Never Underestimate What a Parent Will Do

Published October 01, 2015

There’s not much we won’t do for our kids, is there? Do you recognize the colorful egg-like shapes in the photo? If you’re a parent who’s spent any time watching your kids participate in outdoor sports you really should know what they are --- and how to order one! 

Great inventions come from parents wanting to help and support their kids!

You all know the story of how Time Timer got started. A little more than twenty years ago, Time Timer inventor Jan Rogers realized that in order to understand the basic concept of time, children needed to see it. She knew that her own daughter, Loran, couldn’t relate the changing numbers on a digital display to “how long now?” or use them to visualize how much time has passed. After experimenting with different options, she hit on the simple solution of a red disk that disappeared as time elapsed. This was something a child could see. And understand.

Wanting to do more than simply teach her daughter, Jan gave her a tool that allowed her to take ownership of certain blocks of time, which gave her a sense of empowerment. Instead of constantly being told and reminded that it was time to go or time to stop doing something, all Loran had to do was glance at the Time Timer. If the red was getting close to disappearing, she knew time was just about up. Before long, these timers were making their way into classrooms and homes around the country. Today, Cincinnati-based Time Timers are found in more than 50 countries all over the world.

The idea for “Under the Weather” tents came much the same way to another Cincinnati resident, Rick Pescovitz, a soccer dad with three very active kids. In his own words:

under the weather tentIn March 2011, my son’s team traveled from Cincinnati, Ohio to Richmond, Virginia for a soccer tournament. We had an 8:00 AM game, which meant we had to be at the fields by 7:00 AM. I set up my trusty soccer chair at midfield, ready for action. It was 29 degrees, coupled with what felt to me like Hurricane winds and freezing rain blowing in my face. I was bundled up with blankets, parkas, gloves, etc. I was still cold. We were all cold. By half time the temperature had warmed up to a sultry 35 degrees but with the warmer temperature came a heavy rain. The most frightening moment of that day was when I looked across the field at the Port-O-Let and it looked very inviting!

After the long, cold, wet weekend, my son and I packed up the car and headed 600 miles back home. I couldn’t get the nasty weather, or the Port-o-let, out of my mind and that is when the idea of creating a fully-enclosed tent in which a soccer chair could fit popped into my head.”

That experience led to several years of sketches, prototypes and backyard testing. They now have a product line so popular that they sometimes have difficulty keeping up with demand.

And it all started because a dad wanted to be there to support his kids. Just like a mom was determined to help her daughter.

Tags: teaching timer, learn to tell time, concept of time, weather tent

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Time to Shift into Airplane Mode

Published September 24, 2015

This week brought us the official start to the fall season. I’m sitting at my desk with the windows in my office wide open and I love it! There’s a breeze gently moving the curtains and I won’t be owing the local utility company a dime for AC today. What could be better than that?

Actually…nice as all of this seems, there is a catch. As so often happens with changes that come with all sorts of wonderful aspects, there is a flip side. You might even call it a “dark” side.

Now that the weather is perfect for going out and doing things, my phone calls, emails and text messages from friends suggesting activities and outings have increased dramatically. Add that to the normal work-related communications that come in on a daily basis and my work day can be seriously derailed. For someone who is far too easily distracted anyway, this is something I have to make a conscious effort to control.

There are numerous articles and productivity gurus preaching about the amount of time and efficiency sacrificed through email and other disruptions. Most offer basically the same advice. Set a couple of times during the day to read email and return phone calls and ignore them the rest of the day. This does work and it’s a perfect opportunity to use your Time Timer. You do have one in your office, right? I know there was a time before I had the Time Timer PLUS on my desk but I honestly can’t imagine how I ever got anything done without it. It’s exactly the tool I need when I want to totally focus on a project --- especially one that I’m struggling getting started or don’t really want to do. Knowing I only have to work until that red disk is gone does amazing things for my motivation and, believe it or not, often pulls the plug on whatever is blocking creative ideas.

Honestly, though, as great as this works most of the time, there are days when more drastic measures are called for. This week, when the windows were open and my phone wouldn’t stop ringing or dinging, I knew I needed to go to the next level. This wasn’t my original idea and I can’t remember who to give the credit to but it’s definitely a powerful strategy. I call it “switching to airplane mode”.

