parenting · time management

and sometimes I get a brilliant idea

I spend a lot of time worrying about my youngest. While he is happy, healthy, bright and good, he is also dramatic, very active, unfocused and socially young. He does have qualities that will ultimately serve him well. I have no doubt that he’ll be a good provider for his future family and that he’ll be a contributing member of society. But the road to get there is going to be long and hard…. for both of us. My sweet boy does not conform well in the public education system and to the fast paced demands of common core math and literary annotation. He’s a free spirit who prefers racing every last person out on the playground, making up games and forts and obstacle courses, and shagging balls at his sister’s volleyball game. He’s a hard worker and a devoted supporter IF he’s engaged in something he’s passionate about. He needs very specific direction, regular reminders, and frequent breaks. And he needs to have fun!

I have tried every incentive program known to man…. Just to get him to do his homework. I know that EVENTUALLY he will be capable and self-motivated enough to Just.Do.It. That time just hadn’t arrived yet. Persistence, mom….. And patience. That’s what I keep telling myself.

Earlier this week, I was suddenly struck with a simple, but brilliant idea! What if we used a timer and broke his afternoons up in to 15-minute rotations, making every 4th rotation “free time”! Anyone can stick to a task for 15 minutes!  And this would be almost game-like for him! I was so excited to share the idea with him! When I got him home that afternoon, I sat him down at the table and drew out the plan.


It didn’t take much convincing!  He jumped up, ran and got his little hamburger timer from his room, and “got busy”! It’s only been 3 days, but I can happily report that there has been considerably less hair pulling in those 3 days!

Here are my ground rules for this system:

  1. Start with free time so that you can unwind from school. (This applies to those days that we GET to come straight home from school)
  2. Any additional “free times” cannot be spent in front of the television or playing video games.
  3. If I ask you to use a rotation in a particular way, your answer needs to be “okay mom!”
  4. I am the keeper of the timer.
  5. Stay on task because “you can do anything for 15 minutes!”

He came up with the name “15-minute Flash”, and so that’s what we will call this little experiment. Sometimes I just have to pat myself on the back, and I think this is going to be one of those times. I’ll let you know how it goes!


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