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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

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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

Need help staying organized? Print out a hard copy (of something).

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

plan a better week
Are you a pen-and-paper planner or a digital listmaker? As I’ve shared here before, I am a bit of both. I love the convenience of “the cloud” when it comes to managing work, home and family life in a streamlined way, but I also cling fiercely to a good old fashioned list.

(There’s nothing that helps sort out a jumbled brain full of tasks and to-do’s like the physical act of writing them down, right?)

But the reality of life in 2014 is, of course, that much of what crosses my desk never actually, um, crosses any desk at all. It pings in with a little notification sound by text or email. It lives online in a shared Google Doc. It hides behind the green Evernote app icon. It unfolds in a Facebook conversation thread. It streams through the speakers in my minivan, which connect via bluetooth to my phone. We live in crazy times, don’t we?

It’s all well and good until the going gets tough. I have my own little systems for staying organized by turning an email into a reminder, or capturing a thought digitally while I’m driving my car. I live by the search function in my email, which allows me to quickly look up that thing Meagan and I were discussing last week that I might have forgotten about. And while it does help to write out a to-do list to get focused for the day or the week, I find that in times where I’ve got a LOT on my plate, there’s only one way to get my brain out of the cloud(s) and onto firm ground where I can begin to make sense of it all.

I start printing stuff out.

Print
Printing a hard copy of something that I usually interact with on a screen has a calming effect. If I can hold it in my hands, mark it up with a pen, and leave it out in plain view on the counter or pin it up on a bulletin board, it seems somehow tackle-able. So during overwhelming times, I print. I print project lists for work, emails from the kids’ schools, and hard copies of my digital calendar. It’s all stuff I can access easily online from multiple devices, but when I feel my digital brain starting to overheat, the hard copies help it seem more manageable.

If your home and work life happen largely online or on-screen and you’re feeling stressed, why not give this a try this week? Here are a handful of ideas of things to print:

  • Your calendarI talk about my digital/paper hybrid calendar system in this post, and the cornerstone of it is a print-out of my Google calendar each week. I also sometimes find it helpful to print a blank calendar for the coming two or three months – just to visualize what’s ahead. (Want to print April, May and June 2014 right now? Click here.
  • School, church, or activity schedules – If you find yourself looking up the website of your gym over and over again because you can never remember what time Family Swim starts, print out the schedule.
  • Phone lists – I know, most of our contacts are stored in our phones these days. But if you have a land line or haven’t put all the numbers you need into your phone, having a hard copy of the school or daycare or pediatrician’s phone list handy can save extra looking-up.
  • Electronic invitations – We get invited to parties and get-togethers electronically quite a bit these days, and printing out the invite helps keep the party on my radar so I don’t forget to arrange a sitter or buy a gift.
  • Amazon wish list – If you shop online and keep wish lists stored on Amazon or other sites, try printing them out and marking up a hard copy to make budgeting, gift planning, and online shopping easier once you get back online.
  • Reading list – I love the site GoodReads for keeping tracks of books I want to read, but often I save a book “to read” and then forget to go back and check the list! A hard copy to keep in my car or on my nightstand would help with those “what to read next?” moments when I’m drawing a blank.
  • A piece of writing – If you’re a blogger or a writer and you’re feeling stuck, walking away from the screen with a paper copy of what you’re working on can give you a fresh take on the piece you’re working on.

I realize that many moms struggle with feeling overwhelmed by too much paper, and that this little tip does create more piles and papers to deal with. But when the online world starts to blur together and you’ve reached that point where you know there’s an email somewhere with that one thing in it (what was it again?) that you were supposed to take care of by…when?, a few extra sheets of paper might just save your sanity. I know it does for me.

Do you print things out so you have a hard copy to hold on to? What kinds of things do you print?

Want more ideas
for creating a happier home life?

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