Back-to-School Sweepstakes: Win a Time Timer!

Enter to win one of three Time Timer MOD + Dry Erase Boards — a great tools for managing mornings — by answering this question below: What routines, incentives, tools, and tricks does your family use to help the morning run more smoothly?

ADHD Brains Hate Mornings

ADHD brains whirl and buzz and stew and wonder late into the night; we struggle to fall asleep and, therefore, the morning almost always comes way too early. On top of that, our brains hate transitioning, and the morning routine is just painful — so many executive functions being tested all at once. If your child has ADHD — or you have it yourself — you’ve probably devised some tricks and routines and incentives to help your morning run more smoothly. Everyone is different, but we’d love to hear what works for you.

How Time Timer Helps

At all times of day, people with ADHD often need ‘external cues’ to help them stay on task, prioritize projects, and set limits. For this, a favorite tool among ADDitude readers is the Time Timer — the visual timer that has helped people manage time for more than 20 years. Now, the Time Timer® MOD + Dry Erase Board allows you to list out three to five critical morning tasks, and assign a time limit to each. Empower your children to start managing their own morning routines by timing each task and checking it off as it’s completed. Or use it to get yourself in a routine. Repeat until it’s all second nature.

The Time Timer MOD + Dry Erase Board comes with a removable Time Timer MOD and a dry erase board that includes a caddy on back to easily store dry erase markers.

Enter to Win a Time Timer

To win one of three Time Timer® MOD + Dry Erase Board (a $53.45 value each), use the Comments section below to tell us:
What routines, incentives, tools, and tricks does your family use to help the morning run more smoothly?


Monday, September 30, 2019, at 11:59 pm EST.


Only Comments posted with a valid email address will be considered valid entries. One entry per household per day. The editors of ADDitude will select two winners at random and notify them via email on Wednesday, October 2, 2019.
(Official rules)

150 Comments & Reviews

  1. What a great concept. This might be the “thing” that enables my 7 year old to complete the necessary tasks in the morning. We’ve tried stickers, velcro pictures, and even me following him around the house every step of the way. We’d love to win and give this a try!!

  2. The biggest change that has helped my daughter on school mornings is this: I have her put on the next day’s clothes, THE NIGHT BEFORE! Really! She cleans up and gets ready the night before except for her socks & shoes. She doesn’t keep track of time and gets sidetracked, so this is one thing that has helped reduce stressful mornings.

  3. Fortunately, we’re not at the stage of having to remember homework.
    To help mornings go smoothly, I try to lay out a few clothing options and there’s a lot of prompting. We currently use the big clock in our living room and he knows he has a certain amount of time to get shoes on, etc.

  4. Im a stay at home of 5 kids. We use a laminated sheet of pictures for our morning routines: hair, teeth, change clothes, eat breakfast. Even my younger kids can check the list. We still struggle with finishing everything in a timely manner though.

  5. We use Amazon Alexa timer for breakfast- to boil the egg while we get our son to a pretty streamlined routines, abolishing, put on deodorant then eating a good hearty breakfast is a must-as we are giving his ADHD meds.

  6. Routine is key in our family, my husband works nights at his job so our evening and morning routines are all on me. From when our daughter gets home with her dad to when I get off work, she has play time and down time to relax. When I get home from work, we all help with dinner and pick up, have a five minute break to get the wiggles out before sitting down to eat (which is a challenge in itself, only about a quarter of it gets eaten before we have to run around again), and then we go over her bring-home folder pieces at a time. The rest of the night is routine, melatonin, bath, story, and bed. Mornings have had to change for us lately as I have to leave earlier, so we are still trying to get a routine down for it.

  7. I use multiple alarms, a fade in light, and reminders on my phone of daily routines I need to remember. I still struggle with an efficient routine though. This timer seems helpful!

