Monday, March 26, 2012

The Kitchen Timer: For Play And Parenting

Do you have a kitchen timer? If not, by the end of this post you might just want to run out and get one. They are really helpful outside of the kitchen. Oh, and they can be fun! My family uses a timer in a lot of different ways, and it is honestly one of my favorite tools. R is quite fond of the timer as well. It's marvelous for both play and parenting.

The Play:

There are lots of different ways you can use a timer for play. We've thought of a few that I'd like to share.

  • Use a timer during dress up play. You can easily extend dress up play with the use of a timer. Turn it into a game!

  • Play hide and seek with the timer. Set the timer for a few minutes as you hide it someplace clever. Can you hear the ticking? Have the kids search for the timer in hopes of finding it before it dings! For more difficulty (and fun) do this outside. 

  • Have a no laughing contest. The rules are no talking and no laughing. I usually make a big deal out of it and say "Absolutely no laughing, no chuckles, no giggles.." Sit in a circle facing one another. Set the timer for a minute and try to make each other laugh. Make some funny faces! Act silly! R really gets a kick out of this game and asks to play it almost every night.

  • Play the "How Many?" game. Set the timer for a minute. How many times can you hop sideways over that line? How many balls can you make in the basket? How many blocks can you stack?

The Parenting:

The humble timer is also a fabulous tool for parents. We've used a timer for various reasons since R was a toddler. He has always responded well to it and it has helped out in a lot of situations. Here's a few ways the timer saves my day.

  • Use the timer to limit time spent watching TV, playing video games, or anything else that needs limits. I find that when I set the timer and tell R that he may do that activity until the timer dings, he isn't begging for more time when it's time to stop. It sets a clear limit. Very, very handy.

  • Set the timer so that they may see how much time they have left on any activity that is not enjoyed. We used the timer when we had to patch R's stronger eye for an hour a day. He absolutely hated his patch time for awhile, in spite of my best efforts at making it fun. He would constantly ask how much longer he had to wear it. We set the timer and his constant questions were a thing of the past. He knew exactly when he could take it off. You could also use this method with imposed quiet times. Set the timer for the amount of time they are to be playing quietly by themselves. When the timer goes off they know that quiet time is over and they can go back to being underfoot. :)

  • Race against the clock during clean up. Make it a game to have all toys put away before the timer buzzes. Not only does it make clean up more fun, it speeds the process along.

  • Use the clock to set standards for yourself. We sometimes use our timer to time our outside play. We try to get at least an hour a day of outside play, but I admit that some days I just don't feel like being out there. On those days I am tempted to come in early, so I set the timer for an hour and commit to being out there for the entire time. Use it to encourage yourself to play with your child and really focus on them when they choose an activity that isn't your favorite. And by all means, if the time runs out and you are having fun and could play longer, ignore the ding!

Are you sold on the benefits of using a timer for a tool in both play and parenting? We would definitely miss ours!

Do you have any creative uses or tips for using timers? Please let me know in the comments!


  1. I honestly don't have a timer like this. I have been meaning to get one. After reading this post, I will have to get one the very next time we are out. Some very creative ways to use it here :)

  2. And then there is the timeout timer. I was amazed at his willingness to cooperate with staying until the timer went off vs until I told him his time was up.

    Our timer looks like a rubber Dickie and quacks!

  3. Aaack! Autocorrect kills me! Duckie!

  4. We are potty training our young toddler and use the timer to tell her when it is time to try potty. I also use it when I need her to transition from one activity to the next. It is much easier to transition if she hears "mommy's phone beeping" than if I tell her that it is time to do something.

  5. Such great tips! We use a kitchen timer, but not for anything fun! We will say, okay, when the timer goes off, it's time for bed, or time to put on your shoes, or whatever it is that they don't want to do. I love your ideas for the games. Thanks for sharing!! :-)

  6. Let me know if it changes your life, Growing a Jeweled Rose :) Haha. I would really miss ours :)

    Thank you for stopping by, Nil Zed! I would love a duckie timer that quacks! That's so neat! And I agree about it totally changing their willingness to cooperate :)

    And wow, Sarah! Using it for potty training is a GREAT idea! I love both of your ideas.

    Thanks, Mommy With Selective Memory! That's a great way to use it!

  7. What a wonderfully simple but fantastic idea !

    Sue Atkins
    Author of Parenting Made Easy

  8. Thanks, Sue! I'm so glad you liked it :) I really *love* our timer!

  9. We use the timer for bath time during the school week. My daughter loves the tub. I set it for 15 minutes during the week, but Friday & Saturday she can stay in as long as she likes. Here's another good bathtub tip: When she was younger I would measure out shampoo and conditioner into medicine cups before her bath. It wastes less and helped her feel like a big girl washing her hair without my help. Now I put it in pump bottles and that works great too.

  10. Thank you so much for those wonderful tips, Anonymous! I love those.


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