The Family Command Center

My Family Command Center is the nerve center of our home. It is one wall of our kitchen, and holds everything we need at a glance.

Here it is:

family, command, center

What you see (from top left, moving clockwise):

  1. Family title frame
  2. Year at a glance frame
  3. Bulletin board with three sections:
    – Contact list for key numbers, especially ones Dad might need if we’re out-of-town.
    – Area for pinning current notes and reminders we have not organized or dealt with yet.
    – Chores and to do list area. Right now there is a section each for Z (my daughter), John and I, and the cleaners.
  4. Z’s white/magnetic board
    Got this on sale; awesomely useful. z puts her artwork on it, writes on it, and when she runs out of space, she has to choose what stays and what goes, so I’m not the bad guy anymore. It’s where she stays organized and keeps memorabilia (chaos) off my board.
  5. Z’s calendar
    Also awesomely useful, Z keeps track of her stuff on her calendar. John and I keep a digital calendar (more on that in a future post), but Z has hers too.

Here’s how it works:

Every few weeks we sit down with her calendar, all the emails and papers and our digital calendar, and we update her calendar and double-check ours. It’s a project we do as a family. It’s kind of fun. If you don’t have time for this, it’s a great project for a babysitter or nanny to do as well.

Each kid could have their own calendar, with the events they care about, or the events that affect them directly, like going to a brothers hockey game, whether they like it or not. I’m not sure what age is best for every kid, but this started to work with mine at about 5 1/2. She’s getting very independent with it now.

We take out the markers, the stickers and pencil crayons, and off we go. For Z, a sticker of a kid in their PJs might serve as a trigger to remember Pyjama Day at school. The specifics are on our calendar, but I make it her job to remember.

Every Friday and Sunday we check the calendars for the following week to make sure we have the right supplies, clothes, project, etc… ready, and that John and I know who is handling what. He works shifts, so every week is a new conversation about responsibilities. Then every morning we check the calendar for that day. We don’t usually put things like Pizza Day because it’s every week on the same day and that tends to add too much clutter to see the important stuff.  We do mark her Karate classes every Monday though, but smaller, and she notices its absence.

Then we take the items from the bulletin board and our inboxes and add them to our calendar or our to do lists on our phones and them toss them into the “to file” box. We make a to do list for Z, based on her activities and put it on her board and that’s pretty much it for the week. It gives John and I an opportunity to get ourselves organized and Z an art project. Because we pay her allowance at the same time, she is as committed to it as I am.

I know this system helps us, because I just look over and anything I need to know is staring me in the face. I haven’t forgotten anything in ages.

But the biggest thing I notice is how much it helps Z, because she seems to be developing some pretty good habits and some responsibility. She crosses off the days and checks off when she receives her allowance to make sure she gets paid. She checks off her chores so I can give her a smiley face for the day.

The Family Command Center works best with the House Binder tool