Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Organized
Each day in your household, the questions fly. What time is soccer practice? Do we need to buy milk? Is the family free to attend a barbecue this weekend?
Even in an age of smartphones, each household needs a one-stop location to find the answers: a family command center.
Information central for busy families, a family command center cuts school-day stress by creating a single location to find calendars, information and messages needed by the family each day.
Today in the Back-to-School Countdown, we'll set up--or spiff up!--a family command center to keep life running smoothly.
Make it yours
Just as there's no such thing as a "average" family, there's no one right way to set up a family command center. One family may find a single three-ring binder can hold all the information they need to make it to work and school on time each day. For others, the family command center will fill an entire wall with whiteboards, personal inboxes and cubbies.
To determine what your family needs in an information center, consider what information needs to be collected and shared in the household. Your command center components might include items like:
- family calendar
- school calendar
- household chore checklists
- frequently called phone numbers
- babysitter/emergency information
- school lunch menus
- shopping list
- coupon files
- personal inboxes for each family member
- whiteboard for notes and reminders
- incoming/outgoing mail
- bills to pay
- receipts file
- storage for pens, pencils, paper, markers and erasers
Looking for ideas? The Printable Library has a great selection of calendars, checklists and information forms for use in a family command center.
Location, location, location
Once you have an idea of what information you'll track and how much space your command center will require, it's time to give it a home.
Where to set up your family command center? Again, it's a choice as individual as your household.
One family will add a command center to the family's launch pad, while others claim the prime real estate of the refrigerator door. Some households prefer a desk-based solution, with file drawers at the ready, while others rely on wall-based messaging using whiteboards and sticky notes.
Wherever you choose, keep in mind that the center won't work if no one can see it! Hidden away behind a door spells instant failure, so choose a spot that's out in plain view and on the family's fast-track each day.
A place for everything ... and everyone
No matter how pretty--or organized!--the family command center may be, it won't work unless you use it. Encourage the household to use the command center by giving each family member a "buy-in": a place of their own for notes and messages.
Mount magnetic paper holders to the refrigerator, labeled with children's names, or create color-coded sections on a whiteboard to give everyone ownership of the information contained there.
Hint: tuck love notes, a small treat, or a "get out of chores free" card into children's message areas to make using the command center more fun!
Build regular checks into your routine
To bring the concept to full usefulness, build "command center checks" into your morning and evening routine.
Knowing that there's a thumbs-down entry on tomorrow's school lunch menu gives you plenty of time to pack a substitute sack lunch the night before. No more morning panic!