Keeping a busy family on track can take the skills of a juggler, the planning of a master strategist and the organization skills of an army supply corps officer. But a simple family communication station can make keeping track of who needs to be where much easier.
A family communication station is the one place where all the information lives. It has information on schedules, shopping lists and events, as well as a place to check and leave phone messages.
The communication station should be located in a central place where everyone in the family will see it every day. It is also very helpful to have the station within sight of the main phone so that messages can be left easily, and schedules checked while on the phone.
The kitchen is a good candidate for this. We keep our station on the back of the main door. If you don’t want the information out in plain sight, you can always put it inside a cupboard door.
The main portion of the communication station is the calendar. While some families with older children can use a completely electronic schedule, families with small children or those who don’t live and breathe technology will benefit from a central paper calendar.
The calendar will have a place for each person to record their events and commitments. You will want to select a calendar with lots of room in each box, or perhaps one with a column for each family member. Some people will color code the events for each person, making it easy to see at a glance who has commitments on a given day.
A calendar that runs from September through the following year can be useful for those with school-aged children. That way you can enter dates at the beginning of the school year and not have to think about it at the end of the calendar year.
Each family member, if old enough, should place their commitments on the calendar. I have heard some people tell their older children, “If it’s not on the calendar, it’s not happening.” Meaning no rides, transportation or other support for non-listed events. One missed practice or birthday party and the kids will start keeping up their calendar.
Another component to the scheduling aspect of the family center is the place to keep related documents. These would be the lists of dates sent home at the beginning of a sport season, the school calendar, or party invitations. This gives these important papers a place to live, and where you will be able to find them.
My calendar has a pocket at the back to keep these items, but a simple manilla envelope would do as well.
A cork board, with plenty of push pins, is useful for handling information you need to refer to for a short time. Receipts, party invitations and reading lists live on mine. The cork board is also a good place to leave phone messages, although I cannot speak to that, since my family doesn’t do messages.
Having a running shopping list where everyone can see it is a good way to keep track of things that need to be purchased…before it becomes a critical matter Ask your family to add things to these lists when they are needed.
Warning: leaving a shopping list out where children can get to it may result in junk food being added to the shopping list in a chance to bypass parental approval.
Even though the most-used phone numbers will be committed to memory (yours or your phone’s), it is still good to have numbers available should you need them. This list of numbers should contain the home phone number, parent’s work phone numbers, school numbers and the numbers of trusted neighbors and friends.
After putting together our family communication station, we stopped forgetting to purchase needed items and our schedules became more manageable. Do you have any way to make family communication easier? Share below!
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