Back to School: Create a Family Organization Center
Let’s see if you fall into any of these categories. Raise your hand if this applies to you:
- You have mail stashed all over the house or perhaps taking over your kitchen counter
- You've missed parties or appointments because you couldn’t find the invitation or the date wasn’t recorded on the calendar
- Your kid’s permission slips or medical prescriptions or other important slips sometimes go mysteriously missing
- You dpend an inordinate amount of time looking for items likelost keys
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need a Family Information Center!
What is a Family Information Center?
Also called a family command center or family launch pad, a family information center is defined as: A localized place in the home for important information that the entire family can use easily.
It is a place in the home that all that incoming information and paper can be contained and organized.
A family information center is an invaluable tool in the organizing arsenal, and a key method for creating a well-run and efficient family. A Family Information Center can be easily customized to your family and your space.
Where do we set one up?
The center can be set up virtually anywhere in your home. Keep these things in mind when picking a space:
- Pick a spot or room that is utilized by all family members as they come and go.
- Make sure that it is visible, not tucked away into a little-noticed cubby.
- Pick a spot that has some wall space to hang things and perhaps a spot for a small table, cabinet, or desk.
For some families, the ideal spot is the kitchen. For others, it may be the mud room, entryway, or even the family room.
What types of tools should be utilized in a family information center?
The following items will help you take control of information:
- I recommend a large, wall-mounted calendar that has large spaces in which to write. Write in pencil in case you need to change any commitments.
- Dry Erase Board/Magnetic Board
- Use this to write notes to other family members, reminders, lists, or phone messages
- These can usually be purchased with the dry erase on one side and this on the other.
- Can be used for notes, coupons, invitations
- Make sure that your magnets are heavy-duty to hold up larger, thicker pieces of paper
- Mail sorters
- Mail can easily be sorted quickly into different categories so it isn’t floating around the house anymore.
- Waste basket/shredder
- Throw that junk mail out immediately.
- Have one for each member of the family. Use wall pockets to utilize vertical space. If a permission slip needs to be signed by mom or dad, put it in their in-box. Stacking horizontal file sorters also work.
- Key Hooks
- It may take a while to train yourself to put your keys back on the hook every time you come home. But once that new habit is developed, no more looking for lost keys
- Also keep any other important keys here, such as locker keys for a gym, storage space key, extra car keys, etc.
- Always important to know if you are leaving on time.
- Writing Utensils
- Have a cup or tray for pens, pencils and dry erase markers. Also dry erase supplies, such as an eraser and cleaning solution.
- This is completely unnecessary, but it is a nice tool to have depending on how you have set you your center. If it is in the kitchen, it’s a great way to quickly pay bills, look up recipes, or occupy the kids while you make dinner.
What information should be included in a family information center?
Here is a list of ideas of what information should be included in your command center:
- Important phone numbers (docs, dentist, police, fire, parents’ work, grandma’s, plumber, handyman, electrician, cell numbers, etc.)
- School Information: Any information that needs to be referenced throughout the year (lunch menus, pick up/drop off times, bus passes, etc.)
- Babysitter Info Packet
- All the info that the babysitter needs and be placed into a narrow binder
- Collect baby's or children's schedules, food allergies, important numbers, what to feed the baby, information about activities or special items
- Take-out Menus
- A binder with each menu put in a clear sheet protector works great, but a folder will work, too
- Keep a clear, plastic envelope with all the coupons for the restaurants
It may take some trial and error deciding what needs to be included in your center and how best to use it. And it will definitely take some time to properly “train” your family members, and yourself, to take full advantage of the center. But once you do, you'll be amazed at how a Family Information Center will help you to run your household smoothly and efficiently.
©2016 Robin Harisis
Robin Harisis is a former professional organizer, mother of two and Customer Care Representatative at KidsOutAndAbout in Rochester, NY. She loves laundry and understands how crazy that sounds. Find more organizational and productivity ideas from Robin here.