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Getting Kids Ready For School

"Hurry up."
"Put your shoes on."
"Please eat breakfast."
"No, I don't know where your shoes are."

I don't know about you but our mornings used to be ripe with these and probably a hundred others. Kip is going back to school in a few weeks, and I wanted to keep up the fun, relaxed, and enjoyable mornings that we've had going for the past few months. I didn't want to turn into nagging mommy, stressed-out mommy, or "hurry up!!!" mommy.

Enter my new morning miracle worker ... the hourglass timer.

I've been trying to figure out how to help Kip (5 years old) the concept of time but using the timer on his iPad was not working as he'd end up mesmerized by that intoxicating screen and still not get done what he needed to do.

I hopped over to my good friend, Mr. Amazon, and found these great hourglass timers. I quickly ordered three of them: hour, 3o minutes, and 5 minutes. My requirements were: not breakable. The 5-minute timer arrived with a cracked shell but the box looked like it'd been run over by the delivery truck.

Here's how we're using them:

60-minute timer

  • Kip has 5 popsicle stick tasks that he needs to do for the morning, lunch, and evening.
  • When he wakes up, we turn the yellow 60-minute timer over (time starts)
  • He knows what tasks he needs to do. (get dressed, make his bed, set the table, eat breakfast, brush teeth)
  • If he finishes all the tasks within the hour, then he earns one of his poker chip "monies."
  • If he doesn't finish all the tasks within the hour, he still has to finish them and he doesn't get a poker chip "money."

Result: we've not had one single whining, nagging, "hurried" morning yet. I wanted to start this "system" a few weeks before school, so that when we need to be up and out the door for school, this wouldn't be "new" to him.

I also turn the timer over for his evening tasks and again if he completes them, he earns one of his poker chip "monies."

Nap/Rest Time

  • We're not really napping anymore (sad mama face) but I do want (and he needs) some downtime for him each afternoon.
  • We turn the timer over and when time runs out he knows that he can get up.

30-minute timer

  • We're using this for iPad time right now.
  • Kip can use one poker chip money to "buy" 30-minutes on his iPad. I highly recommend following Dr. Kristy Goodwin for practical help on raising kids in our digital age.

5-minute timer

  • We use this one for timeouts.
  • We've always done one minute per year of age.
  • He's five right now and so this is better for him than the microwave/stove timer because he can "see" the time moving and is starting to grasp that time moves.
  • He doesn't always do his timeouts correctly (gets up, screams) and when he does that I calmly walk over and reset the timer. The other day it took 20 minutes to get "time out" done. After we'd had the 20-minute struggle, Chris (hubby) sat with him at the kitchen counter and had him count out 20 poker chips (we always have these on hand). Then he had him take 5 poker chips out of the pile and talked with him about what a time out "looks like" when you just do it v. what he'd done to extend it ...

These timers have changed our world. I'm actually looking forward to starting the new school year and having these timers is how I'm going to be getting kids ready for school.


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