Parenting isn't always easy (duh!), which is why I've enjoying the unexpected ways the Apple Watch makes it less complicated and more fun.

Apple Watch Collage
Credit: Tracy Odell

My Apple Watch starts a lot of conversations—it's still a new enough (and rare enough) gadget that people want to know about it. Almost every day I get asked, "Do you like it?" The first few weeks of wearing it, I answered with a shrug and a response along the lines of, "It's cool, but I don't know that I need it." And now, months later, I certainly don't need it—I could survive without it, but I don't want to. It's like morning coffee for me—sure, I don't need to drink that coffee, but I'm not quite a fully-functioning human without it. Quite simply, my Apple Watch enhances and simplifies my life in unexpected ways—especially when it comes to parenting.

I feel less guilt and move more.

I live a pretty sedentary lifestyle, sitting at a desk all day and being a weekend warrior at the gym. With the Apple Watch, I find that I'm feeling less guilty about what I'm not doing and appreciating what I am doing.

A gentle buzz on my wrist reminds me to stand every hour. It's such a simple idea, but it brings an awareness to my bad habits and pushes me to change them. I'm also not burning a ton of calories every day, but tracking the ones I do burn makes me feel good about any efforts I make to move more. That walk around the block at lunch does make a difference—a quantifiable one! And that night I went out to a concert and stayed up much too late, I burned a personal-record number of calories dancing. No guilt about that late night!

I miss fewer phone calls (and meetings).

I carry my phone with me everywhere, but it's usually silenced and thrown in a bag, which means if you call me or text me I'll notice...eventually. This works great for robocalls, but not so much for when the school calls to tell you that you've got a sick kid to pick up (hi, Nurse Christine!). The watch's vibration alerts me when a phone call or text comes in on my phone and I can unobtrusively glance down at my wrist to see if it's something I need to deal with right away.

My watch is also synced with both my work and personal calendars. A glance at the watch's home screen shows me my next appointment, and a gentle tap on my wrist 15 minutes before it starts keeps me on schedule.

It makes me look smart.

When I was a kid, my favorite pastime was playing Jeopardy on the computer. Yes, I was that kid. As an adult, I'm a sucker for apps that buzz me with random info throughout the day. My "smart" watch actually makes me feel smart, but even better, I love wowing my kids with trivia.

One of my favorite apps on the watch so far is the History Here app. As we head down the highway on a family road trip, a notice pops up on my watch as we pass landmarks. "Hey kids, we're passing Vice President Garret Hobart's grave! " Which then leads to some covert Googling from the passenger seat (Vice President Who?) and voila—mom looks like a genius (and more importantly, doesn't have to answer questions about how much longer 'til we get there because we're talking about Old Hobart.)

I stay in the photo.

Short of a selfie stick (which we can all agree needs to die, right?), it can be hard for mom to be in the photo when she's the unofficial family photographer. I have approximately 12 billion photos of my kids and only about three (on my phone) that have me in the picture. The Apple Watch's photo app basically acts as a remote control for the camera so you can set it up, position the kids, and have time to coax (or bribe) them into smiling before you click the button on your watch to take the snap.

I still lose my phone, but now I can find it.

I lose my phone a lot, but it's never really lost. My "lost" phone tends to be in one of three places:

  1. My purse. I swear it's not that big, yet the thing seems to be a black hole when it comes to my keys and phone.
  2. On a random shelf or table. It's in my hand. I'm doing something. I put it down. Somewhere. I just can't remember where.
  3. In the refrigerator. Okay, so that only happened once.

Every time I lose my phone, my husband offers to call it for me. Which would work great except that, as mentioned above, I keep it silenced. The Apple Watch has an option to ping your phone, which causes your iPhone to give off a series of loud beeps so you can find it. It (geniously) works even when your phone is on silent mode and is just loud enough that you can hear it through a refrigerator door (or so I'm told).

It's easy, and it makes me happy.

The most unexpected thing about the Apple Watch is the joy it brings me. It's such a fun little intuitive device. The gentle tap on the wrist for notifications is just enough to get my attention but not annoy. The way the watch comes alive when I tilt my wrist feels personal. It was super easy to set up— no instructions required—and even changing the band was something I could do in less than five minutes with no swear words required. Sure, it's a piece of technology, but it's one with heart (and I'm not talking about the built-in heart monitor, which, incidently, is pretty cool, too.)

Tracy Odell is General Manager of Parents Digital and mom of two boys. Apple sent her the Apple Watch to try, but all opinions and embarrassing admissions are her own. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.