Parents: Assign Yourself Homework and Make a Family ICE Binder
Make all the jokes you want about ladies and Pinterest but two years ago, Pinterest introduced me to the most stress-reducing project I've ever experienced: an In-Case-of-Emergency Binder (ICE binder, for short). This type of informational book also goes by the name The When I Die Book, Legacy Binder, and Grab-and-Go Book.
Over the last two years, I have used this book in some capacity countless times, most recently to get my Real ID in one single trip – a very big victory, if you've not experienced the process yet.
If you have found yourself sick with worry this past week over all of the "what ifs?" in your life, you may want to take charge of that anxiety and control what you can by first organizing your family’s information in one easy-to-access place.
In most families, it seems that one person is the CEO of family information, and that’s fine until that one person is the one with an emergency and unable to guide anyone through everything that needs to happen to keep the household running and the family protected.
There are many different formats and free printables you can find to help you get started on this project. All you really need to get it going is a two-inch or larger three-ring-binder, some blank pieces of paper, and a LOT of sheet protectors. You're probably ordering daily from Amazon so add these things to your cart while you are at it.
First, you’ll want to find a template or format you like (this is where Pinterest comes in again) because this project takes a lot of time and you’re going to get discouraged if it doesn’t lay out the information in a way you like.
Second, make a plan for yourself to tackle one section of information at a time. Some of these sections can be completed in an hour, some will take much longer because it means going through all of your family's paperwork to find legal contracts, medical records, insurance policies, bank information, etc.
You will not find everything you need, and that’s fine. Use a blank piece of paper and write a giant "MISSING INFO" across the top and fill in what document should go in that spot once you find it. This will help you move on to the next document without wasting too much time on what is missing.
Lastly, after you’ve spent hours and hours (days?!) collecting and organizing all of your information, you’ll want to find a very safe place to keep your book. This place should be easy for you to grab-and-go in an emergency but not so out-in-the-open that an identity thief who happens to be in your home could find it. Make sure other people you trust such as your spouse or a parent know exactly what the book looks like and where to find it in case there is an emergency involving yourself and someone else becomes in charge.
It is not a fun project by any means, for many reasons, but I do believe that having it completed will put you a bit at ease. It definitely cuts down on the stress of having to produce documents for school or camp enrollments, updates at the RMV, etc. The best part is once it's done, updating it is as easy as just putting a current document on top of the old one.
Now is definitely a good time to tackle this time-consuming project because you are stuck in the house anyway. Future You will thank you for it.