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Category Archives: Weeks 7 & 8: The Family Command Center

Keep It Simple, Stupid

My sister-in-law over at Winged Wisdom (homeschool mom extraordinaire – someday she will be on a speaking tour and publishing her own curriculum), made a comment on my previous post that made me think. She asked whether anyone used an old fashioned desk for their “command center” anymore. I don’t have a desk, but I had to admit that maybe I was getting a little carried away with my plans (again).  Why not just keep it simple? So, rather than going with my somewhat elaborate ideas (see previous post), I kept a lot of what I already had with a few added touches.

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The wall above this little piece was already complete with the shelf for keys and magnet boards. I simply added the blue desk organizer, then cleaned out the top drawer to make it my new “junk drawer”. It previously held bibs and wash-rags for sticky little faces and fingers. My kids have outgrown both so it was time for the clean-out.

I did have two little moments of creativity (or complete cheapskate – you decide). First, I wanted pretty file folders, but I already had a big box of regular file folders and just couldn’t justify the purchase. So I made my own. I took wall paper samples from a discontinued wall paper book I was given, all in the same color scheme, and pasted them onto the front of the files. Boom – pretty file folders!

Plain files     Wallpaper books     Pretty Files

Second, I wanted some drawer organizers for my “junk drawer”. Rather than buy fancy organizers I decided to use something I already had. I found these unused plastic pencil boxes in my school room.

Plastic

Open them, place them in the drawer, add some labels. . . Boom – drawer organizers!

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Thanks for the inspiration, Julie!

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Commanding Inspiration

I have been slowly working out my updated command center. I have, once again, gone searching to see what others have done that might suit my new space more effectively.  Here are some that I am drawing inspiration from.

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This from Clean and Scentsible is just plain clean and sensible. I plan to incorporate a wall file holder as she has done.

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Here is another straightforward, clean and simple command center from Simple As That.  My take from this is that I will be downsizing the visible command center components and incorporating a chalk or white-board for menus and grocery lists (that part of the project will probably be added next week).

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Finally, this command center from Organizing Homelife has inspired me to make use of the ample cabinet space I have in my new kitchen, so my paper trail is not always visible. I will be busy this weekend.

Back in Command

This week I am revisiting my “command center“.  The “command center” is the latest word for that place in our homes from which we keep track of and manage what is important – schedules, homework, budgets, bills, etc.  This is what I came up originally:

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After living with mine for well over a year, I have a few issues I need to deal with. First, in our move from one house to another, the spaces just didn’t transfer well. What was in reach and functioning well in our previous house is not compatible with our go-to space in this house.  Second, there are some things I simply don’t like about the way I set up my home-management system. For example, I don’t like having everything in a home-management binder, especially bills. It may sound terribly lazy, but when I get a bill in the mail I want someplace to just quickly toss it until bill-paying day rather then getting out my binder, finding the right tab for bills, then filing it. Some aspects I will keep, but this week I will be fine-tuning and changing things up a bit.

After the “After”

I have spent the last few months pouring over articles, pictures, books and blogs researching methods of organization. It’s been inspiring and given me so much to aspire to in my own home organization. Yet, this morning I looked around and thought, “You are writing a blog on organizing!? You’ve got to be kidding!”  The couches were stripped of their cushions and blankets and pillows were strewn about the living room as the kids played “pillow house”; breakfast dishes were undone, crumbs and Cheerios on the floor and counters; laundry I had folded was still on the table; the floor needed mopping (again); the areas I have yet to get to in my week-by-week organizing were leering at me; and even my organized spots didn’t quite look as I thought they should.

I’ll be honest. I wanted to get angry — with the kids for making another huge mess, with my husband for not keeping up with my system exactly as I envisioned it, with myself for not keeping it together better. . . However, this morning I had managed to accomplish one thing on my to-do list – my quiet time. I had just finished a study on Jonah. We’ve all heard the story of Jonah and the great fish, but sometimes the end is left out of the Sunday School story version. Jonah is sitting outside Nineveh, angry with God for His compassion, watching and waiting for Him to destroy the city. God sends a vine to shade Jonah, then a worm that eats and destroys the plant, and finally a scorching wind that makes him miserable. Again, Jonah is angry, this time about the plant dying. God says, “Have you any right to be angry?” and makes the point that Jonah is more concerned about a plant that brought him comfort for a short period of time, than he is about a group of living, breathing people who make him uncomfortable.

In that moment of my frustration, as I started to get angry, immediately the thought entered my mind, “Have you any right to be angry?” So things got a bit messy. That’s life, especially life with four children. This incident got me thinking about how discouraging it can be comparing my home, even the organized areas to those pictures in books and magazines and the beautiful “after” pictures on blogs. The reality is, these pictures are taken at the moment when that area is at the absolute best it can be. These “after” pictures are the writers and bloggers putting their “best foot forward.” And truthfully, that is what I do in my after pictures as well. So, today I thought I’d do something a bit different. I’m going to put my “real” foot forward and show you some After the “After” pictures — my organized spots when life is actually happening.

I’ll start with my kitchen counters.

