It started with baths. The Kid was having awful trouble leaving his evening play time to get in the tub and wind down for bed without having a huge, meltdown-y tantrum. One night, in desperation, Sweet Husband set the timer on his phone. "You get 5 more minutes, but when this alarm goes off, it's time for bath."
In due course, the alarm buzzed. Not even joking--the Kid looked up, put down what he was playing with, and headed for the bathroom, with his wide-eyed parents looking at each other over his head in amazement.
As you can imagine, the timer has since become a very familiar and well-loved device. The only place I'm a little uncomfortable with it is at breakfast.
Some background. Dinner is a nice long meal at our house. Lunch is eaten away from home during the week, and is often more of a snack on the weekends. (We like our big weekend breakfasts and Sunday dinners--who needs lunch with all of that?) But our weekday breakfasts are a practical, no-nonsense meal.
Sweet Husband typically gets up about 7, and cooks the Kid an egg, some toast, and a little fruit. By 7:20 or 7:30, I'm wandering down--hopefully about 75% dressed and ready--to join their meal-in-progress. At 7:45, it's time for the Kid to get his face wiped and get dressed for the day, so that we can be out the door a little after 8.
Our schedule had worked well, until about two weeks ago. All of a sudden, the Kid has started eating breakfast sooooo slowly. He eats a bite...talks a bit...pushes food around his plate...talks a little more....it's painful. If we ask him if he's finished, he'll say "no" and protest if we try to take away his plate. But he's eating, like, one bite every 5 minutes. Giving him more time doesn't seem to help, either--he's happy to dawdle longer to fill it.
This morning--again, in a bit of desperation--I finally set the timer. "You have 5 minutes, bub, then I'm taking your plate away and we're getting dressed for school." He goofed-off the entire time, but when the timer went off, he didn't say a word when I fed Moe his remaining egg and toast.
I realize my guilt over this probably has more to do with my own issues than his. After years of 10 minute school lunches, I still have to really think about it not to gobble down my food. On the other hand, I can't still be sitting at the breakfast table with the Kid at lunch time.
Mulling over which was the lesser evil on the drive between home and school, I decided that if we're going to have a timer for meals--even if it's only breakfast--it needs to be set to really, truly give the Kid a reasonable amount of time to eat.
Which leads to the question. Because I know that I have a nice quorum of smart parents often stopping by here--what is a reasonable amount of time for a 2-year-old to eat breakfast? Half an hour feels about right to me, and is doable for us most mornings. But would 45 minutes be better? Or does 30 minutes feel laughably excessive? Chime in if you have thoughts.