Parenting feels a bit overwhelming sometimes. I mean, it’s hard to really know if you’re doing an amazing job or screwing up your kids for life. Have a parenting problem? Just Google it and you’ll find about 1.3 million results in 2.4 seconds sharing completely different ways that are the “perfect” solution to your parenting problem.
You know what I’m looking for?
I want something that is easy, effective and doesn’t cost a lot of money. I want something that any regular, every day parent could use and implement. Because that’s what I am. I’m just a regular mom trying to figure this whole parenting thing out.
I’ve been using this awesome tool since my son was little, and it’s honestly so simple that I never thought to shout it from the rooftops before. Today I’m going to spill the beans…
It’s a timer.
Now you might be thinking that’s dumb.
Hear me out first.
There are literally endless uses for the timer that have absolutely nothing to do with disciplining your child. In fact, we have never used the timer as a discipline tool in our home to date. Not once.
Awesome timer hacks for busy moms.
1. Use a timer to help your child learn to play independently each day.
I talk about how exactly to get your kids to do this (babies and toddlers especially) in my posts How to Teach Kids to Play Independently and Can Toddlers Really Learn to Play Alone. In each of the posts, I share why the timer is such a key factor in achieving success with independent play.
2. Use the timer to encourage kids to complete any given task.
The timer is an awesome way to make a game out of anything. I find it really useful for any child who needs help staying on task. Go ahead and set the timer and see who can pick up the toys the fastest or get dressed the fastest or brush teeth the fastest. The goal is not to have a winner or a loser. Everyone who makes an effort to complete the task quickly is praised and encouraged.
3. Use the timer when playing with your kids.
The purpose of the timer isn’t to restrict quality time with your kids. It’s actually to encourage it! My friend Amanda recently shared her awesome tip for how she does this. When her kids ask the question, “Mommy, will you play with me?” all day long, she effectively uses the timer to better connect with her kids and still manage other important tasks. Read more about the method to her madness and why it works so well!
4. Use the timer to limit screen time.
There are honestly so many different and creative ways to limit screen time. It’s all about finding what works for you and your family. Using the timer is just another option you can use. Create expectations beforehand so kids understand how much screen time they are allotted each day or week. Then when the want to play on a device, go ahead and set the timer.
5. Use the timer to help YOU stay productive.
We are tired moms. We are so tired that even when we have time to get things done, we are too tired to get them done. I love to use the timer to motivate myself. If it’s nap time in our home, I’ll go ahead and make a list of things I want to get done. Then I set the timer and get to work. Knowing that I’m on the clock motivates me to finish the task rather than allowing distraction to take over.
6. Use the timer to encourage quality family time.
If your family struggles with doing a family night or some sort of weekly family time, the timer is perfect. First, everyone shuts off all electronics. Second, everyone agrees upon a family night activity—a game, a project, and outing to the park. Lastly, you set the timer where everyone agrees to participate for the set amount of time.
Another way to use the timer to encourage family bonding is to set the timer during the dinner hour. While the timer is running, agree to keep all electronic devices off–smart phones, tablets, TV, etc. This eliminates battles over electronics during a time when we should really be investing in each other. Plus, it’s a perfect for me as a mom to stay off my phone and really connect with my family during meal times.
You might be wondering, isn’t the timer a bit rigid?
Well you certainly don’t have to use a timer. It’s all about finding what works for you and your family. Parenting visionary Janet Lansbury advocates against the timer.
But, the timer isn’t meant to be rigid. It’s meant to help children—especially small children—have a signal for when it’s time to transition to a new activity. It’s NOT meant to make children feel anxious or upset. If you find the timer doesn’t work well for your kids, by all means, skip it.
We find that it breeds cooperation in our home, helps us stay productive throughout the day, and encourages us all to better connect as a family.
Ready to start trying out some of these timer hacks?
I highly recommend this fun Learning Resources Time Tracker Mini from Amazon (affiliate).
Go check it out. I’m timing you.
Want more on motherhood?
Looking to simplify life with your toddler?
I’ve written a book with my friend Rachel that has ideas for rhythms, routines and schedules that’ll help your children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old. There are over 30 printables (all different routines you can print out) including tips for running your day and figuring out a routine with multiple children!
Do you use a timer in your home? Let’s chat in the comments!
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