Do you have a timer at home? You’ll be amazed in the ways you can use it with your kids and to help run your day smoothly with routines, chores, and more!
The never ending abyss of indefinite time… that’s my theory. That’s why children will stall, balk, and delay things. Because they secretly fear this thing you want them to do (whatever it may be) will last for-ev-er.
It is why the timer is your new best inanimate friend.
It’s dependable. And it’s reliable.
It’s always on time.
In all seriousness, the timer is a great too to help garner cooperation from your children when you want them to do things they aren’t wild about.
It’s also a great way to help you do something quickly and with purpose so you don’t end up dividing your attention and getting nothing done.
Note: I don’t recommend the egg kitchen timers because they don’t always have a loud Ding which is what kids need to hear!
This timer beeps loudly and clearly.
Ways to use a timer at home with the kids relating to PLAY
- To time independent play time. If your child resists playing on their own (here’s how to teach them to play on their own) this will really help.
- Noisy time. If your kids are restless and have some energy to get out, turn it on and have a crazy noisy fun time for a while to get the wiggles out.
- For one-on-one time with each child. It’s important to spend time with children individually, and this is a great way to get it in. Start a game, read, or play pretend, and having a timer set will help your child make the most of your complete undivided attention.
- When there is one coveted toy and you want the kids to take turns playing with it.
- Outside play time can be timed as well.
- Hide and seek. Use the timer to signal it’s time to stay hidden or get found.
- Let the kids climb on their indoor toys to get some energy out!
Using a timer for chore-related events
- For your evening sweep.
- When the kids are occupied, and you need a 15 minute disco nap (also referred to as power nap).
- Set the timer to 10 or 15 minutes and have the kids come with you from room to room doing quick tidying and clean up jobs.
- After dinner cleanups can be made more fun with music on and a timer. It creates some urgency which makes little feet move faster.
- Creating time blocks. Sometimes kids don’t visualize or conceptualize time as easily as we do, of course, so having a time block set can help them learn to manage their time.
Routine related activities
- For bath play. I sometimes used to let the kids play in the bathtub with her toys even if it’s not actually “bath time.”
- Counting down something exciting they won’t want to end, like swimming for example, setting a timer will say “15 minutes left.“
- Couch time. This is from this book, and occurs when mom and dad sit on the couch together and talk. The goal of this is to show your children that you prioritize one another. During the timed event (10 or 15 minutes) the kids aren’t allowed to come and interrupt the adult conversation.
- Screen time limits.
- Taking turns for various things. A timer works well if the children’s sharing strategy involves one person having something then another getting it.
- Time to go in…. in the school morning, for example. Set the timer for the time when the kids need to get to the car. When they hear it ding, they can get moving.
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Calm down habits that work well timed
- Reading before bed. If your child is old enough to read before bed, you can do the bedtime routine, set the timer for the allotted period, allow them to read until it goes off, then lights out.
- When you “need a minute.” If you are feeling overwhelmed and weary, use the timer and tell the kids you are going to rest (read a book, etc.) for a set time and during that period they are not to disturb you.
- Creating anticipation. If you are about to do something fun like go to the park or set off for vacation, set the timer until the excitement happens.
- When the little ones are fighting or out of sorts, a timed “reset” works well. Everyone can sit with books, go to their rooms for a reset, or even do something to get that nervous energy out like push-ups, sit ups, or jumping jacks. (Yes, we do this.)
Basically, the sky’s the limit.
We use a timer for meals pretty often. Instead of nagging the kids to hurry up, we’ll say, “Dinner is over in X minutes. Whatever is still on your plate is breakfast tomorrow.” So much tension is eased aND the burden for rushing the kids along falls to the timer. Similarly, if we’re starting a meal with a tight timeliness, well tell them up front, “20 minutes for breakfast today, guys. Eat fast.” And the toy thing you mentioned. We use that a lot. “It’ll be someone else’s turn in 10 minutes.” Works like a charm. We used ours with potty training too. Sit on the potty every 30 minutes or whatever.
Rachel Norman says
Tiffany, I was going to add the potty to this actually, thanks for the reminder. I LOVE the idea about timing the meals too. Sometimes they linger and take forever, but I blame myself because I didn’t communicate the concept it needed to be quick!
I just re-read my comment. So many typos! Stupid fat fingers and “smart” phone.
Rachel Norman says
Didn’t even notice :)
HELP! My husband is hating timers bc we use them ALL THE TIME! Our 2.5 yr old likes to feel in control and constantly says “set a timer” for him to do EVERYTHING. It’s annoying my husband bc it makes him feel like the kid is in control. How do you suggest helping with this?
Ramya Ravindra Barithaya says
Amazing list of use of timers thanx for sharing with us
Rachel Norman says
I thought so too :)
i use to do this timer thing even before i read your article. i must say all you have written is proven effective! good thing you wrote this article to make other parents aware and to share the nice tips that will make their lives easier.
We also use timers for everything but we use Alexa. We have scheduled alarms on Alexa and that has been a life saver during this pandemic to manage kids online school. But I still got few great ideas from your list. Thanks for sharing