Keep Your Family Organized With a Command Center Even When You Don’t Have Space
Living in a small home makes it difficult to stay organized. With a family of four and a dog living in a two bedroom condo, there isn’t a lot of space to create a full-fledged family command center. The problem is, with one son in elementary school and the other in preschool, we have forms and flyers coming through the house all the time.
Last year, we lost several important flyers and were drowning in forms and flyers. Our dining room table was becoming the catch-all for paperwork and junk. I was beginning to lose my mind because I can’t stand seeing the mess and really can’t stand hunting for important paperwork at the last minute. I made the decision to create command station “zones” since I don’t have one spot to keep everything.
We’re more than halfway through the school year and I can happily report that our dining room table is clear and we haven’t lost any important school papers! Since our system is working, I’d like to share my family command station zones with all the other moms who are struggling to keep it all together.
Creating Command Center Zones in a Small Home
I love looking at all the beautifully organized command centers on Pinterest, but truth be told, there is not one space in my home that I can use to make one of those beautiful command centers. Our living room has an entire wall of windows, as does our dining room and our kitchen is a small galley kitchen.
Since I don’t have an official home office or much wall space, I didn’t think it was possible to create a command center in our home. For two years of elementary school, I let papers pile up and felt like a disorganized mess. It turns out, I just need to be a bit creative about our space.
My first attempt at creating a mini-command center was a failure. I tried to do it on the inside of a cabinet door. The problem was, the cabinet was high so I could only use the lower cork board, which got filled up fast. Since we kept piling papers on the small corkboard, they would fall off when we opened the door, plus, we could never see important information immediately.
My new command center zones work really well for our family. I have split my command center into three zones.
Command Center Zone 1 – The Pantry Door
I use the outside of our pantry door for command center zone one. Our family calendar and paperwork are housed here. My husband and sons (well, my oldest son) know to look on the calendar for scheduled weekend plans or school events.
I keep active paperwork such as monthly reading logs, school lunch menus and tickets to events on this zone. We now have one place to house those important papers.
The benefit of having limited command center wall space is that it forces me to address incoming paperwork immediately. If a permission slip comes home, I sign it and put it in the homework folder immediately. If there is a school event, I enter it on my phone calendar, planner and wall calendar (if it is in the current month) right away. At worst, it sits on the dining room table until the weekend when I sit down with my planner and plan for the following week.
Paperwork that I need to keep long-term (class calendars, phone lists, sports schedules) go in Command Center Zone 2.
Command Center Zone 2 – The Binder
Any paperwork that we need to hold on to long-term goes in the family binder. My family binder is nothing Pinterest-y, but it works for our family. I basically have one tab for each child, one for house information and one for my medical paperwork.
Anything that needs to be referred to long-term either gets hole-punched or inserted in a page protector under that category. It isn’t fancy, but I know where to look when I want to double-check spring break dates to make sure I recorded them on my calendar correctly! I try to enter any dates on my digital calendar and paper planner immediately so that I don’t miss anything but everyone makes mistakes so I keep the original until it is no longer needed.
I do have aspirations to make a family binder using all of the pretty printables I save from Pinterest, but I never seem to have the time to get to it. For now, my simple not pretty system works for us.
Command Center Zone 3 – The Hooks
The final command center zone is shelf and wall hooks next to the front door. We keep the backpacks and jackets there, as well as anything that we need to take with us when we leave the house.
For example, in Los Angeles, you have to use reusable bags for grocery shopping. If you forget your bag, the store charges you $.10 per bag – that can add up! If I know I’m going to the grocery store on my way home, I put the bags on the hook the night before so that I don’t forget them. I also put library books that need to be returned on a bag on the hooks as well. My keys are on the shelf so it is my last stop before I leave the house.
Since our command center zones are out in the open, we are forced to maintain the spaces. We only keep current papers on the pantry command center zone and we constantly clear our hooks so that we don’t have a pile of jackets and bags at the door. This helps us stay more organized and keeps me from losing my mind.
Command Center Shopping List
If you like the products I’m using in my command center, you can buy them on Amazon.