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Pardon our dust! (And, yay for changes!)

We’re doing a little spring cleaning here at The Happiest Home! Sarah’s been working hard behind the scenes to switch us to a new theme that will make it easier for you to navigate content and discover gems that have gotten buried over the years. We appreciate your patience while we roll out the new changes, and – whoops! – apologize if some older content somehow winds up in your inbox along the way. Want to stay up to date on what’s happening here amid all the changes? Fill out the box below and we’ll get in touch with you via email

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Looking for inspiration and real-life connection? Join me at the BEYOND Retreat next fall.

You know one of the biggest benefits of slowing down and doing less? When you step off of the merry-go-round of doing, doing, doing just because it seems like, well, the thing to do, you suddenly have all this “new” time and energy and brain space to pursue things that mean a lot to you. For years I’ve been dreaming of putting together an event bringing together awesome women in one place to dream, plan, recharge and get inspired. And now it’s time to make it happen. In October of 2015 I’ll be hosting a small but mighty group of women (is

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“Fun Parent” vs. “Boring Parent” – It’s Not Fair! But Is It True?

My husband made this lunch for my daughter last week. I know. I should have known it was coming when I caught him poring over Bento box tutorials on YouTube, watching a woman meticulously arrange smiley faces onto tiny rice-ball heads, then cap them off with pita-pocket hats. The very next day, Jon made a special trip to the grocery store for supplies. And that evening, he and Clara hovered over the kitchen island for a good half-hour creating The Lunch To End All Lunches.  Heart-shaped salami framed by heart-shaped cheese slices, people. A tiny little star cutout peanut-butter sandwich with honey and sprinkles

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Delegate Like Downton: A Strategy For Managing Home Helpers

Imagine this: it’s a Sunday afternoon. One child just got done shoveling the walk, and another is unloading the dishwasher. You, on the other hand, are reading a magazine, sipping a cup of tea and enjoying the calm of a neat (enough) kitchen…that you didn’t even have to tidy up yourself. Sound like a fantasy? It’s not! It’s actually how my Sunday afternoon played out…and it’s a pretty common scenario around here. It hasn’t always been this way. Earlier in marriage and motherhood, I was surrounded by mess and chaos, and bogged down by resentment. Why didn’t other family members recognize

At Home with Meagan

5 Must-Have Kitchen Tools

I’ve been wanting to do a regular video series, like, forEVER. But when I had kids home with me during the day, I found it was just too difficult to find quiet pockets of time to shoot and edit regularly. A five-minute video may not seem like it takes much time to do, but there’s a lot of set-up and production involved, even in the most “candid” vids.  Now that my days are my own, though, I’m finding that I’ve got the space and quiet to take on some of those things I’ve been wanting to do! So, here it

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Whimsical Girl’s Bedroom Ideas

We’re moving! In less than two weeks my family is relocating to Southern California and we couldn’t be more excited. Our new house is ready and waiting for us and I’m itching to get into it and start settling in. One of the biggest differences between our current house and the one we’re moving into is the flooring. We have carpet now – lots of it – and we’re moving into a house with all hardwood floors. And while the new floors are beautiful, it’s going to be awfully echo-y in there until we get some area rugs down. One problem:

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Gardening with Kids, The (Really) Easy Way

I’ve always wanted to think of myself as the kind of mom who grows herbs indoors using a DIY seed-starting kit, turning toilet-paper rolls or egg cartons into frugal mini-gardens which nurture her child’s green thumb, creativity and resourcefulness. In reality, I’m the kind of mom who intends, every year, to start seeds indoors eight weeks before the ground is warm, or start a windowsill herb garden, but always forgets to gather the supplies or set aside an afternoon for putting together a system. So this year, I decided to skip all the usual “Oh man, I can’t believe I

Dear Moms: Let’s Do Away With The “Dear Mom…” Facebook Vent

Dear Mom on the iPhone, #DearMom

I see it every day.

“Dear mom whose rambunctious son knocked down my toddler at library storytime…”

“Dear dad who didn’t notice your daughter climbing out of the shopping cart…”

“Dear mother who was on her iPhone at the playground…”

Vague, one-liner complaints aimed at random strangers have become a staple of status updates, tweets and blog posts, a way to vent frustration while also – let’s admit it – feeling a wee bit superior to other moms and dads at times.

True, you don’t have to look far to find examples of bad, sometimes dangerously bad, parenting. Sometimes another person’s actions inconvenience us, or may even hurt us or our children. So what’s wrong with venting?

