Contributed by Erin Long
When we think of home management tools we tend to think of things like to-lists, meal plans, calendars, and goal planners.
I think that timers should definitely be on that list.
Time is a precious and very limited resource and timers can help us to use our time well as home managers. They can also help make parenting a bit easier.
Here are some ways that adding a timer to our home managing arsenal can help our homes run a bit smoother and make a little easier.
I’m putting this as #1 because I do think it’s the most important. And I noticed a huge difference when I started. Like most women, moms specifically, I struggle to fit self-care into my demanding schedule and set aside the time I need for myself. So I started using a timer to make sure I actually got some ‘me time’ in each day. It’s typically interrupted but that’s better than nothing!
Start with whatever amount of time works for your schedule and do what it is that cares for your soul. You’re worth the time.
I mentioned I was working on this post to three friends when we were out for coffee and when I brought up this point it immediately became clear that there are two camps when it comes to cleaning: those who will clean until all the things are clean and those who don’t mind if all the things are messy and have to force themselves to clean. The four of us were split in half.
If you fall into the first camp, like me, set a timer and clean like a madwoman until it beeps. Then stop. Even if the floor needs to be mopped, even if there’s laundry on the couch. Stop and do something you enjoy or move onto something else that needs to be done. You can set another timer later, but for now leave the mess alone and move along.
If you fall into the second camp, set the timer and clean like a madwoman until it beeps. No stopping, no doing anything else, no dragging your feet. Clean the entire time. Even though cleanliness might not be your #1 priority you will appreciate your home being more cleaned and organized.
3. Setting work limits/boundaries for WAHMs
For work-at-home-moms a timer can be a powerful tool for productivity. When we set limits on our time we work harder and focus more because we don’t want to leave work undone when we really did have enough time to do it. When we see that clock ticking, we tend to get our butts in gear.
Since we’re at home it can be harder to focus on work when there are little ones around and we can see everything else that needs to be done. But when we set a reasonable limit on getting our work done we can tell everything else that we will get to it once the timer beeps but right now I’m working.
Setting a timer also lets our kids know that we will be with them again, but we just need a bit of time right now. It’s easier for them to be patient and entertain themselves when mommy’s going to be back soon.
4. Go to bed on time
Sometimes at the end of a long day, when the house is quiet and peaceful, the last thing I want to do it go to bed. But I need sleep.
Enter the go-to-bed alarm. Once it goes off, it’s time to get ready for bed. No watching one more episode on Netflix, no more working on a project, no more putting off going to bed. Just go to bed.
This idea was inspired by Beth’s Go-to-Bed Challenge. Getting to bed on time is so important and setting an alarm can help you get the sleep you need.
Now I’m going to talk about using timers with your kids and I want to preface it with this: be careful. Depending on how you present the use of the timer and the temperament of your kids, it could stress them out and that is not what we’re going for here. So use caution and make it fun.
5. Get places on time
As my kids get older I run them around more. Which means I have to work hard to be on time.
So I started setting a timer to go off when we need to get ready to leave. Sometimes it’s 5 minutes because we just need to put on shoes and walk out the door. Other times it’s 20 minutes so we can gather up all the things we need.
When I set an alarm I don’t have to watch the clock because a beep will tell me it was time to go. And now I’m on time much more often.
6. Finish a task in a reasonable time
“Let’s see how much cleaning you can get done in 10 minutes!” is way more effective than “Go clean your room.” In the same way timers help motivate us grown ups to get moving, it also does for kids. Setting limits on time helps kids mentally break tasks down into smaller chunks they can handle. Cleaning their room for 10 minutes is much less daunting than cleaning their entire room. You might need to set more than one timer for a task but at least the job gets done, and faster.
When a kid has been dragging her feet on something, set a timer. It’s not too late to get them motivated!
When setting a timer, set your child up for success and encourage them to beat the timer. It can be an empowering experience. And when they don’t beat the timer, it’s a great way to show them how they could have used their time better and help them realize they need to focus on the work at hand.
7. Leave somewhere without a meltdown
I give my kids at least a five minute warning before we leave some place I know they don’t want to leave. I set the timer and give them warnings as it counts down and when it beeps, it’s time to go. Less tears, less screaming, and the timer is the bad guy telling them they have to leave, not mom.
Using a timer has streamlined aspects of homemaking for me and taken other things off my mind. It’s freed up some mental space and allowed me to focus more on the things that require my attention and kept me from watching the clock or nagging my kids. It’s also opened up time for self-care that I didn’t think existed.
I’d call that an invaluable tool!