November 3, 2009

Timer School

I am not a natural born housekeeper.  I know how to do it, I'd just rather not.  I'd much rather be reading or sleeping or getting a root canal or languishing in a prison during the French Revolution than do housework.   I should have a better attitude about it, I really should.  And I'm grateful I have a house and that it needs work.  But the honest truth is I hate cleaning it, and it always seems to need to be cleaned.  So more often than not my house looks like a tornado, or four, blew through it.  Some weeks days I just pray nobody will drop by.

When things reach the point of mom's-going-to-blow-if-things-don't-get-picked-up (that's the scientific name for it) we do Timer School.

As a rule I'm opposed to using a timer during school.  I think it's artificial and turns learning into "school".  But for Timer School we use a timer.  And I'm okay with it.  In fact I love it and just might marry it.

We set the timer for anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes.  I usually use 15 minutes because it's long enough to get stuff done without being too long.  We rotate between school, play and clean, in whatever order I feel like that day.  Yesterday we did clean, school, play.  Every 15 minutes the timer would beep and we'd immediately stop what we were doing and move to the next thing.  Most lessons were completed within that 15 minutes, but if they weren't we'd just finish them during the next round.

By the end of the day (3ish) the house had gone from disgusting pigsty disaster to pretty darn clean.  All the school work had been finished and the boys had had almost 2 hours of playtime.  I'm always amazed at how much we accomplish on Timer days.

The beauty of this is that the kids know playtime is coming so they don't complain about having to clean.  And they know there is a time limit on cleaning so it won't go on forever (which has been known to happen in this house).  I typically work during the "play" hour too, or spend it with the 3-year-old if he's needing special attention.

Today we did Timer School again to finish the house.  I'm very pleased with where we are now and think I just might be able to stay on top of it this time.  Famous last words.....


  1. What a great idea! I may just have to try that one with my kiddos. Thanks for sharing.

  2. There is a time and place for timers. And when it's that time and place they are WONDERFUL! I am so indept at cleaning my house effeciently, I use one to motivate myself. It works! I'm such a kid!