That evening I am elbow-deep in ground turkey when Will and the checkers reappear. "Darn! This kid has the worst timing," I think to myself. But remembering my loser-mom moment, I say, "I'm making burgers right now, but I'd love to play with you when I'm done."
He gets a look on his face that screams, "Here we go again!" So to seal the deal, I add, "Why don't you set the kitchen timer for five minutes? When it beeps, I'm all yours."
This little idea turns out to be one of the best I've had in a while. Will thinks it's cool that he gets to set the timer, and he loves watching the minutes tick away as I race to prepare dinner. I get to finish what I'm doing and still keep my promise. A win-win!
Three years later, this simple gadget is still working miracles around our house. Both my husband, Jay, and I use it to help the kids stay on schedule. And since, like all moms, I'm always in the middle of something, I often have the kids set the timer when they want my extended, undivided attention. The five-minute interval teaches them to respect my time and lets me wrap up what I'm doing so that I can focus on them. The result: no more broken promises. The boy and the girl on the checkers box have never been more proud.
Photo: Susan M. Schwieterman clocks time with her crew in Dayton, Ohio.
Originally published in the October 2012 issue of FamilyFun magazine.