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. But this time I created a space that has worked well for my family for the duration of the school year, and I really don’t think I’ll change a thing after the (quickly approaching) summer is over.
This command center is simple enough for anyone to do on their own, and really not expensive, either. Plus, it works well for any family size!
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Before Creating Your Own Command Center Space
First, consider two things:
- Where you should set up your command center for easy, optimal viewing, and 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 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 boys’ papers, folders, etc.
- A chore chart system that alleviates any nagging on my end, and simple enough for the boys to be responsible for on their own—something that is sustainable.
Once I pinpointed what I needed my command center to do for me and my family, I started ordering supplies.
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!
Amazon Link – Calendar:
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.
Amazon Link – Baskets:
The Chore Chart
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.
Amazon Link – 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. I will talk more about the color-coding system later on.
Amazon Links – Magnets:
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 idea is 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: How it Works
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. 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.
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.
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 one that day. If he is a repeat offender, he gets a zero for the whole day.
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!
Costs for a Command Center
It’s always funny when someone comes over to our house for the first time, child or adult, they stare at our command center for a few minutes and then start asking questions. Haha.
The whole thing cost me about $165. That price could fluctuate for you depending on how many sets of magnets and baskets you’d have to get to accommodate your family.
And, at the time of this article’s conception, the giant dry erase calendar is $10 less than what I paid for it. Everything else is currently the same price that it was nine months ago.
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!
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