The Family Command Center Controversy

Today's post is a 2011 post re-run and also a lighthearted response to the controversy that erupted over our family command center chore list.. 

I never thought in a million years that this project would get so much attention.  It's stirred up a heated debate in several internet forums and my email inbox.  Evidently, my daughters chore list being longer than the boys list has rubbed a few the wrong way.  Some folks were offended that she was assigned dish duty and not the boys.  

Let me tell you, Hannah thoroughly appreciates the support from those who felt that she was being overloaded with chores because she is a girl.  

(Hannah and I)

I'd like to take this opportunity to set the record straight (even though the comments are entertaining and I love the blog traffic that has resulted from the debate).  Their chores were assigned to be age appropriate, not based on gender role stereotypes.  
Thank you, to everyone that weighed in.  I appreciate every comment, even the mean ones. 

Here is the original post:

Now that I am back to work, things are a lot different in our house. In an effort to stay somewhat organized, I have taken some unused space in our hallway and turned it into a command center.

Each child has a tote bag with their clothes for the day, lunch money and special notes from Mom. The chalk board reminds them of their daily responsibilities.

I added iron hooks to the existing shelf. ($3 each)

I printed the children's names from my computer onto iron on transfer paper to make the personalized totes. ($2 each tote)

The photos can be changed out with each season. I stuck green hydrangeas in these cute urns for a little pop of color.  The chalkboard was made out of MDF and chalk board paint. ($6 for the sheet of MDF and $8 for a can of chalk board paint)

Maybe our mornings will be a little less hectic. If not, at least my hall looks cuter.
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  1. I never saw the original post and I LOVE your command center. Great Job! It's sad that those who don't live in your house would choose to point fingers at you. I love how you did this :)

  2. More power to you "mommy" for teaching your children responsibility. You should not have to explain your parenting to me or anyone else. A big ole "whatever" to those who think you should.

  3. Sarah

    I find it funny that so many people had negative things to say. I am the mother of 5. 4 girls and 1 boy.

    My oldest just turn 17 and she is most definitely responsible for the dishes and doing some laundry.

    My son is 2nd oldest at almost 13 and his responsiblity is to take out the house trash and recyclables as needed (which is often).

    My next daughter is 11 and her job is to set the table for dinner and clean it off after dinner.

    My 5 yr old daughter is her assistant with the table duty and also playroom cleanup director.

    The baby at 22 months is responsible for cleaning up her toys/mess.

    They are all responsible for keeping their rooms clean and bring down their laundry to the wash room.

    I think your set-up/command center is fantastic, organized and completely reasonable.

    I pay no mind to others who judge my ways of parenting or running my household.....especially when they do not have as many children as I do nor walk in my shoes. To each his own.




  4. Sunday, Melanie, Roxanna, Thanks for reading my blog and for your kind words. I appreciate the love :)

    1. Amen to Sunday as well! Thx for sharing your awesome ideas. LOVE LOVE LOVE this command center!

  5. People are ridiculous for creating controversy for such a silly thing! They have nothing better to do! Your designs are wonderfully inspirational - thank you for sharing them with us!

  6. Sarah you are a beautiful example of what a caring loving mother is! Your children are extremely lucky and blessed to have you and your gentle guidance. Now days people are to quick to judge and think they know all. And somewhere we as a society lost simple core values. Kids today are being set up for failure. It is refreshing to see a Mom like you who has wonderful values and is shaping her children to become someone great!!
    To all the haters: People who live in glass houses shouldn't cast stones! or Treat others the way you would like to be treated! And my mama always said "If you don't have anything nice to say, then say nothing at all!"
    Merry Christmas & Happy Always Sarah!!

  7. I loved your original post, noticed the chore assignments, and figured they were age appropriate and made a lot of sense. I was actually impressed that there were assigned chores at all! You have a beautiful home, beautiful children, and a great organizational system. Forget the haters.

  8. Sarah! I love your blog and your ideas! Kudos to you for teaching your children the importance of work. I am the Mother of 5 (4 boys, 1 girl) and agree that chores should be assigned by age and ability. Everybody always has an opinion...just know that I agree with yours!

    Merry Christmas!!

    P.S. Thanks for the tip on the Sams Club laminate flooring. We selected a different brand and color, but I never would have found such a great deal if it wasn't for your post(s). My husband is almost done installing it on the first floor. I had a couple friends over the other day and they didn't even realize it was laminate until I told them. Yay!!!

