I'm so happy to have this wall completed, especially just in time for school to start in a few weeks! (Until then, I will enjoy it being empty...) This is what some call a "Family Command Center," and its how I keep my family and all the little pieces organized. There are a few other places in my home that are an extension of this system, but this is our day-to-day sanity right here. I had a family wall very similar to this when we lived in Ohio last year (remember the green wall)? Now that we've moved, I've revamped it, and I'm excited to share the details again.
SO HERE'S A QUICK RUN-DOWN OF WHAT YOU SEE:
Keep reading for more details!
Calendar- keeps track of the kid's activities, appointments, holidays, husband's work schedule, etc
Family Home Evening- once a week, we have a special program, and we follow this outline
Menu- where I write the week's dinner meal plan
Kid of the Day- a little system to make sure each kid gets special attention
Family Theme- a goal we set together at the start of the new school year, (will be written on the black scallop)
Clip Boards and Baskets- a place for the kid's responsibilities, workbooks, spelling lists, party invitations, etc
In case you may be interested, here are the sources for where I got the items on the wall.
Hobby Lobby- the quote at the top, the chalkboard calendar, the scallop sign, and the black hanging baskets
Target- the chalkboard sign that I hand lettered in chalk pen, the clipboards
Handmade- my cute sister made the Family Home Evening sign, and I made the Kid of the Day sign
Since a lot of items on this wall use a chalkboard, I thought I'd throw in a little tip. Make sure you CURE the chalkboard surface before writing on it! All you need to do is take a regular piece of chalk and rub in over the surface of the board. Then with a hand towel, rub the dust into the chalkboard. Wipe clean. That should do the trick, so that when you write on it in the future, you won't see the previous words that were written.
HERE ARE ALL THE DETAILS FOR HOW MY "SYSTEMS" WORK:
In the past, I used a white marker board. I'm excited to give this chalkboard a try. I found a chalkboard pencil to write with, and it works really well. So although my calendar won't be color-coded, I think I will prefer the look a little better. If for some reason writing with chalk doesn't work, I plan to type our schedule, print it onto cardstock, and cut and tape it onto each day. If I have anything that doesn't fit on the calendar (like the school menu) I can put it on the refrigerator, which is right next to this wall.
I also keep all these details written in my personal planner, but I needed a wall calendar for the entire family to see what is going on.
Family Home Evening-
Our church leaders encourage families to have a little get together once a week, with opportunities for learn and teach each other. We try to do this every Monday night. We follow the outline on the sign, and give each member of the family a special job. My cute sister made this sign for me.
I'm the type that must have a cooking plan for the week, or we end up eating scraps. I plan out my menu on Sunday, then do all the main shopping on Monday, with a "pit stop" on Friday or Saturday. I also have a typed-out grocery list that I print it off every week, and just circle the items I need.
I have a theme that I stick to each night, chosen on how easy it is to make that type of meal, and how busy we are that night. Within that theme, that are so many meals I can choose from, but at least I have a basic plan. For example, if it is Mexican night, I could make tacos, enchiladas, nachos, fajitas, etc. These are my "themes" that have worked well in the past.
Sunday- Meat and Potatoes or something Ethnic, and a nice dessert
Monday- Soup, Salad, Sandwich, or Seafood
Saturday- Restaurant, Leftovers, or FYO (find your own)
Kid of the Day-
A few years ago, I was sitting in the waiting room at the pediatrician's office, reading Parenting Magazine. I read a small column written by a mom who invented "Kid of the Day" at her house. She used this system starting when her kids were toddlers, up until they were teenagers! It was like an ah-ha! moment for me, exactly what I needed to hear, and I felt very inspired to implement this immediately. At home, we had been dealing with the pettiest little arguments- who got to sit at the special dinner seat, who got to eat with the fancy spoon, who got to choose the first bedtime story, who got the longest snuggle at night, and on and on. Most of the time, I had no good answer for who got to be first or who deserved the most special treatment. I try hard to treat all the kids the same, but some nights, I just didn't have the energy to snuggle every single kid. (We had three at the time, all two years apart. Now we have four kids, almost five)!
