How to Set Up a Back to School Command Center

Let’s face it, back to school time is the most stressful time of the year. The earlier school years aren't too difficult but, as kids get older, it gets more complicated. Juggling book bags, drop off, snacks, after school care, pick up and all those extra-curricular activities is hard! I definitely couldn’t make everything work without our back-to-school command center. Here's how to set one up for yourself.

My back-to-school command center is so much more than just a whiteboard, although that is one component. It’s a place where we can check-in and know everyone's day’s and week’s activities at a moment’s notice.

In a perfect world, our back-to-school command center should guarantee that all the kids get picked up and dropped off when and where they are supposed to be on time, every day. We should also know where everyone is and what they are doing at a glance.

Here are a few of the things that are essential for my back-to-school command center:

1. A Long Table

I have a table that runs the length of my command center; in this case, about three feet wide. On that table are the things that must go out of the door in the morning; backpacks and my purse go underneath the table. There’s a bin for dry cleaning and anything that needs mending.

There’s room for lunches, and space for me to put things like school and library books, a bag of donations, and I can even stash a small cooler for food and snacks there. If the table is empty when I leave the house in the morning, we should have everything we need.

2. A Monthly Board

Monthly Whiteboard is the first of the boards in my command center. I can do a month at a glance with this one. I use ultra fine tip dry erase markers on the boards because there’s usually a lot of information to list on there.

3. Meal Planner Whiteboard

I use this meal planner whiteboard to keep track of our weekly meals. I cannot tell you how much I dread the question “What’s for dinner?” Having this whiteboard absolutely obliterates that question! Now, I can just tell the kids to check the board.

When the older kids, who are learning to cook, are planning their meals for the week, all they need to do is write down their meals on the board, then find our grocery list, a magnetized list on the refrigerator, and write down what they need me to pick up at the store!

4. A Plain Whiteboard

I use a plain whiteboard to cover stuff like notes to each other, last-minute changes, or anything that doesn’t fit anywhere else. With an autie in the house, my kids love knowing their daily schedule, so the plain whiteboard says “Today We Are…” and every morning I write down what we are doing for that day.

5. A Calendar or Paper Planner

You definitely need something for long term planning. I use a wall calendar in my command center and then use my phone calendar so that if I’m out and about, I can add an appointment and then add it to the calendar when I get home.

It works for me if everything gets transferred to a paper calendar so I can see our long term planning. You may prefer to share a digital planner. You need to do what works for your family.

6. Everything Else

The table often becomes a clutter-catcher, so I also keep a small basket there. When it gets full of stuff that doesn’t belong, I take the time to empty it out. That way I’m not trying to find something under two tons of paper or sporting equipment.

I also keep a few old coffee mugs to store pens and dry-erase markers. Of all the areas in my house, I need my command center to remain clutter-free; otherwise, I feel like my entire day is going to end up unorganized and messy.

Creating a back-to-school command center is one of the easiest ways to keep your family organized as you manoeuvre through the busy and stressful back to school season and beyond.

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