I was asked what it’s like to be a new mother. What is it like? It’s awesome! And also: really difficult! I remember a day shortly after my oldest child Ralph was born, I was feeling so good that day, so accomplished. I started thinking about WHY I was feeling so good and realized it was because I had managed to shower. When it hit me that my big accomplishment for the day was showering, I could not have been more shocked! I realized I needed to change the way I approached the day — that my pre-baby methods weren’t going to work any more.

One of the things that really helped me adjust to my new parenting life, and find some sort of work-life-balance, was figuring how to use smaller blocks of time. I might have an hour’s worth of laundry to wash and fold and put away, but I didn’t have a full hour to dedicate to it. Instead, I had to grab 15 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes during the baby’s nap, 5 after dinner and another 10 minutes when the baby was in bed. It’s not ideal, but for me, it has become second nature.

Taking advantage of small bits of time is actually one of my favorite parenting tricks. I’ve found that even a bit as small as 3 minutes can offer enough time to make me feel like I accomplished something practical and useful that day.

Five things I love to do when I find myself with 3 spare minutes:

1) Make an appointment. I always have an appointment that needs to be made — for the doctor or dentist, or for a haircut. And it doesn’t have to be an appointment. ANY practical (short) phone call is perfect. Today, I made a phonecall to order more firewood.

2) Read a book to June. Pat the Bunny only takes about 60 seconds. I can read it 3 times and June feels loved and attended to.

3) Put in a load of laundry.

4) Sit still and put myself in a better mood by doing something centering like deep breathing or a little prayer.

5) Check on my family’s blogs. : )

How about you? Do you work with small increments of time? What would you do if you had 3 spare minutes? I’d love to know!

P.S. — I bought the watch at top for Ben Blair at Muji. I love that the face is so simple!