You’ve seen and probably used the airplane mode setting on your phone or laptop when you were flying. Doesn’t seem to be as big a deal for airlines as it used to be, but it can be an incredibly powerful concept to apply to your life. You will need to plan it so that you aren’t ignoring important meetings or taking yourself out of communication at crucial times. Basically, common sense prevails here. But, once you’ve done that, putting yourself in a “no signal” type of zone for a day can make a huge difference. Turn off the phone and disable your network connections just like you were in the air on an international flight.

Not everyone can do this and if the “connectivity withdrawal” symptoms are too big a deal then it will defeat the purpose. Although, that might be something you want to give some extra thought… But, for those who can work this into their schedule one day a week, or even just once in a while, it can have a tremendous boost on productivity not just during that day but also carry over to the rest of the time.

Certainly worked for me! My airplane mode day helped me finish two projects and get a big start on one I’ve been procrastinating on for weeks. And, maybe even more important, I was able to return some of those calls and make plans for the weekend without my usual twinges of “I really should work” guilt.

Give it try --- and Happy Autumn!

Tags: project timer, work timer, office timer, autumn, productivity timer

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Hey, Dude! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Published September 17, 2015

This is Midway, a young loggerhead turtle found on a sandbar off the coast of South Carolina. Too weak to make it back into the water. Basically, dying.

I’m not good at suspense. I will watch the end of a scary movie peeping through my fingers as I hold my hands over my eyes or over the top of a blanket that I must somehow believe is protecting me from whatever is going to happen. So let’s just skip to the end here and tell you that, for Midway, this story has a happy ending. After being rescued and rehabilitated by the good folks at the South Carolina Aquarium, Midway was released back into the ocean this week.

Whenever I read about sea turtles, I always think about Crush and his irrepressible son, Squirt, in Finding Nemo. When asked how old he was, Crush’s response was:

“A hundred and fifty, dude!”

I honestly don’t know how long these wonderful sea creatures live and I’m not sure that a conversation between one and a clown fish is a reliable source. But I do know that it’s not unusual for one like Midway to live well beyond fifty years. At least, that used to be more common than not. Unfortunately, for awhile now, not only has that been changing but, in fact, all seven sea turtle species are considered endangered or threatened. Much of this can be blamed on commercial fishing practices, predators, boat strikes and increased development near their birthing areas.

None of that, however, stranded Midway on that sandbar. There is another major threat to all sea life, and that is our out-of-control pollution.  Midway had more plastic in his system than aquarium staffers had ever seen in a sea turtle. And not just more in volume, they actually identified more than ten different types of plastic. According to the National Geographic, eight million tons of plastic are being dumped into the ocean every year. And that is expected to increase exponentially.

Even if the plight of sea turtles isn’t high on your priority list (hard as that may be to believe – did you not watch Nemo?), all of that plastic contains chemicals and they are being consumed by what ultimately becomes our own source of food. This isn’t a problem we can ignore, and it’s not going to go away by itself --- at least, not any time soon.

We talk about time a lot. Time Timers help us understand time and teach our children how to get along in the world as they relate to others and to activities based on “how long” something lasts or “how much” time is left. But, when we talk about the environmental effects of plastics and other materials we thoughtlessly discard, there’s no way to set our disappearing red disk to grasp the enormity of the situation.

Here are some estimates by the National Park Service of how long it takes different materials to degrade:

Makes you stop and think, huh? But isn’t it nearly impossible to imagine the world without many, if not most, of the things on this list? Obviously, solutions aren’t easy but I think we can do better. The same mantra that’s been around for years still makes sense – reduce, reuse and recycle. Especially, recycle. According to the nonprofit Worldwatch Institute, here in the U.S., we recycle less than ten percent of the plastic bottles we use and less than one percent of the 100 billion plastic bags we take home from stores every year.

I don’t about you, but I doubt that I will ever even consider simply throwing away a plastic bottle again, rather than making the effort to find a recycle container, without thinking about Midway. He may never make it to 150, but if a couple extra steps on my part will give that “little dude” a better chance for a longer and happier life, it seems like the least I can do.

Tags: red disk timer, teaching timer, project timer, child timer, transition timer

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