  8. I have two sons with ADHD and when school started this year, getting back into a morning and nighttime routine was a nightmare. I read about using a morning routine and bedtime routine system and after one week of trying to find shoes and make it to the bus on time, I figured I’d give it a shot. I created lists for both of my sons. I got them on board by taking them with me to the dollar store to pick out a container and marbles to put in the container. Each time they complete an item on the list, they put a marble in the container. The marbles act as points for them. When they reach 10 marbles they can earn 15 minutes of video-game time or they can bank those points for a bigger prize at the end of the week. I also purchased a Good Work sheet that we put stickers on to keep track of how many marbles they receive. Each box represents 10 marbles. By the end of the first week, my oldest son had earned 80 marbles and my youngest earned 60.We’ve only done this a week, but so far, it’s working. A timer would make it even better. My fingers are crossed that this will continue to work.

  9. This is an area where I really need help – I am drowning in the morning routine. A timer would be a great addition as time management is not working so great in our house. If i were to pick something that is working – I set the clock downstairs 5 minutes ahead so we have a buffer!

  10. What is a morning routine? What is it like not being frantic? 43 Year old single Mom + 7 year old daughter with ADHD = Crazy. Diagnosed at 40 and I still struggle on making my brain work like normal. Wait normal? HA.. normal. ADHD is my normal.

    What’s time?
    I have no concept of time!
    A timer?
    A timer sounds simply divine.
    Would it actually help?!!!
    I would love to find out.
    So I would not constantly,
    have to shout.
    Would it help my morning anxiety,
    and my frantic rush rush rush?
    Getting my daughter out in time,
    ready for the bus?
    I would like to try something different,
    maybe a timer will do.
    I like this chance of possible winning,
    ADDitude Mag, much thanks to you!

  11. I love reading all the comments because we so need help with this issue! Right now, I’m finding myself nagging him because he can’t stay on task. Especially as we get into a new school year routine, we are struggling.

  12. My daughter has an Echo speaker, so we set up a routine through the Alexa app. All someone has to do is say “Alexa, start morning routine,” and the speaker tells her everything she needs to do to get ready.

  13. To make our morning routine effective for a family of three, the night before, I pack lunch bags and prep anything needed for the morning. In the morning, I wake up first and give myself about 30 minutes to get ready (shower, breakfast, etc.) before my husband gets up and helps with our toddler. We don’t turn on the TV during the morning, as that is only a distraction. The night before, his clothes are laid out and bag packed for the next morning. Nighttime routines are key to helping the morning go smoothly!

  14. We have a morning chart with doors that open for each task. My kids have a rule that they don’t go downstairs until they are dressed. However, a timer would help I think as my son really loses track of time in the mornings and often we end up in a mad rush before the bus arrives!

  15. Over the years I have learned that successful mornings come with making sure that my children get enough sleep! They have always had a fairly early bedtime for this reason and maintained it even as they entered high school because they, themselves, came to understand sleep as an important part of their capacity to function during the day. I also use colorful signs that I move to different places to keep them novel. Signs include “Got instrument?”, “Got Lunch?”, and one for the TV screen that reads “NO TV unless you are TOTALLY ready for school.” Because of the slow to warm up to the morning idea process, I also wake them up early to give them plenty of time to get through their routine. There is nothing that ruins a morning faster than adding the panic of having to rush.

  16. What routines, incentives, tools, and tricks does your family use to help the morning run more smoothly? We use the Alexa as a timer to remind us when we have to start getting ready for school. And mom does a lot of reminding. I definitely need this in my life.

  17. My morning routines are kept the same. I give him 2 hrs of time to wake up, shower for 10 min and the rest he sits there getting his toughts together. No TV, no cell phone until he is ready for school. I get him going by asking what would he want for breakfast? After he tells me he starts moving. He hardly makes it to brush his teeth, but to me is important he eats his breakfast before the medication that takes his appetite away. Making sure he goes to sleep early and gets enough sleep.

  18. My daughter knows her morning routine and follows it, but when it comes to the time management it’s a fail. So, I continuously remind her of what she should be doing so that we leave on time. Also, her motivation this year is be on time so that we can bike to school, which I’ve also read is good before school or school work.