  9. Sarah,
    Honestly! Do people have nothing better to do than to criticize those who are trying to teach their children to be responsible? I think it's wonderful that your children are learning to serve others, starting with their own family. You go, girl - Merry Christmas!

  10. My oldest (girl) is the only one who does dishes, too. It's not a gender thing, it's an age thing. The dishes are just too big & heavy for the younger kiddos to handle but their time is coming.... :)

  11. I think your command center is awesome..I wish I had a place to put one in my house...that is how the chores are organized in my house...the older they are they unfortunately get 1 or 2 more makes sense they are able to handle more responsibility and need it as they grow. It helps prepare them for adult life and that is our responsibility to prepare them for adult life. So hats off to you, you are doing a great job and you do what is best for your family and do listen to those who have to give you negativity.
    Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family.

  12. Where was your blog and great ideas when my kiddos were younger??

  13. Im sorry I have rather strong opinions on this subject. I think kids today are growing up with a strong sense of entitlement. I commend you for teaching your children a work ethic. From one momma to another, I happen to think that is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children. I love your blog. My daughter is the oldest, so it is logical that she would have more age appropriate chores, than my son. Merry Christmas:)

  14. Love these ideas! Just really love to see an organized woman. You have a beautiful blog! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  15. You are an AWESOME MOM!!! Ignore the naysayers!!! I love the command center too! I am also blessed with a sweet little 11 year girl, who helps me soooo much, and I work outside of the home too! My big ole college boys are laying around watching tv when I get home, but my sweet little helper daughter has cleaned the kitchen and made sure her mommy comes home to a clean house!! I love that she is just like I used to be with my mom!!

  16. Funny, cause when I saw the finish picture, I also smiled about that the first child had more chores than the rest, but it came to me all natural, that it was because it was the eldest first and the rest of course should not have the same responsibility as the younger ones.

    I do not think you should have to explain why the chores was as they were, but I think it is kind of sad, that someone have to be mean about you and your way of living without knowing the background for the choises. Keep up your good work, and by the way... Your Hannah looks like a sweet and responsible daughter... And only you and your husband is to "blame" for that :)

    Happy Newyear and best wishes
    Janni :)

  17. Love the command center, and it is making the rounds on Pinterest again. :) funny how people jump to conclusions about things they don't know about. My kids both had age appropriate chores and lists were ALWAYS the best way to avoid nagging and forgetfulness. They were a visual reminder of what needed to be done. My kids had deadlines for the chores to be completed. That way they felt they had some control and I think that helped them learn how to manage their time.

  18. have to be kidding? Hugs...people are sure quick to insert their issues in the oddest places.
    Like you should have taken pictures and shared a months worth of 'to do's' to prove to the world that you were doing what they think you should do.
    LOL...I'm loving your blog and you're very inspiring. :) Thanks for being lighthearted about people and their quirks. ;)
    Be blessed.

  19. You have got to be kidding! I read the original post, and immediately caught on that there were age appropriate assignments on the board!
    Wow! What people think of to complain about in life!

    Love the board!
    Looks terrific!!!!

  20. Is she older? People are just so silly! No one lives in your home or knows your family dynamics like you do! It is a super cute way to keep track of what needs to get done. I have always told my kids with age comes greater responsibilities and more privileges! Cracks me up people thought they had the right to weigh in on your parenting ;) I have seven kids...two adult children...the adult kids are glad I gave them responsibilities and a good work ethic! I used to tell them..."life isn't fair...Ill try and make home as fair as possible but being older means Im learning on you as I go and your younger siblings will have an easier go of it." Kuddos to you for your nice reply and explanation. It is too bad people are such busy bodies :)

  21. I LOVE this command center! And when I first saw it I did not think that you were gender stereotyping in any way... I guess as a mom I naturally assumed that you were basing the assignments on age! Silly me for assuming something that makes so much sense!!! lol!!! WONDERFUL, BEAUTIFUL, AMAZING.. and so forth!!!

  22. I am just seeing this for the first time. What a great idea and I can't wait to make my own. I find it very silly that people made judgments based on assumptions about the chore list. It was quite obvious to me that they were age appropriate! Great work Mom! :)

  23. Seriously? People need to mind their own business! I found this post through pinterest today, and I love the idea. My first thought was not that she had more chores because she was a girl (honestly, I didn't even look at the names til reading your comments), but because she was the oldest. You can not expect children of different ages to have the same amount of responsibility! That would be silly!! As children grow, they need more and varied responsibilities so that they can learn how to function in the real world!

