Tip Tuesday: How Many Minutes Would You Like?

Today is Tuesday… and for the RMT blog, that means it’s “Tip Tuesday.”

On Tuesdays, I’m going to focus on posting short tips and tricks that have worked well for us in our daily routine. Of course, the tips may or may not work for you.  That’s the beauty of people, right (we all have different personalities and respond differently to any given situation)? So I’ll be absolutely clear: The goal of Tip Tuesday is not for me ever to proclaim I have all (any?) of the answers. I’m just going to show up here to provide a different point of view that you may have never even thought of, especially as Tantrum Tornado is about to touch down and you find yourself in the eye of the storm.

Today I thought I’d start out the Tip Tuesday series with something that just seemed apropos given the name of the blog: Timers.

I realize the suggestion of using timers is an oldie, but man, is it ever a goodie. Yes, we use timers here, a lot. We use timers as a way to transition from one activity to the next; we use them so we can leave play dates, birthday parties, park outings, and other events more happily than not; we use them for limiting TV viewing, game playing, and sometimes even book reading to a certain amount of time (my son can easily count to 29 now… so, yeah, 29 rounds of Sound Bingo or Curious George stories just isn’t going to happen before nap or bedtime); and we generally use timers to keep to a set schedule so we can be punctual when we are expected (i.e., doctor’s appointment, getting to school, etc.).

But one thing I have learned about time as I get deeper into this parenting thing is that my time is no longer just my own (DUH). More often than not as T gets older, I acknowledge that time absolutely belongs to him as well. It’s like how Spiccoli said to Mr. Hand, “If you’re here, and I’m here, doesn’t that make it OUR time?!” So as T gets older and more aware of how time works, and for those moments when we can be a bit more flexible but I still need to set a timer, I’ll ask him, “How many minutes would you like?” I’ll give him two choices that work within our (ok, my) means and that are situation-appropriate in length. I know, you are probably thinking, well, he will just choose the most amount of time, you silly, silly mommy. Well, no, not always. Actually most of the time when I do this T comes up with another number of minutes in between 15 and 20 minutes, such as 18. OK, 18 minutes it is, I’ll say, I set the phone timer (phone timer, another genius invention right there, silly alarm do-dads and all – time is up when the duck QUACKS!), and nine out of 10 times (because no 3-year-old is a timed robot), it works beautifully.

My reasoning why this works: Not only did he get to make the choice himself (from two things I was already OK with, mind you), but he also created his own limits all while negotiating and compromising at the same time. Of course he doesn’t know he did all of that, but I do.

So how many minutes would you like? I’ll let you choose for yourself.

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