Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Timer is My Friend

Last week, the kids needed to clean their rooms. I don't ask for much, I just wanted to be able to to see the floor. They were seriously dragging their feet. An hour and a half had gone by with me occasionally reminding, nagging, and yelling. We were getting nowhere.

Then I remembered a trick I used to use that somehow had gotten put aside; the kitchen timer, and you thought it was only for cooking! HA! I brought the timer to their rooms. Kellen groaned. Apparently, he had not forgotten my friend the timer. I told the kids I would set the timer for 15 minutes, and I wanted their rooms to be picked up.

I set it and hit the start button. The amount of cleaning going on was astounding. Of course, I made it fun by using my best announcer voice, calling out every so often, "Look at those rooms, I can almost see the floors. Just 10 minutes left folks, can they finish? Oh my Lydia, it is looking great, but don't forget about that corner over there! Kellen, I didn't know you were such an amazing room cleaner!"

The rooms were picked up in about ten minutes, but we didn't stop there. Oh no, there were still five minutes remaining. "Clean until the timer goes off," I called, and they did. They started looking under the bed, in their closets, straightening toys, and they cleaned until the timer went off. They were amazed at how much they could get done in 15 minutes, and so was I. We continue to have "15 minutes cleans" every couple of days.

Then yesterday, Kellen had a large list of vocabulary words to do for school. He was dragging again, In an hour he had only finished four. I didn't get frustrated. I simply brought in my friend, the timer, but not the announcer voice. The words were complete in 30 minutes time. Ah, my newest, bestest friend; my kitchen timer!

Works for Me Wednesday.


  1. Gosh I wonder would the timer work for my 15 and 13 year old . I need to try something haven't seen there floors for a while.

  2. Can I rent your kids?

  3. I do this all the time in the classroom. Once at back to school night I had several parents enraged-and I do not exagerate- that I was giving too much homework. I told them that based on the work we do in the classroom, I am positive thier children could do the work. I told them to set the timer for 3 five minute intervals. One five minute interval for each page of homework. What ever was not finished in 5 minutes could come back to school and I would work with their child to finish it. I didn't have any complaints after that and I can't remember anyone sending homework in for me to finish. Training kids to know what 5 minutes or 10 minutes feels like is a key to helping them focus their attention.

  4. I love this! It reminds me of the Flylady, my very favorite internet angel!

  5. LOL at Gil... I have a 16 and 14 year old that I can't see their floors most of the time. :) My 11 year old? LOVES to clean and organize.

    I used to use the timer all the time when they were little. When they got older I would (and do) give them time limits - this weekend I ran errands and said I needed it done by 3:00 when I returned home.

    It still works to some extent, but it's much easier when they are little. Use it while you can! :)

  6. I think I need to use the timer for myself so I can stay on task at home. This multi-tasker thing can be a nuisance at times some things get forgotten.

  7. I need to use that!
    My twin sister and I used to use our music boxes for the same purpose. We would wind the music box and challenge ourselves to be finished cleaning our room before it stopped. It is just something about that challenge!!!

  8. I really need to try the timer with Brandon. That child can think of a million differnt excuses to NOT do something. Great idea.

  9. I love timers...I even use it on myself...I should use it for blogging time! LOL. I use it for getting a little done each day for big projects like house cleaning. I use it for ds's school as well. Great suggestions.

  10. Great idea! I have used this a few times, too, but for some reason, forget on an ongoing basis. But I does seem to really work!
    And it works to motivate me, at times, too! ;)
    I first heard of this on FlyLady...amazing how we'll do something if we know we only have to do it for so many minutes! ;)