Best Organizing Tips for Mom: Part 1
Do you ever feel like your world is spinning out of control? Are you unable to keep everything straight between work commitments, PTA meetings, doctors’ appointments, your various volunteer roles and the ever-rotating schedule of after-school activities, music lessons, sports practices and weekend games?
You need a command center.
Every military facility, successful business operation and even starships (aye, aye, Captain Kirk!) has one. And you need one in your home, too.
A command center is an essential, strategic tool to keep you and your family organized and on the same page as you race down that highway of life. A successful command center can help you take the turns, dodge the potholes and sail over the bumps since it will answer the 5 Ws in your world: Who, What, When, Where & Why. Buckle up: let’s take a tour!
A command center serves every member of your household – including your pets! This repository of information will give you – and everyone – all the details of what’s going on in everyone’s respective worlds. Which leads us to . . .
The purpose of the command center is to display schedules, events and other important time-bound information in everyone’s life. Every family is different and what you need to keep your family on task and on time will certainly vary. Here are some ideas of what your command center can include — pick and choose the ones that will work best for you:
Calendar: the most important component!
- A wall calendar is the main visual for everyone to process the day’s, week’s and month’s activities ahead.
- Get a wall calendar large enough for your family that can hold several details for each day; you may choose to use a different color pen for each member of the family.
- Digital calendars (Google, iCal, etc.) that live on your computer or smartphone should be updated with family events on the wall calendar so you can remain in sync when you’re away from home. On the flip side, only include events from your personal/work schedules on the wall calendar that fall outside of normal work hours that may affect the family (e.g. a dinner meeting).
Paper Sorter: a command center is a great place to corral that incoming paper and place it into proper handling order:
- Action: a slot for items that need immediate action, such as bills that need to be paid, field trip permission slips to be signed or items to be mailed.
- Pending: a slot to hold anything that doesn’t require immediate action, like invites to parties you’ve already RSVP’d to or a receipt for an item you may return. Basically, anything that is done for now, but needs to be saved for a later date.
- To File / Scan: a slot to hold that special artwork you want to save and will put in the memorabilia bin later, medical documents you want to scan, a paid bill to file, etc.
Checklists: post & check
- Daily checklists of what you need to take when going out the door, pack in your child’s backpack or include in your briefcase.
- Reminders of what you need to take on certain days of the week, like an instrument for an after-school music lesson or a gym bag for soccer practice.
Lists: post & list
- To Do lists: a great place to park short actionable lists that you refer to and update regularly
- Shopping list: when something runs out, there is a place for everyone to write down what needs to be purchased on the next grocery trip. Not on the list? It may not be bought!
Routine Chart: post & follow
Display routine charts to help keep your younger children on task at various times of the day: morning, after school or evening.
Chore Chart: post & do
Much like the routine charts, you can hang your chore charts here to keep track of who is doing what that week (taking out the trash, walking the dog, etc.).
Menus: post & review
- School lunch menu: so you know if it’s a day you need to pack lunch
- Weekly dinner menu: this helps with menu planning and is also an announcement to others in your household about what’s “hands off” in the fridge
There are two parts to this “W:”
- When is it happening? A command center reminds you and lets you know.
- When should a command center be referred to and updated? Daily! For a command center to work at its maximum potential, get everyone in the habit to look at it, contribute to it and use it every day.
There are also two parts to this “W:”
- Where is the event happening? Is it a home or away game? A meeting at the library or the corner cafe? Check the command center.
- Where should a command center be located? In the central hub of the home, where it’s easy to reference, update and follow – often times, that place is an area in the kitchen.
And finally we come to “Why” you have a command center: it makes your life so much easier. A command center is both the warehouse of information and the workhorse of your family, keeping everyone on the same page and placing you, as Major Mom (or Director Dad) in charge!