In our house, I have decided, every room needs an egg timer.
Maybe not a fuschia pink one, but a timer nonetheless. I love this twisty egg-shaped timer. Simple, mechanical, no batteries required. It makes a motivating tick-tock and a satisfying, loud rrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing.
In the kitchen my pink timer is used, naturally, for baking cakes, steaming vegetables, and warming baby milk. And, originally enough, for boiling eggs.
Lately, the egg timer has been on regular outings to the schoolroom. It has timed arithmetic drills, such as 10 quick mental maths sums in under a minute; sometimes it has been beaten, and other times its ring has been victorious. This trick really peps up arithmetic for a competitive child. If he is not as capable at writing as he is at the maths itself, run it as an oral test. (Our eldest will take twice as long to write the answers as to give them orally.) It’s also been used for beat-the-clock writing exercises.
At the dinner table, children who have heard there is pudding can still take a few millennia to finish eating their vegetables. Not so with the trusty egg timer. Two minutes to clean the plate, or dessert is off the menu: works a treat.
It has also been known to head upstairs, where it helps out at bathtime by reminding children when their shift in the tub is up. In our house it’s 10 minutes each to scrub up and have a splash.
After they’re out and in their pyjamas it shows them how agonisingly long 3 minutes seems when you’re brushing your teeth. Trouble is, once it’s upstairs it doesn’t always make it back down, and then the next day’s three-minute egg for is a bit of a gamble.
I have set the egg timer during chores for the son who, I kid you not, can take 45 minutes to unload a dishwasher. And only last week, to ensure that stripping down and re-hanging the airer didn’t taker the young’uns a full hour, I set it to 15 minutes, offering a piece of licorice if they could beat the buzzer.
Heading out of the house (as any parent of more than one child knows) can feel like a marathon, or a battle, or banging your head against a brick wall. Heralded by an ominous shout from me: “Loos and shoes!” it is usually followed by at least 30 minutes of high-octane distraction and trampling all over each other. I have a hunch that an egg timer and pack of licorice could knock this one on the head.
Really, the humble egg timer could be put to good use in any number of situations where children, or indeed adults, are struggling to focus. Stripping beds, setting the table, tidying up the floor. You name it.
I’m off to buy a couple more.