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Monday, August 25, 2014

Mommy Monday: command center

For this edition of Mommy Monday, I'm going to be sharing the heart of my organizing and planning at home: my command center. It hangs on the main wall in my kitchen, where I can easily reference it whenever I need.

There are 4 components, and 2 are Pinterest- inspired. Let me show you each of them separately so I can explain:

Weekly Dry Erase Planner

I've seen different versions floating around Pinterest, but I originally got the idea from this post. Basically it is a collage frame, scrapbook paper, letter stickers, a pen holder (the same one I use for my laundry), and a dry erase marker. Use the little pieces of paper with cute puppy dogs and happy, color-coordinated families frolicking in the meadow as your template and just cut out the pieces of paper to fit each frame.

I use this for everything- meetings, kids' schedules, appointments, friends I want to call... I also use the top space labeled "this week" to write down to-do's. I also write the date next to the day of the week so I can easily see it when I need to. This has been a great way to put just the things from this week that I have in my planner up where I can glance at it whenever I need to remember whether or not we are free for a playdate on Saturday, or when I could go see the doctor. 

Menu Planner

This is the other Pinterest-inspired portion of my command center. I got the idea from this post. When I was getting ready to go back to work, I knew I needed to get serious about menu planning, so I started thinking about and looking online for ideas to organize my menu planning. I looked into online planning programs, apps for my phone, menu planning pages for a planner, and lots and lots of menu planning boards. Just search it on Pinterest and you'll see what I mean- there are A LOT of ideas out there! But I am convinced that this is by far the best one. 

Let me explain how it works: the clothespins are labeled with each day of the week. The cards have my main recipes that I tend to rotate through, as well as cards that say "leftovers", and "out". On the front of the card is the name of the dish, and the back lists the ingredients (so I can easily make my grocery list for the week). The top box has the recipe cards I haven't used yet, and after I make something, I put it in the bottom box. When the top box gets low I move everything back up. I love this system because I can visually plan out my meals for the week, keep track of what I have made recently, plan one week at a time, keep track of my shopping list, and easily make changes if something comes up. If you want to know how to make it, go check out the original link I posted. That blogger is a genius, I tell you.

Cleaning Schedule

This is where I keep track of my cleaning. If you've seen the cleaning pages in my planner (which has my monthly and seasonal cleaning items), you know that I have pretty low expectations for myself. I freely admit that I have never been a good cleaner- just ask my mother, or even my college roommates. With my busy schedule, I have found that having a "bare minimum" checklist and then adding things as needed has been the most workable solution for me. So my schedule is (and I don't know why the writing is so hard to read in the picture...sorry) bathroom on Sunday, laundry on Tuesday and Saturday, and vacuuming on Thursday. The schedule is based on when my girls are visiting their dad, and when they take their long bath (Sunday, duh!). Nothing more than that. I use the dry erase marker to check those things off through the week, and I add in things to the other days when I see that something else needs to get done (like the dish drain). And yes, in case you didn't notice, the papers for each day match the weekly planning board (and my kids' calendar).

Bulletin Board

This is probably the least glamorous but still an important part of my command center. I have some cards where I keep tried-and-true menu ideas for snacks, lunch, and breakfast (since the menu planner is just for dinners) for those times when I just don't have the brain power to come up with anything and the kids are starting to beg. I also keep papers I want to be able to reference- during the school year I keep a copy of the meeting schedule so I know which type of meeting I will be attending that week, and this summer I had a schedule of free family events in our area. Sometimes if I get a piece of mail that I don't want to forget I'll put it there to remind me.

I don't want to get all sappy on you here, but this command center is way more than a logistical tool for me. It reduces my anxiety because if I ever start to feel like my life is spiraling out of control, I take a quick look at that wall and remember that I actually do know what I'm doing. It has also started a wonderful ritual for me. Each Saturday night I erase/take down the previous week's notes and get the next week set up. Thinking through the entire week, from appointments to work events and social gatherings to cooking and cleaning, makes me so much more relaxed on Sunday. I used to wake up with a bit of sadness on Sundays, because Sunday meant that the weekend was almost over and I had to frantically sort my life out again. Now I wake up knowing that I have already thought through and prepared for my responsibilities that week, and I can relax and enjoy the day. 

Well I think that about covers it! How do you keep everything organized at home? Do you have a command center? Leave me a comment- I always love hearing your thoughts and ideas! :)


  1. Love your command centre and the menu planner in particular! I love how it's bright and cheery.

    1. Thank you! I love it too :) It was one of the first things to go up on my walls when I moved to a new house- it's too hard to keep track of life without it! :)

  2. Looks great! I need this in my life, just not sure where in my house I could set something like this up :)

    1. Thanks for the comment! I made some smaller dry erase organizers for my friends who have less wall space before. You can see them in this blog post: Maybe that will give you some ideas of something workable :)

  3. This is brilliant Elizabeth. I can't wait to do it. What a great idea you shared. (Tara)

    1. Thank you, that's so sweet! I hope you get as much out of your command center as I do- it really does make a huge difference in my ability to stay organized :)