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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

« Lock up your daughters | Main | The trauma of Movie Night. »

After writing this post, I will sleep until June.

I've been under a little under the weather, over here. I had a … procedure whose details I will keep from you, because I don't want you to have to know. I want you to sleep the sleep of people who are unaware that doctors do BAD THINGS LIKE THAT. I'll change the subject now. No, wait, I just want to say: OW. YEEESH. Also: OW.

Now here I am, feeling bad but not bad enough for Scott to stay home and tend to me, damn it. Only bad enough to sigh deeply and clutch my abdomen whenever I think Scott might be looking.

As a result of my state of discomfort and post-traumatic stress, everything around me has turned to chaos. School forms didn't get filled out, dinner didn't get made last night, Henry's socks are on the coffee table . The unholy combination of cat and dog hair, which until this day could be beaten back to the corners and shadows of the house, has taken over. I full expect this cat/dog amalgam to start demanding dinner.

Today I was lying on the couch staring at the horrors around me, trying to motivate myself to get something done. Then a voice spoke unto me: USE THE TIMER. The timer, that great motivator of small children, which has gotten Henry to accomplish such Herculean tasks as putting on his pants or folding napkins for dinner. So I set the timer! I set it for ten minutes, and for those ten minutes I cleaned up, and do you know what? At the end of that ten minutes, my house actually appeared clean (not that it was, but never mind that) and I felt like I had accomplished something! Then I went back to sleep for another hour or three.

I used the timer all day. With the help of my new friend Timey the Timer (yeah, I gave him a name) I emptied the dishwasher (then napped), made soup (then had a brief snooze) , paid some bills (insert synonym for falling asleep), attempted to write something but fell asleep within seconds (oh well).

In conclusion, this timer shit works! Also, I am no more complex than my five-year-old. Actually, who am I kidding, he's more complex than I could ever hope to be.

Reader Comments (33)

feel better soon!
March 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkat
Yup, timers work. We all are as easy to trick as little kids. Flylady advocates their use unceasingly.
March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSuburbanCorrespondent
Shouldn't someone be tending to you?? I once had a doctor do something which sounds similar and I was told I needed to take to my couch. And I did.. even though I had an 18 month old running amuck. I was finally permitted to hire someone to help clean up for a few hours a day..worked wonders.
March 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterizzy's mama
Rock on! I totally use timers for stuff when I'm having motivational issues.

I think there's just something innate in us that won't allow us to lose. Even if the rules are self-set.
March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThursday's Child
I hope that you feel better soon, Alice. I kind of do a timer in my head thing -- (this event will last only 2 hours. I can do 2 hours.) Works pretty well... until I eventually go back to work for 8 hours at a time.
March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJaycee
I had a similar procedure and asked the P.A. if his childhood self dreamed of doing that particular job when he grew up--he didn't appreciate my humor...

Hope you feel better tomorrow, and yeah, timers rock :)
March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterReverie
Oh, I hope you feel better soon. And timers do rock. In fact, I think I may just spend some quality time with mine and see how the kitchen looks when we're done.
March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNora
Timers are the only way my son gets his homework done. After several nights of fighting for over two hours and simultaneously trying to take care of a newborn and fix dinner, I stumbled upon the magic that is the timer. Homework now takes a lot less time, and my son is working toward a new Leapster game.
March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlana
Thank you for opening up my eyes to the wonder that is the timer. No snark here, I'm being serious- I never even considered using a timer until reading this. Productivity here I come!
March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJuicyBit
Always looking for new uses for my cute, little McTimer.
March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAll Adither
My motivational trick is the phone--I can talk to my MIL for two hours, all the while cleaning the house. Two chores accomplished at one time!
March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJenn @ Juggling Life
Ooooh. I love practicing psychology on myself. I can't tell you how many things I've gotten me to do all for the promise of a beer or a naughty dessert or...

Feel better. I may have to get one of these timers that you speak of.
March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThe Window Seat
I'm with JuicyBit -- somehow I've honestly been missing out on this. My goodness, what you've saved me in the cost of motivational books and stress!
March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLinda
The trouble is I'd spend an awful lot of the allotted time checking on the timer to see how much time was left.
March 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
Brilliant! Think it would work on husbands?
March 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkristi
The timer! What an excellent motivator, I will have to attempt this with my 3 year old whose only familiarity with the timer is, 'the beep that means time-out is over'.

Feel better soon.
March 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCasey
I hope you get to sleep a lot! I have to go get a rather big surgery but I'm putting it off because a 4 year old, an 8 month old and a husband are too much to look after and the surgery would require me to be bed ridden for a few weeks.

Feel better.
March 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermamaloo
I've done something similar. I didn't use a timer, but I would tell myself, "Just do this one little thing. That's it. Then stop and wallow in misery some more." As you might have guessed, I've mostly employed this technique when I've been depressed, not recovering from any sort of procedure. Anyway! As you noticed, it really does work. For me, it's been very helpful because then I actually end up feeling sort of good about myself because, hey, I finally did that thing I've been meaning to do for hours days months.

Another thing that's helped me is this concept called "constructive living." One of the basic premises is that you don't need to feel like doing something in order to do it. Doing it and feeling like doing it are completely separate. Revolutionary!

Not that you care about any of that. Only I care. I also care about you feeling better soon - I hope you do.
March 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSonja
sounds like not that I would know. because I am much, much too cool for goofy motivational acronyms.

March 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkyran
Take it easy, and feel better soon!
March 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBipolarlawyercook
I have a guess as to what your procedure was, because I'm remembering a procedure I had a couple of years ago when I still thought that I had a chance of a second baby. Everyone said it wouldn't be a big deal and THEY ALL LIED. It hurt for DAYS. Never again! The only place I'll now let dye near my body is on my HEAD, and no matter how bright my hair turns, it's not radioactive. I am all sympathy, Alice.

I play the timer trick on myself, too, but I use the microwave, and see how many dishes I can unload or counters I can clear before the microwave beeps at me. Bonus: I get rewarded with food or pipin' hot coffee!
March 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSummer
I am a complete believer in the timer.

Unfortunately, when I use it, I set it for 10 minutes of play time, and then about 30 seconds of cleaning up time. So it takes a lot longer to actually appear that I've done anything.'s progress.
March 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCandy
hmmm...I'll try to remember the timer next time I can't move myself from the couch.

Hope you feel much better and very soon!
March 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkelly
We struggle with ADD (me) and ADHD (my son) at our house. I could never really stick with flylady, but her timer suggestion has been a life- and sanity-saver. In situations where the timer isn't necessarily appropriate, like at work or when judgemental relatives are around, I use music or the TV to keep myself going. I can fold laundry until the next commercial break. I can work on this stupid spreadsheet until this song on my ipod is over. Back to the stupid spreadsheet ...
March 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSteph
Oh god. You're not going to turn into flylady, are you?

(Actually, maybe I'll pick up an egg-timer this wkd...)
March 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenternate

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