Show of hands, how many of you danced a little jig when your kids got on the bus, heading off to start the new school year? Don’t feel guilty, I’m right there with you. I’m pretty sure my kids were just as excited. Every year the first week of school brings many emotions, ideas, resolutions, and lots of paperwork. My kids attend wonderful schools, and believe me, I understand the whole notifying the parents of the same event 7 times before the event rolls around thing, but the amount of paperwork that goes along with that could heat my house all winter if I burned it. There’s always this moment of panic for me when I see a follow-up flyer for an upcoming event that I’ve already replied to because I worry that I actually haven’t replied to it yet. And the activities!! Fall brings a slew of sports and clubs in which our kids are involved. Each school year I vow to get organized, and I do, for a minute, but by Halloween it’s all over. So, how does a parent stay sane through this whirlwind of craziness that is the school year? You have to get organized, folks. Easier said than done, I know, because it takes a fair amount of stick-to-itiveness. The end result however, will be worth it. Your sanity is worth it, right? Today I’m going to give you a few great ideas on how to stay organized through the use of a Command Center. First, let’s talk about what exactly a Command Center is.
So, what is a Command Center? An accurate definition of a Command Center would be an area of your home, dedicated to your family calendar and the organization of important family documents. It usually contains a tabbed-out binder for receipts, take-out menus, coupons, important school notifications, and mail. Usually there’s a folder for each family member to store their personal items, like art work and atta-boys, and most definitely a place to charge electronic devices. A message board for quick notes and what’s for dinner is also essential. It’s all about making your life easier through entire family participation; everyone plays a role in making the organization a success. Now let’s talk about some necessary items needed to create a kick-booty Command Center.
You’ve all been down that aisle at Target. You know, the one with all the organizational office supply stuff designed to make your home and work life more efficient? There are cork, chalk, and white boards of all shapes and sizes. Folders, binders, dividers, and notebooks galore. Stackable bins, magazine organizers, pen cups, slotted letter holders…it’s all there. Just walking down that aisle can do one of two things for me: make me feel totally motivated, or totally defeated. It’s all driven by how many stacks of papers I have on my counter at home, or how many activities I had to make a last-minute dash to because it wasn’t on the calendar. Either way, I’m always drawn to that aisle, because just the idea of being organized makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something. The key is having a plan before you even set foot in Target. This means brainstorming with the family and doing a little Pinterest searching (I heart Pinterest<3). Each family is different, but I’ve put together a simple list of basics that can be built upon and tailored to your personal aesthetic preferences and needs.
- A calendar. This is important. You may keep your calendar on your phone and that’s all well and good, but the children in your home need to see what’s going on too. Each family member needs to actively participate. Having a calendar will instill responsibility, develop planning skills and create anticipation in your kiddos, and maybe you too.
- Each family member should have a folder that is designated for only their items. I use a wire dish drainer from IKEA as a holder for all of our family folders with a cup attached to the side (normally used for flatware) for pens, scissors and a letter opener. There’s also a small tin with a magnet on the back that I can stick to the metal drainer which contains paper clips. This is just how I do it, but Pinterest has a ton of options. I have also created a folder for menus, receipts, and cards for my dish drainer/folder holder.
- Divided shelves or bins to sort mail. A sorting option might be: To Pay, To Send, To File. The touch it once mantra applies here. As soon as you receive your mail take it directly to your Command Center and sort it accordingly as it’s opened and recycle the junk.
- A white board or chalk board. If you like to write notes to the fam, this is the place to do it. Your family will train their brain to look here for messages. It’s also a great spot to post what’s for dinner. Don’t forget the markers or chalk to go with your board.
- An outlet. A Command Center is the perfect place to host a charging station to keep all electronics in one place. There are so many cool docking stations available on Amazon right now you’re sure to find the perfect one for your needs.
- A bin for trash and recycling. Really no need to elaborate on this one.
Remember, a Command Center can range from simple to elaborate, pricey to inexpensive. The idea is to choose one that fits your family’s needs and rock it out.
I hope these tips have inspired you to get organized not just for the school year, but for life. Have you ever created a Command Center? If so, share your experience in the comments below.