Saturday, January 10, 2015

Our Family "Chaos Minimizing" Command Center

A few months ago (yes, I said months), as I was getting ready to go back to school for the semester, I decided I needed to a better way to manage our busy schedules, organize those endless classroom letters, and display those fabulous report cards that my genius kids are always getting because they take after me, of course!

Once again, enter Pinterest and about a thousand examples of these leave-it-to-beaver organization centers, referred to by moms much more organized than myself as "Command Centers". 

After days of pinning about a zillion of these so-called "command centers", I began planning my own version of one, which, let's face it, is really more of a "chaos-minimizing center" rather than a "command center". I knew I wanted to include a few things for sure: a monthly calendar (duh), a weekly calendar, some sort of sorting system for mail and homework, some place to write notes to each other, like "Hey mom, I'm -$16.00 on my lunch account because you keep forgetting to write the check and they said that if you don't give me one tomorrow, they will be sending me out to forage in the dumpster."

Anyway, once I had gathered all of my supplies, I began working on my "chaos-minimizing center".
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I started with the monthly calendar first:

I knew a couple things before I started making the calendar. The first was that I wanted it to be magnetic, but that I also wanted to be able to write directly on it like a dry erase board.  I also wanted it to be fairly large to accommodate my rather large handwriting (and my failing eyesight). A 12X12 size like I was seeing all over Pinterest would not do.

 I decided on a size of 24X36, mostly because the sheet metal was already cut to that size and I didn't want to risk serious bodily harm by cutting it to fit a certain size.


Now, the sheet metal was not perfect. It did have some slight scratches and discoloration on it, which I take as being fairly normal because so did all of the other sheets. However, since I was planning on antiquing it to give it a rustic feel, I wasn't really worried.

After I got it home and spent even more time on Pinterest in search of an antiquing method to use, I found one that called for using a 50/50 vinegar-water solution and tried it.

which didn't work out too well...


After staining my hands a nice orange color when I picked the sheet up, I decided that it would be better to just cover the sheet in fabric and found a remnant of a neutral color fabric for really cheap at the fabric store

After covering the sheet with the fabric, I made the grid for the calendar next. I started by doing some not-so-quick math in my head in order to figure out the size squares that I needed. Then I used a level and ruler to help me draw the lines straight.
 

After I was finally finished tracing the grid in pencil, I used washi tape to complete it.

The next step was labeling the days of the week, which I did using these chalkboard style labels I found at Michael's:

(obvious hint: use a permanent chalk marker for labels that you plan on being permanent wait for it to dry. I used regular chalk markers first and they smeared badly when I was trying to slide the calendar into the frame) 


Next, I made the magnets that I would use for the numbers for the date. I used bottle caps that I found in the scrapbook section of the craft store where all of the embellishments are, round label stickers to write the dates on, and stuck them to the inside of the bottle caps. I used round magnets I found at Walmart on the backs (the strip ones weren't strong enough because of the fabric).



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The original frame I bought was a cheap poster frame, and no where near strong enough to hold the sheet metal. In fact, it pretty much broke apart as soon as I lifted it up (I tend not to think of things like this ahead of time). I ended up having to take that one back and get one that was much more sturdy (and, unfortunately, much more expensive) so it would hold the weight of the sheet metal:


Here's how the calendar looks today:

(Okay, so it's actually how it looked back in November, but you get the idea.):


The weekly calendar that I posted about here sits below it and makes it easier to write the details of our week, rather than crowding up the monthly calendar with them. It also makes it easier for Diva and Destructo to know what's going on for the week as far, as what parent has them what day, since their dad's work schedule is unpredictable and his days with them change from week to week.

The next part of the command center involved a bulletin board on the adjoining wall where important notes and reminders could be hung, as well as a place where other papers and homework could be stored somewhat safely, instead of ending up on the counter top for more time than I'd like to admit collecting stains from various food and beverage items. 


The file organizer is from TJ Maxx and has a bin dedicated to each child. I like that it also has a shelf on the top where I can store items that we frequently use and that are needed often for homework. 


 

 Aside from the file folders used to organize homework and chore charts (which I have yet to make, let alone use),  I made each kid a binder to store the work they wanted to save and were most proud of during the year, along with their report cards and school pictures. I figured this is a much more organized way to store this type of stuff, rather than throwing everything into a plastic bin  like I usually do.


I also decided that the kids should each have their own magnet/dry erase board to to hang other things up that they felt were important or to write notes to remind me of things like this:



The magnet boards can be found at Walmart or Target and I found the rustic steel letters of each of their first initials at Michael's above each of them to add a little bit of decorative touch.

On the opposite wall of the calendar, I hung a mail organizer and another dry erase/magnet board that I found at Office Depot to write reminders for myself on (which I still manage to forget). I also hung something else that I find to be rather special next to the mail organizer...


The recessed area next to the mail organizer wall was planned to eventually be a built-in with a coat rack and bench, but since I'm not going to be here much longer, I just hung some hooks on the wall for backpacks and coats and put a shoe organizer on the floor below them.


I put the bench that I refinished a long time ago on the wall opposite of the coat rack, under the calendar, so someone could sit while taking off their shoes if they wanted to. The basket below the bench is supposed to keep hats, gloves, scarves, and other miscellaneous things nicely organized as well.


Too bad, it hasn't worked quite that well in practice:

Anybody need a toddler size life jacket in January?
However, despite the apparent difficulties my children have with walking two feet to hang their backpacks up,  I'm still really happy with the final product, which only took over 2 months to complete (and probably wouldn't have ever been finished if I hadn't had the help of my awesome girlfriend who hung everything up for me!)




It certainly isn't Pinterest perfect, but it works pretty well for us

...at least in theory.