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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

Talking to kids about alcohol: It’s hard, but worth it.

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I grew up in a drinking family that didn’t talk about alcohol.

For my mother, drinking was a secret, shameful thing, and sadly, she eventually died from complications of alcoholism at only 55. For my dad, it was out in the open, and much more moderate: a glass or two of scotch and water in the evenings, except at family parties, when the spirits would flow more freely and we kids would have the fun of watching our aunts and uncles and parents engage in lively – and often silly – discussions.

But while alcohol was a part of our lives, it was never directly discussed. Even when it became clear that my mom Had Problems as I was approaching my teen years, I don’t remember anyone sitting me down and saying “Here is the way alcohol affects your body and brain. Here is the way it’s affecting your mom. Here is why you shouldn’t drink until you’re an adult, and even then, why you should be cautious and mindful of how alcohol is affecting you.”

I don’t blame my parents for their lack of communication. They were products of a different generation in which things like alcohol use and abuse weren’t so openly discussed. And to be clear, I did know one thing for sure: I wasn’t allowed to drink. I just didn’t know why.

So, as teenagers have been known to do, I eventually attended a party at which a disgusting grape-flavored drink was passing from hand to hand, and I nervously tried it. When nothing horrible happened to me at that party, I decided to indulge a little more at the next. And so kicked off a year or so of Extremely Poor Decisions.

Not only did I make bad choices before, during and after drinking parties, but I went on bad information. I had no idea what kind of affects I could expect from drinking a certain amount, or at what point drinking could become dangerous. I didn’t realize the affects that copious amounts of booze could have on a developing brain.

I even bought into myths and outright lies. To whomever told me: “Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear”? Not necessarily, dude. I remember an older boy telling my friends and I that, if you drink water at the same time as drinking alcohol, your blood will dilute and you’ll get a worse hangover. And we believed him.

But while I consider myself a lot more open about most things than my parents were, it’s funny how easy it is to unconsciously slip into the habits and patterns you were raised with. My kids have witnessed plenty of weekends when our house fills with our large family and my brothers and sister and I laugh ourselves to tears over drinks. They’ve also witnessed much more reserved alcohol use: me sipping a glass of wine as I make dinner. But I admit it: while they are well aware that they’re not allowed to drink alcohol, I haven’t done nearly a good enough job explaining why.

It’s hard to talk about drinking with kids. We get stuck in the mistakes we made and aren’t sure how to tell our kids not to do the exact same things we did. We don’t want to demonize something that we now (legally) enjoy, we don’t want to feel like hypocrites, and it can feel a little uncomfortable to examine whether we’re setting a good example ourselves. We might also wonder whether our kids would listen to a thing we have to say on the subject, anyway.

Well, I’ve learned, they do.

Last month I was invited to participate in #TalkEarly, sponsored by The Century Council, an organization of distillers that have come together to fight underage drinking and drunk driving. #TalkEarly is a program encouraging parents to do talk to kids about alcohol use, starting at a young age.

As part of the program, I met with a group of bloggers at The Century Council’s headquarters outside of Washington, DC. And we talked. About the way our own teenage alcohol experiences affected the way we discuss drinking with our kids, about the way we see “mommy drinking” portrayed on the Internet, about how hard it is to talk about Big Topics with little kids.

One of the highlights of the day was a presentation from Tony Wolf, Ph.D, a child psychologist and parenting author. He explained to us that despite what we might think, our kids are listening. And watching. And both what we do, and what we say about what we’re doing, has a much greater affect on them than we might have thought.

Over the next few months I’ll be delving more deeply into some of the issues we discussed at the #TalkEarly summit, and how I’m working to implement what I learned into our family life and the way I talk about alcohol with my kids. I hope you follow along with this campaign as it’s one I’m honored to work on and feel very strongly about.

I’d love if you watch this quick video from the #TalkEarly summit, where I shared my parenting Words To Live By. Please feel free to share your own “words to live by” in the comments below!

Want to keep an eye on this important discussion? Follow #TalkEarly on Twitter or check out their Pinterest page.

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