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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

#TalkEarly: the difference between kids & teens

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15-year-old Jacob and I at Epcot late last year

I love being around my teenage sons. They are truly nice, interesting people. And maybe, because I still have plenty of littler kids in the house, I mourn the loss of their little-boy-ness less than I will when Owen, my 7-year-old, becomes an adolescent.

But make no mistake: they are not the same children they were four or five or six years ago.

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When psychologist Anthony Wolf talked at the #TalkEarly summit I attended last month, he shared some things that I’d been noticing on an anecdotal level, but didn’t realize had been actually studied and proven true.

At first, I thought some of them (illustrated in the infographic above) didn’t apply to us.

My teen boys are still ready with hugs and “I love you’s”, and they’re actually quite chatty at the dinner table. As long as they get to choose the topic of discussion. Which is usually themselves.

But after further research I wasn’t so sure my boys are exceptions to the ‘rule’. During Dr. Wolf’s presentation he shared that research has shown that teenage kids have a physical anxiety response when their parents walk in the room (“parent allergy.”)

I simply couldn’t believe it applied to my boys, so I asked Isaac if he thought it was true. “No…of course not…” he said, his eyes roving back and forth as he inched slowly out of the room. Hmm.

However allergic to me they may feel, they definitely aren’t as receptive to talking about Tough Issues as they were when they were nine or ten. I think that’s partly because that youthful conviction – that THEY won’t ever smoke, or drink, or try drugs, or do anything risky or illegal or stupid or that might disappoint Mom and Dad – is a lot shakier than it was when they were younger.

My son Jacob and I have danced around this topic a lot over the last four or five years, mostly because he’s always been exceptionally curious and asks a LOT of questions. With him, I think I’ve done a pretty good job: I am just as honest as I need to be about my teenage experiences with alcohol, while being very clear that regardless -and in many cases because - of my experiences, it’s not OK for him to drink.

Isaac, on the other hand, is a lot more reserved. He never brought it up, so I…never talked. I guess I always figured I had plenty of time.

Hearing Dr. Wolf’s presentation has me reconsidering. It’s not like I think Isaac is doomed or anything – even teenagers are listening, though they may not seem to be, and I still have plenty of influence.

But it inspired me to be more proactive with the younger kids, as uncomfortable as having those discussions can be…and to continue talking to my teens, instead of just assuming the messages have sunk in.

#talkearly about alcohol

And that’s the entire point of #TalkEarly. If we start talking about issues like drinking when kids are younger, they aren’t such a big deal. We can make a big impression on little kids, and we can return to the topics again and again as our kids grow and change.

Their ability to control impulses might change, and their convictions will waver, but they won’t forget what they learned by talking to – and more importantly, watching – us.

My teenage kids don’t like to talk with me about sex and drugs and alcohol. I get it – I can still remember several very awkward conversations with my dad, and having the distinct sensation that almost anything, up to and including opening the car door and rolling out on the highway at 70 MPH – would be better than having to endure them.

So when I bring up drinking, they might get grumpy, or distant, or try to avoid the discussion, or try to argue with me, or do anything they can to deflect and avoid.

And with the younger kids, it might seem pointless. They’re so SURE they aren’t going to drink as teenagers. They don’t need convincing!

But I need to bring it up anyway.

They’re listening, and watching. And I have a lot more influence than I might think.

Do you have a plan for talking to your kids about underage drinking? Are you feeling inspired to #talkearly?

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Look for more posts about talking early to kids about drinking over the next few months as part of the #TalkEarly program sponsored by the Century Council. 

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