You can probably see where this is going... I introduced "Kid of the Day" to my kids, and it has honestly worked wonders. It just rotates day after day. The Kid of the Day gets the special treatment, whatever that may be. This has alleviated so much nonsense, arguing, and stress! It's great to let one kid feel a little extra special for a day. The other kids understand that if its not their day, then they get to be "happy" for the special kid. If an argument begins, all we have to say is, "So-and-so is Kid of the Day," and it puts all objections to a stop right away.
I try not to use this as a behavior method. I feel like each child needs to be included in the rotation on a regular basis. There have been a few times when one of the kids lost the privilege of being Kid of the Day, but that honestly makes me sad, so I try not to revert to that.
These days, Kid of the Day comes in handy for who gets to control the TV remote, who gets to help me cook dinner, and the nightly snuggle. Anyway, its a great little system, and I love that it evolves with the needs of family. Give it a try if you think it could help your family!
As far as keeping track of who is "Kid of the Day," I made a chart to hang on the wall with our Family Command Center. To make it, I found a rectangular shaped frame. Then I went to Home Depot and bought a magnetic piece of metal. I removed the glass from the frame and used it as a template to cut a piece of metal with metal cutters. Then I replaced the glass with the metal in the frame. I hung a wallet sized picture of each kid on the metal. Then, because I am a seamstress, and I wanted a touch of handmade somewhere on my wall, I decided to embroider the words "Kid of the Day" onto a piece of linen, backed with interfacing. Then, like a tiny little pillow, I sewed on a backing, and stuffed it with batting. Before I stitched it shut, I slipped in a small magnet, which works perfectly for rotating each kid on the "Kid of the Day" board.
I got this idea from Stephanie at NieNie Dialogues years ago. She is a wonderful mother and inspires me in so many ways! At the beginning of a new school year, we decide on a theme or goal that we'd like to focus on as a family, and write it down. I will just write in in chalk marker on the blank scallop sign once we come up with our new theme for this school year. Nothing too fancy.
Clip Boards and Baskets-
A place to keep the kid's clip boards with their chore charts attached. The basket also gives them a place to store their workbooks, spelling tests, homework projects, birthday party invitations, etc.
As far as the kid's jobs go, this could be a whole separate blog post, but I'm running out of steam typing this all out, haha. I spent a few DAYS creating these charts in Word. I personalize them according to each of the kid's needs. I didn't feel it necessary to write out morning routine since its fairly easy, and the kids have me
ramming down their throats serving as their reminder. But their after-school routines are very important to me, and I'm very happy that they are each learning good habits and successfully contributing in our home.
For each job, the kid either gives her/himself a CHECK (done) or an X (undone). Sometimes, we have exceptions, and on those days, they write a LINE. (For example, we decided to eat out, so there weren't any dinner chores that night. A line counts neither for or against them). See more Family Store below, for an explanation of the bottom of this chart, and how we do allowance.
For my kids who need help with reading, I found clip-art pictures to insert in the chart. It describes what the job is, and they can help themselves without me having to stand over their shoulder reading off every single job. One improvement I've made to this Job Chart since I photographed it, is that I have made each day have a different color of ink. (Just in the row where the Days are typed). That way, I can tell them that today is the "blue day," and they can follow the column to fill out their chart on their own.
Back to talking about the Family Store... when I was a newly-wed, I looked up to a young mother who ran a family store, but I never thought to ask her the details about it. So I racked my brains to come up with something that I knew would work for my family. In my efforts to teach our kids about responsibilities, I also want to teach them about money. One night, I literally laid awake in bed half the night, as ideas kept flooding my mind on how to set up our family store, and how to manage the "bank." I honestly believe that this system is inspired and was an answer to my prayers on how to manage and teach my children. The math is simple. The rewards totally work for each of our kids, in surprisingly different ways.
The reason I believe in allowance, is because I feel that my kids need the opportunity to make financial decisions.
