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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

Want to eat healthier? Nourish yourself at off-peak times.

We’ve started dedicating Monday mornings to a single tip or simple idea to get your week off to a better start. This week it’s my turn! -Sarah

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I’ve noticed something about my eating habits over the last year or so: on weekdays when I’m home with the kids, I eat my healthiest meals at the oddest times. I’ll make poached eggs and toast late in the morning when it’s not really breakfast time and not quite lunch, or I’ll fix a really healthy bowl of oatmeal and fruit at 2:30 in the afternoon. I don’t even think twice about reheating dinner leftovers at 9:00am if I’m hungry and it sounds good.

And it makes sense, given my at-home rhythm and reality. Traditional mealtimes are all kinds of crazytown with three kids five and under. In the morning it’s a mad rush to get everybody breakfasted and lunches made for school. At lunch time I’ve got a baby throwing blueberries at the dog and a very picky three-year-old requesting 42 different variations on a sandwich he will never eat anyway. And while we do sit down together for dinner most nights, it’s the typical pass-the-baby relay race to inhale whatever I’ve managed to get on the table, plus milk refills and vegetable negotiations and all the rest. It’s not that I don’t eat at all at mealtimes, but it’s often rushed and mindless and often comprised of somebody else’s crusts or leftovers.

So out of necessity, I guess, I’ve taken to nourishing myself in between meals, at “off-peak” times of day. It didn’t start out as an intentional way to eat healthier, but now that it’s on my radar I make an effort to eat more of the “good stuff” – high-nutrient, high-energy foods with an emphasis on produce and lean protein – when I have a little space to breathe during the day. Even if it makes for seemingly odd food choices at totally random times of day.

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If you’ve noticed that your eating habits have fallen victim to the pace of at-home motherhood, why not give this a try this week? Here are a few thoughts on how to eat more intentionally in between meals:

  • Define “healthier” for yourself. I eat a lot of toast and cereal when I’m rushed, so for me it’s about bringing in more produce and protein to balance it out. But maybe for you it’s about drinking more water, or taking your vitamins, or increasing your fiber intake. Whatever you’d like to get more of, think about doing it at quieter times of day, even if it seems weird. After all, who says you can’t have a salad at 10am?
  • Rethink “snack time.” We’ve been sort of trained to think of our main meals at 8am, noon, and 6pm – give or take – and anything in between is “snack time.” The problem is, traditional snack food isn’t always nutritionally what we need. There’s no reason why an epic salad can’t be your morning “snack” or scrambled eggs with beans and cheese can’t be your afternoon pick-me-up; if “snack time” is when you have the time to prepare healthier foods for yourself, why not?
  • Get out ahead of hunger. I often start the day with a couple pieces of toast – enough to hold off hunger, but not enough to get me through to lunch. If I wait until the kids’ lunchtime to eat, I’m starving and cranky and not likely to make good food choices. But if I have something substantial mid-morning, say 10 o’clock or so, I don’t have to worry about lunch for myself when I’m feeding the kids, and then I’m ready for another “meal” when the baby is napping in the early afternoon. In a way, I’m staggering my main meals with theirs – maybe not ideal for the long run, but it works for me, for now.
  • Aim for balance in the bigger picture. When you read advice about feeding kids who are picky eaters, experts often say that a “balanced” diet happens over the course of a week or two – not a day or a single meal. Why wouldn’t it work the same for us? It sometimes takes me a day or two of not-so-great eating to realize “Whoa. I think I need to get some leafy greens in me.”  I then use these off-peak mealtimes to make up for what I might be lacking.

While I spend my days mothering and working part-time at home, I think the same idea could be adapted for moms – and dads – working outside the home, too. It’s more about paying attention to the times of day when you’re able to eat more mindfully, and then making sure your nutrition goals are being met during those times.

What are your nutrition goals these days? Can you find a way to nourish yourself in between meals this week? I’d love to hear from you!

Want more Monday morning inspiration? You can read all Plan a Better Week posts here.

Photo: Suzette Pauwels, via Flickr Creative Commons

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