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Create a household binder

Maria Mora is a freelance writer and single mom fueled by coffee, questionable time management skills, toaster oven waffles and the color orange. She lives in Florida with her two young sons. If you see her on Twitter, tell her to stop p...

Save your sanity

Most of us have a spot in the home where all of the day-to-day family paperwork lives. It might be inside the front door in a basket, some corner of the kitchen, or shoved away in the office.
Organizing your day-to-day documents
Mom with household binder

Before the madness of fall takes over, learn how to organize your paperwork effectively. Here are tips to create a family household binder to stay on top of important papers and information.

Do you have to sift through piles of paperwork every time you need to sign a permission slip or RSVP for a birthday party? Learn how to beat the mess this fall by keeping an organized family binder for important papers. Add a dose of contact and emergency information, and you have a great tool for sharing need-to-know info with guests and babysitters.

Create your household binder

You don’t have to be a craft maven to create a perfect household binder. You don’t even need a binder to create a household binder. What you need is a system that works for you, whether that’s a bill shelf, a filing cabinet or a big notebook with dividers. A traditional agenda planner works well for many families, especially if you find yourself jotting down information on a calendar. The most crucial feature of your household binder is the ability to store paperwork in an organized manner. Choose a binder or storage method with at least enough sections for each member of your family. Your binder’s organization should be clear enough for a babysitter (or your spouse) to easily locate paperwork.

Add important information

Create a basic information sheet for every member of your family, including daily medications, contact phone numbers, email addresses and allergy information. Include the names and numbers of doctors and any health concerns of importance. For kids, add each teacher’s name, phone number and email address for quick reference. Do not include social security numbers or any private information you wouldn’t want a babysitter to see. Don’t store passwords or login information in your household binder. Those should be kept in a secure place in the home. Consider laminating each family member’s information sheet. Store each in a labeled section of the household binder.

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Stick to a sorting routine

Make a point of sorting through mail and paperwork from backpacks every single day. If you allow it to pile up, you’ll end up with a mess in a matter of days. If your kids are old enough to help out, ask them to place all school-related paperwork in an in-box. This can be a basket or tray near your binder. Place your incoming mail there as well. Every day, take a few minutes to sort, toss and file. Consider adding a to-do folder to keep track of papers that need immediate attention, such as school forms and birthday party invitations.

Purge and file

Every six months, go through your family binder and purge paperwork you don’t need anymore. Store your child’s homework and art in a more permanent place or scan and store images online. Throw away paperwork like previous class contact lists, old permission slips and school newsletters. Shred paperwork with sensitive financial and health information. File important paperwork such as tax information, health insurance information and product warranties.

Learn how to get your kids organized and save your sanity >>

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