Every now & then you stumble upon something that actually makes a difference in your life. And it sounds silly to say that about a set of kid’s hourglass timers, but I’d be lying if I said they hadn’t rocked our world by helping get our kids to clean up after themselves.
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(Here’s the link to the hourglass timer set we have in case you want to skip the article…but I’d “buy now” & then come back & read. Some solid Mom hacks in this one.)
As parents, we were struggling to get our kids to clean up. That’s how it all started.
I’m a big believer in letting kids make messes & play & use their imaginations in the biggest & best ways. I love that part of childhood. But if you’re going to let them play like there’s no tomorrow, that usually means them making a mess like there’s no tomorrow, too.
We’d play play play all day, but then when it was time for our kids to clean up it was basically Mission: Impossible.
They’d complain. Or fuss. Or cry. But, we’d always manage to get our kids to clean up. (Well, at least our son. Our daughter…not so much.)
The problem was how much effort it took from us—the parents—to get our kids to clean up.
It took A LOT.
If I’m being honest, it would be both easier & more peaceful if we just cleaned up everything by ourselves every night. But what would that be teaching our kids? Not a damn thing. It’s important that they know how to clean up after themselves and it’s our job as parents to help them learn how.
So, we would basically spend 30 minutes every night trying to get our kids to clean up. (I mean just look at that mess)
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We would oversee their clean up. And not from a distance. I mean overseeing it by being right next to them in the clean up trenches, constantly saying “Okay, what about this? How about that? Does it look clean? Where does that go? Don’t just throw things in there, put them back in the right place.”
It was driving my husband and me nuts. It was exhausting us. And, it was exhausting our kids. Even the tiniest messes became big deals. Messes that should take 10 minutes for our kids to clean up would take 30. Or more.
So one night I decided I was done with being the clean-up referee & dishing out play-by-play clean up instructions. I got the biggest box I could find from the garage (luckily I had just ordered dog food on Amazon), brought it upstairs & just said, “You have 10 minutes to clean up. Anything not in the right spot after those 10 minutes will go in this box. And those toys will stay in that box until you earn them back because if it’s too much to clean up then it’s too much to play with.”
They were floored.
It mostly worked, but they kept asking if it had been 10 minutes yet. On repeat. Like every 10 seconds. So, it was still exhausting, albeit less so.
I realized we needed some kind of clean-up timer, and it hit me that an hourglass timer for kids would be ideal so they could have a visual of the time. I came across a kid’s hourglass timer set and BOOM. It was go time.
(Hallelujah for 2 day shipping.)
The night the kid’s hourglass timers got delivered, I put the 10 minute timer out & explained that the sand would take 10 minutes to empty to the bottom & after that—”time’s up.” Let me tell you, having that visual was HUGE for my kids (they’re 5 & 3 but were 4 & 2 at the time). It was crucial for the success of my new “hands off” clean up routine that they be able to monitor how much time they had left on their own.
Kids have no concept of time when they’re young. It’s one of my favorite things about having little kids, actually. Because I can say “10 minutes” to anything whether it’s 2 or 30 minutes. Or I can say it’s “almost bedtime” at 4:00 if I want. They don’t know. I’m milking that for as long as I can.
But the flip side of that is, you can’t tell them “10 minutes” & expect them to know how to manage that. That was the mistake I made the first night with the clean-up box. As soon as I introduced the kid’s hourglass timers into the mix, it was Mission: Accomplished.
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And the crazy thing is, my kids immediately loved using these timers. They loved monitoring the time progression and “warning” each other when they were getting close to running out of time.
These kid’s hourglass timers deserve total “mom hack” status. They proved so successful with getting our kids to clean up that we started using them for everything we could:
- Brushing teeth
- Taking turns with toys they both “had first”
- Screen time/tablet time
- How much longer they can play until dinner
- Brother/Sister play time before bed
The list could go on & on.
These hourglass timers for kids have become one of my favorite mom hacks—for everything from getting our kids to clean up to getting them to play nicely together.
I love all the time options in our kid’s hourglass timer set because there’s the perfect timer for everything.
1 minute brushing teeth. 3 minutes with the “toy of the moment” before they have to switch. 5 minutes until dinner. 10 minutes to clean up. 15 minutes to clean up a big mess. 20 minutes to play before we have to get ready for bed. 30 minutes of brother/sister time before tuck-in. Or tablet or screen time. The options are endless.
And my favorite thing about using the kid’s hourglass timers is that it leaves zero room for questions.
No more “How much longer?” or “Is it almost time?” or “Is it my turn yet?” The timers speak for themselves. Which means I might can finally catch my breath. And somehow my kids listen—like really listen—to those inanimate silent timers. Even better than they listen to me.
And you know what? I don’t even care. I’m totally calling it a win.
(Gets yours here: Kid’s Hourglass Timer Set)
Want more Mom Hacks? —> Check out my Kids Charcuterie Board dinner hack (yes, dinner)!
And don’t miss my potty-training tips & my kids’ different potty-training experiences (plus everything you need).
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