Several friends recently asked me for some tips on setting up an in-home “Command Center”, so since I already had the photos in my cameral roll, I thought I might as well blog about it in case anyone else was looking for inspiration/ideas.
I don’t mean to brag…but my chalkboard calendar may be my favorite thing in my entire house. (I purchased mine from Hobby Lobby for $60–a hefty chunk of change for this bargain shopper, but it’s worth every penny. You can get the magnetic chalkboard version from the Amazon link above for the same price.) The days of the week, calendar grid, and boxes for the individual dates are permanent, leaving me to fill in the month name, individual numbered dates, and of course our scheduled activities. As you can tell from the month in the picture, it’s nearing the one-year mark since I set this little command center up in my kitchen, and I am pleased to report that (unlike some of my other organization undertakings), it has stood the test of time and is still used EVERY day.
I won’t lie…I eagerly anticipate the changing of the month when I can wipe away everything from the last 30-ish days and start fresh. I usually try to do this the day before the new month starts. It’s a perfect chance for me to look ahead at all we have coming up. (I transfer the dates I have written down in my portable planner) I also try to be diligent about adding new commitments to the board as they come up (I try to remember to check my planner when I get home).
You might ask, “Why go to the trouble of writing things down twice?” The short answer is: it works for my family. But in case that’s not a good enough reason, here’s the rest of my argument.
- Writing things down helps me remember (and not just me, it’s scientific).
- My family LOVES being able to see what we have coming up/going on.
- Even when I forget to tell my sweet husband I have plans, he usually already knows because he checks the calendar.
- We spend a LOT of time in the kitchen and it gives us something to read.
- I had a big space on my wall that “needed something” and this makes me happy.
To the left of the calendar I have a dual wire basket system for my kids. This I also purchased from Hobby Lobby (Sorry, don’t remember the exact price and I don’t think they have it anymore, but here is a link to a similar one). The only change I made to it was to personalize each basket with a wooden letter so my kids could keep track of their basket. I bought .99 natural wood letters from Hobby Lobby (noticing a theme) then painted them, dry brushing over them with brown acrylic paint to give them a distressed look.
I use these baskets to hold the copious amounts of papers the kids bring home (because my mommy-brain isn’t always ready to cope with that paperwork the minute it walks through the door). I also have been known to stash any library books I find lying around the house in them (because I have a major phobia about losing books/paying late fines)
To the right of the calendar I have another little chalkboard with some tiny clothespins underneath. I mainly hung this for symmetric purposes, but have used it for various things in the year that it’s been there, so it has come in handy. Most recently I have been writing the kids’ and/or my daily chores on the left side (so they can come home from school and start on them without my having to ask, or to help me assess if I have some free time before my next activity what I can squeeze in chore-wise). To the right, I keep a running list of household projects that we have. (It’s fun crossing those off!)
The clothespins below the board have held everything from photos, to post-it reminders, to memory verses.
It made sense to me to keep all info regarding food on the fridge, so that’s what I did. First, I purchased a weekly menu planner vinyl sticker. It was ok…but didn’t hold enough info and I didn’t like that it was a sticker (I was wanting more of a vinyl cling), so I kept looking and found a roll of chalkboard vinyl for just $10. (I say “just” $10 because it came with WAY more than I needed…I used all I wanted and I have shared excess with multiple friends! Had I found this first, I probably would have used it for my menu as well)
I like to write a focus Bible verse on the big board for our family to see. (Like I said, we spend a LOT of time in the kitchen, so I’m banking on them reading this MANY times and hopefully learning it in the process…plus, it gives me a creative outlet!)
Underneath the verse, we keep a running grocery list. Everyone in the family has been trained to add items to it if they use up the last of something, notice we are running low, or would like something specific from the store (not all requests are granted…the kids have tried to sneak a few good ones in there!). I love that I can take a quick picture of this list on my phone on my way out the door if the list is long and I don’t want to take the time to rewrite it on paper.
To the right of the Bible verse, I keep a running list of all meals I have ingredients for on-hand. (I usually shop 1-2 weeks at a time, and without this list I would probably forget what I had bought to cook) I cross off each meal as we eat it (or sometimes I will write-in the number of servings remaining if we have left-overs so we can keep track of that too, then cross it off when it is completely gone).
To the left of the big board is my small, weekly menu. Each week I try to look at the big calendar and figure out which days/nights of the week are busiest and plan our menu accordingly. If I know I’m going to be busy during the day or have to pick the kids up/get home late in the afternoon, I may choose a crockpot meal or something that can be prepped quickly. On days when I have more time, I pick meals with longer prep-times. I also try to be mindful of what we have planned after dinner…on Wednesday nights we have church at 7pm, so I always plan a meal that is quick to eat (because some things are quicker to scarf than others!), or one that I know the kids like (so we don’t waste any time fighting the “How many bites do I have to eat before I can be excused?” stand-off battle.)
In case you haven’t picked up on it, I dig the chalkboard look. While I really do like working with actual chalk on chalkboards (the texture is amazing!), for my command center purposes, I use a Bistro Chalk Marker (I prefer the fine tip). This pen works very similarly to a paint pen. Initially you press the tip to get it inked up, then it’s ready to go. It writes evenly and dries relatively quickly (be careful not to drag your hand through it while it’s wet or it will smear…but once it dries, it’s not going anywhere!). When you are ready to erase, simply use a damp paper towel to wipe the surface clean!
There are also a wide variety of fun fluorescent-colored bistro pens available if black and white is too drab for your walls. My good friend, Jenny (who recently converted to being a chalkboard wall calendar-lover) uses fluorescents and her calendar always looks great! (This could also be a great way to keep track of different family member’s commitments by assigning a different color to each person!)
And, because my family is bad about losing things, I always attach a command velcro strip to my marker so it can be returned to the spot that it belongs. (I can’t say enough about how much I LOVE command wall hanging strips…I have only used ONE nail in my entire house so far…everything else is held on by command strips!)
Don’t let this post overwhelm or discourage you. Just because this works for me doesn’t mean it is the only way to do it. Do what works for you (even if that involves the more primitive writing-on-the-back-of-your-hand method!). If you have any questions, feel free to ask away or share your own hacks in the comments below!