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Welcome to April!

Happy April, Everyone! Yes, it officially became “spring” last month, but I always feel like April is the official beginning of the season. The weather’s warming up here in southwest Michigan, little green things are starting to push through my garden beds, and it hasn’t snowed in at least a few days, so I’m hopeful that winter is really on its way out. Phew.  It’s hard to believe the dimpled little thing in the picture above was once Clara, isn’t it? She turned six in March, and every day I’m floored by how quickly she’s leaving that chubby-cheeked baby behind, and turning

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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

"It's faster just to do it myself."

Here’s a post from the archives that seems especially relevant right now, as I’m looking around at random messes and piles that I should really tell the kids to take care of…

The dishes, not washed correctly the first time. The towels left wadded up on the floor. The toys and candy wrappers (hello, post-Valentine’s Day mess!) strewn over the table.

I really should get the kids to clean up their own messes. I know. But so often, it just seems faster and easier to do it myself. 

The thing is, that’s true…but only for today. Tomorrow I’ll have to do it myself again. And the next day and the next. I save a moment, but what do I lose?

It’s such a crippling mindset, and only hurts us in the end. It’s like the time equivalent of “pennywise and pound foolish” – minute-wise, and hour foolish.  It’s what makes me resist instructing other people to do what I usually do. It’s what makes me resist creating systems to manage things better in the future. It’s what keeps me from trying new products and new technology and keep on stumbling along using “what works” instead of taking the time to explore what might work better.

Still, it’s easy to see why we fall into that trap. When every day seems like a breathless rush from activity to activity, deadline to deadline, chore to chore, it’s hard to imagine where we’ll find the time to train the kids to properly scrub a pot or organize the closet so we can find our stuff more easily in the future. But it’s so worth it, something I realize every time I set aside the time to do so and then watch how much more smoothly things run.

The trick is slowing down so that the “urgent” doesn’t keep getting in the way of the important. We can’t properly delegate in the midst of panic. As I ramp up my work life over the next month or two, I’m going to have to set aside serious time (even if it means dropping one or two things that no longer fit) to create new systems to help me and make sure the helpers in my life really understand what I need from them. It’s a time commitment, but sometimes you have to spend time to save time.

Some tricks I’m planning to try to help:

  • Set aside certain times of the day or week for organizing, instructing, and creating new systems. It’s difficult for me to think about much besides writing on a Monday morning, but Wednesday at 3 PM might be the perfect time to take a look at what I’m doing, tweak, and instruct. If your routine is very fragmented, you might consider setting aside 10 minutes a day rather than a bigger block of time each week.
  • Do  less in general.  This is something I’m always striving for, but it can’t hurt to give myself a reminder every now and then.
  • Assess. Time for some serious reflection. What’s currently on my plate? Why is it all there? Are all of my activities in line with my priorities? Is there anything I can temporarily put on hold until I’ve freed up the time for it? Is there anything I need to let go of for good?
I don’t expect this to happen overnight. In fact, I can’t expect this to happen overnight. Delegating is a process, and if it’s done correctly, it ought to take a while. But I’m taking steps to get the help I need…starting today. Even if it would seem “faster” to do it myself.
Do you ever fall into the “It’s easier and faster to do it myself” mentality? 

 

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