I wish there were a class on adulting that you could take so you know all the things you'll need as an adult. I mean, I took a course in life skills where I learned to make pizza, read a map, and change a tire, but somehow they never mentioned that you're supposed to keep track of the phone number of everyone you've ever worked for so that you can give it to other people you might want to work for in the future. Or that you can seriously ruin your heater if you don't change the filter monthly -- something I didn't find out till I'd left it undone for four years.
Today's pro tip is about keeping records. Start doing it today, because the awful thing about keeping records is that the only way you find out you needed to know something is by needing to know it and not having it.
What I should have done years ago, and am going to start doing now, is keeping a records notebook, apart from my journal (because who wants to flip through pages of angst to get to the date of your last dentist appointment?) where I write literally everything I might want to know about later. Here are a few things you should be keeping track of:
*Dentist and doctor appointments: The date, what it was for, and everything you learned. Do it for the kids, too, and record their stats (height, weight) and everything else you learn. I thought I would remember Miriam's blood type, but apparently I overestimated how well my brain was working postpartum. Write that stuff down. Of course you should be keeping a vaccine record and a record of any major illnesses. You don't want to be scratching your head years later trying to remember which of your kids have and haven't had the chicken pox.
*Major life changes: Keep a record of every place you have worked and every place you have lived. You'll need that information in case of a background check. Make sure you have addresses and phone numbers.
*Home maintenance: Write down when you purchased oil, if you have oil heat, so you know when to buy more and how much you usually use. Write down any service your heater and other appliances get and when they are due for more. Write when you change your air filters and water filters, if you have them.A It's good to keep the forwarding address for the previous owner of your home, in case you get important mail for them or collections calls.
*Car maintenance: Record all service on your vehicle and put future service due on your calendar.
*Receipts: Keep them as long as it takes for you to be sure you aren't going to be returning anything. Seems every time I want to return something, I've lost the receipt. I'm going to start keeping them in my wallet and clean out old ones every few weeks. But it's nice to keep a grocery receipt every once in awhile so you can keep track of how your spending changes over time. Is it going up because you're buying more luxuries, or is it just that prices are rising? That sort of thing.
*Addresses: My mom had everyone's contact information in a Rolodex. I don't have a Rolodex because theoretically I have all that information elsewhere -- phone numbers in my phone, addresses somewhere in my gmail archives, except for some that I don't seem to have at all. I once sent my phone through the washing machine and permanently lost touch with a friend, because her number was the only contact info I had. You wouldn't think that would happen in the Facebook age, but it does. And of course, if you want to send someone a surprise gift, you don't want to first email them for their address! I'm going to be looking around for a good way to keep and organize contact information online. If I can't find one ... I think I'll have to time-travel back to the 90's and buy myself a Rolodex.
*Gardening: I have been told all good gardeners keep records. I always mean to, and then I don't. I don't remember what I planted where even just last year. Oops. You should record what you planted, when, and where, as well as what pests you experienced and what your yield was like.
*Recipes: I used to copy and paste any online recipe that worked well for me into a Word document. This was really handy when my favorite carrot muffin recipe disappeared off the internet. Sadly, it was lost forever when my hard drive got fried.
Which brings me to the last point: back up your files! I use Dropbox for documents, Picasa for pictures, and Google Play for music. If there is any digital information you'd hate to lose, keep it in more than one place. And for some of these records, like children's health records, it might be best to keep them on paper in the same file as birth certificates and such. That way you'll know you'll always have them.