Are you ready to get your family’s shenanigans together and finally get everyone on the same page? My best advice for getting your family organized is to create a family command center. You can use my simple system to create a home that thrives from the inside out! In this post, you’ll learn how to make a command center that works for your family, and I’m sharing a life changing chore chart system (with some inspiration for chores for kids by age!).
So say goodbye to flying by the seat of your pants (at least some of the time) and get ready to create a home that thrives!
Getting Your Family Organized
At the start of every school year, I look for ways to get our schedules, school work, paperwork, and lives in general, more organized.
In the past, I’ve tried things that didn’t really stick or were too complicated for longevity. Have you tried systems that didn’t last, too? It really stinks to put time and effort into something and then find out that it’s just not working for your family.
I was in the same boat. But this time I created a space that has worked well for my family for two years. I really don’t think I’ll need to change anything.
This family command center and chore chart is simple enough for you to do on your own. It’s not expensive, either. Plus, it works well for any family size!
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Before You Create a Family Command Center
First, consider these things:
- Where should you set up your command center for easy, optimal viewing? What is the size of that space?
- What are you looking to get out of your command center? What problems are you hoping an organized space for your family will fix?
I knew I needed my family command center to work for me and my family in the following ways:
- A clear, concise calendar for everyone to see what our schedule looks like. This helps every family member know what’s going on each day, and provides a sense of stability as well as ownership for even the youngest of our crew.
- A copy of the school’s calendar with important dates and events.
- School lunch menus.
- Baskets for the kids’ papers, folders, library books, etc.
- Chores for kids to do in a way that alleviates any nagging on my end, and simple enough for the kids to be responsible for on their own—something that is sustainable.
Now that you know the reasons for getting your family organized, and the problems you’re hoping to solve by doing so, you’re ready to start making your own command center!
The Best Family Command Center Products
The best family command center is one that is in full view, where your people will see it all the time without having to hunt for it.
Step 1: The Calendar
I got this giant dry-erase poster (and it comes with four dry-erase markers and an eraser), because I had a large space to fill up on our wall. We love how big it is, there’s more than enough space to write everybody’s appointments/events down, and each family member stays in the loop!
Step 2: The Baskets
I purchased four of these baskets, one for each of my boys. Each day, they come home and plop their school folders in their baskets, so I can review them at my leisure. When I’m done reviewing and signing papers, I place the folder back in the proper basket, and the boys grab it when they’re packing up for the next day.
It’s also a good place to keep papers with special project directions, or field trip specifications. There’s no “Shoot! I forgot we needed to get your costume ready for the Wax Museum Project” or “Darn, I forgot you needed a sack lunch for your field trip!” moments anymore, because we look in those baskets every day.
And, when I’m traveling from room to room and find their misplaced toys and books laying around, I can just toss them in the respective basket for the owner to put away later.
Step 3: The Chore Chart
Another way to get your family organized is to create a functioning chore chart system.
Oh, if I could tell you how many variations of chore charts we’ve tried over the years, and how much time and money I’ve wasted creating systems that were doomed to fail because it put most of the responsibility on me to remember or record, and not on the kids.
This new system has worked wonderfully all school year, is completely easy to set up and maintain, and puts the responsibility on the boys, not me.
First, I ordered two simple cookie sheets.
When they arrived, I used a liquid chalk marker to write “To Do” on one and “Done” on the other, and used washi tape to underline the headings.
Some folks could probably go all out and really fancify this thing, but I wanted to make sure we’d actually stick to this system before investing too much time and money into it. Plus, I kind of like its simplicity.
Next, I ordered Scribble brand magnets that could be easily written on. I definitely recommend them, as they are durable and a thin sharpie goes over them flawlessly.
I ordered them in four colors, one for each boy and I will talk more about the color-coding system later on.
How This Life Changing Chore Chart Works
When the magnets arrived, I wrote a daily task on each one with a fine-point sharpie. (Mistakes can easily be wiped off with nail polish remover and a cotton ball).