  19. We have a board hanging in the living room that has each morning task listed out. As they complete the task, they check it off and earn a quarter to put in their piggy banks.

  20. My mother dealt with her ADHD and 4 kids by skipping breakfast for all of us. To this day, her breakfast is just black coffee and prayer! As an adult, I know how much smoother the day goes with breakfast in me. I eliminate any choices before leaving the house. Breakfast is predetermined and ready to go, but for a quick spin in the microwave or toaster. Coffee is auto-brewed. Clothes have already been put away with the just-washed on top (drawer) or right (hangers), so selection is from the bottom (drawers) and left (hangers)—fashion be damned!! Choices are my nemesis. No choices? No problem.

  21. Have three alarms going for wake-ups, and my Tile so I can find the important stuff I have mislaid – keys, phone, pass. Clothes are folded on the dryer, and I just grab them as I need them. All pants are black or blue, so almost any tops will work with them. Have black, tan and blue shoes that can go with anything. Cuts down the stress factor. Have alerts for meds on my Outlook calendar; desk calendar to write down appts. as I make them, so I’m not calling about them later. Before I sign off for the night, I email myself reminders about anything I need to take back up in the morning. Not back to school since they’re grown, but more for me.

  22. In my family, we plan ahead by planning backwards. We know what time we have to leave in the morning and how long our various morning routines will take, therefore we have determined how early to wake up and get started. Visible checklists and verbal reminders are always a helpful addition. Using this method, we can also determine the best bedtime and develop a night time routine that makes the morning run more smoothly. Visual, color-coded schedules dominate the afternoon and ensure that homework and chores are being completed with plenty of space in our day left over for free time. I use chore bingo to incentivize the work no one wants to do, such as taking out garbage and cleaning dishes. This way, even though no one likes chores, my family is motivated to complete them and is practicing delayed gratification. As a family, we also menu plan for each week, which incidentally also helps with streamlining grocery shopping. It is important that, above all the routines, tools, and incentives, we are working together, practicing effective communication, and maintaining consistency!

  23. I have not found anything that motivates my 14-year old for more than a day or two. I have tried everything but if he doesn’t want to do it he just won’t do it. Hoping that I can find something to help our mornings to better. This has been an issue for 5+years

  24. My eight-year-old son really hates to wake up. I’ve taken to waking him once, letting my hit my head like a snooze button, and coming back 10 to 15 minutes later to REALLY wake him up. Right now, I leave his blinds open so the sunlight will start waking him but soon I’ll use the programmable sunlight lamp for that purpose. It mimics the rising of the sun and the wavelengths of light that would normally come with that. I allot quite a bit of time for waking up as it really is a tough transition. Sometimes I brush him but more often I give him a sort of squeeze-massage all over. Then – since he likes it – I smack the bottoms of his feet! Yes, he has Sensory issues too so getting the pressure helps his body and mind wake up together. Then! Then our dog starts sniffing him and tries to lick his face. My son usually puts out a hand for the dog and once he’s getting doggie kisses, he’s really waking up and ready to shower.

    He plays with the dog for a bit and then heads to the bathroom where he uses his Time Timer to time his shower time. Without a limit, he’ll stay in the shower all day. So, on his “Reward Board” the first morning item is a shower in 15 minutes or less. He’ll come out in his undies and dress while eating breakfast and playing with our dog and cats. I imagine this would look insane to most families with neurotypical kiddos, but I just roll with it. Of course, next he needs to brush his teeth and put his shoes on but with another incentive for being ready at a certain time, that usually goes well. He has the choice of putting his shoes on or brushing his teeth first. I have built-in a lot of time for the morning so that if he wants, he can hurry up (and he’ll ask me to help remind him of the time) and get to school for the morning recess time, or he’ll take it easy and make the first bell.