  

The first picture is my “after” picture. The second is after the after. Unfortunately it currently houses my seedling trays because it is the spot with the best sun exposure. And that’s how it will stay for the next month or so until I can plant.

This was after I organized one of the kid’s toy areas.  Below is what it looked like this morning (before I sent them back in to clean up).

And now my command center area.

       

Clearly, I need to attend to my “to do” box. I’m putting it on my to-do list now.  I could show you more, but I think you get the general idea. Things can’t always look like the “after” picture. We have to do some living too. The benefit of organizing is that you create an ease with which you can get back to that “after” look. My kids can quickly get their toys back in order because of their labels. I can quickly go through my to-do box and my filing box (if I don’t let it grow too large), and on planting day I’ll have my counters back. So, there you have it, real, but sometimes not-so-organized order.

The Command Center is Finished!

Boy, I’m getting tired of that phrase, “command center”. Probably because I just spent three weeks thinking about and working on it. Regardless, I vote for coining a new phrase . . . “family go-to board” or “the place we get our junk together” (not as catchy, that one) . . . I’ll work on it. Whatever we call it, “it” is now complete at my house!

Last week I showed you my binder, along with the three baskets for sorting our paper-work: to-do, in use, and to file. And now, I will reveal  THE WALL. . . .

At the top I placed my home-made magnet boards. These will be used for all those little things that used to clutter the refrigerator – grocery lists, spelling lists, the art project I need to display. . .

Directly under those I mounted a shelf with hooks for our keys, “stuff” jars, and a recipe book just because I liked the way it looked.

The “stuff” jars are for my husband. The minute he walks in the door he takes off his glasses, sets down his wallet, then empties his pockets of change and guitar picks — all onto the hutch I’m trying so hard to keep organized. We already have a change jar, but here is my solution for the rest.

   

There is even the perfect amount of space for him to keep his wallet on that shelf.  I think I may make a few more “glasses” jars so we can have one in every major room where he does his reading. They tend to get lost frequently.

At the bottom are the cork-boards; one for each child.

These boards will serve dual purposes. I will be able to pin weekly school schedules and other important child-specific notices; and I will have laminated chore-charts for each to check off. The chore-charts are part of this week’s project, but are still under construction. Tomorrow I will have those up, along with my organizing challenge for next week. If you have any ideas for that “command center” name change, let me know! 🙂

 

Chore Chart Inspiration

I am almost finished with my “Command Center” wall (finally!). The reveal will be tomorrow, but in the mean time I thought I’d share some of the chore-chart resources I have found.

Here is a super-cute chore-chart from Controlling My Chaos. She also has a girl chore-chart and some great suggestions for kid’s chores.

I love this one from The Clay Family Blog. It’s part of their home “command center”. Check it out the entire post to see what else she did on her wall, and also links to the Etsy shop where she purchased these and the chore magnets.

Here’s a crafty clipboard chore-chart by one of my favorite bloggers to follow, ipinterest. She actually does her own variation of the things we all pin on Pinterest. I love this idea.

The Crafting Chicks have created a chore-chart template you can download and personalize from their site. Here’s a sample.

And here is one more downloadable chart from The Bursett Family blog.

Last, as I put together my own chore-chart, I found a very useful resource from Focus on the Family in which age-appropriate chores are listed. Check that out here. Until tomorrow!

A Confession and a Random Act of Organization

I’ll start with the confession. I’m not going to meet my deadline this week with my “Command Center” wall. My intent is to complete on project each week, and well, it’s Tuesday. Also, I haven’t been using my To-Do List. Hmmmm . . . I wonder if there is a correlation there? So, I’m placing my little day-planner back in its place of honor on my night-stand tonight and writing out that list for tomorrow.  As for my wall, I’ve made some progress, but have had some set-backs. I had a bubbling paper incident with one of my magnet-boards. Then there is this:

I found these cork-board squares in a four-pack at Target, used my Mom’s Cricket to cut out the kid’s names, and planned to mount them to this piece of panelling I picked up at ReStore for $1. (If you have never been to ReStore, you need to.  They sell used or surplus building supplies cheap, and proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity). This is where I ran into my snafu. I cut it to the wrong size. It will be a few days before I can get back to my dad’s workshop to make the correction. My wall is still under construction.

On the bright side, I did some spontaneous organization today. Truthfully, it was my husband that spear-headed this one. We have a little freezer in our garage where we store mostly meat. In order to feed our large-ish family, we purchase part of a beef from a local farmer and other types of meat in bulk when the price it right. As we were rifling through it today, my husband said, “Why don’t we organize this so we can find the meat we want?”

‘Nough-said. I pulled out some boxes I had been saving for just such an occasion, we sorted the types of meat, labelled the boxes and placed them back in the freezer.

It’s a little difficult to get a good picture inside a freezer, but that’s one of the boxes. . . my “roast” box.  There you have it.

Although I haven’t finished the week 8 project, I am going to add another one for this week. My goal this week is to fill those cork-boards for each of my children. I’m going to be working on chore schedules for my children. Oh, they are going to be so happy. Wahahahaha (that’s my evil mom laugh). 🙂 Of course, I also hope to finish that wall!