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How to Create a Family Command Center That Will Save Your Sanity

Don't let papers pile up! Keep your life organized with a family command center.

Chaos reigns in most households, but here's an easy trick to make it disappear from yours: create a family command center. In one fell swoop, you can regain control of the ephemera that clutters your daily life. A family command center is the main hub around which a routine can flow, where permission slips are signed, phones are charged and important documents are stored, never to be lost. This hot spot can also teach critical life lessons to your children. "Having papers and calendars in a special area demonstrates the skills that kids need to keep themselves organized and puts them in charge of their own personal information, like the schedule for baseball practice or play rehearsal," points out Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a family physician and youth development expert.

Setting up a family command center is an individual process, based in part on how many kids you have and the amount of space you can allot. Don't forget to make space for a calendar, dry erase board and a bulletin or cork board for pinning lunch menus, schedules, invitations and your shopping list. Here are five smart tips for crafting your own nifty nook, plus fabulous examples of each to use as inspiration.
 

  1. Pick a Hot Spot
    "Choose a centrally located zone that everyone passes through for your command center," suggests Dr. Lori Woodring, a psychologist, author and mom of four daughters. This might be the wall of your mudroom, a nook in the hallway, a spot in the kitchen or in your home office. This cozy corner found on Five in the Hive, has places to keep papers and backpacks and features a functional bench to sit on while putting on shoes.
     
  2. Make It Simple
    You don't need a large area or an elaborate piece of furniture for this project. "I think a command center can be established on a cabinet or pantry door, or simply on a desk where it's within view of everyone," says Dr. Woodring. Bliss at Home has done exactly that: a simple kitchen arrangement, complete with a set of magazine holders and a good-looking bulletin board to hold bills and mail.
     
  3. Consider Your Chargers
    Misplacing those all-important cords just might incite a riot, so think about adding a section in your command center to accommodate phone and tablet chargers. Take a peek at Chaos to Order's charging station, housed neatly in a single drawer -- bonus points if each device gets its own color-coded cord. Or take a page from Dr. Gilboa and charge electronics in your bedroom. "Keeping devices there means kids can't sneak back to the kitchen to grab them, and guarantees a screen-free sleep space," she says.
     
  4. Streamline Storage
    "Skip elaborate binders for your papers -- no one will leaf through these in a rush," points out Dr. Woodring. Instead, seek out a smarter solution, like the airy wire mesh baskets and clear glass jars seen on Jenna Burger Design. With see-through containers, you can see the items in each at a glance. She's also added a cork board and clipboards for holding important notices.
     
  5. Choose Pretty Colors
    Appealing hues will draw your kids in and may inspire them to use the family command center more often. You won't be able to get enough of the bright pops of teal and yellow in this pretty design from The Homes I Have Made. Numbered bins, cute labels and hooks for backpacks and jackets complete the look.


Today's families are busier than ever, so a well-organized command center is a must for keeping chaos at bay. Next time you need to find that scrap of paper, check on a date or schedule an event, you'll be able to do it stress-free.

For more on planning, check out How to Make a Family Calendar.

Jennifer Kelly Geddes is a New York-based writer and editor who specializes in parenting, health and child development. She's a frequent contributor to Care.com and the mom of two teen girls.ody Default Value...

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