We have officially entered the tween years.
Somehow, while I wasn’t looking, my kids grew up and started making their own decisions about activities, sports, friends, and their own free time. Those decisions now affect every part of my day. From how long I spend driving around town to how late I have to stay up to make sure everyone is home from whatever activity is on the docket.
This calls for better organization and planning on my part. I recently realized I need a family command center.
I tried to create space in our house for the calendar, paperwork, sports bags, and extra clothing this new reality requires. But up until now I pretty much failed.
I though a small area on our kitchen counter would suffice. It didn’t.
I thought some space in my office would work. Wrong.
The front entryway wasn’t much of a solution either. And even the laundry/mudroom idea didn’t pan out.
Pinterest is full of ideas for setting up a family command center. There are lovely desks with copious amounts of wall space for bulletin boards, hanging files, coat racks, and backpack hooks. They all look awesome but I don’t have that kind of space. And all of my jerry-rigging ideas have been a bust so far.
At Christmas, in order to get a tree into our living room, I had to move tables, lamps, books, and other decor to make room for the enormous tree that occupies our space. I loved it but it does pose a challenge. This year I actually spent the entire season with a small table half in my living room and half in my entryway. I never took the time to carry it out to the garage.
So, it collected junk for six weeks. Lots of junk.
When the holiday was over I had no plans for any big decorating rehab. I just wanted to get the table back in it’s spot and the junk out of my living room.
Then, mother nature unleashed on us.
We live in a town where snow is a rarity. It might, or might not, stay on the ground for a day once a year. It’s just not something we have to deal with.
Not this year.
This year we got some snow and then more snow and then more snow and our entire valley shut down for not just a day but a whole week. It was epic.
While the kids played outside in the white fluffy stuff I relaxed inside but as one day bled into two and then four and five days I started to get antsy. That’s when inspiration struck.
One afternoon I rearranged our entire living room which up until now had been partly situated with our dog in mind. He needed a space for his bed so everything had to kind of revolve around that.
We lost our beloved pup in November so now his needs were no longer an issue. So, I started moving books and shelves and tables and a piano. I was on fire.
I have a great wall in our living room with three mirrors on it. I love them because of how they reflect the light during the day. I started to get an idea for a new family command center but I really didn’t want to sacrifice the mirrors. So, I sat down and started Googling.
Low and behold I found out you can use dry-erase markers on mirrors. Bada BING!
I found the perfect spot for my junk table and then repurposed my sofa/under-the-window table for the home base of my new command center.
Everything was coming together.
A trip to Big Lots and Ross yielded cute artwork, a tray, a mail holder, and some baskets. All I needed now were some hanging file organizers. Who knew it would be so difficult to find these?
When I start a project I like to get ‘er done. Sometimes I rush the process and spend more than I should. This time however, I patiently waited for the perfect pieces.
And then inspiration struck again. Several years ago I purchased two double wall organizers which are located around my house. I enlisted my husband and his hacksaw and we sawed both of them into two pieces. Voilà! They fit perfectly below the mirrors to hold schedules, permission slips, mail, and more.
My friend Deborah from Salvage Sister & Mister would be so proud of me.
I added a few personal touches to the baskets with a chalk pen and found some letters to hand from the baskets for the kids.
The finished product is amazing. I love how I didn’t have to sacrifice my mirrors but can use them to write out the day’s schedule and make notes. I love that the kid’s backpacks and “stuff” is hidden in the baskets and that I can just put things I find around the house in there. I love that it’s organized but doesn’t overwhelm me anymore.
So, bring on the tween years. I’m ready. I’ve got my family command center up and running and no one can say they didn’t know anymore because it’s all there in purple and green dry-erase pen!
Here are my tips for creating your own family command center:
Decide what you really need
The pictures on Pinterest are really cute and enviable in some cases but do you really need everything they are showing?
I realized I didn’t need a calendar because I keep most of it on my phone and my since my kids don’t drive yet I still have control over that. I keep my keys and my phone in a different location. Figure out what you need and then design your command center accordingly.
Find a good location
When our family command center was in the kitchen it took up valuable counter space. When it was in the mudroom it was too out-of-sight out-of-mind to be effective. I needed a more centralized location and our living room, which is our main living space, fit the bill perfectly.
Find a space that will be central but also out of the way of other living needs.
Keep it simple
There are command centers with an exorbitant amount of pieces and parts. Clocks, calendars, hooks, nooks, and crannies. Don’t get overwhelmed with what others have. Keep it simple.
I realized I just need space for papers, mail, backpacks, and a general schedule. So, that’s what I included in my family command center.
You might need more. You might need less. The more simple you keep your center then more effective it will be for helping you stay organized.
Upcycle what you have
You don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of fancy schmancy stuff for your command center. Use a bulletin board, a calendar, a mirror, a table, baskets, and containers you already have.
The table I’m using was in my grandmother’s house for years. I just slapped some paint on it and gave it a new life.
I use my mirrors as dry-erase boards and a lamp I already had in my living room.
You’ve got most of what you need somewhere in your house, I’m sure of it.
Do you have a family command center?
Now, it’s your turn. You can share your command center photos with the Real. Fun. Family. community on Facebook and also get insider info as a member of the group.
I can’t wait to see your space.