Every home can benefit from a “command center”. This is because every home has meals to prepare, shopping to be done, appointments to be kept, and activities to plan for and attend. It’s a lot to juggle so why do we think we can – or should – keep it all in our heads? And more importantly, what are the must haves to create a family command center that helps your home and family function efficiently?
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The beauty of a command center is that it takes all of the information floating around your home and your head and puts it where you and other family members can see it, refer to it, and add to it. This benefit alone makes the command center one of the most important places in your home.
How many times have you heard one of your kids holler out, “Mom, we’re out of toothpaste!” Or your hubby walks in and asks if you remembered to pick up his favorite pickles from the grocery store. A command center takes the responsibility off your back and shares it with everyone in the house.
Elements of a good command center
- A calendar
- A white board
- A cork board
- Some type of holder for file folders
- A way to keep pens, pencils, and dry erase markers close by
We use the white board to leave notes to family members. If someone takes a phone call – write it on the white board. Need to leave a message telling your spouse you’ve run to the grocery store – write it on the white board.
Train every member of your family to look here for messages and to leave them here too. No more hunting to see if someone left you a note on a piece of paper that’s gotten misplaced.
Attach your weekly or monthly menu plan to the bulletin board. The bulletin board is also where you’ll pin invitations and announcements. You can pin your family calendar here too if you wish. We also have a pad of paper attached to the bulletin board. This is where everyone in the house knows to write down shopping items. Our motto is, “If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t exist.”
I’ve trained the family that I will NOT remember something that’s said to me in passing and that they can either write it on the list or forget it. Of course, if your kids are small, you’ll have to be flexible here and write the items down for them. But as soon as they’re old enough to write and reach the list….
The family calendar is kept here also.
For years I used the Mom’s Do It All calendar from Orange Circle Studio. This calendar is big enough to write appointments in but what really sold me was that it has a fold-out flap to write each family member’s name on the side without you having to rewrite them every time you flip to a new month. I love anything that’s one and done!
On this calendar, get religious about recording every appointment and activity down. It’s even more helpful to have one of those pens with several colors of ink. This will make it easy to tell at a glance who is involved in each activity without having to write their names down. At our house, all of Butterfly,s activities were written in pink. Mine were in purple, hubby was assigned black ink, and son #1 was blue ink while son #2 was red ink. The key is to remain consistent and keep the pens tethered or stored right by the calendar.
Trust me, the colored ink system works but you’ll mess it up royally is you’re not consistent in using it. By the way, these are my absolute, all-time favorite pens! People who have worked with me and my family will tell you that I refuse to use any other kind!
The other essential for a command center in my book is some way to hold a few file folders. We’re not talking about a filing cabinet here, just a place for a few folders. You might consider a folder for each family member or one for each child. Having a file folder for each child is a good place to deposit those school papers you need to look at or keep until you can file them away.
There are file pockets you can hang on the wall that will blend in with your decor, keep the files off the horizontal surfaces, and keep them handy.
While we’re discussing the command center, let’s talk about horizontal surfaces just a bit.
Piles are not your friend!
If you use shelves or a desktop for storage don’t just plop stuff in piles and tell yourself that “you know where everything is”. First off, piles have a tendency to get out of control in a hurry. What starts out as just a couple of items quickly turns into a stack a foot high in which you can’t find anything. At least, you can’t find it in a timely fashion and it’s a guarantee that no one else in your house can find it at all.
Instead, make better use of your horizontal surfaces with containers that get files and paper upright where you can see them. Take a file storage box (you can get small ones that don’t take up much space) and then let your label maker be your best friend – label the files with the things you tend to need to store: permission slips, schedules, receipts, school stuff, to file, action, pending, etc. It doesn’t take an additional thirty seconds to stick a paper in a file than it does to lay it in a pile – and you’ll be able to find it quickly when you need it.
(I’ve got a thing for my label maker too! Have used one by Brother for ages and ages and it’s still going strong.)
I have gotten a ton of great ideas on Pinterest. You can make your command center as simple or as elaborate as you with. The same goes for the decor and space. If you’ve got a blank wall close to the kitchen, that’s the ideal place. But you can create a command center even when space is limited. By choosing a color scheme for the frame of your file folders you can make it pretty even with a small budget.
I’m a firm believer in using shortcuts whenever you can. Whether it’s quick tips to make your life easier or tips to deal with the stuff in your home, little time savers add up to less time spent feeling stressed out and frenzied.
Do you have a command center in your home and how do you make it function efficiently for your family?
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