Can I see your "Command Center" in Kitchen?

drybeanOctober 15, 2012

We are about to undertake a to-the-studs reno in our kitchen & attached hearth room. I realized that I have accommodated the dog's feeding dishes, but not yet designated a spot for all the papers/calendars/homework reminders/coupons/endless paperwork, etc-which is really a much bigger problem.

We don't really have room for a desk proper in our area, so I'm trying to think of a creative solution using cabinetry or something similar.

Nobody ever told me how much paperwork was involved with raising young children. :-) They bring so many papers home from school and religion, plus all their various activities.

I need visual reminders or else I forget their tennis lessons, but I dislike cluttering up the fridge.

Does anyone have a system that works well for them?

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I have a wall in our mudroom for the calendar, magnetic chalkboard for the kids to put up their papers/art, and two hanging bins for paperwork. We only have two in school so right now there is a bin for each kid's paperwork/notices/etc...

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 4:53PM
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FWIW, I have completely abandoned the paper calendar in my house. I do not even have a wall calendar now. I use the smart phone and web based calendar. If you absolutely need to, you can make your web based calendar as your computer screen background and it will always be up. I find the wall calendar inadequate because unless I have the calendar with me, it does not help me. If i am going to have a portable calendar, I might as well use the smart phone. I am out and about too much.

I LOVE my smart phone calendar. I can look at it anywhere AND I use it to send me reminders/pings regarding stuff and set the alarms on the phone. These have saved us MANY times. When we have forgot to set the alarms, oops...

Regarding paper, I have cardboard magazine box for each kid that I leave at the bookshelf near my kitchen desk. When they get full, they gotta get discarded. I am not a keeper of momentos. The big stuff that needs to be kept do not stay in the kitchen. They go to the basement kids area or get chucked right away. I am a big believer of chucking! There is no reason to keep Johnny's attempts at Picassso unless it really really moves you. Then they go to the kids' bedroom walls. My motto is it goes up on the wall or out to trash.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 8:35PM
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I can't function without a wall calendar in the kitchen. I'm channeling my mom. It's something I walk past umpteen times a day and keeps me pretty much on track. I'm otherwise tech-oriented but I rarely use my iPhone calendar. It's too small and inward. I prefer big squares filled with things to do (and a kitten in each square).

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 9:27PM
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drybean, I have the SAME problem! And I can't resolve it--it's driving me mad :)
4 kids, only 2 in school so far, and the papers are ridiculous!
And I am also harried, rushing in or out, so I'm all about efficiency!
Here's what I have: a large magnetic chalkboard with cork board edging all around. That holds my dry erase calendar which we ALL rely heavily on. I, too, use my iphone calendar for EVERYTHING, but I religiously copy it onto the wall calendar, so everyone in the family can see it--it does no good if I'm the only one who can see it. I have a dry erase monthly calendar, but each week is separate, so after it's passed, I erase it and add on the next week at the bottom--does that make sense?
I also magnet up all schedules that come home--school calendar, soccer schedules and rosters, RE schedule, etc. Also, b-day party invites, thank you's and some photos, etc.School reading logs, calendar activities, book report projects, etc.
Then I have a giant drawer that I empty the backpacks into. Every paper, for every kid goes in that drawer. Never any question on where to find it. IT might take a bit of digging, but it's in there :) I don'' sort it by kid--no time for that--if it's from school it's in the drawer.
I'm going to have the chalkboard and drawer system int he new kitchen too--I can't think of anything that will work better for ME.
I just need to figure out the other stuff in my drop zone--cell phones, ipad, purse, backpacks, keys...I , too, need to be creative with this area, to avoid clutter up the new space :)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 12:15PM
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I plan to keep my camera in the command center.
I use it to take pix of all the "art-work" and their work, and just about every paper that comes in.
Then I chuck ~98% of the paper.

Now I have a digital recording of their art-work and academic work, so I can see the progress.
Like how DD didn't stay w/in the lines in preschool, but by 1st grade, she's accessorizing "Mommy" with earrings and high heels in her artwork.
Same for academic: adding single digits to doing fractions, etc.

Command center also will have paper recycling bin and paper shredder, mainly for the mail that DH brings in.

More pictures of everyone's command center please.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 7:34PM
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AOKat-That looks fantastic! I really like your calendar-where did you find it? I have similar wall mounted cubbies for each kid, but they tend to fill up really quickly. I also need a place to tack up bday party invites, homework calendars, etc. Is your magnetic chalkboard an actual board, or is it painted on the wall and framed? I don't have wall space for that in my kitchen (and I don't have a mudroom in this house), but I might be able to sort something out like that in our closet. Of course that doesn't exactly keep it front and center.

Kaismom-I have an iPhone and an iPad, but I find I still need an old fashioned calendar. I find the act of physically writing something down helps me commit it to memory (vs typing, probably b/c I'm very good at mindlessly punching things in on on my keyboard). Plus, I do need my DH and DD to be able to view it. I forgot to set the alarm on my phone to remind me of my daughter's early release from school a few weeks ago. Oooops....

I'm very good at throwing stuff away, and I have a great system in place for organizing the keepsakes (one hanging folder per school year, organized into a plastic file box. One per kid. Works great so far). It's the everyday stuff I'm having a hard time with. The homework schedules, the book fair envelopes, tennis registration form, etc.

