Friday, August 3, 2012

Tip #3: Set Up Your School Year Command Center

Welcome back!

It is time for Day #3 of Summer to School Transition Tips.

You should check out day 1's post about putting routines into place NOW and day 2's post about school supply shopping like a pro if you missed them.


Number 3: Set Up Your School Year Command Center.

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I have had SO many different methods of trying to organize the chaos and clutter of life.

Some of them have worked okay...some of them have been terrible ideas from the very beginning...some of them have been wonderful in theory, but way too complicated in real life.

And so finally, over this past summer, I believe I have found the perfect command center for our house.  It all started with this Thirty-One Wall Organizer that I purchased last month.

I had looked at the organizer for as long as I can remember.  Every time I saw a Thirty-One catalog, I would always land back on the page with this organizer.

But for some reason, I always ended up talking myself into some other bag, or lunch box, or fold-and-go.  Seriously.  I LOVE Thirty-One.

Anyway, so last month, I decided it was time to try out the wall organizer.

All I can say is that I am so sad that I didn't purchase it earlier!!!!!!!


Alright...without further ado, here is the Newkirk Command Center!

Here we go.

(Sorry about the poor picture quality...I snapped these with the iPad and was trying to hold it way back to get the full view because this hangs in our laundry room...) :)

Three-Foldered Flip-Chart Thingy from Target (top left)
I wish I could find the link to show you exactly what this is, but it is basically three empty heavy-duty page-protectors that I fill with important papers.  The top divider holds a calendar for the month with our events typed into it (and I add some as the month progresses, of course).  The middle divider holds the girls' chore charts (for my benefit, not their's).  And the last divider is a master-cleaning list for the house that I am going to TRY REALLY HARD to stick to this school year.

Daily Routines (top right)
I talked about my routines on Wednesday in my post.  I use a dry-erase marker to mark these off every day and then erase them at night, using the awesome magnetic erasers that I found in the Target dollar-bin this year!

The erasers are AWESOME and at 2 for $1...that's hard to beat!  I bought a class set so each of my kiddos could keep one stuck to the side of their desks to use with their individual boards.

So. Totally. Cool.

I heart Target.  Seriously. distracted there.  The dollar bins get me every time.  Literally.  EVERY DARN TIME.

Daily Chore Cards for the Girls (middle left)
So I made a master chore list of things the girls could do each day and according to their ages and times we have available.  I divided the weekly chores up into daily chores and put them all on these cute little colored notecards.

Each day gets a different color.  They're labeled with the girl's name who is responsible, the day of the week, and the chore.  The cards are all in the top pocket in the beginning of the week and each day, as they finish the chore, they put them into the bottom pocket.  If all of the chores are in the bottom pocket by the end of the week, the girls each get $1 per year of their age ($3 for Claire, $5 for Harlee).

They divide up their 10% tithe and put it in a separate bank, save however much they want to (usually a lot for Harlee...she's quite the money hoarder!), and put some in a spending bank.

Harlee uses these awesome banks from Dave Ramsey.  It's a three-piece bank set that has separate containers for giving, saving, and spending.  I'm sure we'll be purchasing Claire a set for Christmas.
Purchase Your Own Bank Here

Weekly Menu (middle right)
I do our menu-planning on the iPad using an awesome app called MealPlan.  You can find out about my whole menu-planning process by reading this post.  I plan for each week on Saturday or Sunday and print the menu for the week Sunday afternoon or evening.  It goes into the wall organizer and not only has my husband stopped asking me "What's for dinner?" (for the most part), but it kind of helps me stay motivated to cook each night for the fam.

(Please note that although this menu is lying on its side, I have a new one printed and ready for next week.  I had two of these left and it makes me crazy to just throw out perfectly good printables!)

Bottom Four Pockets (in no particular order)
There are four pockets at the bottom, that I have labeled with specific items in no particular order.

1. Calendars & Schedules (school calendar, preschool schedule, sports' schedules, church schedules, etc.).  Although I do add these events to both my Google Calendar that syncs with my phone, iPad, and computer and also to the paper calendar that is hanging at the top of the's nice to keep the originals, in case there are any discrepancies.

2. Invitations & Cards to be Mailed (birthday or event invitations, birthday cards to be mailed this month, etc.).  I always add parties and events to Google and my paper calendar, as well, but keep the invites just in case I get lost, forget to RSVP number, or have something come up at the last minute.

B.C. (before children), I used to write out all my birthday & anniversary cards at the beginning of the month and mail them a few days before the special date.  Well, I'm planning to do that again starting this month.  I've got the cards I need to write in them and put postage on them.  I'll put the date on my calendar with a reminder to mail and bam...HOPEFULLY I'll actually send some cards this year!!!

My Grandma Stephens, Matthew's Grandma Carol, & the girls' Grandma Dawn is SOOOOOO good at this.  I want to be like them!!!

3. Bills that Come In (any paper copies of any bills, EVEN if I pay them online or they get automatically deducted).  I like to have a paper copy of every bill we get.  I created a checklist on Microsoft Excel a few months ago and like to mark off every bill we pay, the amount, and when it is paid.  This has helped me immensely in not double-paying or forgetting things.  I check through the bills and make payments on the 5th, 20th, and 25th...the days Matthew and I get paid.  I pay the bills that come up next and file them, but leave the unpaid bills in the same pocket.

4. Blank Forms  I've got blank menus and grocery lists, that I keep in this pocket, as well as some blank cleaning forms and a few other useful items.  Any blank forms that I use in the household, I keep here now, so I know where to look, instead of searching through a hundred different nooks & crannies before putting my hands on the paper I need.  Are you guys seeing the pattern that I am trying to be BETTER??? :)


I also have a bucket of pens, pencils, scissors, post-it notes, stamps, and a few other day-to-day items that is near our command center.  I was so tired of searching for a pen and a piece of paper for 5-10 minutes before being able to write down a number or message!  This makes it much better!

Alright, so that's my command center!  Thanks for hanging around to check it out!  Now...your challenge for today is to get together your own command center by the time school starts!  That way, when papers from school or mail comes in, you'll have somewhere to put it!

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