If you find it hard to keep up with all the kids’ activities, chores and errands, you may find having this useful. The goal of a family command centre is to corral and centralize all the important information about what’s going on with you and your family.
What is a family command centre?
A family command centre is literally a spot in your home that is designated as the go-to place for everything. Put things like mail, forms, keys, backpacks, calendars, and frequently-needed contact info here.
Key pieces for your centre
Generally, these spaces include elements of storage, including containers, shelves or hooks. You might also have some writing space and tools. And maybe even have a docking spot for collecting and recharging all the family’s devices. Usually, you’ll see a calendar and message-collection board, like a bulletin board, chalk board, or white board.
This is also a great spot to put things like chore lists, routine checklists, meal planning, and to-do lists. You can store frequently-used items like take-out menus, coupons and grocery shopping lists, doctor and dentist phone numbers, and babysitter information.
Where do you put it?
Family command centres are often located in the kitchen. That’s where most of the family will end up at least once per day. Or you might have it in a hallway or corner where everyone goes by often.
I have mine on my regular desk, in my living room. It’s easily accessed by my older children and me. But it’s still out of the reach of my smaller children, so that important papers don’t get turned into artwork.
Why have a family command centre?
Family command centres can be incredibly useful tools for busy families.
Having a family command centre can keep essential information, such as schedules and appointments, in one centralized place, so that important dates and documents aren’t forgotten. And keeping all the commitments visible means that it’s easier to plan activities and events without conflicts or double-booking yourself.
Having a family command centre makes family communication easier and less stressful too. With a single spot for messages, family members can leave notes and reminders for each other. Chore lists and to-do lists are much more visible. That keeps family members accountable and making it easier for family members to help out too. And with a centralized calendar, everyone can be aware of what’s going on and what’s coming up, which reduces stress.
This organizational tool can make budgeting and emergency preparedness much easier as well. With a designated spot for mail, you can track your bills and financial goals easier, making sure nothing gets missed. With a designated calendar, you can keep up with planning upcoming expenses with income, so that you’re not surprised by something. And with all the contact details for important people in one spot, if something unexpected does happen, everyone will know where to find what they need.
And one of the best reasons to have a family command centre is how easy it makes teaching responsibility to your children. Having all the family schedules, obligations and commitments visible helps kids to understand both what their parents are doing. And they can see how they can contribute. This leads to family bonding, as kids learn to plan, organize, and work together with the rest of the family.
What does it look like?
There are tons of options for family command centres, and they are incredibly customizable. It can be as simple as a planner and file box, with some hooks for keys and bags. Or you can have a decorative and multifunctional station that includes a desk, bulletin board, shelving, file folders, docking stations, and colored pens and highlighters.
Ideally, a family command centre needs at least 3 elements: a visible calendar, a place to put papers, and something to write with. Beyond that, it’s up to you!
Our family command centre starts with my Plan your Day Planner. I have my Yearly Vision and Seasonal goals stored in a duotang. Inside is also some essential info such as medical info, emergency contacts, insurance paperwork, and other financial info. I also include family information, like clothing sizes, medication, interests, preferences, & birthdates. Then I have my monthly calendar, and my weekly & daily planners easily accessible. So when I sit down to plan out my days, everything is at my fingertips.
My kids know to put any mail we may get here (though I have most things digital and automatic). And this is where all forms go from their various extracurriculars. I also include my running to-do lists here, along with my menu plan and grocery list, and the regular weekly flyers.
How to use a family command centre
Set it up right
Setting up a family command centre can be a fun project. But if you don’t use it, it’s just going to end up another clutter spot in your home. So make sure that when you do set it up, you don’t go for fancy first, but functional. Make sure it’s something you’ll find easy to use before you make it pretty.
Use it often
Then, as long as it’s easy to use, you’ll find yourself actually using it regularly. Make it part of your routine to update your calendar weekly or monthly, and to toss old paperwork. Put away things that have been put there but don’t actually belong, such as hats, shoes, wrappers & trash, random toys, or cups and dishes (which frequently end up here!) Updating and maintaining the family command centre can be a chore for kids too!
It can help to hold regular family meetings as well, to talk about changes to the schedule, upcoming tasks or events, and family goals.
While these tools can be very helpful, they only work if you put the effort into them. And they’ll need to change regularly as your family grows, their needs change, and their capabilities grow. What worked when your kids are 3 and 4 won’t be as effective when they’re 13 and 14. And family command centres only work if you use them consistently! They don’t do anyone any good if your calendar is 3 months out of date, right? So keeping up is how you’ll get the most out of your organization.
Ready for a family command centre?
Start on Pinterest or in your favorite search engine and get a look at various examples. Then collect the important tools and information, and choose your location. Once you’re set up, introduce your new family command centre to your family, and show them how it will work. Test it out over a few weeks, and tweak to make it easier to use, as needed. Then, you can enjoy the more organized, less stressful family routines you’ve achieved!