The magnets came in packs of 20, so I split them up into a set of ten morning tasks, and a set of ten afternoon/evening tasks. I then stuck the magnets onto the cookie sheet, the morning tasks on the top row and the afternoon/evening tasks on the bottom row, in order for each of my fellas.
I LOVE that all of them could use the same set of cookie sheets, so I didn’t have to create four different chore charts and figure out where to put them all.
This is a great chore chart for big families! Or small families! That’s one of the wonderful things about it. It’s easily adaptable for families of various sizes and age groups, and you can write tasks/chores to suit your needs.
My Favorite Benefit From Our Chore Chart
If I had to remind each of them about every single task…that would be 80 daily reminders that I’d be throwing at them! Who has the mental energy for that? That is crazy-making! Now there are 20 daily tasks for each of the children to take care of, and all I have to say is, “Check your magnets.”
Our Chore Chart & Color Coding System
As I mentioned, each boy has their own colored magnets. That color is also their color for almost everything.
When I write their events on the big family calendar, it’s in their color. Their bath towels are in their color (then I know who left theirs laying on the floor), their toothbrushes are in their color, and their shower loofahs are in their color. You get the jist.
Boy #1 is red, #2 is green, #3 is blue, and #4 is yellow/orange.
Every morning, they know to get up and “do their magnets.” This system is great, because instead of me helping them to transition through each new task, they can plainly see what comes next (since I place the magnets in order of our schedule).
For example, they wake up and know that they need to get dressed and make their beds before coming down for breakfast. When they come downstairs after doing those things, they move those two magnets over to the “Done” side and get their breakfast.
Next on the list is “Meal Clean-Up,” so they know they need to clean up their breakfast mess and put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher.
And so on, and so on.
When they get home from school, they will then have to work on their bottom row of tasks, like Homework, Pack up for Tomorrow, etc.
Payment for Chores
Many parents wonder if they should pay their kids to do chores, or if it’s just part of being a family and each member should contribute. In our family, we’ve done it both ways.
I do think instilling good work ethic into your kids is important, as well as teaching them the value of a dollar. With payment comes learning about budgets, savings, etc. These are wonderful things for kids to learn!
However, I also understand that sometimes our own budgets as parents are already strapped, and it’s important still to teach kids that they won’t always get rewarded for completing basic tasks. One day that will just be called “adulting” and no one is cheering you on for brushing your teeth and doing your own laundry.
If you’re not able to compensate your kids for their chores at this time, you could still work out some sort of reward system. Maybe their hard work can earn them extra screen time, a special dessert, or a fun outing with Mom or Dad.
Our monetary rewards look like this:
Each daily task or chore on their magnets is worth five cents, so if they completed all 20 magnets, they would earn a dollar for that day.
If they don’t move the magnet over, they don’t get credit for it, simple as that. The point of this chore chart is to take the responsibility off of me and put it back onto my kids, so I’m not reminding them to follow through.
Also, if they move a magnet over without actually doing that task (for instance, if they moved over “Tidy Bedroom” but I still find dirty laundry and toys on their floor), then they get one warning, where they just have to put that one magnet back and not get credit for that chore that day. If he is a repeat offender, he gets a zero for the whole day. You don’t get rewarded for not doing the job around here.
At the end of each night, I record how many magnets each of my boys finished, and move the completed magnets back over to the “To Do” side for a fresh start the next day.
Pay days are every other Friday (the same day Handsome Hubby gets paid). We figure out how much they’ve earned in their two week pay period.
The boys are required to Give 10% (we combine their donations and find a reputable cause once or twice a year), Save 25% (in their savings accounts), and then are left to Spend the other 65% however they choose.
They’re learning some good lessons about saving up for a long time for something they really want, versus spending willy-nilly, like the time #3 convinced #4 to purchase his turn on the iPad for $8. Sigh….
Anyway, that’s our system and we’re sticking to it!
Chores for Kids by Age
If you’re looking for a list of chores for kids to do, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s go over some age-appropriate chores for every age!
Age Appropriate Chores for Toddlers
Oh, those toddlers are wild creatures, aren’t they? Still, they can help around the house. The key is to remember that much of this will need to be parent-led, but it’s important to instill good habits at a young age.
