One of the most simplistic, most used and easiest training tools I used with my kids was the simple egg timer. I bought each of my kids an egg timer and let them color it and decorate it to their hearts content.  To get kids to buy in, a little personalization works beautifully.  My kids each had an egg timer by the time they were two or three.  Egg timers were used in several ways in our home.

Blanket Time, Rest Time and Reading Time

When I wanted my littles to stay put on a blanket, I would put toys, activities and books on the blanket and set their timer.  To start this training, I started with 3 min for a toddler. “Stay on this blanket and play until the timer goes off and you will get a treat.” If they stayed on, they got to pick something from a treasure box. If they didn’t, I put them back on and started the time again.  My boys learned this in one try, my darling little girl learned this in about 30 tries, but eventually the fact that her brothers got a treat irritated her enough to stay.  We gradually increased this time to about 15 min.  You can take a shower, drink some tea or teach a math lesson in 15 minutes.  I know this from experience.

Okay, not the blanket time picture I was looking for, but they were so little and adorable.

My kids had rest time each and every day until they were teenagers.  As a matter of fact, my teenagers still have a tendency to go to their rooms and make themselves scarce during the mid afternoon.  It helps us all.  Again, my introverted boys were more than happy to go to their rooms and play by themselves but my daughter needed extra encouragement. She also needed less sleep so she gave up naps by about 2.5.  I would place the egg timer in her room and she was allowed out after an hour.  Sometimes, she stayed in because she was engrossed in her play and once she learned how to read, she loved to sit and read “her books”, meaning books not mandated and chose specifically by Mom.

We had mandated reading of Classics each day, particularly in the summer, and the egg timer allowed them to set their 30 min and read without any help from me.

15 Minute CleanUp

My kids have cleaned with me since they were little.  Before they were allowed to have screen time (after school, chores, piano, outside time and quiet time), we did a 15 minute cleanup.  Generally, this was right before I had to make dinner and prepare for my husband to come home.  As anyone who has spent more than 10 min with a small child knows, children are messy.  Learning and playing are serious business which apparently requires every toy, book, Lego, doll, tupperware etc to be pulled out and strewn across the house.  I never worried about this too much during the day until 15 min cleanup.  I would set the timer and everyone would quickly put everything away.  I gave each child a zone, Connor pick up all the books, Collin pick up the Legos, Caileigh put the shoes and tupperware away and we would move as quickly as possible to cleanup.  When the timer was up, and if we had finished, the kids got a fun snack and watched something while I made dinner.  Daddy came home to a mostly straightened up house, dinner was on it way, and kids were happy.  It was a win, win, win.  This worked a good 75% of the time.  The other 25%, I met Scott at the door where I took the car keys, left him the kids and told him to text me when they were fed and in bed.

Homeschool

The egg timer was a life saver during school.  We did most of our subjects together but math and LA were done independently.  Each child had an independent folder each day filled with math facts, copywork, handwriting and Bible and poetry memorization. While I worked with one of the kids teaching math and grammar, the other two were to work on their notebooks.  I set a timer for 15 min in which they were to work independently without distracting me while I taught their sibling.  If they worked diligently and well, they received a marble for their jar, at a certain marble number, they received a prize or a date. If they did not, I gave them double the work.  This allowed me to have one on one time with each child.  I always started with the younger children first.  Since I had twins, I traded off who went with Mom first.  Caileigh found the timer harder at first but she quickly got used to it.

Once I had taught them their math or grammar for the day, I would write how much time I thought a certain assignment should take them (I always added a 5 minute bumper), and they would get to work.  Some kids find the timer hard to work with, but as many tests are timed, I felt like this was a good time to train this skill.  Obviously, certain learning challenges might find this impossible, but I think its worth a try.  I think it’s better to train this with younger kids than try to wait until high school tests that really matter.

Here’s the type of Egg Timer I used.  However, look at all the amazing ones they have now! My daughter would have loved this Kitty Timer.  This Star Wars one would have thrilled Collin, and Connor liked anything Streamlined.

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