Keep it simple. That’s the big secret. Don’t build a command center that does everything or holds everything. It will become one more place that causes you to feel overwhelmed. Keep it simple with a monthly schedule, mail and paper collectors, and weekly meals.
Having both a monthly calendar and a weekly calendar keep us in sync and make for well-managed, smooth days. This is my secret to finding what some might call balance. I don’t believe in balance. Even when there might be “balance” kids can instantly make the moment of balance feel chaotic. Someone took a toy from the other one or the milk is in the glass they didn’t want or they just plain don’t want to do what’s being asked of them. These moments can throw a wrench in any schedule and make a mom feel off balance. But these events are inevitable when our agenda and our children’s agenda do not mesh. Keep track and keep kids informed with a centrally located family command center.
Calendars for Command Centers
My husband and I had a sit down when we first got married to discuss how we would communicate our schedules. We’ve only been married a handful of years and it’s taken us some trial and error to get a system that works for us. You see my husband is a techy kind of guy and keeps everything on his phone. I’m good with that, but if I’m going to remember something I need to see it in writing.
In order to accommodate both of our styles, we use a combined email in iCal and a whiteboard calendar in our command center. The first time we shared our calendars I nearly hyperventilated with all the dots showing up! My husband likes to add EVERYTHING to his calendar, even if he doesn’t wholeheartedly commit to an event. Our solution was to create a combined email so that only the events we needed to share with each other would show up in the calendar.
To help me see these events rather than just dots on my phone I insisted on keeping a handwritten calendar as part of our family command center. I found a large whiteboard calendar that works perfectly. It also helps to have markers in several colors. Teaching has taught me the beauty of color coding for organizational purposes. Another great advantage of using a whiteboard calendar is that it can be magnetic.
A full month calendar is great, but a weekly schedule to list our dinners is also necessary. I recently discovered a weekly meal planner by Everase that sticks to our refrigerator. There is enough space to write out ingredients you’ll be using so everyone in the family, and babysitters, know what not to eat.
Before incorporating this meal planner, my husband asking me what’s for dinner would send me into an anxious panic. With a weekly meal planner added to our family command center, he doesn’t have to ask. This also helps our in-home babysitter from cooking anything I might be planning to use in a dinner recipe or side dish. We learned this lesson the hard way.
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Well-managed is the only way to feel relaxed and when mom feels relaxed the household will follow suit. If you’re anything like me the mess alone can cause stress. In our house, there is a small section of countertop in our kitchen that seems to have magnetic powers for attracting all things extra. Rather than letting things pile up on the counter, we have incorporated the Sunday basket idea.
I found a 12 x 10 size basket that now sits in the place where all those papers and random items would gather. The concept behind the Sunday basket is to take a moment on Sunday to then empty the basket. This one small weekly task has kept my anxiety and blood pressure in check. It still amazes me how a small change in habit can make a large impact.
Even though we have the basket we still need a place to keep all the paperwork. Forms from preschool, coupons intended to be used, and all those other papers that aren’t quite ready for the file folder or the trash. This is why our command center has a wall-mounted paper organizer for each person in the family. At the start of each month, we go through the organizer and give it a good cleaning.
Having a command center that gives each of my kids an area to place papers helps to start an important habit early. My son is always bringing papers home from preschool. As a teacher, I know that this is going to be an ongoing situation. Eventually, he’ll be old enough to take care of his bookbag on his own and I don’t want to miss any important papers. Teaching him the habit of where to place papers is important to start now. This will help me feel less stressed when I start reading about deadlines for field trip forms in the school newsletter.
Using a family command center has so many advantages. In my new course for teacher moms, I share specific ways that you can leverage your command center and more for well-managed days. The course runs for five weeks combining personal coaching with self-paced lessons and actions. Each week covers one topic that will help you take control of the chaos that may be causing a rush of overwhelm the moment you walk through the door. We will address planning the week effectively for meals and schedules, as well as, the best methods for family communication so everyone knows the plan and it doesn’t all fall on mom.
Take a look at the course description on the TeachMomRepeat Academy page or send me an email right now to get started.