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What Is a Family Command Center and Why Do You Need One?

Playdates, homework, chores! Juggling all this is no joke. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by home life, you may need a family command center!

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Today’s families are seemingly busier than ever before. In many households, one parent is a mom or dad and a CEO, finance officer, event organizer, and general of the troops. Managing the rat race of the corporate world, a monthly calendar loaded with sporting events, playdates, holiday parties, due dates, and permission slips takes some major organizational skills. Then, there is the homework, house maintenance, family responsibilities, and church or community volunteering. The “go, go, go” mentality seems to just be a way of life at this point for many of us. There just aren’t enough hours in the day! If this sounds like your troops, then you need a family command center!

Make a spot for adventure!

Save a spot in your new family command center for Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition! Not only does it look great on display, but our handy activity book is loaded with fun-filled expeditions that your whole family will love! We have everything from in-home adventures to weekend getaways that are all focused on creating quality bonding experiences for your crew! Just scratch off a slot, and get to adventuring!

What is a family command center?

It’s probably pretty self-explanatory from the title, but just for clarification, a family command center is a centralized area of your home, usually a mudroom or entryway, where you can keep a visual system of organization that the whole family can access. Each home command center is different, depending on the needs of the family, but generally, it’s a place to organize car keys, and wallets, so they aren’t thrown on the kitchen counter. It will house your family calendar, shopping lists, chore charts, and important papers. The point is to keep everything organized in one location where family members can check-in, find out what is going on, and know what they need to do today. Hopefully, it will cut down on at least a few “mom, when is my soccer game?”

Do you really need a command center?

We know what you’re thinking… ”I don’t have time to mess with that.” We get it, but trust us, taking a day or two to assess your family’s needs, come up with a plan, and create an organizational system that works for you’ll save you hours of frustration (and missed payments) in the future. Whether your objective is decluttering, a solution to the dreaded meal-planning conundrum, or just keeping your family’s schedule visible and organized, a proper command center really can help!

Tips for Creating the Perfect Family Command Center

The worst scenario here is for you to spend a ton of time and money creating a command center that nobody will use. Here are a few hacks to help make your mission a success. DIY command centers range from simple dry-erase boards to full-on home decor art, with wall-mounted organizers, color-coordinated to-do lists, and matching home office accessories. Whether you hang a whiteboard or build something HGTV-worth is totally up to you! The point is to design something that works for you and fits your lifestyle!

Assess your needs.

Every family is unique and has different organizational needs. Before you head for Hobby Lobby and start buying all those cute wire baskets, make a list of the areas of your life that need improvement and that give you the most stress.

Think about the reality of your family. Will they put their shoes on the rack if you install one? We have seen adorable, color-coated wall organizers with a to-do list for each family member, but if your kids can’t read yet, then your lists won’t do much good. Put some thought into how your family runs, each personality, and what will work best for them. When prioritizing your organization’s ideas, try to focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses.

Keep it simple.

Especially in the beginning, don’t make your command module too overwhelming. You want it to be quick and easy. If it adds stress to the day, then no one will use it. You can always expand or fine-tune your command center later when everyone gets the hang of it. For example, you may just start with a large weekly calendar. All you need is a whiteboard and a pack of dry-erase markers. You can have each family member pick a color to represent them, and their information will always be in that color, making it quick and easy to identify their to-dos.

Prioritize function over beauty.

It’s tempting when taking on a new DIY project to get caught up in all the cute options. Remember that it needs function, not just look fabulous! Although there is nothing wrong with looking fabulous, you’ll regret spending hundreds of dollars on a built-in kitchen command center and those pottery barn containers, if no one uses it and it’s just another corner to throw junk.

Get the family on board.

To avoid this becoming another junk pile, get your whole family involved in the process and excited. This shouldn’t be mom’s project that everyone else has to conform to. It’s a family command center, so make it a family project. Get ideas from each person on what would help them stay more organized and how they would like their section to operate. Then you can pool the ideas and come up with something that works for everyone.

Find the optimum location.

Your command center needs to be in a place where it’s easily accessible to everyone. Sure, you can build a big, beautiful system in your upstairs office, but no one is going to up there at the last minute, when they’re running late, to see what is on the schedule today. Consider the layout of your house. A corner unit in the garage might be best. Perhaps, a small space near the back door, or a corner kitchen cabinet, would be better for your clan. Think about where you hang out and have conversations, and built your command center there.

Hammer it home the first week.

It takes a minute to create a new habit. The success of your command center relies heavily on your making it a habit for everyone. The first week after installation, ensure that your kids hang up their bags when they come in, get out their paperwork, or put up their shoes when they come in. When someone asks you when their game is, or what day they have practice, don’t look it up. Send them to the command center to find it themselves. When an argument breaks out over chores, refer them to the chore chart. A week or two of discipline will get everyone into the routine, and things should flow smoothly from there.

Have a maintenance plan.

Command centers, like the rest of the house, tend to trend toward chaos. From the get-go, have a maintenance plan in place. Each week, “organize the command center” should be added to a capable family member’s chore list.

Family Command Center Ideas

Now to the fun part! Here are a few creative ideas and organization tips to help you design your perfect command center.

1. A Home Organization Center

Perhaps, all you need to feel more organized is a place for coats, keys, shoes, and backpacks. Consider turning your mudroom or entryway into a cute organization station. Install hooks for jackets with cubbies for shoes below. Each family member gets their hook and cubby. You could put in a bench for sitting down and putting on your shoes on top of your cubbies. Put up a back for each family member for keys, sunglasses, etc.

