Running a household can be messy, especially when it comes to schedules, meal planning, devices that need to be charged, and paper clutter. Mix in school age kids and you have even more of the above and less time to deal with it all. That’s why creating a family command center can simplify the chaos.
Here are four fairly simple steps to creating a command center that works with your family’s needs and space.
DESIGNATE A SPOT FOR YOUR FAMILY COMMAND CENTER
A space that everyone passes through is ideal. For many families, the kitchen is the most efficient area. You may select a mudroom, entryway, central hallway, or a living area– any convenient spot your family will have eyes on regularly.
Look for a central space that can hold the essentials for keeping everyone on track for their days. Shelves can be helpful, but they aren’t absolutely necessary. It can be as simple as a kitchen cabinet or as elaborate as a full desk or entry hall set up. A by-the-door command center can help you keep up with last-minute items before leaving the house and also serves as the catch all spot when the family comes in. Just be sure to cull regularly for items that aren’t essential.
DECIDE ON THE FUNCTION OF YOUR COMMAND CENTER
What does your family need from a command center? Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you need wall space for hanging a calendar?
- Do you need a spot for paying bills?
- Is this where you want to deal with incoming and outgoing mail?
- How many people need in-boxes? Do you want to hang them on the wall or use a file box or trays on a counter or table?
- What information do you want to keep in your command center? Bills? School papers? Take-out menus and shopping lists? Coupons?
- Do you want a place to hang a meal plan or menu? How about a chore chart for the kids or a cleaning schedule for the household?
- Would you use a cork board or magnetic board for hanging notes, invitations and shopping lists?
- Do you need a white board or chalkboard area for leaving notes for other family members, jotting down a grocery list or making notes to yourself? Or would you prefer to hang a notepad so you can take your notes with you on the go?
Most command centers have a calendar, a spot for incoming mail, a place for bills to be paid, an area for messages and notes, and in-boxes for each member of the family. Pinterest is a treasure trove of ideas when it comes to home command centers.
You can find lots of awesome ideas for how to arrange yours, but don’t be intimidated by the elaborate versions you may see online. Keep it simple and focus on creating a space that will work for your family. You’ll need time to refine your system, and you can always add more bells and whistles later once you’ve determined how your family really uses your space.
Before shopping, look around your house and see what items you have on hand to create your command center. You’ll likely want to include:
- Wall calendar – We use a personalized calendar printed with family photos, but freebie wall calendars work easily too, or use our printable calendar & planner pages you can easily customize to suit your tastes. A white board or chalkboard can be used to create a perpetual calendar to use less paper.
- Incoming mail sorting – A basket or stand up file organizer works well for incoming mail, or you can hang in-boxes or pocket bins on the wall to collect mail. Consider size carefully – choose something just big enough to hold a few days of mail, but not large enough to let it pile up.
- Bill sorting – A bin pocket on the wall works well, or consider using a tickler file in a pretty file box to place bills to be paid. We have a DIY 3-tiered board with document pockets and bills are placed in the top pocket for easy access. Whichever method you choose, make sure the bills are placed somewhere consistently and where they won’t be forgotten.
- School paper organization– Permission slips, calendars and informational fliers for reference, homework in process, and finished work. For us, the best way to organize this was a pretty file basket on the counter with file folders for each category. The folders are color-coded by child. If you prefer a wall-mounted solution, consider hanging action items on a message board and using wall pockets for each child’s homework. The command center here includes a DIY for pretty inbox folders.
- Shopping lists, menus, notes and messages – A white board or chalkboard is great for scribbling notes, but also make sure to have notepads handy for those grocery lists you need to take with you to the store or messages you need to pass along. A cork board or magnetic strip can be handy for organizing those little pieces of paper that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle.
- A basket or cup for pens, pencils, stamps, envelopes and other frequently used office supplies is handy so you don’t have to search for them when you’re in a hurry.
Once you’ve got your system, bring together all those important pieces of information and stock your command center.
Label those folders and bins so everyone knows where things belong. Fill in the calendar, and hang the meal plan.
Personalize it with your favorite quotes or family photos. Make it a point to use your new command center every day, and direct other family members to it when they come to you looking for something organized there. If something isn’t working, don’t abandon the whole system.
Continually look for ways to improve your command center and tweak it to fit the way your family works. The best command centers are those that are functional, organized and personalized so they reflect your family’s activities and lifestyle.