Here's how it works:
I'm going to update this system a little, but here's how we've been doing it for the last while....
Each Monday evening, we hold a special Family Night. At the end, we do a Family Council to tally up all the charts and pay allowance. The kids count all the CHECKS they earned, and multiply that number by 10. They count all the Xs and multiply that number by 10. They subtract the X total from the CHECK total, to come up with the TOTAL amount earned for the week. (They see how those Xs can really deduct from their total earned amount, which has really motivated them to get their jobs all done)! So, once the total amount of allowance is recorded, I physically pay them the total in cash. From there, we calculate 10% to charity, 40% to savings, and 50% to spending. Each kid has a piggy bank with 3 sections to organize their money. Once a month, they empty out the tithing and take it to church. Periodically, we deposit their saving money into their real savings accounts at the bank. The spending cash is theirs, and they can do whatever they want with it. Some of our kids spend it immediately on smaller ticket items, and others have saved up for larger purchases. It's a lesson in immediate gratification vs. patiently and wisely saving. (Our 8 year old daughter saved all her spending money last summer, to earn a set of golf clubs. Once her Grandpa heard about this, he said that we would pay for half once she had earned her half. It was such a special lesson for her)!
I keep the Family Store in our basement. It is comprised of 3 bins...
1- Where I keep all the money. All the coins and bills are organized in separate, labeled ziploc bags. I only keep about $50 total in the bank at a time. It recycles itself when the kids purchase items out of the store, so it lasts quite a long time. I used to have fake money, until I realized that the kids took it more seriously with real money, plus they can actually take their money to church or a real store and spend it, which is also a great learning opportunity.
2- Where I keep smaller items, usually very cheap items from the $1 section at Target.
3- Where I keep bigger items.
Occasionally when I'm at the store, one of the kids sees a toy they really want. Instead of saying NO all the time, sometimes its nice to be able to say YES. When I do, I say "Yes, I will buy this and save it for you in the family store. You can save your money and earn it." Sometimes I also let them save their money and earn an actual trip to the store, instead of only being able to buy from the family store.
For now, ten represents $.10, meaning that each check earns them a dime, and each X causes them to lose a dome. Perhaps in the future, we'll increase the earning potential up to a quarter, but right now a dime is all that works for our budget. This translates to each kid earning on average $5 a week.
In case you don't think I'm organized enough (hehe), here's something else I thought I'd share. It's my personal list, my saving grace. It's inspired by my mom, who also swears by a daily checklist. I won't go into all the details, because I've personalized this for myself, but it really helps me stay on top of my game. I prioritize my Good, Better, Best. I no longer feel like a chicken running around with my head chopped off. I have focus and direction. Important to note... I don't think there's ever been a day when I checked every single thing off my list, but hey, at least I try!
I also have a list for grocery shopping, a monthly to-do list, an annual to-do list, a budget spreadsheet, a vacation packing list, a food storage list, a list of longterm projects, a blogging calendar, an important date list, and yeah... now I'm just embarrassing myself. :)
The last thing I'm throwing into this post is how I organize my kid's school papers, projects, drawings, cards, certificates, etc. I throw out a lot, but the things I want to save get put in here. At the end of every school year, I empty the basket and hole punch everything. I put it in a simple notebook, labeled with their name, age, school year, and grade. It's a really simple scrapbook.
The scrapbooks look something like this (not a very special photo- just keepin it real, haha). I make some for myself as well.
Soooo.... the end! Haha.
Managing the schedules, menu, homework, papers, routines, goals, and chores is a huge job for anyone. I admit that I run a tight ship, but once the work is done, our kids still have plenty of time to play and just be kids. I'm also the first to admit that when we have visitors, or a snow day, or something unexpected, I'm the first to throw the routine to the wind, and just go with the flow! I do love being organized... (especially because I know how it feels to be completely unorganized-- my life used to be utter chaos, and my kids had no responsibilities. We all much happier when we know the expectations). Every family has certain ways of maintaining sanity, and here's what works for us! I am constantly getting ideas from others, so I hope this might be helpful to someone out there as well.