Creating a Family Command Center that Works

We’ve all been there. It’s been a nonstop day and now it’s 5 o’clock. Your son needs to be picked up from practice and your daughter forgot about a project that’s due tomorrow and she needs last-minute supplies. Your baby is out of clean pajamas, your husband is working late, and of course – you have zero plans for dinner.

While these scenarios are almost a rite of passage for moms – let’s be honest, even the best-laid plans get unraveled when kids are involved – I’ve discovered that creating a Family Command Center has helped make them less frequent.

Creating a Family Command Center that WorksWhat’s a Family Command Center?

Exactly what it sounds like (unless you’re imagining a shiny white spaceship vibe). Really, it’s just an area in your home where all things organization and order live. For us, it’s in our kitchen and dining room because that’s where we spend most of our days. A mudroom area is ideal too.

Our organization hub includes dry-erase calendars, chore charts, grocery and menu lists, rewards jars, and a stash of quick-grab must-have items. More on those items below, but I want to pause and say: If you’re reading this and already feeling like creating a Family Command Center will be more trouble than it’s worth, think of it as slowing down to speed up.

I have found that when the repetitive parts of my life as a mom get written down, it frees me up to think about and focus on more important things. When I put something on paper (or a dry-erase calendar), I’m no longer mentally bogged down with a running list of to-dos. With five young children including a baby, a homeschool schedule, and commitments to the companies I help build with my husband, I must stay days ahead of my schedule to avoid complete chaos. (I have a feeling I’m not alone.) *wink*

If you are ready to create your space or even already have some elements of a Family Command Center, here’s a breakdown of what we have found to be the most helpful (and easy to maintain).

  • A massive wall calendar to display the entire year. We LOVE Creatives Calendar because it can be reused year after year – and it offers various gorgeous frame options to fit the décor of your home.
  • A monthly dry-erase calendar to show our kids’ events and everything they’re interested in (like, who’s babysitting for date night, when is Grammie visiting, etc.) This 30-day calendar has worked well for us for years.
  • Each child’s Chore Chart. These have been game-changers. We call it family teamwork, and everyone contributes based on their age and ability. When others see their efforts checked off on their charts (or lack of effort), it gets attention. For my younger children who don’t read well yet, I use pictures to show them their jobs. These plastic shop sleeves are perfect for using dry-erase markers so the lists can be used over and over again.
  • Mason jars with colored pom poms for each child’s Rewards & Consequences during the week. Like the Chore Charts, our Rewards & Consequences mason jars help give visual recognition for a job well done and are an easy way to keep everyone focused on what THEY are responsible for each day. The brightly colored pom poms are earned with every “good choice” while the black pom poms are given as a reminder that we missed the mark. Everyone who has a jar full of colored pom poms (and no black ones) by the end of the week might get a special froyo treat, for example.
  • A magnetic shopping list for everyone to add groceries needed as we run out during the week. (Or try Cartdrop – read more here)
  • A menu idea list (if you’re reading this – PLEASE comment with some yummy-but-easy dinner ideas for this mama to add to her list!)
  • A small sticky note or picture of a goal or two hanging to remind everyone of the family’s upcoming reward. (See my recent Dream Board article for more inspiration on this.)
  • A cute bin of quick grab-and-go items – kids’ daily vitamins, hairbrush, and hair ties for early morning hair-dos, band-aids for those common boo-boos, and of course ultra-fine dry-erase markers, and #2 pencils.
  • Emergency contact list and wi-fi password for guests and babysitters.

The best part of a Family Command Center is that it’s created to be exactly what you need. It can be as minimal or as aesthetic as you prefer. It will definitely adapt and adjust as our kids grow, abilities and needs change, and schedules flip flop. But for those nonstop nights (weeks?) that we all face as moms, it can provide a little head start to make sure we don’t miss the most significant parts of our days.

Do you have a Family Command Center? What items are in yours?


Creating a family command center

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Ashlee Ilg
Ashlee is a homeschooling, business-owning mom of five (ages 12 to 1), who lives in the golf cart “Bubble,” otherwise known as Peachtree City. After spending a few years in the corporate world as a magazine editor and website manager, Ashlee and her husband took the leap into entrepreneurship and started a golf cart dealership in their garage. Today, they own multiple companies (don’t worry - they’ve moved out of the garage!) and love encouraging others to also pursue adventures on the roads less traveled. She admits that most of her homeschooling is done outside the classroom, as she has three rowdy boys and another on her hip, along with her one-and-only princess. Speaking of her daughter, Hannah was added to their family through adoption, and it’s fair to say she has added a very sparkly splash of pink to their otherwise team-blue family. When she’s not helping her husband with their latest new venture, or raising the next generation of entrepreneurs, Ashlee can be found either in a (somewhat) quiet corner writing for her blog “Fit & Free with Ash,” or getting her endorphin-fix in a sweaty workout session.