When I get together with a group of homeschool moms, one of the most common topics is "getting things done". I usually take the opportunity to share the ten-minute method I like to say I "developed". The truth is, I sort of stumbled into it out of desperation.
The concept is simple. You can do almost anything for ten minutes, and ten-minute increments of time add up quickly.
I've used the ten-minute method when I've had a cranky baby, when I've been sick, and during a few times when the thought of slogging through another day seemed too daunting to face.
My second child cried almost nonstop for three months. I've never been a let-babies-cry-it-out kind of mom, but I had to get comfortable with the idea that it wasn't going to hurt her to cry for JUST TEN MINUTES. So, I would jostle and snuggle, sing and play, for fifty minutes . . . and then I'd set the timer and put her gently down, screaming or not, and make the most of my hourly ten minutes of productivity! When the timer went off, ten minutes later, the jostling began again . . . but my dishwasher was loaded, or a load of laundry had been started.
At the end of a twelve-hour day, my house was never spotless, but the essentials were done. Ten minutes, time twelve rounds of jostle-dash-repeat equals two hours of productive time!
I've done this when I've had the flu, too. Don't think I'm a martyr. I actually rest better if I'm not looking at overflowing trash cans and dirty dishes every time I open my bleary, feverish eyes. I'll swear there's something healing about a crumb-free kitchen floor. If I'm well enough to walk to the bathroom, I usually get in enough ten-minute licks at my house to keep from losing my mind.
This also works when I need a guilt-free mental health day. Curl up with a good book and read for fifty minutes. Get up and unload the dishwasher. Read for fifty more minutes. Give a kid a spelling test. Read. Vacuum the dining room. Go to bed that night feeling much better than if I had ONLY read all day, or ONLY done chores.
The essentials vary from person to person, but my own necessities are a daily shower, clean dishes, trash taken out, and clutter picked up in the main living area. If beds are made and a load of laundry done, that's a bonus. Any of those things can be done in ten minutes, adding up to another day of sanity for a busy mom.