I don’t know if you’ve heard of fly lady. It’s a program to help messy people like me try and clean up their act. I implement some their strategies every once in a while if I get motivated, but the one thing that has stuck with me over the years, and I will
probably use it forever, is my timer! The reason you use a timer for cleaning is
because naturally messy people need to break projects down into sizable bits.
One of Fly Lady’s famous sayings is “I can do anything for 15 minutes” and so
when I feel overwhelmed by the house I will set my timer on one room for 15
minutes. Or sometimes I do the 3 minute hot spot which is where you organize and tidy up a high
clutter zone for 3 minutes flat. I know this series isn’t about cleaning, but
if the timer can help someone who is a prone to distraction imagine how it can
help children!
When I first checked out my daughters private school I was
amazed at how they were able to corral the toddlers and keep such order in the
midst of a fun and loving learning environment. I remember watching them
transition from one activity to another, and I distinctly recall when snack time was over. As I watched the teacher collect their cups and napkins to prepare for the next thing I was shocked! They weren’t done yet. Wait a minute, Suzie still had a couple goldfish left! I thought to myself, but surprisingly the children moved along
smoothly and Suzie did not starve to death (of course Suzie is not her name,
and they may not have even been goldfish). It was eye opening to watch. For the record, you won’t find me using a completely militant schedule and routine at home because that’s just not how I roll.  However I did learn how the structure and routine really does benefit children and all the parenting books I’ve read seem to confirm that.
So I do use a timer for many things at home, whether it’s 10
minutes to do each chore, or 5 minutes until 
it’s time for bed, or 5 minutes left of snack time. My favorite is the crazy mom I turn into when I use a timer at the park. As soon as we arrive I set the timer for one hour (or
whatever the limit is) and when the timer goes off I approach each child with a
blarring phone that does a trumpet sound when time is up. I show them PROOF that
time is up. They hear it. They see it. They don’t always come a runnin’,
but I guarantee you it has made a difference. Transitions are so much smoother with my timer. I love it! I have gone
through several just from wear and tear I guess, and I freak out  when that happens. I find myself in panic mode until it is
replaced. Timer was one of the first words of my two youngest children. I am
not kidding about this you guys!
 Anyway, I am just a
mom (ha), let’s hear what the expert Dr. Phelan clinical psychologist and author of 1-2-3 Magic has to say
about it. 
“The people who manufacture timers think they’re for baking cakes.
They’re not- timers are for raisng kids! Kitchen timers can be a great help for
just about any routine, whether it’s picking up, feeding the fish,
getting up in the morning, taking the garbage out, or going to bed. Kids, especially the younger ones, have a narual tendency to want to beat a ticking mechanicl
device. The problem then becomes a case of man against machine (rather than
child against parent).”
“Kitchen timers are also effective because they are not
testable. Machines cannot be emotionally manipulated.”
I never really looked at it that way. I just knew it helped
me a lot! I mentioned using my phone and a kitchen timer, but you could use your microwave, an alarm clock, or whatever. I have never tried the hour glass timer, but I bet the kids would have fun watching that one. It really doesn’t matter what you use and most options are very inexpensive. Now then, how about we go set a timer and watch the magic happen. Good luck!

Tjis is day 17 or a 31 day series. For more Teachable Parenting click HERE.