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How to Create a Simple Home Management System

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Create a cosy and fresh home with a home management system that helps you organise and simplify your homemaking.

A paper calendar, home management binder, diary and cup of tea on a table with a dandelion linen table cloth

In Australia, the first couple of weeks in January are often very quiet. With Christmas and New Year’s celebrations over, many people migrate to the coast for beach holidays before schools return. The peaceful energy that’s in the air makes it a wonderful time for contemplation, setting intentions, and then creating (or refining) some systems to help those goals and intentions come to life throughout the year.

Since becoming a mama, most of my intentions and goals centre around my home.  I believe our homes should be places of comfort, warmth and peace.  A place where all who live within its walls are deeply nourished and supported. But this doesn’t just effortlessly happen.  It takes a clear vision, simple systems and just the right amount of organisation.

When I was first beginning my journey of shifting to a more home-centred life, I came across the wonderful writer Rhonda Hetzel, who writes a blog called Down to Earth and has also published a couple of beautiful books. I thought it would be fun this year to follow along with her suggested tasks in her book “The Simple Home” (which partly inspired the name for my blog). She breaks down the elements of creating a simple home into doable monthly tasks, and the very first task of January is to put together a home management binder that is part of a broader home management system.

So to kick off the year, I would love to share with you what is in mine, and how I have updated it for the year ahead!

A ceramic teacup with a hollyhock and honey bee next to a small vase of homegrown flowers

Creating My Own Home Management System Old School Style 

The home management system that seems to work for me relies on three paper-based tools: a diary that I love, a paper calendar that all family members can see, and a home management binder that contains everything I need to know to keep our entire home running smoothly.

A Paper Planner

I love my Emma Kate diary.  It has a vertical weekly spread which is a wonderful structure that works for my brain. It allows me to plan out my week and have everything I need to know at a glance. The layout has enough space for appointments, a simple to-do list for the day, what the focus of each day is (a component of the Flylady system) and a place to set my priorities.

When I was living in the city and running my naturopathic clinical practice, I was a huge fan of the bullet journal system. But when I shifted my role to raising my kiddos in the country, I found that I needed more structure, but still enough white space to not feel overly scheduled. This diary has been perfect for that.

Home management system in action: planning the week with a cup of tea in paper diary and home management folder open.

A Family Calendar 

The family calendar I am using for the second time is from Write to Me. My husband and I used to share Google calendars that synced with all our smart devices for several years, but once again, I found that when I shifted to being a homemaker leaning on the Google ecosystem of organisation tools just wasn’t as convenient as it used to be.

We shifted to having an old-school paper calendar in the centre of our home.  I love that I can quickly write important information down, and copy across permanent dates from the previous year’s calendar such as birthdays, things that need to happen on a cyclical basis year after year and bigger annual bills.  

I particularly love the design of this calendar because it has space to write out meal plans and also boxes big enough to be able to write a few different events in one day.  Our household motto is “If it’s not in the calendar, it’s not real“. So I make a point of ensuring that everything we need to know is on the calendar when I’m planning out the week.

One of the things that I have in mind for this year is to use the calendar to do some emergency planning. We live on a bush block that backs onto a large national park, so we are aware of the risk of bushfires. I’m hoping this year we can establish a better system of making sure we have our home bushfire-ready by the start of each summer. I also want to try a home maintenance calendar this year to help me take care of our home and prevent any major repairs.

Paper calendar hung up in kitchen: includes meal plan, monthly to do and birthdays

A Home Management Binder

Something I have learned about home management skills is that they are not something we are born with, but something we can develop and improve with time and practice. Much of homemaking and mothering is repetitive and cyclical. We do the same things day after day after day. The tasks are ever-repeating and never-ending. While sometimes this can be an overwhelming thought, I’ve come to relax into the cyclical nature of this role.  Simple tasks, repeated over and over again, allow the home to run like a well-oiled machine and allow me to evolve and adapt and become more efficient in them.  

The binder supports this process by taking off a huge amount of the mental load of having everything written in one place.  It’s like having a home assistant at my fingertips that knows all my family’s needs and saves so much time when planning the week.  

