A Genius Approach to Toddler Time

My saviour for the school run, brushing teeth and getting dressed.

Like many parents, I experience the same daily battles with my 4-year-old about doing the repetitive yet important tasks of getting dressed and brushing teeth. Neither of them she particularly likes which is totally normal for this age but I was just losing patience with it all and needing a way to make it bearable, for both of us.

Then one of my NCT mum friends suggested trying Sand Timers. I quickly searched trusty Amazon and found a 6 pack of different coloured Hourglass Sand Timers (30sec / 1min / 2mins / 3mins / 5mins / 10mins). PERFECT!

A toddler can take 35 minutes to put on shoes, but can open 3 apps, delete iTunes and call your boss in less than 17 seconds. — Mums Grapevine

They arrived next day and I’m not sure who was more excited to open the box. My daughter loved the colours and lined them all up to watch the sand whilst informing me that her preschool uses them to monitor the time each child can have a turn on the much-coveted scooters and Little Tike ride on cars.

Ah of course preschool would be ahead of the game!Foxnovo Sand Clocks

We put them into practice that evening using the 2-minute timer for teeth brushing. It worked its miracle straight away, no arguments, no wriggling, no restraining, just 2 minutes of focused brushing.

Next morning it was their turn to work their magic on getting dressed. Our daughter has the worst attention span in the mornings which are usually a bit fraught trying to get out the door. She will claim she either doesn’t want to get dressed at all or has forgotten how too.

I tried the 10-minute timer and made it into a game to see if we could beat the sand. She won and we now leave the house in much better moods these days.

no arguments, no wriggling, no restraining, just 2 minutes of focused brushing

But could these timers also help with other classic modern-day parent/child tussles?

Like many households, we welcome the ‘virtual babysitter’ whether it be the TV, iPad or iPhone and our children are growing up in a society where this is becoming the norm. However, experts warn us that too much screen time is bad for our children but trying to wrestle an iPad from a pre-schooler just isn’t fun so perhaps these timers can tackle iPad time too.

We are making good progress now thanks to the timers and regularly use the 5 and 10-minute ones to monitor how much time she watches or plays on the iPad. It isn’t a perfect solution but it helps with consistency.

Whilst most children will not grasp the true concept of telling the time until late primary years these timers have helped to visualise time and understand how long tasks should take. We now use them daily and for such a small investment these little sanity-saving gadgets are definitely worth a try.

Has anyone else used timers? or have any other methods to share?


Mummy, Wife and Dog Walker. Editor, occasional Blogger and Instagrammer. Balancing life with Bootcamp, Wine and Amazon Prime.

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