I have been wanting to share my family system and command center for a long time, and then I had a baby. Ha ha! He is 9 months old now, the sun has come back out and I am feeling like a brand new woman. Let me say for starters that I think a command center is awesome! It is the hub of the family happenings, the shoes, the bags…the STUFF. I would be lying if I said that it doesn’t look like a hot mess most of the time, but I have developed ways of managing the family chaos that I really love and I am excited to share them with you today!
Have a designated space for your shoes/jackets/bags.
I was thrilled when we moved into this house because it was equipped with a designated place for our bags, jackets, and items right inside the garage door. The bench is super handy for putting on shoes and it even has a space for shoes below the bench. I found this long open rack from a “going out of sale” craft supply store and converted it into a space to hold our shoes. If your home doesn’t have a space built into it like this, create your own! Even a small shoe rack and hooks on the wall can be done relatively inexpensively, I love this shoe bin, and these hooks.
Label baskets or bins for each family member.
When things started getting a little too messy I created a basket for each person so that the shoes were kept together in the same space. These white bins are from the dollar store and I printed out our names and taped them on. I wish I had a labeler, because I am nerdy like that, but the paper and tape works well too. It is so much easier to have your child put things away and find them again when they can use their own special bin. I have my eye on the label maker, I am ready to go crazy labeling stuff all over the house! There are six of us in the family now and we have outgrown this system, so I am considering some major Marie Kondo efforts, and also thinking about putting some units in the garage from Ikea that attach to the wall. For now, this works well, and I think I will just try to limit the number of shoes that are kept in this space. Ha! Who am I kidding? Most of the time the shoes that are flowing are mine! That is another post for another day!
Keep everything within reach.
Even though we had these amazing hooks I found that my children were never using them! Grrr. I would ask kindly, beg, yell, nothing seemed to work. It wasn’t until I took a step back to realize they weren’t using it because they couldn’t reach them easily and if something isn’t easy when it comes to putting things away it doesn’t happen. Just last month I hung up new hooks that were lower, just their size, and they are using them waaaay more! Not 100% of the time, but it has increased the cleanliness of our command center by at least 50%. Make sure that you find the stud when hanging up hooks so that you are minimizing the possibility of the hooks being pulled out from your wall. It should be able to bear heavy back packs and coats.
You guys! This is a new thing I have tried this year and I am in love with the concept. admittedly I haven’t found the exact spot for where I like to keep my clipboards, but I love using them. Each kids has their own clipboard and we keep important papers on each one. Right now I have a basket that sits on our counter in the kitchen where I keep them all together. This is where the kids will put things when I need to sign them, book reports that are due, homework, important information for extra curricular activities ect. I even use a clipboard for my husband that I will clip bills that need to be paid or papers that he needs to see since I am the once that sorts through the mail and gets rid of the junk. This also makes it so that our counter and paper clutter is cut down significantly. I have considered hanging them on the wall but I don’t want my wall to get too messy. The hooks that the kids hang their backpacks are are thin enough that I can hang the clipboard on them if I want to, and I will sometimes do that as well. For now I have a small mail organizer that I can stack them up side by side and it doesn’t take up too much space in the corner of our kitchen. Clipboards also work really well for doing chore chart check lists. I have used them in the past for creating a chore list that the kids can mark off with dry erase markers. The kids think it is so fun to have their own clipboard that they can take room to room. You can see more of the chore charts we have created here.
I love having a space where everyone can see what is happening in the month. So often my kids want to know what we are doing that day, what special events are coming up, and how many days until their birthday. 🙂 I have fallen in LOVE with Art Deco boards. They are beautifully framed made of incredible materials and they are DRY ERASE!! What!? I love the look of a chalkboard and have used one in the past, but I don’t love writing with chalk. It is also really hard to make it look good. Art Deco board HEREcome in all different sizes and colors. If you are looking for something really unique you can even get a board in pink, gold, purple, or blue! This classic black board is big and beautiful, so I can take it off the command center and use it for photo shoots, birthday parties, or other fun events. My kids love it too, but at this age I am telling them that this is Mom’s special board and they can write on their own chalkboards downstairs. I do let them help me decorate it with designs around the outside when I am putting the month together. You can buy your own Art Deco board HERE and if you aren’t seeing exactly what you want you can request a certain size/color to meet your specifications exactly!
We have been using this family system off and on for the last couple of years. I have found that my kids will often need a break from one thing to another to keep motivated. Or maybe it is me and I run out of steam? Also, when we first introduced this family system our oldest was only 5 or 6 and wasn’t quite ready for the complexity of it. Now he is almost 9 and we are ready to resurrect it. I will say, my favorite thing about this family system is it is BIG, it is reusable, and I can take it on and off the wall. We will hold a family meeting once a week and hold time with each child one on one talking about their individual goals for the week. We were inspired by another system called do-dots which I think is awesome, we wanted to do ours a little differently, but we were definitely inspired by their 2-part reward system. The idea is that in level 1 they do the things that they should do day to day for being a part of the family. Level two is where they enter into rewards for doing things that are above and beyond the norm. My favorite feature of this chart is having your child pick one thing they are going to work on for the week. It could be traditional “practice time” like piano, splits, basketball…but with our children being young oftentimes we are working on behavior. So an example would be something like “having a happy voice” if we have a kid that is crying or screaming often. Or “sharing with siblings” if we have noticed a struggle with fighting over toys in the house. This approach has opened up awesome opportunities for having meaningful one on one conversations with each of our kids. We have talked about sharing these family sessions on Facebook live or something if there was interest in sharing how we do this. We use magnets with bottle caps to cover them for each of the kids. They put the bottle cap cover on top of the magnet when they are done with their task. My son collects bottle caps so these were easy to put together. You can also buy them on eBay or amazon. I will add more family system ideas here later, but a few that I do like are the pom-pom system, zoning system, and mailbox system.
I have to say this is my favorite thing about our family wall. These measuring (ruler) type boards are nothing new….I am sure you have seen them. I made this one myself because having a husband who is 6’6″ means the traditional 6′ board you can buy somewhere else doesn’t work for us as I know my boys will pass up that mark. I also love that if we were to move we can take this measuring board with us. You can buy your own vinyl numbers here to make your own. We like to measure our kids at least once a year, usually around the new year to show how much they have grown. I am blown away by how much Jayne has grown this year, it is also fun to see that she would have been taller than her brother at this same age. The youngest we have measured our babies on the wall is 7 months old and I treasure this piece of our home and watching them grow. What are some ways you like organize your home? I’d love to hear your ideas!
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