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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

The first step in getting started as a work-at-home mom? Decide.

This post is part of an ongoing series on blogging as a profession and working from home in general. To read the whole series, click here.

how to get started as a work-at-home mom

I’ve always had a bit of a “leap, then look” approach to life. And believe me, it’s gotten me into some trouble over the years. But one place my impulsive, commitment-happy personality type has (mostly) been a boon? My career.

When I decided to chart a completely new way of life and become a freelance writer ten years ago, I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew one thing: I was going to do it. And that decision set in motion the activities which, done consistently and over time, helped me break into that first national magazine, then sell my first book proposal, then turn my blog into a money-making venture.

Since publishing my post on making a living as a blogger last month, I’ve gotten questions from lots of readers who are interested in pro blogging or starting a business from home.  By far the question I’ve gotten most is: How do I get started? What’s that very first step that will lead to the next step and the next?

I sat down and thought it over, and realized that I wasn’t exactly sure how to answer the question. Ten years ago, five years ago, or even three years ago, the way to get started as a writer or blogger was certainly different than it is today. Publishing has changed, blogging has changed, and anything else you might be interested in doing as a business – retail, crafting, software development, graphic design – has also changed.

Not only that, but I truly believe there is no one formula for success. The way I started – backing into pro blogging after writing for magazines for several years – worked for me, but it’s not the only way or even, probably, the most direct route.

But then it occurred to me: there is one thing that every person must do before she can launch an at-home business, no matter what that business may be.

First, she has to decide.

Decide.

Not wish, not dream, not hope. Not just talk endlessly about it, join eighty-seven support groups, or create a dozen vision boards (though I do love vision boards!).

She has to actually say to herself, “I AM going to do this thing.”

I AM, period. Not “…if the baby naps” and not “…if I find enough time.”

Just I. Am. And then put herself to work knocking down obstacles of time, energy, and knowledge.

From leading writer’s groups and classes, I’ve gotten good at telling who’s going to make their dreams a reality, and who is probably going to stay stuck in “wannabe” status. And – surprise! – it’s not always the most talented or skilled writers who I can tell are really going to do it. Instead, it’s the ones who seem to glow with urgency and purpose, those who have made up their minds to make it happen, who most often do.

Others – those who are operating on a vague hope or wish or dream – tend to get mired in the details: reading books about writing, reading blogs about writing, thinking about writing, talking about writing…doing pretty much everything except writing. Or they write, but stop short at trying to get their work out there in front of the people who might read it. Whether it’s fear or apathy getting in their way, the results are the same: no action.

Not everyone is ready to decide. If you’re pretty comfortable with your life at the moment, or aren’t 100% sure you want to write/craft/design/sell for a living, or just think this isn’t the right time of your life to really commit to something new, that’s completely fine.

But trust me: you will have a much harder time creating momentum or helping your dream take off if you are in a wishy-washy, “whatever” – rather than determined and decisive – place.

So there’s your big-picture inspiration. Now how about some details to help you on your way?

how to go from dream to decision

Here’s my five step process to turn “dreaming” into “deciding”:

Create a sense of urgency. It can be difficult to make the necessary sacrifices if you don’t have a good reason looming. For me, it was my due date: I knew I didn’t want to return to my job full-time after my third baby was born, and that I would have to replace some of that income right away. If you aren’t facing down a built-in deadline, you may need to fabricate one: a date you’d like to pay off that student loan, for example. 

Dream big. I’d rather not-quite clear a tall hurdle than coast over a bump in the sidewalk. And think beyond the work you want to do. How will your life change for the better once you make this dream a reality? How will it improve your family life or make you happier?

Tell somebody. I know it can be terrifying to share that dream for the first time, but trust me: it gets a lot easier with practice, especially when you pick the right people to trust with your dreams. Choose wisely: keep your risk-averse aunt and Negative Nellie neighbor in the dark for now, and surround yourself with supportive, awesome people who will cheer you on.

Look to others for inspiration, not imitation. It’s great to let other successful bloggers or business owners inspire you. But keep in mind that we all have unique stories and circumstances that make it impossible to re-create another person’s success story. My strategy: look to other bloggers for guidance in the nuts and bolts – choosing a blog or e-commerce platform, for example – but when it comes to the personality and feel of your writing , photography, or product, be uniquely you.

Apply butt to chair. What’s the first step you need to take in becoming a writer? Well, you need to write. The same logic goes for whatever your would-be venture is. Don’t worry about having the perfect business plan, blog header, or social media strategy from day one. Those things will come, and you can re-invent yourself countless times along the way. But once you’ve identified the essential service or product you want to provide – whether it’s knitted baby hats or helpful blog posts - then commit, create, repeat. And make a decision to do that day after day after day.

So? Are you ready to decide?

Photo credit: Caitlinator, via Flickr Creative Commons 

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