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How to Set Up and Use a Family Notebook

family notebook revised

School is finally back in session for our family. My kids started back with a half day yesterday and are off to their first full day today.

Going back to school means new clothes, new supplies, and a seemingly endless pile of papers!

Even though we are in the digital age where a lot of information is sent via email, we still get our fair share of papers we need to keep for reference from the school. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the information. And, if we’re not careful, it’s easy to put it in a place where we cannot get to it when we need to.

One of my favorite ways to corral all the school papers as well as other papers I want to keep on hand for easy reference is using a Family Notebook. I heard about this concept many years ago when my kids were not even in elementary school yet. I have been using a Family Notebook for about 14-15 years, and it has been a life saver.

There are many ways to use a Family Notebook. It all depends on what your family would need to reference. I’ve seen Family Notebooks that were used to house cleaning schedules, small appliance manuals, emergency contact info, info for babysitters, special event planning, and address lists. The possibilities are endless when it comes to deciding what you want in your Family Notebook.

I use ours mainly to hold all the papers that come into our home that we want to reference frequently.

I want to walk you through my set up briefly below. However, because I find seeing things in person is more helpful, I created a short video taking you on a tour of the notebook.

Check it out!

Notebook Setup

I used a Staples brand Better Binder. I love this kind of binder because it lays flat and is very durable. I’ve had this one for about 5 years now, and it has held up very well.

The dividers have pockets in them, and I also got them from Staples. I like having pockets to store smaller papers or items that wouldn’t work well being punched and put in the rings.

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.
  • School-This section is for the general school information that pertains to both of my kids. Since they are both in high school this year, there will be a lot of papers that will apply to both of them. They are also in high school band, so I keep that information in this section.
  • 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-I keep specific info for my son in this section. I have his school schedule and other papers related to his high school career. When I go to parent open house in a few days, I’ll have information papers from each of his teachers that I will store here.
  • Daughter-I have her school schedule in here as well as papers related to her high school career. I’ll also include the information papers from her teachers that I’ll receive from parent open house.
  • 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.

I have to note here that my kids are not really active outside of school and band. They do things with the church youth group, but we do not always have any info on paper related to those activities. If they were active in other groups, I would store info from those groups in each of their sections.

I love the Family Notebook because it keeps all our papers corralled. It is especially helpful when it comes to anything related to school since that is where the kids spend most of their time.

I hope you’ve been inspired to create your own family notebook!

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