Sunday, September 6, 2015

Back-to-School Series: [Creating a Family Command Center]

Do you have a spot (or spots!) in your house that have become dumping grounds for purses, mail, backpacks, and clutter??!

If so, it sounds like you are in desperate need of a Family Command Center. (If you've never heard this term before, it refers to a vertical organization system that helps your family keep track of school events, weekly activities, bills, paper clutter, and more.) Trust me when I tell you that a family command center is the ticket to more peaceful & organized home!!

Now, every family has different needs, tastes, space availability, and budget constraints when it comes to creating a command center. After all, not everyone has the space or money to do something like this:
Seriously....they need pillows!?
 In fact, I have quite a small space in my home that I've designated as our command center. It all depends on what you need in the space, and what you want in the space. Here are some simple tips to get started....
1. Find the right space. It is essential to find a space in the main traffic path of your home to create your command center. For my family, we always enter the door off the carport into the kitchen. (Because, who uses their front door these days anyways!?) So, I put our command center on the wall right next to that door, even though it's a small space. That way, the kitchen table or the countertops or the bench in the hallway don't become a dumping ground. I have created command centers in closets, cabinets, and garages for clients. Like I said, each family has different needs, tastes, and constraints. Just find what works best with your lifestyle!

2. Take inventory of your clutter. Before you create the command center, you need to take stock of what is coming into your home. Look at your "dumping zone" on a typical day & take inventory of its' contents. Then, from that list, decide what things need a new home in the command center.

3. Make a plan. Ask yourself these questions about your essentials:  Do you need baskets or hooks for backpacks? Could each family member benefit from having a folder for incoming/outgoing notices? Do you need a space for keys, sunglasses, and wallets? Do you want a calendar or memo board for school events and reminders? Try to find objects around your house that can help define the space - an old corkboard, a piece of furniture not being used, some extra baskets in the attic. If you need to shop, check out some of my favorites: IKEA, Home Goods, The Container Store, Office Depot and Hobby Lobby.

4. Make it pretty & personalize it! My favorite step (duh!). I love all the finishing touches....a pop of color, cute labels, a decorative frame. And best of all, everything has its' own place now!

My favorite elements of a command center are the following:
-Dry erase board / calendar
(Tip: Use a different color to designate each child's weekly activities)

-Clipboards for each child to hold sight words, homework lists, and important notices

-Hooks or baskets to put backpacks & purses
(Tip: Hang hooks at a kid-accessible height, or else, the backpacks will be on the floor!)

-Wall pocket / folder for each child's daily artwork and schoolwork sent home
(Tip: You may consider having one for the adults as well....for mail or other incoming paper)

-Small bowl or basket to corral wallet, sunglasses, keys, etc.

-Memo board / cork board for important notices or schedules
(Tip: If possible, sign papers as soon as they come into the house, and put them right back into the backpacks! One less thing to keep track of.)

Basically....the possibilities are endless!

....Which is why I've decided to save you hours of time scouring the internet, and have compiled this list of 12 amazing command centers. You're welcome! :) Hopefully they will inspire you & motivate you to get started...
I love the calendars on these two command centers!
On the left: A reusable one she printed & framed.
On the right: They can look at 2 months at a time.
{1 / 2}
 These command centers are simple. And sometimes, simplicity is best!
Hooks, wall pockets, and memo boards. Done.
{1 / 2 / 3}
 This is another simple one, but I had to show it in full view because I am a sucker for a chalkboard wall! I love the use of clipboards, and how she incorporated family pictures to personalize the space.

 All of these command centers repurposed an old piece of furniture. Whether that's an old microwave cart, a small bookshelf from a child's room, or a printer cart not being can all work wonders in your command center!
{1 / 2 / 3}
 These command centers needed to be shown in all their glory because I adore all the pops of color! Who says an organized space can't be a pretty one!?



 This command center is a little's inside a kitchen cabinet! A great idea for something without a wall to spare. Just make sure there is a designated space nearby where backpacks can be hung or stowed away.
 And last but not least, a beautiful space that Martha Stewart created. Whereas it might not work for every family, I just wanted to point it out because I love the sophistication and simplicity.
Now it's time to reveal MY family's command center!
Like mentioned earlier, we do not have an ideal spot for this. I dream of large mudrooms, with cubbies for every family member, and hooks and baskets galore. But, instead, I have a 2 foot wide wall right by the door off the carport, which is where me & the kids always enter the house.


However, upon doing research for this blog post, I got inspired to revamp my command center!
Here is the before & after:

(Updated as of September 2016)

....I added a larger wall pocket system because my kiddos are bringing home more each day, now that they are in 1st & 3rd grade.

.....I moved our clipboards in here (they were in our craft room, with some other homework supplies).

.....I got a large basket at the bottom to store my purse, as well as any returns I have or items that I'm handing off to friends, etc.

.....I got a more sturdy hook rail since those backpacks are getting bigger and holding more textbooks each year!

.....I switched out my dry erase board for a new cork board and this customizable schedule pad. I like to just look at one week at a time (I have a regular monthly calendar on the side of our fridge), so we can easily see when something is due, who has an after-school activity, birthday party, etc. Each child has their own color so they can easily see what they have going on each week. (My husband too!)

Let me know what you think of all these command centers, and if you have one in your home or not. And as always, Happy Organizing!

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