What is a Shalom Bayit Book? (SBB part 1: paper or electronic?)


English: A stack of copy paper.

Get organized!

In several places, I have mentioned my Shalom Bayit Book (or SBB). A Shalom Bayit Book (SBB) is my Jewish version of a household management notebook or control journal. Shalom means peace, and bayit is house, so this book is one major way I bring peace into my house. (See some of the pieces in the top header bar, with more coming in this series.)

My SBB contains all of my notes from past years (like what worked and what didn’t and a wishlist for next year), worksheets for things like menus, a detailed calendar, and checklists. It also contains running wishlists for my family members and their sizes, inventories of holiday gear (like Passover things!) and a shopping list for future years (like a big meat pot for Passover). It’s my one stop shop for an organized home.

Using a SBB helps me save: I save my sanity (by not having a mad dash for Target erev Yom Tov for something I am missing) and money (by finding a good deal on something I want during the year instead of last minute a full price, and by knowing what I need instead of buying duplicates “just in case”). We can have the holiday we want instead of missing big pieces because I forgot or couldn’t find the item (storage will be a future topic).

My SBB just keeps important information at my fingertips: does the baby need 12 mo pajamas or 18 month dresses? Do we have candles for our menora yet? Did I actually get that pot for Passover? Which recipes did we love for Shavuot? What worked best for Sukkot this year? Instead of pulling out the boxes and sorting through everything (or just buying something I might not need), I can flip a few pages or pull up the right doc and find out.

Let’s start building a SBB. This will be a several part series with some of the different elements over the next week or two. Of course, each family’s SBB will look different, but just take what works for you and leave the rest. Start with what you can do, or where your trouble spots lie, and move on as you can. Any organization is better than none, right? Baby steps get you there, too.

First decision: Paper or electronic? There are good reasons for both, but the biggest decision factor for you is how will you use it?

I kind of wish I was a high tech girl, but I’m not. I like to see things on paper. So I use a mixture of both. Everything is on my computer, and I update it there. However, I do have a hard copy of most everything, and I scrawl notes on the paper. Every so often, I update the computer copies and replace the old one in the binder. I also have some of the checklists laminated so I can work through them, and I have a weekly Menu plan template and grocery list that I take a new printout of each week a (I print them on two sides so it’s easy to go back and forth.)

Now for the fun part. Here’s what you need:

  • Paper: Get a big binder that can fit regular sized paper and some dividers. (You can improvise or go and purchase something you love.) Since each family’s book will look different, and each book will change as life does, don’t let the desire to be perfect stop you! Just gather together what you need so you can start, and you can update and add or change pieces later.
  • Electronic: Set up a folder and be sure your computer has Word (or another word processing program).

That’s it! Check in this week as we get going on more details, like file dividers, what you should include, what you can include, and more.


About Amital

A die-hard listmaker and observant Jewish mommy of 5, managing the challenges of life bit by bit with the help of a Shalom Bayit book and lists. And chocolate, of course. Lots of chocolate.

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