For a few months now I've been using a kitchen timer for some things and it's been phenomenal.
Let me explain.
Children, young ones, don't understand the concept of time. They don't know what it means, how long it is, what it is. You have to teach it to them. (Duh!) You say, "Five minutes of time out!", and they come back 5 seconds later saying, "I'm done crying now!" Hmm. That doesn't work. Or in Anthony's case, you tell him to tell So-And-So's mom that he has to be home in one hour, and he never shows up and you have to go and find him. (And then forget that he is so young and feel justified in being mad....but then you realize that it would be more reasonable to get mad at yourself for not getting a clue sooner.)
Enter the kitchen timer. And not those handy egg ones that you twist and that "ding!" when the time is up. (Little fingers figure out how to adjust those for more time! They're smart enough to figure that out!) The digital ones are the best. They also let the kids start to see and understand the idea of time running out.
Here is a list of some of the things that we use this handy little gadget for:
~Set the timer for a specified amount of time and send it with your little one when he runs out the door. (They even make one that vibrates and lights up along with beeping, to let them know that their time is up!)
~Video game and computer time. Invaluable! They lose track of time so easily, and could very easily sit there mesmerized all day.
~Length of shower. Anthony likes to just stand under the hot water forever. Now he knows that if the timer goes off, he had better be clean, or he'll just get out of the shower dirty! (Good for teaching about not wasting time!)
~Taking turns with a toy. You all know how that goes...
~Quiet time! I just started this today, and oh my goodness I'm so glad I did. Anthony stayed in the bedroom and played quietly, while Anneliese cried and threw a fit and then promptly fell asleep on the floor. How great is that. I was able to read a few chapters of a book. So neat!
~Time for picking up toys. Pick up as much as you can in whatever amount of time. Don't do a long time though. Make it short and multiple times throughout the day, that way it becomes like a game.
~Counting down till we have to leave the house. (I was thinking that will be good for when Kevin is home too because he's always running late:)
I'm sure there are other things I use it for, but I can't think of them right now. But the point is that it has been a great tool for us. Maybe it would work for you too!