Are you tired of trying to locate library books, lunchboxes, bags and shoes around the house or remembering who’s on washing-up duty after dinner? What about which child has an extracurricular activity on which day? If you’re starting the day disorganised, it’s time to take charge and set up a family command centre – a central place in the home designed to keep everyone in your tribe organised (and accountable!).

A wooden floor with assorted storage baskets lined up against the wall, full of items including shoes and lunchboxes.

Why Set Up a Family Command Centre?

If you want the whole family to stay organised, having a place for the items they use every day can make things much easier. Set up smartly, it can become the family timetable, central drop zone and, if you can get everyone to buy into the concept, the brain of the home.

Professional organiser and decluttering specialist Robyn Amott of Melbourne company Bless This Mess suggests creating a family command centre when your children are in primary school. “It depends on the child, of course, and where they’re at in terms of understanding schedules,” says Robyn. “It’s about creating a go-to station where everyone understands this is where things get put away and where they’re retrieved from. The aim is to help kids establish independence that’s appropriate to their age and stage of learning.” 

Hot tip: Adding an easy-to-read clock in the command centre area will not only keep everyone on time, but can be used as a learning tool for younger children.

A large white wall clock positioned on a white wall near a window, with the hands reading a time of 10.11

Where Should the Command Centre Go?

Generally, if you have space in the entryway, that’s where you’d get set up. But you shouldn’t feel beholden to it being the first thing you see when you walk through the door. “I always draw on the natural storage that already exists within a house, utilising a coat cupboard if there is one,” says Robyn.

If you have neither a hallway cupboard nor space near the front door, find an area that makes sense for you. There might be a bit of real estate you can use in the kitchen or the laundry. Just make sure it’s easily accessible for everyone in the family.

SEE ALSO: Back to School Tips (and Savings) to Make Life Easier

Close-up of a chalkboard on a wall with a handwritten shopping list, as well as two photographs pinned in the top corner.

What the Command Centre Needs

A simple schedule for each child printed out and pinned at the family command centre can work wonders. “Just for Monday to Friday and broken down into AM and PM. The AM is generally during the day, so it might be school or it could be kinder or day care,” says Robyn.

“Then the PM is what happens afterwards. It might be a music lesson or sports or something like that. Defining the difference between the times of the day, as opposed to showing their whole day, helps kids understand sections of their day. Within that, they have to work out what should be in their bag.”

Many families also use blackboards for keeping track of everything from weekly meal plans to calendars incorporating important information like exams, holidays and doctors’ appointments. Simply look at what you consider your organisational gaps and fill them in with additions to your family command centre.

Cube storage can also be a useful addition with clearly designated compartments for different types of items or different family members. When you’re putting together storage that’s four cubes high, you can leave out the shelf one from the top to create a larger ‘double’ space suitable for school backpacks. The two cubes below can be divided with drawers or panelling for shoes, glasses, sports equipment or other kits that may not go to school every day.

Adults can also make good use of the family command centre by adding a bowl on top of the storage or a special hook for car and house keys to be stored as soon as you come inside. There can also be a place to stash a handbag or a wallet, so you can find them when you’re heading out the door in the morning.

SEE ALSO: School Supplies Parents and Kids Can’t Live Without

Close-up of a wooden bookshelf with a plant, magazine folders, sticky notes and pens, with a wall planner behind it.

How to Make It Work for You

Check out Pinterest or many of the family command centres online and you’ll see an attractive arrangement of chalkboards, benches, shelving and pockets. There needs to be a place for everything they use each day, and you need to label it as such: the shoe shelf, the homework pocket, the bag hook. For Robyn, however, the aesthetics are secondary to the functionality of the set-up.

“It’s one thing to have something like this set-up, but more important are the routines we then have around it,” she says. “So instead of it happening in the morning when we’re running out for school, it can be great to have the kids setting themselves up the night before for the next day." 

She also adds that nudges may be needed before you reap the rewards. “Initially, there’ll be a lot of prompting [from] parents in support of the command centre,” she says. “For example, when we walk in the door from school, take out your lunchbox, put your homework in your homework pocket and put your bus pass back in your bag.” Before too long, however, these tasks should become second nature.

What To Try