My home management binder is not a static thing. It is constantly evolving and adapting as my family and I change. I love how flexible it is, and how it allows me to go through phases of refinement and adjustment.  

I’m also learning new things all the time that I want to try or include in my home management system. This binder becomes a wonderful place to keep all of those ideas in one place, so they can be incorporated into how I run my home.

Creating Your Home Management System & Binder

Getting Started: Imperfectly Perfect

You don’t want to become a perfectionist here nor make it a complicated process.  There’s no need to be buying diaries, calendars, folders with color-coded sections and stickers, and then spend a lot of time putting them together. Start where you are with what you have. You truly don’t need anything fancy to get started. Find an old folder that’s not being used anymore. Hole punch a couple of pages to start writing out your routines. Use the diary you already have or pick up an inexpensive one and a calendar from your newsagent. You can always find something that works better in the future. The point is just to start with some simple tools and evolve from there.

You have to treat your home management binder as a flexible and evolving tool.  I encourage you to start with a few simple things and work from there.

Organisation Ideas for Your Home Management System & Binder

Here are some of the sections and categories that I have in my binder. Use them as inspiration and adapt to the unique areas of your life:

  1. Routines, Rituals & Rhythms
    • Morning routine and evening routine
    • Weekly tasks
    • Zone cleaning
  2. Embracing the Season
    • Ideas for each season (foods, activities, events etc.)
  3. Kids Activities & Montessori
    • List of age-appropriate activities
    • Books to read
  4. Budget and Finances
    • Copy of budget and household expenses
    • Bills for gas, water, and electricity
    • Meter readings
  5. Meal Planning
    • Weekly or monthly meal plans
    • Thermomix shortcuts
    • Favorite recipes:
      • Bread recipes
      • From scratch basics
    • Shopping list
    • Butcher list
  6. Health and Medical
    • Immunization records
    • Family medical history
    • Important medical contacts
  7. Gifts – Homemade and Purchased
    • List of yearly gifts
    • Gifts already in the cupboard
    • Gift ideas and patterns/plans/recipes
  8. Garden (I used to have this section, and now moving over to a garden journal)
    • Current garden plan drawing
    • Seasonal planting guide
    • Ideas for next planting season
    • Seed, fruit, and nut catalogues
    • Record of rainfall
    • Record of harvests

Additional Projects:

  1. Home Improvement Projects
    • A running list of all the repairs, upgrades and projects we have for our property
    • Permaculture design map
    • Blueprints for cabin build
  2. Blog
    • Content calendar
    • Blog ideas for the upcoming quarter
    • Post checklist
    • A running list of the best home management tips I want to try out 
  3. Recipe Collection
    • Recipes that I’m developing and refining until they’re ready for the blog
Paper calendar for January with cup of tea, flower, diary and home management system binder open
I love how these three paper-based tools play a role in my daily life. They help me to create simple home management systems that are sustainable, effective, and meaningful.

Daily Routine, Rhythms and Rituals

I use the Flylady system as my household management system, which I’ve adapted to suit my needs (and is ever-evolving with two little kids!).  In my binder I have copies of my Flylady morning and evening routines, the weekly tasks and zone cleaning lists.  These form the backbone of keeping a tidy home and breaking down all the daily tasks involved in running a home into manageable chunks.  

Right now, I’m in a season of life where I have a toddler and a three-month-old baby to look after. They are my priority, and I don’t want to miss out on their precious moments. So I have simplified my home management system to the essentials. I just follow my morning and evening routines, and I have a loose plan of what I need to do on a weekly basis, rather than strict daily deadlines. This helps me to avoid feelings of being overwhelmed and enjoy my simple home life.

All I need to do each day is do a load of laundry from start to finish, keep the kitchen relatively tidy, and get the whole family involved in doing regular five to 10-minute tidy-ups. This makes a big difference in how our home looks and feels. On the days when I have a little extra help with childcare, I can do some of the zone-cleaning tasks that the FlyLady suggests. This helps me to keep our home clean and organised without spending too much time or energy on it.  

My little companion helping with the day’s load of laundry – Anna 3 months old.

