Stay on top of school papers, reminders, grocery lists, bills, and more with a Family Command Center.
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The nerve center for your family, your command center ensures you keep the family organized on a daily basis through the ups and downs of family life.
As a mom of 5 kids, my life became less stressful when I created a Family Command Center in our home. My husband and kids know where to find what they need. I don’t need to search all of the house for a permission slip for a school trip, or the current school lunch schedule. Everything in its place, and a place for everything is my organizing motto.
Location, Location Location: Your Family Command Center
The ideal spot for the family command center is where family life takes place like the kitchen. You will need a dedicated spot to host all the components of your command center. Make sure nothing can be knocked out of place or damaged in any way. Establish rules about using the command center from the beginning like only Mom and Dad can write on the calendar.
If you don’t have a lot of space in the central area, divide up the command center into 2 or 3 spots. Keep all the kids stuff together, and put the bills and other items in another spot. If you can keep each of the tools close to each other even if they’re in other rooms, you should be fine.
Our Command Center is split between the kitchen, office, and the dining room. We store the lunch boxes and back packs by the back door. The homework bins sit on a bookshelf in the dining room since we use the dining room table for homework. The bill payment information and tickler files are in my office. The monthly wall calendar hangs on the wall in the kitchen near the entrance to the dining room.
6 Command Center Tools
Every family needs one shared calendar. For us, the shared calendar is a blank wall calendar I pick up at Staples in June to start the new year on July 1. I write everything in pencil in case our plans change. The calendar hangs in the kitchen next to my home planning area and near the homework bins in the dining room. This one is my favorite.
Other families use a wipe-off calendar – weekly or monthly. Some families are completely electronic using calendar software such as Google and Cozi. Electronic calendars work well for families with teenagers who have smart phones. You can set up automatic reminders to go to your teen’s phones.
All dates need to be written on the calendar as soon as possible, and reviewed weekly.
2. Paper Trays for Each Child
Papers come home almost every day from school – homework assignments, permission slips, party invitations. Sometimes I feel like a snowstorm has hit my home when my kids pull out their papers. Use paper trays like these to contain the papers and give yourself time to review them.
I have a paper tray system from Staples set up in our dining room (where we do homework). When my kids get home, they put their school binders and communication envelopes in their personal bin. The homework assignment sheet for the younger kids stays in this bin, too.
While the kids eat their snack, I review the binders and communication envelopes. Any papers needing a signature or a check go on my office chair to be taken care of that night. Reminders for future events get filed in my tickler file system. Papers coming home from school to stay also go in the tickler file.
After dinner, I sit down and take care of the papers that need to go back to school. Even if the due date is a week or so in the future, I take care of the paper immediately. If I need a reminder for an event like a field trip, I copy the paper and put it in the tickler files, and make a note on our family calendar. I put all the returning papers back in my children’s binders for the next day.
This year, I added a white board, like this one, for each of my 5 kids to our family command center. This was a last minute idea born out of frustration with remembering stuff about my kids like who owed me chores and who had a big homework project to work on.
I set up the boards with my oldest son at the top and my youngest kids at the bottom. I told the kids they could write on the boards items I needed to know, but they couldn’t erase anything I wrote like disciplinary consequences.
The boards have also helped communication about the kids between my husband and I. If one of the kids needs an antibiotic, my husband will find the information on the board along with the dosage and times for administering the medicine. I also write notes about disciplinary consequences to ensure we’re on the same page.
These markers with built in erasers are fantastic!
Tickler files can help moms keep track of items needed for future dates. Setting up a tickler file system takes about 15 to 20 minutes depending on how fancy you would like your weekly files to be.
Using a file crate, set up hanging files for each month. Within each hanging file are multiple file folders, one for each week of the month. Keep school work, invitations, event flyers, birthday and anniversary cards, the monthly school calendar, and pretty much anything else time-sensitive which isn’t a bill in your tickler files.
File time-sensitive papers immediately in your tickler file system. Once a week, review the file the following week and make notes in your planner for handling the papers.
5. Mom’s Planner
All moms need a planner. It can be a paper one like the Erin Condren Life planner, an electronic one like Google calendar, or a combination of both. Whatever you use, keep it in the Command Center for easy access. You should be able to note reminders quickly in your planner any time you need to add something to your list.
Inside Mom’s planner, you’ll find chore lists, task lists, and dated reminders. When life gets hectic with sports and after school activities, Mom’s planner ensures that almost everything will be taken care of.
6. Paper and Office Supplies
If you need to use certain office supplies on a regular basis like stamps and envelopes, keep a supply in your Command Center. I keep a supply of notebook paper, recycled envelopes, and regular envelopes for writing sick notes, sending in permissions slips and sending in money.
What’s in your Family Command Center?