Time is a Tricky Subject
Using timers to effectively manage your kid’s time depending on the situation, it can go by quickly, or it can drag on for eternity. As a parent, effective time management with your kids can be even trickier. Every day I say things like, “You have five more minutes before we need to leave,” or, “Give me a minute,” or, “You have been eating for 40 minutes already! HURRY UP!!” I’m sure you’ve said them too, countless time. But what does “five more minutes” mean to a kid?
I remember back to when I was a kid and my mom would have her friend over, and they’d say we’d have 5 more minutes before they had to leave, and we would be so excited because we knew our moms would lose track of time while talking and we’d get more playing in. As a kid this was great, but as a parent, it made me think long and hard about my own time management. Here are two different ways you can use timers to effectively manage your kids’ (and your) time.
I want to be honest with my kids, always. I want them to know that I mean what I say, and I say what I mean, and keeping myself, and them, accountable with time is one way I can achieve that. It’s easier than you think too! We all have phones on us at all times, it’s just the way it is now, and those phones come equipped with a timer setting. You can set a time limit, and the phone will count down and make a lovely little noise when time runs out. This function is great for when I’m busy with something and my kids want attention. I can tell them, “Mommy is busy right now, but if you can give me five minutes, then I can give you my full attention. Effectively manage your kid’s time until Mommy’s phone makes noise.” Then I set my timer for five minutes. It allows my kids to know that they will have my attention shortly, and it also keeps me accountable for sticking to the five minutes rather than dragging it out longer.
This timer function is also great in public places. Before I started using it, I’d say, “Five more minutes, and then we have to leave.” Then, after five minutes had passed my kids would always get into negotiation mode about staying longer. The funny thing is that when I started setting the timer and it would make noise, they would just be ready to leave!! My kids wouldn’t argue or try to negotiate with the almighty phone timer! I use this for bath time, T.V. time, time until clean-up when I have to monitor some sort of toy time-share negotiations and any other situation in which they only have a certain amount of time.
Mealtime is another part of our day where my kids need help with effectively managing their time. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that my kids can be THE SLOWEST at eating their food, and I’m am fairly certain that I’m not alone in this. I’ve tried using the phone timer for this one too, but at such a young age (my oldest was 3 when I started trying to speed up his eating time) watching the numbers count down meant nothing to him. He could count, but counting down was not on his level yet.
So what to do?? I went on Amazon and ordered two sand timers. One was a 30-minute timer, and the other was 45 minutes. At mealtimes, I flip over both of the timers, and if they finish eating before the first timer is done, they get dessert (which is usually more fruit, yogurt with chocolate chips in it, or a small cookie). If the 30 minutes is up, and they are still eating, that’s fine, but no dessert. When the 45-minute timer runs out, the meal is over. We start clearing plates, and if they didn’t finish, well, that’s their own fault.
Now, before you start saying that I’m cruel for taking food away from my kids, 45 minutes is a long time. If they were hungry, they had PLENTY of time to eat. It only takes 1 or 2 times of having to take their plates away for them to realize that they’d better eat up. The reason that sand timers work so much better than the phone timer is that they can effectively manage their time and see it slipping away! They can see that they only have a little while longer to finish before they don’t get dessert. And when they finish quickly, they are proud of how much time they have left!!
Implementing the use of timers into your daily routines will be quick, effective, and easy. All you have to do is remember to actually set the timer once you say the words. Your kids will catch on quickly, and to be held accountable to a specific time frame is good practice for everyone!