    His “Reward Board” has many categories that have evolved over the past couple of years. When he masters something, we ask him what else he’d like to work on. We rank rewards for the various tasks differently. For instance, the morning shower and being ready by a certain time get a green poker chip for each. Having a “Kind and Polite Words Day” gets a red chip for the first two days and then black chips for each successive day. That’s a more difficult task for him so we reward it more richly and incentivize the continued behavior. We use poker chips and he can get one just for doing something really well or without being told – I’ll just grab a chip that seems to match the magnitude of the behavior. Each chip has different value and he puts them in a bank. He can cash them in for screen time (up to a limit) or cash. He has learned that if he saves up, he can buy things he really wants! So his immediate reward is the chip itself and the ultimate reward is determined by my son.

    Our mornings have gone great so far this year – we’ve been in school over a month – and we used it all summer for camp as well. For my son, the Time Timer in the bathroom is essential and sometimes he’ll also set it for the time he wants to leave. I’m fortunate that I can give him so much time in the morning to wake and ease into his day. He is always proud of making his time goals. Oh! He packs his backpack the night before and then puts in his water bottle, lunch box, and snack bag in the morning. If he forgets something (an increasingly rare occurrence) I don’t go back for it unless I’m still on our street. Just as I would do for myself in most situations. I haven’t ever brought his forgotten lunch to school – he can buy lunch there. And forgotten homework? His teacher can decide if she wants to give him credit when he turns it in a day late.

  25. My kids have their own laminated daily routines (for morning,
    after school and bedtime). They use a dry erase marker to check off each task that’s completed. All tasks must be completed at the end of the day to earn a check mark for that day. If they have check marks for every school day that week, they get an additional bonus to their normal allowance. Our system would work better if we had a timer to help them manage their time. The checklist isn’t motivating but a beep or reminder alert would definitely get them moving. I would love to have two of these timers to keep each of them independently on track.

  26. I am adult diagnosed with AD/HD at age 42! Needless to say, I have had to find ways to work around or through my attention issues. I have trouble shutting my mind down at night. That means I don’t usually want to get up in the morning, because I have tossed and turned all night. Writing down some of the ‘worries’ as they pop into my brain at night helps me let them go to deal with in the morning when I am fresh. I also set my alarm for 5 minute intervals so that I can wake up more slowly and still accomplish what I need to do to be on time for work. I often put out my clothes (or at least decide what I will wear) the night before, and have everything ready by the front door or n my dresser so that I don’t have to search everywhere to find the essentials.

  27. Our routine to make mornings run smoothly is also being prepared. This means making sure the day before that we have breakfast and lunch food, otherwise we need to run out at night to the grocery story. Cutting up fruit like pineapple or washing grapes are done in advance so it’s easier to fill their lunch containers. Reviewing the lunch menu, so they can decide if they want to buy lunch at school or bring a packed lunch. Baths and having clothes picked out are done the night before. Completed homework and any forms we need to sign are done the evening before get put in their backpacks at night. Coffee machine is prepped at night. Their multivitamins, calcium and omega 3 supplements are put out in little containers the night before. Since my kids are little, we prep their toothbrushes with toothpaste. For my son, we incentive him with a good behavior reward and remind him that he has to have a good morning, good day at school and good evening. This seems to help him adjust his behavior. What helps too is if we make sure he gets enough sleep the night before, otherwise he’s not focused and can easily have meltdowns.

  28. We do as much the night before as we can: laying out clothes, packing her book bag, etc. But that doesn’t always work. Now, Her teacher wants to know how each morning goes so that she can reward her in some way

  29. My son is 4, almost 5, and he just started all day pre-K. Daniel Tiger is a life saver for us. All the songs that helps regulate emotions or actions have made executive function development easier to manage.

  30. My 12year old son has recently taken on the huge role of caring for the family dog. With that buddy, my son now understands that in the mornings when he needs to go potty, so does the dog. Same thing with eating and exercise, so they do more things together. My son has ADHD and caring for another (pet) has taken some of the focus off himself. Often there’s lots of bickering in a house full of testosterone but add a dog to the mix and moments become manageable.

