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If you are like me, you are convinced that life will be easier if you can just get more organized. I have found that this is either completely false, or I have never been organized enough. But there is one thing in my life that is completely organized, and that is all the medical paperwork that follows my children wherever they go. I felt like I drowned in my son's growth charts, immunization lists, vaccine information, feed-your-child-this-not-that pamphlets – and he was a healthy kid!
I am a teacher, and last year I discovered a tool that changed my life in the classroom – the Interactive Student Notebook, or ISN. It's for those paper-tornado kids – if you're a teacher, you know them (and even if you're not, you may live with one!). They're the ones with paper everywhere – in their desks, in their lockers, shoved in the front, back, and sides of their binders, their pockets, their shoes – and God bless 'em, they have it somewhere, but they just. can't. find it. Enter the ISN – a notebook in which the kids keep and track everything. (For more information on the educational uses of the ISN, check out this post.)
So in a moment of sheer genius (at least, that's what it felt like to me), it occurred to me to apply the ISN concept, which worked so well in my classroom, to this thoroughly unorganized area of my life – my children's medical information. Ah, sweet bliss.
Here's the skinny:
- You take an ordinary notebook, set up a table of contents in the front, and number the pages as you go. Your table of contents will say things like “Page 4 – 6 Month Check-Up” or “Page 12 -Tubes Surgery” or “Page 31-Stuck-A-Marble-Up-His-Nose Retrieval Visit.” (Ahem.) Use the glue stick to glue in important documents and the scissors to trim them down. Every time we go to the doctor, we take these notebooks and record information.
- Anytime we receive paperwork, we glue it in to their notebooks. It's also helpful when the doctor asks questions, like “Whenwas his last ear infection?” or “Where is she on her immunizations?”
- If I don't remember (and I usually don't), it's at my fingertips.
Check it out:
Here's the table of contents for my daughter's ISN:
Let's go with Page 27 (which is listed on the back side of the table of contents above):
This was her first checkup after coming home from the hospital after 19 days in the NICU. I recorded questions on the left before the visit, and then as the doctor talked, I recorded his answers. They also gave me a half-sheet with information about their walk-in clinic. I trimmed it down to what I needed and glued it in the corner. I always attach the cards with the next visit to these pages for reference as well.
- buy your notebooks in late July and August – I got mine for $.10 each!
- for larger notebooks, leave more pages at the front for your table of contents – it fills up pretty fast
- if you are starting at the beginning of your child's
life, like I did with my daughter, fill the first several pages with
pregnancy information (this will be helpful if/when you have another
baby, as your pregnancy has been documented)
- try to take them with you to the event (appointment, meeting, etc), but
if you forget, just take the notes down on a spare piece of paper and
glue or staple them in later
- if you are unable to trim down a document, or if it is double-sided, simply fold the document in half and place one strip of glue at the very bottom – in this way, you can unfold the document and see both sides
There are so many wonderful things about this tool, and one of them is that you can apply it to anything. I am the Social Chair of our neighborhood association and I have an ISN that I bring with me to meetings. If we need to remember how we gotthe road blocked for the 4th of July Parade, I flip to my table ofcontents, find the entry, and flip to the page with that exactinformation. I have one for my Life Group at church and another for my Bible study. It is such an easy organizational tool!
Randi uses her blog, Bring on the New to chronicle her efforts to try new things and break out of the rut of routine. She is wife to Rick, a full-time student and part-time worship pastor, mother to 3-year-old Charlie and nearly 8-month-old Lucy, and teacher to 120+ 7th graders each year. She and her family live in Kansas, love Jesus, enjoy travel, and are SICK KU Jayhawk fans! Here are a few more posts on organization you may want to check out: