Step-by-Step: A Survival Mom Binder for TEOTWAWKI

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Guest post by Jackie K.

In 2003 I became a mother for the first time.  Over the years I became a mom 2 more times.  With each new addition, came more things I needed to have on hand.  I did not know it then, but I was already on my way to becoming a Survival MOM.

Just a little over a year ago, I was enlightened that there was such a blog.  As I read the blog, and now have the book, I have pulled my favorite things all together and put them in my Survival Mom/TEOTWAKI binder.  For those of you that have been following the Survival Mom’s site, you know what this is.  It is a key back up plan to the many other lists and plans we have as moms.

I want to share with you exactly how I have set up my own binder.

Start with organization

My binder has several different parts.  Everything I’ve used for organization are items you can purchase at back-to-school sales and stores like Walgreen’s, WalMart and CVS.  With school beginning again, now is the time to stock up on stuff for yourself and your kids for school.  My husband tells me all the time that I go overboard.  However, he later realizes that it made fiscal sense for me to go overboard when I come home with more than a 50% savings.  Ladies, we all know that is why we are Survival Moms.  It is our job to think of the things our spouses can’t!

Now back to my TEOTWAKI binder.  I use dividers, page protectors and pocket dividers.  Those 3 items make up the main parts of my binder.  In the remainder of this article, I will show you examples of how I use them.  Each mom will have her own unique way to set up her binder.  This is what works for the way my brain functions.  I have included pictures for those of you that need visuals like I do.

Re-purpose, recycle to save money

Some of you may have an even bigger binder than I.  Next to my binder, in the above photo, are some of my favorite books right now.  Of course we have Survival Mom.  Without her book, I would not think of so many areas of planning.  Every mom should have this book, in my personal opinion.

Moving on, for my binder I wanted to make it fun.  So, I used an old binder from college way back when.  I admit I saved this binder when I graduated from the University of Phoenix in 2000.  I just could not part with it.  This binder and I have been good friends for a long time.  I always knew it would find a way to keep me organized again.  You can laugh at me, I laugh at myself all the time.

You can’t fault a mom who likes to re-use and re-purpose can you?  My favorite kind of binder is the one you can place a photo in and use a visual.  Because I have young children, having visuals for them while they are learning to read is important.  So, since one of my big things is to show them what I do as I do it, they will know where this binder is if they need to get it for me.

More helpful supplies

In this photo you see my two favorite note pads.  I use the composition books to help me be a little more portable when I go shopping.  I love the 3-hole punched note books for use in journaling ideas I get on whim a while sitting at my computer reading articles on my favorite blogs and websites.  Another item I love to use with my prepping logs is the Post-It divider tabs.  I LOVE those tabs.  They come in handy for so many things.  I also love that they don’t tear any pages off and you can move them as you need to.

In the third photo you can see that I do love these plastic sheet protectors that allow you to change your mind when it comes to categories and how you want to organize your thoughts and material.  This particular design also acts as a sort of table of contents for my numbered tabs.

Sheet protectors are great for lists or anything you don’t want to have to open the binder for over and over again.  It protects your pages, holds more than one copy of a list you use often and so much more.

Also in my binder are pocket dividers that hold clippings, articles, coupons, blank inventory sheets, maps and more.  Can you tell I let my 9 year-old help me label my dividers with my label maker?  I could not change the spelling of my 1st Things 1sttab because my daughter took such pride in her

1st THINS 1st

work.  So for now, I will keep the typo, and when I look at this tab, I smile

Getting the whole family prepared

My binder also helps me pull together information to help my kids be better prepared. This photo is of one of my “1st Things 1st”, plan items.

I also keep a copy of this list on my refrigerator for my kids and husband.  In case they needed to call 911, my kids would use this tool for emergency crews that would arrive.   I thought of this when I heard about all the children that got separated from their parents after Katrina.  I made sure to teach my kids how to say our first name and last name clearly as soon as they could talk.  This way, if at age 3 my child was separated from me at a store and asked what Mommy’s name is, she or he could tell the store personnel what my name is.

This came in handy when my middle child wandered off in Cabela’s once.  As a Mom, realizing your child is lost is a horrible feeling.  But what made me feel better was when I went to the clerk and she told me, “Oh, we found her; she is at the front desk”.  I showed up and my daughter was telling the clerk at the front desk our last name.  I cried and laughed all at once.

In each section: divider, must-have information, pocket divider

This photo is an example of my divider tab with my pocket divider behind it.  Anything that will relate to my tab for Inventory is placed behind my numbered divider and before the pocket divider, which holds anything that I can’t use the 3-hole punch with. Magazine articles or pamphlets are examples of what I might keep in the pockets.

In my Inventory section I might have inventories of first aid supplies, food storage, lists of what each emergency kit or Bug Out Bag holds, etc.

I love to use the dividers that allow you to write a little list of what you have in the section.  I use pencil here to write things.  As I have learned, change is constant. Never use ink!

Here is a sample of my “Helpful Hints” tab.  This was one of my first articles printed out and I refer to it often.  So I keep it right in the front of my “Helpful Hints”. As you can see, it’s in a page protector since it’s used mostly for reference and I want to keep it in good shape.

