A Control Binder is a 3-ring binder filled with notes, plans, and records that help your family stay organized. A planner or organizer is for running your home from day to day. The control binder is a binder to keep you organized over the whole year. You simply cannot remember everything all the time. Write your plans, your notes, your dreams, what works and what didn’t work so you can remember and improve for next year. Written plans are a huge time and memory saver when running a family as long as you can find those notes again. Label the front and side of your binder so you can find it easily because this is your brain and it can’t get lost!
Simply start with a 3-ring binder and buy some 3-hole punched insertable dividers, note paper and plastic sheet protectors. The sheet protectors are to capture little notes and lists that you wrote that you want to keep. Label the insertable dividers. Some of the categories could include:
- Top 100 List to BE, DO, & HAVE: List is your lifetime aspirations list! What type of person do you want to become before you die? What do you want to do and have in your life? Write it down. You’ll really start finding out what you want when you get to #60-100. Have your husband do this too!
- Date Ideas – Your Marriage is like a plant – it needs daily nurturing. If you don’t water a plant it will wilt and die. You are responsible for your loving feelings towards your spouse. Don’t worry about what he does for you. What do you for him DAILY? My friend goes on a 2 mile walk every morning with her husband. They talk, enjoy nature, fresh air, and exercise together. Sometimes my friend says she doesn’t need the walk and her husband does need it either, but the marriage needs a walk, so they go on their walk. A weekly helps rejuvenate your relationship like fertilizer revitalizes a plant. Make a list fun dates, babysitters you can call, and put some money aside for your date night. It’s SUPER IMPORTANT!
- Name of Each Child – Write down your child’s teacher’s name, email, phone number and any other info on that child.
- Medical Records – Write an entry of the things you learned and need to take action on for each child after a doctor’s visit. My children have had 4 head surgeries and other major medical issues so it’s hard for me to remember when each child’s next follow-up appointment is and what I learned from the doctor. Writing a short entry that includes the date, the information I learned, and what follow-up needs to be done has been critical for me to keep everything in order. I have just started doing this, but wish I would have done it sooner. For example, I could have written when my child was teething and how we resolved their struggles. Then I would have an awesome record to refer back to. Instead I have to rely on my memory, my mom, and more doctor’s visits. I keep a record now and it really helps.
- Chores & Checklists – I create chore charts, cleaning checklist charts, and age appropriate job list for my children. I post the chore chart on the fridge, the checklist in the room that the child is cleaning, and the age appropriate job list in the binder to refer to each year. I throw in a copy of my chore charts and checklists under this category so I have a record of it and I can refer back to it too. Sound confusing? Sorry. Also, write on the back of the chart what worked and what didn’t work so you can improve the next chore chart.
- Family Meetings – We have a meeting once a week where we discuss compliments for each child, challenges, and scheduling for the week. We write it down and then pop it into the book when we are done. It’s an awesome journal about our family and the compliments are hilarious. I’m sure in time, the challenges will be funny too.
- Family Clothing Needs – Write down the clothing and shoe sizes for each child so that when you see a good buy, you’ll know if it will fit your child. What shirt size does your child wear – small, medium, or large? Each year before school starts I do a clothing inventory and write down what the children have and what they need for the coming year. Write down you and your husband’s clothing sizes and needs also.
- Holiday Planning – Preparation is a key to more peace around the holidays. Have a section for each holiday that you celebrate and what traditions you enjoy. For example, under Halloween write down costume ideas for next year. At our family meeting early in October I asked everyone what they wanted to be and they said Avatars or Star Wars characters. Avatars didn’t work for me because I didn’t want blue paint everywhere – so we chose Stars Wars. I made some of the costumes, bought a few, and borrowed a few costumes. Because I started early in the month it wasn’t stressful and everyone looked super cute – even baby Yoda! Next year, we are all going to be Super Hero’s so I am already ahead of the game because I am on the lookout right now for what we want! Christmas for mothers is probably one of the most stressful holidays of all, because there are so many things to coordinate, parties to attend, meals to plan, gifting ideas, and other traditions to do. Write down how much money you are going to spend on Christmas. Write down what you are going to do to keep your self emotionally well. Write down each person’s name that you are going to give a gift to and what it is. After Christmas write down what you liked about the season and what you didn’t like so you know what worked and didn’t work for you for next year.