  24. People are crazy! I knew the second I looked at it that chores were divided up based on age. Great idea!

  25. Wow! When I first saw your hallway, all I could think was how amazing and clever it was. Never even occurred to me that there was something controversial in it. People just like to pick fights, I think. I never understood people who like confrontation... the old saying goes - Those who live in glass houses should not cast stones!

  26. It was strange to me to read that you had negative comments on this. When I saw the original post, I assumed the children were listed by age (with oldest being on the left) and that the oldest had the 'bigger' chores. Honestly, how else would you list your own children? By favorites? When I list my children, I do it from oldest to youngest. Their chores are age appropriate, so my 12.5 yr old has 'bigger' chores than my 7 yr old. Seriously, people will find things to complain about. That being said, I LOVE THIS IDEA!! :) Hope you have a wonderful week!

  27. I wandered over here from pinterest and have to say I love the idea. Then I saw that there was a controversy and I had to read more because I had no idea what it could be. I was thinking with you and could tell the list grew shorter, which meant to me that the child was smaller at the end. I have three boys and a girl on the way so my oldest is definitely going to be doing a similar list like yours and so on. When they are old enough to handle similar chores, we will do a chore rotation. Thank you for sharing! Great idea, one I'm excited to implement into my household.

  28. I wandered over here from pinterest and have to say I love the idea. Then I saw that there was a controversy and I had to read more because I had no idea what it could be. I was thinking with you and could tell the list grew shorter, which meant to me that the child was smaller at the end. I have three boys and a girl on the way so my oldest is definitely going to be doing a similar list like yours and so on. When they are old enough to handle similar chores, we will do a chore rotation. Thank you for sharing! Great idea, one I'm excited to implement into my household.

  29. Just got here from Pinterest and love your command center!!! There is a great quote I've seen "don't judge others unless you are perfect yourself" ... clearly everyone who gave took issue with the chore list is perfect themselves ... must be pretty darn boring for them all that perfection! I'm flawed and happy to be that way :o) FYI my 4 yr old does the dishes around here! He loves to wash the dishes (of course I remove all sharp objects first). He does a pretty good job too! Keep on doing what you are doing, and inspiring us all to be more creative xoxo

  30. i saw your comment about feeling like a wicked stepmother at and i just HAD to come see if you really were a stepmom because introducing these concepts and implementing some of these changes in a household (that i affectionately refer to as "thunderdome") that was under the rule of sweet, but terribly spoiled and entitled nine year old (the result of single dad guilt) is...uh...tricky at best.

    we've only been married 3 month and i live in fear of being branded the evil stepmother. i wanted to see if you had any tips for stepmoms. you and hannah look like twins though, so i'm guessing not. sigh.

    in any case, i LOVE your command center. the three of us are moving into a new place soon and i was trolling blogs looking for decorating ideas. i'm obsessed with chalkboard paint and you'd better believe a version of your command center will be at our new home...evil stepmom fall out or not. she'll thank me for it later. wish me luck! :-)

  31. Just found your site, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your site!

    As far as the controversy that happened a while back, I just have to say, you are being a mom. Being a mom is hard, thankless, and sometimes you have to put yourself into a timeout. Keeping the home tidy and organized is no easy task. I am a mother of 5, I should know :) However, even with all that, you are blessed in so many ways and are given a wonderful family that loves you unconditionally.

    I think that no matter what, it is our responsibility as parents to teach our children responsibility. That giving them chores teaches them that, and also helps them to realize that mommy is only one person and she needs help too. I have my children do dishes, do laundry (with my assistance), clean bathroom every Saturday (I maintenance the bathroom throughout the week by Clorox wipes), vacuum, clean their bedrooms, sweep the kitchen and bathroom floors. If we don't teach them, then what happens when they are on their own. We teach our children to be the best and so when its there turn to be adults, they will have no problem or being scarred to do those things. I love my children with all my heart as I am sure you do too, and by not showing them responsibility, you give them a disservice and disadvantage to adulthood.

    So with that, way to go! And I am totally going to try this out for my children.

  32. how funny that people were so worked up!! i automatically assumed it was based on age when I read your original post, for some reason I just figured whoever's name was on the left was the oldest and it went down in age from there.

  33. I just started reading through your blog, and ran across the 'family command center' post before knowing about this controversy. I only have a passing knowledge of your family, but the very first thing that struck me when looking at the picture of the list of chores was, "oh, Hannah must be older than the boys," not "why does Hannah have more chores?" It never occurred to me to be anything different!

    LOVE your blog, it's so inspiring!