- help put toys away
- help make their bed
- dust… sort of. Give them a feather duster and watch as they live their best life.
- put dirty clothes in the hamper
- help with younger siblings (toddlers are wonderful diaper-fetchers!)
- practice sweeping with a small broom and dust pan
- help rinse dishes with Mom or Dad
Age Appropriate Chores for Preschoolers
Welcome to the “I can do it myself” stage! Preschoolers are so determined to accomplish things independently, and love to celebrate when they do!
Preschoolers can do all the things toddlers can do, and:
- refill toilet paper and put fresh towels in the bathroom (this was a game changer in our house!)
- empty small wastebaskets
- check the mail
- put away silverware/utensils from the dishwasher
- water plants
- help feed the pets
- match socks
- copy a table setting
- clear the table and wipe it down
Age Appropriate Chores for 5-6 Year Olds
This is such a big age for youngsters! They’re starting school, learning to be more autonomous, and are ready for some responsibility.
5 and 6 year olds can do everything toddlers and preschoolers can do, and:
- help make/pack lunch
- help put away groceries
- help wash or dry dishes
- fold/put away towels
- start the dishwasher
- vacuum with supervision
- help organize the pantry (my youngest has been THE BOMB at this from a very young age!)
Age Appropriate Chores for 7-9 Year Olds
This stage is fun because you don’t have to watch them quite as closely, although some of the novelty of chores has probably worn off by now.
Still, 7-9 year olds can do everything listed above, and:
- wash, dry, and put away dishes/empty the dishwasher
- carry in groceries
- clean bedroom
- wipe bathroom surfaces and scrub the toilet
- wipe counters and appliances
- rake leaves
- help with washing, drying, folding, putting away laundry– and how to hang up clothes!
- help clean out the car
- wash windows
- sweep the porch
- organizational tasks you keep meaning to get to– putting pictures into photo albums, organizing board games, sorting out your junk drawer, etc.
Age Appropriate Chores for 10-12 Year Olds
So tweens may not be as stoked about doing chores, but they love having some spending money or earning other rewards!
10-12 year olds can do everything we’ve already mentioned, and:
- take out the trash
- do laundry (with a handy cheat sheet that stays in the laundry room!)
- wash and change sheets/bedding
- clean the shower
- prepare simple meals
- shred papers
- care for pets– walking the dog, etc.
- clean and organize dresser drawers and closets
- pump gas
- be fully responsible for garbage day, making sure the bins go out to the streets
Age Appropriate Chores for 13-15 Year Olds
This stage is great for proving to your young teens that you trust them by giving them some more mature tasks. Even if they’re not thrilled with the actual chores they have to do, this is an important age for asserting their independence, and what better way than to start taking on more responsibility and learning real life skills!
13-15 year olds can and should be doing the things we’ve already listed, and:
- mow grass and other yard work/shoveling snow
- clean out the fridge
- learn how to manage personal finances
- dust ceiling fans
- clean the garage
- wash the car
Age Appropriate Chores for 16+
These kids are probably going to want to explore their newfound freedom with their driver’s license. I remember offering to go ANYWHERE for my mom when I first got mine.
Instead of your teens driving around aimlessly, give them a few things to do, like:
- running errands
- meal planning and grocery shopping
- pick up and drop off younger siblings
- get a part time job
- basic car maintenance
These chores aren’t meant to be overwhelming. If you add a little responsibility at each stage, you can feel like you’ve really helped your kids become functioning members of society when it’s time to let them loose in the real world. They’ll be grateful you taught them how to do things!
Wrapping It Up: Create a Family Command Center and Chore Chart
As you can see, setting up a family command center isn’t all that difficult. Making the chore chart isn’t, either. These simple steps will help you create a thriving home from the inside out!
By getting your family organized and instilling responsibility in each member, your life will be far less hectic. You might still forget an appointment here or there because nobody’s perfect 😉, but these ideas will definitely bring you closer to having your shenanigans together.
Do you think you’ll use this system for your family? Let me know, or leave a picture of your command center in the comments! I always love seeing what works for other families!