2. An Office Organization Center

If you run a home business or just need a filing system for personal paperwork, then set up an area in the kitchen, office, or dining room to contain your paper clutter. Grab a wall-mount filing system on Amazon or even Dollar General. Separate your bills into paid and unpaid. Keep a file for tax documents, or keep a file bin for each family member. Hang a wall calendar in a prominent space with your due dates and major events.

3. A School Organization Center

If all the back-to-school paperwork stresses you out, then start your next semester with a new organizational scheme. Transform a blank wall space into a command center by hanging a clipboard for each child to pull out their folder after school and hang up school papers mom or dad need to look at. Install hooks for backpacks below the clipboards. Hang a dry-erase calendar to keep up with school project due dates or activities.

4. A File Folder Command Center

If you only have a small space, hang a wall mount or countertop file folder, and buy some cute folders. Each family member gets a folder with their to-do lists, chores for the week, and a calendar of important events. There are plenty of free printable calendars online so you can print a large number and have them handy. You could also create your calendar online and print multiple copies for each family member’s folder.

5. A Chalkboard Command Center

If your home has a shabby chic or farmhouse decor, then make a command center that fits the motif. With a permanent paint pen, make your calendar outline (or buy one already made). Each week, or month, you’ll fill in the important events with a regular chalk pen. Below your calendar, hang hooks for keys and a cute pocket for your chalk pens and erasers. Here is a beautiful option with an acrylic calendar that could fit farmhouse, industrial, or modern decor.

6. A Pegboard Command Center

Pegboards are great options for laundry rooms or garage command centers. They are generally budget-friendly and have all kinds of hooks and gadgets for organizing your junk. With a little wood around the edges and cute paint color, they can also look really cute and utilitarian! This one is a great organization option for a sewing room or craft room too!

7. A Closet Command Center

If you don’t have much open space, or you don’t like the idea of having your stuff exposed, then turn a coat closet into your command post. Install a small desk or floating countertop. Use the back of the door to hang a filing system. Install a charging station for phones and tablets, and then shut the door and hide it all away. If you know from the get-go that your command center will get messy, this might be the best option for you.

8. A Narrow Wall Command Center

For some of us, a narrow strip of the wall by the door is all we have available. No problem! You can squeeze in everything you need in a tall slender space. Plus, the space was probably just wasted space anyway. Might as well make it useful. Just remember to organize by family member height and make sure everybody can easily get to their slot. If you want to get crafty, paint the section of the wall in magnetic or chalk paint!

9. A Mini Station Command Center

One organization option that works well for many families is to separate your command center into family member modules. If you have children that tend to fight over everything, then keeping separate modules is your best bet. Each person could have their spot in different locations of the house, or you can build a modular system in a centralized place. Just make sure each station is catered to the needs of the family member and fits their personal taste.

10. A Countertop Command Center

Do you have one of those weird built-in desks or an odd counter space that you don’t use? Time to make it your organization station. Install a corkboard against the wall for important papers. Grab some cute push pins and keep them in a clear jar on the counter. Hang some hooks on the inside of the cabinet door for keys or sunglasses. Set up a file folder for each family member. Consider an acrylic or dry-erase calendar for the countertop.

11. A Hidden Command Center

Not all of us can sacrifice a full closet to our command center, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a discrete hidden system. Ikea is famous for in-cabinet organizers, so think along those lines. If you have a tall broom cabinet or a corner set of built-ins, utilize the inside of the cabinet doors. You could line the door with peg board, or paint it with magnet paint. Install some cute knobs or hooks. Install a mounted file system. Get creative! There are tons of options to turn this inconspicuous space into something amazing.

12. Colored Dots Command Center

For a playroom or sunroom organization station, consider doing something fun and playful. Get some giant circle wall stickers in fun colors. You could also opt for chalkboard wall stickers to create a station for each person. Under their dot, hang a banner of twine with paperclips for small children to hang their art in an organized manner, instead of it crowding your refrigerator. Finish it off with a bin for your kiddos to keep their favorite toys.

Time to Get Crafty

Now that you know you need a family command center, and that there are so many options out there, it’s time to get moving. Sit down tonight and make a list of your needs. Scope out your location. Peruse a few ideas on Pinterest or Etsy to find the style that you love, and get to shopping. With a little creativity and a little hard work, you can have your life running more smoothly in just a few days. Remember to get the family excited about your project too. The more people who are on board with the plan, the better!

If all this craftiness is not up your alley, and you would rather keep your family on track digitally, there is an app for that! Check out our list of the “39 Best Apps for Parents” to keep you and your crew organized, protected, and entertained!

The rainy season is upon us! If you have littles at home, don’t get caught off guard. Check out our list of “45 Riveting Rainy Day Activities for Your Bored Brood.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a family command center?

A family command center is a designated area of your home where you keep the family calendar, to-do lists, important paperwork, chore chart, and anything else you need to keep your crew organized.

How do I set up a family command center?

Decide what elements you need to include in your family command center. Get your family’s opinions, and design your space. Spend the first week reinforcing the habit of utilizing your new space.

What do you keep in a family command center?

A family command center is a perfect spot for important papers, keys and purses, your family calendar, a charging station, chore charts, shopping lists, and a bucket list of upcoming adventures!

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