Having a place for mail, notes, to-do lists, and all those school fliers is an essential part of organizing. It’s easy for a small pile on the counter to turn into an avalanche. That makes it nearly impossible to be in the right place at the right time – or to remember field trip notes and birthday parties. This simple solution is easy to put together on a budget. Here are six things to put in a family command center.
Our family command center
We recently moved into a new home and creating a command center is something I put off for too long. Just in time for school to start again, I finally got everything together. The whole house immediately seemed more organized.
In our last house, I had plenty of room for a bookshelf that held a lot of stuff. In our new house, I only have a wall, so I needed to streamline everything. Here’s what I put in our family command center.
My family command center
In my opinion, a calendar is the single most important thing. If you only have a tiny space, hang a calendar.
I’ve used several different sizes over the years, so it really depends on how much you want to write on it and how much space you have to hang it.
I’ve used a 17×20-inch desk calendar at Walmart for $4, a smaller print-at-home sized calendar, and even tried going digital for a while.
Each person has a pen color and his or her activities are written in that color. I use black for things everyone needs to remember. The pens are with the dry-erase markers on the message board.
Related: Why we went back to a paper calendar
2. Bulletin board
The calendar goes on the bulletin board, so I can take it down if needed. There is also room to pin important notes, like parent-teacher meetings and library receipts. For some things, the event will be written on the calendar, but the note needs to stay nearby so I don’t have to write out the details.
I like having a large dry-erase board. You could just use a larger bulletin board, but I think this makes it more efficient. This is the place for quick notes like “don’t forget the recycling” or “we’re low on toilet paper.”
Our dry-erase board is also magnetic.
4. Mail & file sorter
There is an endless stream of paperwork coming into this house. Every now and then, I get a weird Vernon Dursley smile on my face and remind everyone that there’s “no post on Sundays.” I mean, I need at least one day without papers every week.
To keep the papers under control, I have a few folders to sort things. Because there isn’t a lot of room, we have to recycle the unimportant stuff right away instead of letting it pile up. My folders are bills, coupons and restaurant menus, business papers, and insurance forms.
5. Family binder
In front of my mail file is a 1-inch family household binder.
6. Chore chart
Our family’s chore routine has evolved a lot over the past few years. Our current setup includes dividing the chores between the weekdays. Each day, there are tasks to do and the kids can swap as often as they want.
Having a simple chore list in our command center means I don’t have to remind everyone to do their chores quite as often.
While it isn’t an essential element, I think having a family photo in our command center is important. I’m forever telling the kids that we’re a team, so seeing our four smiling faces right next to the chore chart is a good reminder of why we do what we do.
If you have more space for a command center…
With the hallway being narrow, there isn’t room for more than what I have here. Nearby, on a different wall, I have a coat rack for purses, hats, and jackets, once it gets cold. If your entryway is bigger than mine, you could designate a landing space for shoes, jackets, and backpacks.
In my living room, there is a designated space for all electronic devices. I have a vintage phone table with a surge protector bar underneath. All of the phones and e-readers go on the table at the end of the day with easy access to charge.
If you don’t have a family command center, I encourage you to create one. It can be as small or as large as you need. You might add a few important things or leave something out that doesn’t work for your family.
Update: I moved the command center to the opposite wall and reorganized a bit. See this post for more details.