Some of the other dividers I have and a few of the informational pieces I’ve collected so far:

  • 1st Things 1st
    • Our plans for both bugging out and bugging in (shelter in place).
    • Maps
    • Emergency contacts
  • Helpful Hints
    • Recipes using food storage ingredients
  • Fun Stuff
  • Family Training
  • Mental Guides
    • Motivational quotes, prayers
    • Tips for staying calm and helping others stay calm
  • Physical Needs
    • How far can each member of our family hike?
    • How many calories do we need to stay healthy?
  • Safety/Medical Needs
  • Rest Needs
    • How to conserve our physical energy if we ever have to hike from a dangerous situation
    • Sleep needs for each age level

You could also use the main sections in Lisa’s book for categories:

  • To Do, To Learn, To Buy
  • Water storage & purification
  • Sanitation & laundry
  • Food storage
  • Power’s out tips and information
  • Organization
  • Personal and home defense
  • Finances
  • Skills to learn
  • Evacuation plans, routes, and supplies

I have these dividers to help me gather and track our progress as a family preparing for a moment that changes our life as we know it to be.  You don’t have to be focused on doom.  This binder works great for camping and family adventures as well.  Having things ready in advance is a must to surviving even a long delay due to traffic.  A Survival Mom tries to be ready for anything, and when she’s not, she learns from the experience and does better the next time!



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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 9 years.

15 thoughts on “Step-by-Step: A Survival Mom Binder for TEOTWAWKI”

  1. Great tips! I’ve always kept things in folders…and up until recently those folders were physical folders. I started keeping things in FOLDERS on kmy hard-drive; then my computer crashed and now I am trying to find a lot of the articles I had in those folders. Does anyone out there have a link to an article called “$5 Preps”? That’s article helped my SIL get going on prepping…she can’t find her copy now. Thanks in adbance.

    1. Not sure if it’s the one you’re looking for, but has an article like that. Their forum tends to be a little militaristic, but the articles linked to the main page are good for family prepping.

    2. Pam,
      I was keeping things on my computer as well. Then one day I wanted to get some of the info and I could not. We fixed the problem and all of it was there. But, that later made me realize, I need to have this on hand always. Back ups to the Back Ups. This goes with what Survival Mom says in her book, have things in 3’s! Always!!!! I wish you luck in gathering all your information. Breathe, you will find it all. If you have not already, google your article title, it may come up. If I can find a manual on a food dehydrator I bought at a second hand store, that article has to be there…….. 🙂 Good Luck!

  2. This is a very useful tool for those of us who have not yet begun to prepare for the inevitable. Emergencies will happen, but having the plans consolidated in a physical binder sure beats trying to find the articles with less than two hours left on the battery of your laptop.

  3. Great tips and very easy to follow. I was impressed with the fact you use pencil as you said, things change. A realisic approach as things and needs do change.
    I am very proud of you. You are a great mother, wife, and an all around person.


  4. I am humbled by these comments everyone. It is a really good feeling when something you do can help get others towards their goals. I took and just put order to some of the craziness. Once you stop yourself from being overwhelmed and look at your puzzle. You can piece it together one piece at a time. Survial Mom did that with her book and blog. If it were not for some of the things she wrote and talked about, I too would feel overwhelmed. So to Survival Mom, Thank you!!! You are a great inspiration and just glad I could help give the breakdown of one way to use the information and skills we all are gathering.

    1. Thanks! You were my first Survival Mom. I remember how you always had stuff with us when we went anywhere just in case. Wet Ones and papertowels. Extra napkins every time we ate out and then if we did not use them, we took them with us. I think that is why I always have tons of McDonald napkins or Wendy’s napkins in the car with the kids. Never know when you are gonna need one. 🙂

  5. I have 3 very large binders that are in my bedroom on a shelf. I used 3 different colors so I know what binder has what. The first one I call “The Great Big Book of Everything”. It is red, it is a huge professional size, and contains passports; school documentation; dog registrations, id chip numbers, etc; anything work related such as copies of licenses or certifications; utility addresses and account numbers; you get the idea. It helped me to get rid of my filing cabinet. I have a separate binder for investments and then my binder for all things survival. I can grab all three in a moments notice, everything I need is with me, including anything that I may need to find employment somewhere else. And Jackie is right: protective sleeves, tabs, dividers, etc make it all very easy to organize.

    1. Stealth Spaniel,
      This is exactly right. It is all about being able to grab at a moments notice. I am working on my next binder for such things too. Back up to Back ups! If you can, having scanned stuff into your computer and down load to a flash drive is a GREAT way to help have an additional back up and layer to your preps. The Survial Mom talks about 3 layers in her book. And, that is super important. I also have been working on cards that I will hand out to my kids that either have a picture of what they need to do or get; as well as words. I still have a non reader in my family right now. So I have been working on getting them ready to help. I have found that my kids enjoy helping me make preporations. That not only gives them a skill but gives us some good family time.

  6. While the notebooks are great idea I would be concerned about having my most important papers on a shelf in the bedroom. In the case of a fire a lifetime of paperwork would be destroyed. Several fireproof boxes that can be purchased at Walmart might be something to consider. Also in the case of a burglar ,( happens even if you don’t want to think about it,) by labeling it you are handing your ID, passport, etc. to them.

  7. I have the software program One Note that I absolutely love. If you have not used it or seen it, you should check it out. It is a “binder” software. If I find something online, I simply copy and paste it into the appropriate tab. Nice too that it automatically puts the web address on the document. When you have “completed” your binder (if you ever do!!) simply print out the binder all at once. Hole punch and place in your physical binder for taking with you.

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