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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Timers are a Mom's Best Friend

The heck with diamonds -- I've never been much into them anyway. (Maybe it's those creepy DeBeers commercials, the ones with the bejeweled shadow figures. Always made me think of the shadow imprints that remained after nuclear holocaust. Or perhaps it's simply that a diamond's glitter is far too glam for me. Besides, there are many other ways I'd rather spend that kind of money.)

These days, timers are this girl's best friend.

I have a basic countdown model that looks like this:

I originally bought it back when I was working as a professional artist's model and needed to time my poses. (The 20 minute poses were the most challenging.) Now, it is one of my most important parenting tools. I use it for so many things! Stuff like:
  • time-outs
  • time-ins
  • countdowns
  • potty training

I first started using the timer with BJ when we began instituting "time-outs" as a disciplinary tactic. Initially, the whole time-out thing was too much fun to be much good, due to the novelty of the timer (Push Buttons! Beeps! and, most importantly, Numbers!) but now that he's used to it, the threat of a time-out is often enough to get him to stop doing whatever he shouldn't be doing. (Pulling the cat's tail, poking at BB, eating birdseed from the feeder...)

I find that using the timer works much better than just watching the clock, because it keeps me to my word. BJ is (so far) really good about sitting through the entire time-out, and I think it's because thanks to the timer two minutes doesn't become five when I get distracted with changing BB's diaper.

I began doing special "time-ins" after BB was born, to (hopefully) stave off jealousy issues with BJ. When BB is napping and I get the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with BJ, I'll say, "It's a time-in! Special Mommy and BJ Time!" And I'll set the timer for some amount of time that I can be reasonably sure of being able to devote to play with him. Sometimes I'll do this without the timer, too, so he doesn't feel like our time together always has to be on the clock. BJ really likes the Special Time, with or without the use of the timer. He's taken to announcing them on his own; when we were out watering plants this evening, he gleefully told me, "It's special Mommy and BJ time giving plants a drink!"

I began doing what I call "countdowns" out of desperation, after BB arrived and I needed a new way to cue BJ that Mommy Was Busy. (Pleading or yelling just wasn't gonna cut it anymore.) If I needed to do something like check email or make a phone call, I'd set the timer with enough time (and to spare) to get done whatever needed to get done. Usually nothing over five minutes. Then I'd tell BJ I needed a countdown, and assure him I'd be done by the time the beeper went off. This works brilliantly, so long as I stick to the agreement and don't try to buy more time. Often, he can be entertained simply by watching the numbers change. As the seconds tick off, he goes into his rocketship routine: "Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven! Six! Five! Four! Three! Two! One! Blastoff!" (And then does it all over again with the next ten seconds. He will do this dozens of times, given the chance. The kid does love his numbers!)

This morning, I discovered another great way to use the timer. We've started potty training in earnest, with today being his first opportunity to wear Big Boy Underwear instead of diapers. He went the entire morning, from about 9 am to noon, without a single accident. I set the timer to remind us every 45 minutes for him to try to use the training potty, and he had a great time running to the bathroom whenever it went off. (Peed every time, too! Yay BJ!) Before nap, he wanted to put back on the diapers, which fit in perfectly with my master plan anyway.

So I put away the timer for a while, but I was sure to put it someplace I'll be able to find it easily. Heaven knows what I'd do if I misplaced it!

1 comment:

SeasideQuilts said...

Great post! I 'll have to remember your ideas for the future.