Keeping your family organized and motivated throughout the school year doesn't have to feel like a daily exercise in survival. With a little planning, you can easily manage the morning rush, schedule after-school activities and keep track of your kids' homework assignments without sacrificing your sanity or your style. Start the school year off right by setting up your very own family command center.
What is a Family Command Center?
Think of your command center as a larger-than-life family planner. Much like your trusty, pocketbook-sized day planner, a command center features all of the typical organizational tools needed to keep your family on task and on time. However, unlike your standard calendar, a family command center provides an interactive experience, actively establishing a daily routine for the whole family.
How to Design Your Family Command Center
There's no right or wrong way to design a family command center. Your project should be based on your family's needs, and when it comes to your family, you're the expert. Just go for it! Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Think about how you'd like your command center to look.
Organization doesn't have to be ugly. With a little imagination, your command center can be a stylish addition to your home.
Love an eclectic look? Create a collage of organizational tools, such as calendars, hooks and wall mounted storage racks. Ikea and Pottery Barn are excellent resources for these materials, although you can sometimes find similar items for less at Wal-Mart and Target. Prefer a more uniform approach? Invest in collection of large framed corkboards. Create different sections using paper or ribbon, or paint each section a different color using masking tape and craft paint.
Whatever style you choose, consider these tips:
- Incorporate your command center into your existing décor.
- Limit your color scheme to just two or three colors to create a cohesive look.
- Pay attention to scale and balance.
2. Choose a space to dedicate to your project.
Choose a central area that everyone has access to, such as a kitchen or family office, for your command center. If you have the room, it's best to surrender an entire wall to "command central," but if space is an issue, you can always think smaller. For example, you could make space for your family information center in your kitchen, and design individual command stations for each of your children in their bedrooms.
3. Create a family information center.
Your family's information center is a one-stop, at-a-glance guide to your life and a vital tool for scheduling and daily planning. It also serves as a communication center. You'll want to include:
- A large family calendar for keeping track of all of your family's daily engagements.
- A family message board for communication.
- A grocery list.
- Important phone numbers/emergency info.
4. Create an individual station for each child.
A personal planning station helps your little one learn to focus on his or her individual responsibilities while benefiting from constant parental supervision and encouragement. Use your child's station to help them develop a daily routine that keeps them organized and motivated. You might want to include:
- A personal weekly calendar for keeping track of project deadlines and after-school activities.
- An assignment board for writing down daily homework assignments. (Provide your child with a special notebook for writing down homework assignments at school, and have them copy their assignments onto the board each day when they arrive home.)
- An inbox for incoming homework, school notices and permission slips.
- An outbox for finished homework assignments and other papers that need to be returned to the teacher.
- A nightly school prep checklist to include tasks such as finishing homework, packing a backpack, picking out clothes and preparing school lunch.
- A weekend chore list.