  34. Can't help but 7 year old daughter was standing next to me as I was reading your original blog post about the command center, and we paused to look at the little bags and chore list. She said "Well, I'm guessing the first kid is the oldest, 'cuz she has the most chores and has to do the dishes, then the next one must be the middle kid, and Max is the little one 'cuz he has the least."

  35. Suggestion: We have a weekly chore list that is rotated among our 3 boys (now teenagers, but we have done this for 7 years now since the youngest was 7, oldest was 11). Daily chores include empty dishwasher, dinner helper (setting and clearing table and any other dinner help needed), trash-recycle-returnables (empties trash, recycle and returnables from kitchen to outside and garage bins). Each kid also has a weekly chore (something that needs to be done once a week) - mow grass, clean pool and collect and empty trash bins in all rooms in the house before trash day. Bringing in trash and recycle bins from the curb are also assigned - since there are only 2 bins, someone gets a week off from this duty. Making beds, doing their own laundry and preparing their own lunches and snacks the night before school are their own responsibilities. They earn $10/ week for these family responsibilities. I hope their future wives thank us for on the job training and making them responsible for taking care of their household space!! Of course, we always lend a helping hand to equalize the age factor and just to be involved in some small talk

  36. I never thought twice about it coming from a large family I saw the chore lists and knew that they were age appropriate chore lists. The command center is a great idea!

  37. WOW. can i say that i'm shocked people would get offended over a chore list. right away, without even looking at the names, because hannah was first, my initial thought was she must be the eldest. which would be why her list was longer. lol people need something to do, more than site on their computers and start a fight over a poor judgement. get a grip!
    I love your project BTW. it's awesome! and coming from a mom with 4 kids under 4 I can't wait to have something similar to this in a few years!

  38. HaHa This "controversy" cracks me up. Why are people so mean online? It was immediately obvious to us why each child had a different number of chores. Also, wouldn't making lunches and setting & clearing the table also be considered traditionally female jobs? They sure were in my house growing up!

    I love your command center, I've spent the morning researching ideas on Pinterest and yours is our favorite. Thanks for sharing!

  39. That is such a great idea!!! Can you please tell me where to buy that white shelf? Thank you so much!!!

  40. I'm baffled that anyone looking at the command center wouldn't have the common sense to realize all the chores were doled out according to age.

    I have only boys & they are all responsible for their share of dishes, laundry, mowing, etc. We do not have gender specific chores-just chores, & everybody has to pitch in. That being said, my youngest certainly would not have been allowed to mow our field with our tractor at the same time my oldest first took on that role. He was not capable. Nor was he capable of doing the dishes when his oldest brother first started. As he gets older he takes on more of the chores the older boys have been solely responsible for. Isn't that how all families do it? I don't get the "controversy."

    Aside from all that, your decorating ideas are wonderful! Thank you much for posting all the how-tos!

  41. I haven't read the entire post yet, but I saw the original and then came to this post immediately to see what controversy there could possibly be over a command center. I thought someone had accused you of copyright infringement or something. I was shocked to see that it was over the chores. I just assumed that chores were given according to age. It was clear from the lists that the boys were younger. It didn't even occur to me that your oldest had more chores because she was a girl. I love your response! I am a new blog reader now!

  42. I suppose it's so sad that I am laughing at the fact you had to explain your reasoning in chore assignments. I get appalled looks from people that my young boys already have assigned chores at all! My 4 year old actually has to clean a toilet???? Children Services will be knocking on my door promptly!!!! So much goes into who gets what chores and when that it's ridiculous to judge a household you know absolutely nothing about. Judging people has become a national sport.

    Keep up the good work organizing your house and teaching your kids responsibility. I LOVE the command center and I am already trying to figure out the best location for one in my house....I have a few ideas...

  43. Very late to the party, but I had to click over to this because I couldn't even imagine what the controversy was. When I read your response I had to go back and look at the names. I didn't even notice the girl vs boy thing...I just saw names and jobs and figured the longest were the oldest. That is how it works, the older you get the more you take on in life, right? So very nice response to people who must be a little crazy :) Love your command center!

  44. Funny! I didn't look at genders and figured it was ages too. Besides-I know girls and boys named Cameron! Thanks for the post, I'm also a working mom with three littles and my oldest is just finishing kindergarten. Next year Dad will have to bring two of the kids to two different schools, so this may just be the ticket to keeping him sane!

  45. OH my goodness! Some people will argue about anything. I think your command center is lovely and, of course, both chores and chore load should be age appropriate. Good job! :-)


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