- Wish List – A wish list is for those things that you want but need to save up for. I type my list on the computer and update it yearly. I create a 4 column list with everyone’s name in my family and the things they want on it. It’s great to dream on paper without buying the items yet. Instead of impulse purchasing, WAIT to see if you REALLY want it. Remember this phrase: Everything you own, owns a piece of you. Are you prepared to find a home for this item you want to purchase? Are you prepared to store it, move it, repair it, lose it, find it, and pass it on? While you are waiting, you can do research to find the best quality and most inexpensive price for that item you desire. The research phase is so much fun! Anne of Green Gables says that anticipation is half of the fun in life. By waiting you are able to gain more excitement! Having a list is great because then family and friends can give you things you really want or you can give it to yourself because you know what you want. Sometimes I show my list to my family and they help me acquire the things I want for FREE! For example, my brother-in-law asked to see my wish list and noticed that it said Horizontal Artwork Drawers. When his relative passed away that was an architect he got me vertical and horizontal art storage drawers for free!
- Lessons to teach your children – Write Moral, Mental, Physical, Spiritual, Emotional, and Social on a page and then brainstorm under each heading what you want your children to learn before they leave home. Don’t worry if it can be done – it can. I type scriptures on the computer or write them on notecards and tape them up in the home to help the children learn, we recite one scripture before breakfast, we read scriptures daily together, and have a lesson once a week or fun activity where we enjoy being together.
- Family Recreation – Write a list of what your family enjoys doing together and make a plan to make it happen at least once a month. Go to a park, go swimming, go for a walk, read a book together, take a drive, go out to eat, etc. If you want to do at least one daddy or mommy child date a year – then write down your goal, and then write down the date that it happened, so you make sure it happens.
- Financial Plans – This is where I keep track of my children’s money. They earn $2.00 a week if they do their deep cleaning jobs. I pay them once a month. They pay 10% to tithing, 10% to their long-term savings, they’re also saving towards buying a Wii, they pay off any debts they owe me, and then they get to spend the rest. A written record is critical in keeping track of all this money. The children love it because they have money to spend and I love it because they are learning to manage money at a young age and they get to make mistakes when the price is not so high.
- Best Books & Movies List – There’s a lot of trashy books and movies – so if you find a great book or movie write it down. Make a list of the books you want to read and what you want to read to your children before they leave the nest. The best book we’ve read aloud so far has been A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
- Vacation Goals & Plans – Have a family meeting and ask everyone where they would like to go on vacation. Write down those places. It’s okay to dream big. Don’t worry about how are going to get there – just write down where you want to go. I have a dream to take my children to Prince Edward Island. Even though I can’t afford it right down, I can still dream, research, and start saving. For now, we will go camping close by – so we also include our camping list under this section.
- Family & Party Plan Ideas – If you hosted a family gathering and served a Potato Bar to 30 people, you could record what worked about it. Was it enough food? How much chili does it take to feed 30, 60, or 90 people for your snow sledding party? Keep track of those notes because it will save you time later.
- Menu Plans – Write down menu ideas to help plan your weekly dinners. You may also want a separate Recipe Binder to keep track of recipes.
- Birthday Plans – Decide how you want to celebrate birthdays. Will you have a friend party every year? Will you celebrate with friends or family, with gifts, or an activity? My mom had 11 children so she only had friend birthday parties ONLY when children were 5, 8, 12, and 16. What works for your family?
- Honeydo List– Write a list of repair and fix it jobs that you want to do.
Add any additional categories that you need or want into your Control Binder. Refer to your Control binder during your weekly planning hour – which is your most important hour of the week! This list helps me stay organized and it is NOT meant as a MUST DO list. Just do what helps you. Tweak it to work for your family. Depending on your family’s situation you may need to expand one whole notebook for one category. For example, I have to have one binder on medical information.