that we need to keep up with. I’ve included that calendar here.
  • Daughter-My daughter also plays tennis, so I keep her USTA info in her divider pocket. She also has a few items from school that apply to only her.
  • Me-My section contains a few items that I was always hunting down. I have a list of books I want to read as well as info from all the reward cards I have amassed. I could have filed these away, but there are many occasions where I need to know some info about the reward program and will need to see the original brochures.
  • Menus-The last section contains menus from some of our favorite restaurants. We use these mainly for takeout or deciding where we want to go eat.

So, you see, our Family Notebook takes all the papers and bits and pieces of our lives that could so easily just be floating around our home getting lost in the shuffle. The notebook provides an easy way to keep papers corralled.

How do you organize your papers?

Here are links to the other Back-To-School posts in case you’ve missed them:

How to Create an Art Station

How to Prepare Your Child Spiritually to Return to School

Getting Ready for School

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