Seasonal Section

This is where I keep ideas for each season that I would like to embrace. For example, in the summer, I have things like making peach cordial and blueberry crumble, getting a family membership to the local pool, signing my toddler up for swimming lessons and making it a habit of getting there in the afternoons on hot days.  I also keep idea lists for ways I wish to attend to my family’s health in the season, such as making sure I make a big batch of elderberry syrup in the autumn, ensuring our first aid kit is topped up before summer etc. 

Kids Activities & Montessori 

I love the Montessori approach for crafting the way I set up my home for my kids.  Having an idea of what age-appropriate activities they can do is super helpful.   I have the resource from Simone Davies of The Montessori Notebook printed out that I can refer to when I notice that my kids have outgrown the stage they’re in and need new ideas for the next. I also have a running list of books I’d love to read to them so I can keep them top of mind in op shops and at the library.

Budget and Finances

Having a copy of our monthly budget is useful and serves as a reminder for me to update it regularly. I keep our bills for gas, water, and electricity so I have them on hand to compare them one quarter to the next. This helps me to track our spending and saving habits and make adjustments as needed.

Meal Planning

I keep my perpetual grocery list, an updated order form from our wholesale butcher, a list of my family’s favourite meals, and seasonal meal considerations, which makes meal planning a cinch. 

Health and Medical Care

This is where I keep the kids’ immunisation records, medical history, and any important medical contacts for my family. It’s also where I have kept my pregnancy-related documents when I’ve been pregnant.  

Gifts

Having a list of the gifts that I have to either purchase or make throughout the year is a great way to stay organised and avoid last-minute stress. I also use it to collect plans, recipes, or patterns I find on the internet. This helps me to be more thoughtful and creative with my gift-giving.

Home management binder open to garden section with an heirloom seed catalogue and 3 year garden journal

Garden Section

If you love gardening, you may like to have a section for your garden with your current garden plan, a seasonal planting guide for your area, any notes on what has worked and what hasn’t, and what you want to improve for the next growing season. You may also like to keep any seed catalogues, record rainfall, or note down harvests. I’m changing this up this year, as I was gifted a beautiful garden journal for Christmas, which has all of this beautifully laid out.  

Building Plans and Home Projects Section

We’ve always got a long list of projects, maintenance and building plans that is ever-growing.  This section is super useful for keeping a running tab of what we’d like to do and keeping a list of priorities so we don’t drown in starting too many things at once.  Orlando completed a Permaculture Design Course last year, so I’ve got our base map and plan for our property within easy reach.  We’re also building a cabin this year, so I’ve got all the blueprints, drawings and materials lists filed here.  

Simple Home Life Blog 

This blog feels very at home in my home management system, so it has its own little spot in the binder to help me keep organised and consistent!

Recipe Section

I like to keep the recipes that I am working on getting perfect before sharing them on the blog close to hand. There is also have a section for recipes that I want to try, or that I have found online and printed out. 

An inspiring paragraph of text on simple living that's pasted in the front cover of my home management binder
I have this beautiful and inspiring passage by Rhonda Hetzel in simple living from her book “Down to Earth” in the front cover of my home management binder.

Embracing Simplicity and Purpose

Something that I’ve learned in this chapter of life is how important it is to have a vision for life and then marry it up with an achievable and sustainable plan. Motherhood, in my experience with having little kids, is so all-encompassing.  If I just have a few things written out for the day that I can focus on and tick off I can trust that it is contributing to the bigger picture and that I’m focusing my energy in the right direction.

I find homemaking, running a household efficiently, tending to the garden, and evolving our dreams of a homestead an incredibly engaging experience.  There is always so much to learn, and so having a folder where I can keep that “curriculum” all in one place feels incredibly valuable.

January Organisation Continues Next Week

Next week, I’m going to take a deeper dive into meal planning to continue on our getting organised January theme!  

If you would like to have some printables to get you started with your home management system, please become a subscriber and access the subscriber library.  It’s free and the library is continually being added to.  I would love to hear your insights, ideas, and experiences. What’s worked for you and what are you evolving at the moment when it comes to organising your home? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

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