On a recent episode of Modern Family Claire is mad at Phil for several reasons, one of them being that he failed to give her the message that her friend had called to cancel their lunch date. As it turns out he had written the message down, but it was on a tiny scrap of paper the size of a thumb print and got buried on the kitchen counter. Imagine that, Claire never saw it 🙂

Just like the Dunphy family, many families that I work with lack a good communication system to keep their home running smoothly and efficiently. A helpful solution I have found is creating a central location for communication between family members otherwise known as the Family Command Center.

The Family Command Center consists of several key components:

Central Calendar
It should show everyone’s schedules from sports practices and games, evening meetings, to upcoming parties, business travel and major homework assignments. When creating a central calendar a dry-erase board with color coded pens for each family member is a great option. Or you can print out a color coded electronic calendar from your computer and store it in a plastic sleeve.

Chore Charts
An important component of the Family Command Center is teaching your kids independence and responsibility. Posting daily or weekly chores that your children need to complete eliminates the constant nagging and fighting over “Billy it’s your turn to set the table,” or “Sally you need to take out the trash.”

Communication Board
Phil Dunphy could have saved himself the agony of an angry wife if his family had this handy tool. A communication board is a dry-erase board or notepad stored in a central place where everyone can write phone messages and other information that needs to be communicated between family members. This has been a huge stress saver for my family! When my husband comes home early to watch the kids as I head out to a meeting, all the information from homework yet to be done to what to do with the dinner in the oven is written on the board so he knows what needs to get done. No more blame game because my daughter did not finish her math or my son forgot to practice guitar, it’s all there!

Directories
Your kids can call their friends for play dates and you can easily coordinate carpools when school and club directories are stored in one central place. Magazine holders are a great option for containerizing these.

Emergency Contact List
All relevant contact information for you and your partner or spouse as well as phone numbers for doctors, neighbors close by, and an out of town relative can be helpful in case of an emergency. Your contact list should be printed, laminated and easily seen so that it is there when you need it.

Inbox(es)
Incoming mail, homework in process, articles to share with your spouse…where does it live until the person responsible has a chance to deal with it? Create an inbox for each member of your family so that their work and school papers do not overtake your kitchen table, counter, or other flat surfaces. You can use traditional office style stacking trays, magazine holders, or any container you find works in your Family Command Center and can hold an 81/2 X 11 piece of paper.

Shopping List(s)
Have you ever started to make a sandwich and realized you’re out of mustard? From groceries to personal care items it’s helpful to have one spot where items needed are written so whoever does the shopping can pick up the necessary supplies.

Computer (optional)
The list above assumes your command center is primarily in paper form. If your family is more technology savvy, then you can compliment your Family Command Center with a centrally located desktop or laptop computer or an iPad.

    • Create a web based Central Calendar that is accessible from anywhere.
    • Use electronic sticky notes as your Communication Board.
    • Shopping lists can be created and stored in a program like Grocery Gadgets or other cloud based applications for easy access on the go (from a smartphone or other device).
    • Directories and Emergency Contact Lists should still be in paper form for ease of use and access.

Many homes have the above components in place, but what I often see is that they are not in one central location — e.g. The family calendar is on the wall, the directories are piles in a drawer in the hall table, and the shopping list only exists in the mind of the person who does the cooking. So I encourage you to create a centralized Family Command Center that includes some or all of the aforementioned tools, depending on your family’s need.

Share photos of and information about your Family Command Center at facebook.com/moretimeforyou.