I’m guilty of my own vent-y one-liner rants about random people such as the woman who sent me the bad PR pitch and the UPS guy who didn’t knock before leaving the “not at home” slip stuck to my door. And maybe, once in a while, a clueless parent who inconvenienced me.

I never gave it much thought until recently, after reading a “Dear moms who: ____” post that left me squirming in my seat and fighting off the urge to defend myself for having once done something similar. I knew the post wasn’t about me, specifically, and yet…it could have been.

Dear Mom with the kid throwing a tantrum in Target...it happens to the best of us. #DearMom

Here’s the thing: Chances are good that, at some point in time, we’ve all done something that might end up the subject of somebody else’s passive-aggressive “dear mom” post.

Sure, the writer might be addressing the specific woman she saw cutting in the school pick-up line in her post, but guaranteed, a bunch of us read it and think “Is she talking about me?”

Has my child ever bowled another over at a playground…maybe without me even noticing (maybe because I was texting!?) Probably.

Have I ever snapped at my child in the checkout line? Almost certainly.

We all do things we regret. We all mess up. We all fail to live up to our own standards. Every single one of us has harmed, or inconvenienced, or just disappointed, another person with our actions.

It sucks to be on the receiving end of bad behavior, and it can be grating to watch somebody who appears clueless or rude, even if it doesn’t directly affect you.

But venting to all 1000+ of your closest friends doesn’t do a thing to fix the situation. The person who did whatever made you angry will almost certainly not see your post (unless if you’re writing a vague post aimed at one of your friends, which is, like, passive aggression to the extreme.) Instead, a bunch of other parents, who may or may not have ever done something similar, will read it and wonder if it refers to them, or if they’ve done anything like it to deserve a vent.

Dear Mom who gave in to the whining child in the checkout line...I've been there. #DearMom

Of course there will be times that we’ll find ourselves rolling our eyes or inwardly groaning at other parents’ behavior. I think that’s only human. But we also have the ability to send a text to a friend or tell our spouses later if we really need to complain, rather than using our social networks as sounding boards.

If an issue is really important to us, we might write a detailed post educating other parents on how ______ affects our families or kids. That approach is so much more likely to start a conversation and change behavior, anyway, rather than just inviting a flurry of pile-on complaints and defensiveness.

Dear Mom in the restaurant with the rambunctious toddler...hang in there. #DearMom

I think we have a real opportunity to create a kinder and more supportive social environment by weighing carefully what we broadcast.

And in the spirit of Mother’s Day, I would love for us to collectively change the meaning of the typical “Dear Mom…” status update.

What if we replaced those “dear so-and-so” vents with supportive messages that any mom can relate to? What if we thought back to a more difficult time in our lives – maybe one where we faced each trip to Target with anxiety over a potential meltdown or did a bad parking job at school pick-up because it always happened during baby’s nap time and we were desperate not to have to get out of the car – and remembered that sometimes, we all make choices that other people might not approve of?

What if we approached those annoying moments with compassion, a sense of empathy, and perhaps some words of support for other moms who are where we’ve been?

Dear Mom struggling to get the double stroller through the door...let me help. #DearMom

Let’s try it. This week, I’d love for you to share one of the Dear Mom graphics in this post on your social networks. Let’s turn the “dear mom…” vent on its head and open up a real conversation about the mistakes we’ve made, the things that bug us and how we can all be part of the solution. If you’d like, tag your posts with #DearMom and/or our Twitter handle @thehappiesthome so they’re easy for us to find and share!

And let’s take it a step further – why not chime in with your own supportive “dear mom” idea? You can leave it in the comments here, or in our discussions on Facebook and Twitter.

To a mom in a tough place, criticism can feel so awful, but simple words of support and understanding can mean so much. I’d love to see these helpful messages spread to counter-balance the negativity that’s out there, and with your help we can really make an impact.

You never know how big a boost they might give a fellow imperfect, but trying-her-best mother in your life.

Dear Mom whose kid knocked my son down at the park...you handled it really well. #DearMom

Note: After writing this post and sharing the images on Facebook and Twitter, I stumbled across a post at The Mom Pledge with a very similar mission to this one! I really respect Elizabeth’s mission at The Mom Pledge and wanted to make sure to call attention to her post…and the fact that she used the hashtag first! If you want to write your own “Dear Mom” post, I encourage you to join in the linkup at The Mom Pledge!

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