Home4All6-I like your dry erase idea, but I'm not following your system of erasing and adding on a new week. If you're adding a new week to the bottom, don't you have to erase the whole thing and move each week up? Or is it not in order? Or am I not picturing it clearly. The drawer might be the best idea for paperwork. As long as it has a designated space, it's organized IMO. :-)

Huango-Great idea to keep a camera there!I'm a HUGE believer in throwing stuff away-I only keep one hanging file folder of mementos per kid per year. I like my system for that. I do love to look back at the progression of handwriting and drawing. WHen they go from stick figures to bodies, to actually giving people necks so that the arms don't stick straight out from their head..

It's really the daily paperwork I'm struggling with: schedules and calendars and forms to be returned to school, etc.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 8:30PM
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I only have one and she's in high school, so I don't have a lot to keep track of, but I put a cork board square on the inside of one of my upper cupboards. You could actually do this on a few cupboards and have a lot of bulletin board space. I attached it with those 3M picture hanger sticky things that can be removed later without damaging the wood. I use push pins to attach whatever is current, like picture day form, permission slips, etc. I also have the school district calendar and school directory in a drawer for handy reference.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 8:50PM
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Here's a link to the dry erase boards I bought, or something similar anyway. I have 4 separate weeks, then rotate them all. As one week goes by, I take it down, erase it, and put it at the bottom, as the fourth week out, and slide the others up. That way I'm never rewriting , just adding on to the bottom. (I might even buy another package, to have a 6-week calendar.) I highly recommend this system!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Dry erase weekly calendar

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 9:21PM
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I only have one in school (special needs preschool), and we get tons of papers!!! We added a 36" wide cabinet/counter to our mudroom. On the advice of someone here, we put a filing drawer in this cabinet. I can't wait to have a place for all the paperwork. I eliminated the upper cabinet because I wasn't convinced I wanted it, but I haven't figured out what I will be putting up there. I have a feeling the upper space will be to organize DH's mess.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 10:35PM
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Here are some nice ideas on Pinterest.

Here is a link that might be useful: command centers on pinterest

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 6:04PM
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huango- I LOVE your picture taking idea!! Then I won't feel so bad about tossing all the adorable drawings, etc.. my kids bring home!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 8:10PM
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drybean - the three top pieces (hanging bins, dry-erase calendar, and bin/key area) are all from pottery barn - they are the "Daily System". I love them - but you may want to watch the website until they are on sale... as it seems they go on sale often for as much as 20% off.

I actually made the magnetic chalkboard - it was super easy to do (and I'm not a crafty person by nature). I bought a frame from Homegoods and a piece of sheet metal from Lowes. I painted the sheet metal with chalkboard paint and put that in the frame. It was really very easy. You could get a smaller frame and cut down the sheet metal if you wanted.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 11:24PM
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Also, the PB calendar is magnetic - so I often put bday invites, etc., up on the calendar as well.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 11:57AM
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I hid mine in the pantry since paper in my home tends to take over. My "non DIY" husband built the shelves out of scraps and it works great. We are still trying to get things organized so it's not quite as functional as it could be. I keep a shredder and recycle bin on the floor underneath the shelves.
I have a magnetic blackboard with a little shelf and hooks at the bottom from Ikea. I will put it on the inside of the pantry door once we get it up.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 2:22AM
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I struggled with this for a long time. When we redid our kitchen we had a "Message Center" planned, but when we encountered issues with the measurements, it had to be eliminated so the pantry could have that space (the pantry is still smaller than it was originally supposed to be a foot along the back wall). So, we came up with the idea of a "Message Center Niche" embedded in the side wall of our pantry + magnets on the garage door that opens into the FR but next to the kitchen.

The Niche contains a paper calendar - yes, even though we are a very, very tech-oriented family, we still use a paper calender for the "family calendar". Whenever my kids or DH ask, "can I do xxx on yyy?", my first response is, "have you checked the calendar?" Once I tell them it's OK to do something, I tell them to put it on the calendar. This way we ALL know what is going on - not just the person with the calendar on the computer or phone. If something's not on the calendar, there's no guarantee about it taking place (within reason, of course!)

As to the papers. You really have to keep ahead of them. I found the best thing to do was two-fold: Each child has a small box where all the papers they bring home go - unless it's something that needs an immediate signature/return the next day - then it gets handed directly to me where I then immediately "process" it and give it back to the child to put in his/her backpack for the next day.

I try to do a quick run-through of the papers each night. Those that are a waste of paper, are recycled (you know those - attend this seminar at the school system's headquarters next month, join the boy scouts (why did my DD get those???), etc.)

Finally, the items that either need attention, but not immediate attention, and those that are useful are put on the garage door - with the magnet for the appropriate child. I have two very heavy-duty "school bus" clip magnets on the garage door - one for each child. Their location is such that we all see it in the morning when the kids head off to the school bus and during the evening when I try to get everyone ready for school the next day. I try to go through the magnets at least every couple of days...

Now, I only have two children, so this may not work for more than two. I admit it wasn't a perfect system, but it's worked pretty well over time. This year, my DS is away at college, so now it's just my DD - and she's the more organized of the two (actually, she's usually the most organized in the family!) - so it's gotten much better (I don't even use the boxes anymore.)

Message Center Niche:

It consists of:

  • Calendar to keep track of sports practices & games, school events, music lessons, concerts, family happenings, project due dates, meetings, etc.

  • Land line phone & answering machine in a central...

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 4:13PM
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