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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

Why rushing doesn’t “save” time – and how to slow down

 

As we head back into a full week of school, work and all the rest, I wanted to share a previously-published post about how sometimes speeding up actually doesn’t “save” time at all. As we re-adjust to the busy fall season, I know I can use the reminder! Enjoy.

Slow down!” I remember my mom saying to me constantly when I was a kid. I moved too fast and was constantly whacking my knees and shins on end tables or catching a hip or shoulder on the door frame. I cracked my head on a lot of open cupboard doors because I was in too big a hurry to close them.

In general I am a pretty fly-by-the-seat-of–my-pants kind of person, and sometimes that works really well. I jump at opportunities others would ponder for months; when I put my mind to something I make it happen…and often in record time.

But this kind of get-up-and-go has its drawbacks.

I’m not always terribly deliberate in my actions. I leap, then look, and if I didn’t land on sure footing I usually hurry and move onto the next thing, sometimes before I’ve bothered to learn my lesson (luckily it generally sinks it at some point. Unluckily, “some point” is often years later.)

I’m inclined to avoid the slow route to…well, to anything. Yet often I just create more work and hassle for myself because I have to double back later or spend more time to correct something I didn’t do properly the first time.

Here’s a case in point: when I go to the grocery store I’ll often forget something on my list and remember only when I return to the car or worse, am driving out of the parking lot. Then I have that forehead-slapping moment when I realize the item has been forgotten. And I wrestle with that side of my personality that wants to keep momentum and forward motion going.

  • Going back for the forgotten item would take me–at most–15 minutes.
  • It would save me a return trip and all the time and hassle that would entail.
  • It would mean my pantry or refrigerator would hold some essential item that might make getting dinner on the table that much more easy.
  • And yet returning to the store once I’ve already walked out that automatic door feels like moving backward. I’m already in the car! I’m already headed home! I can’t go BACK now!

So too often, I just say “Eh, screw it” and leave–and then have another forehead-slapping moment later when I realize how much extra work I’ve caused for myself by refusing to go back.

This month I’m working on creating a new slowing-down ritual, using this five-step plan:

  1. Try to treat whatever I’m doing as a pleasant experience, rather that one more thing to check off the to-do list. In the case of grocery shopping, if I’m with my kids I can use the time to chat with them and teach them how to choose produce rather than murmuring “Mm-hmmm” distractedly while rushing through the store (more about savoring time vs. rushing at the grocery store here.) I can take time to read labels and inspect new cuts of meat or unfamiliar grains rather than just chucking the same-old, familiar stuff in the cart. Try samples. Notice the smells. Imagine dishes I’d create with this spice or that pasta. Use all my senses.
  2. Slow down. If I find myself huffing and anxious because the motorized cart in front of me isn’t moving quickly enough or because I managed to choose the checkout with the cashier-in-training, it’s a good indicator that I need to slowwww down. And slowing down physically, I’ve noticed, often encourages my brain to slow down too.
  3. Evaluate Frequently. In the grocery store that means that before I leave each department, check back over the list one more time to make sure I got everything I needed…and do the same thing before I enter the checkout line. When I take a moment to evaluate my progress I am a lot more aware of what I’m doing and what I need to do next.
  4. Be Willing To Put Myself In Reverse. If I get to my car, to the edge of the parking lot, or even halfway home and realize I still forgot something, I have to ask myself, “Do I really have anything better to be doing right this moment? Is getting home fifteen minutes earlier absolutely crucial?” If not–turn around, go back.
  5. Breathe And Do A Reality Check. If I feel overcome by that panicked, flustered feeling of having “messed up” and “wasted time,” take deep breaths. Remind myself that this time is not wasted. That my kids are fine. That nothing is going to fall apart at home in the fifteen extra minutes it’ll take me to go back to the store. That the time spent now will save me time and effort later this week.

Grocery shopping is far from the only example of things I rush in my life. I often rush through my work and then have to go back with a fine-tooth comb later, looking for mistakes. I can’t be bothered with instruction manuals, which too often leads to a screw ending up in the wrong hole or a deformed-looking Lego creation. And sometimes I even rush through pleasant conversations with my kids because I want to move on to the next thing.

I know some of my quickness is just personality, and I can’t change who I am. But I can work to be more aware of this tendency so that I can recognize when it’s working against me and create new rituals to help me live more slowly, mindfully and deliberately. Not only will it help me enjoy those moments more (instead of just wanting to get them over with) but it will save me from living that moment when I realize I really needed that extra butter I refused to go back into the store for.

The fewer those “doh!” moments I have, the happier a mom I am.

Do you ever rush to “save” time – and find that it actually causes more hassle, stress, and lost minutes?

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