  31. What routines, incentives, tools, and tricks does your family use to help the morning run more smoothly? My son starts out the morning with 10 rocks. If he gets off task or is naughty, he loses a rock. Any rocks left, get added to a glass of rocks. If he loses all of his rocks, he gets a consequence. When his glass is full, he gets a prize that’s worth a $1 – it could even be a dollar bill. He often picks the prizes out himself.

    When I use this system, the mornings go a lot smoother! It helps my son to visually be able to see how he’s doing.

    I want to start a list that includes putting deodorant on and a belt, because it is a battle to get him to do those things.

    1. Pack bag with all necessary items the night before and lay out clothes. Morning routine is done in same order every day– helps with automaticity. Given reminder 5 minutes before we need to leave to get on socks, shoes, jacket. If she’s ready early, can play outside or read on stairs (no going back into bedroom!)

  32. I’m having trouble getting my 14 year old to understand time sweeps and waking up in the morning without me constantly telling her to hurry up, you only have this much time left. I use a timer but she needs a visual reminder as well. I am a grandmother raising her and her brother and she just started back in junior high after not being able to deal with it two years ago.

  33. I use a routine that I actually learned as a child. My mother always encouraged me to pick out my school outfits the night before. This gave me time to switch clothes and really be comfortable with what I wanted to wear to school the next day.

    With my three daughters, I started this trend and to this day, they still pick out their clothes the day before. It has made morning routines run much more smoothly.

  34. This year my kids are going to a new school which I have to drive them to, so their schedule is a little different, but not that much different from the previous years. We have been using the same schedule for five years, which has helped a lot, but they do have to wake up earlier than they used to because their new school is further and we have to battle traffic in the morning. This year I have been using routine charts and Setting alarms for them, but it has been very hard to get them up on time. I would like to set timers for them to get through task a little bit quicker because my oldest son has issues with slow processing speed which makes it a little bit harder to get in and out of the bathroom because it takes him a lot more time to shower and wash up at a faster pace.

    I also have them pick out their school clothes the night before which is great at keeping the time for getting ready in the morning streamline, sometimes my son tries to change his clothes because he has sensory issues, but they usually does not last very long.

  35. We use a production line type procedure in the mornings. Woken by a sunrise lamp, out of bed and into the clothes at the end of the bed. Get dress, out of the room into the bathroom, toothbrush lined up ready to go, downstairs to breakfast laid out ready, shoes waiting at the bottom of the breakfast bar, hairbrush next to it, bag and coat on the back of the chair ready. If all laid out, they cannot forget as they have to pass each thing in order to get out of the door. Mine are 4&6 and I am hoping to add in their own responsibility as they reach the right age.

  36. It is very tough for me to stay focused as an adult with ADD. I try to remind myself that I can’t do the things I enjoy until I get my responsibilities done first. However, there are always distractions which make it more of a challenge. I would love to win a time timer to help me to stay on track.

  37. We encourage our kids to do the morning routine before any other activity. The faster they get it done, the more time they have for doing something they enjoy before leaving for school. We do need to remind them of this benefit every morning – and sometimes more than once! – before they remember to take advantage of it. When we (the parents) are being our best selves, we periodically check in with a non- judge mental “how is it going” and a “what is your plan for getting the routines done”.
    Not always perfect, but much more effective than the build up to yelling through the final 5 minutes before go-time, which usually resulted in a freeze-panic!

  38. What routines, incentives, tools, and tricks does your family use to help the morning run more smoothly?

    My son has a checklist list that is portable, so he can carry it around and check off as he goes. Also, the night before he gets out his outfit for the next morning and makes sure his backpack has everything it needs before he goes to bed. I also make sure he has at least 45 minutes to an hour of time to get ready in the morning. This is due to his time blindness, so instead of “hurry up, hurry up”. He has time and can go through his checklist. Video games are a huge motivator for him so he knows the quicker he gets through his morning routine then he may earn some time playing video games in the morning.

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