Meagan Francis was inspired to write about being a happy mom when she didn’t feel represented in the typical modern-mom banter: parenting is hard, we miss our spontaneity, and ouch, I just stepped on a Playmobil pirate. And her book is for real.
Known online as The Happiest Mom, Meagan provides a roadmap for being happy that is authentic, sensible, and realistic. She pinpoints a few sources of perceived unhappiness for moms and then invites us to self-diagnose. Is it possible that we are lonely? Disorganized? Bearing an unreasonable amount of childcare duties? If those are the issues, then let’s dive into those and find relief.
For the isolated moms, she addresses how to find friends, including tips for shy moms; for the mom who is always in a panic before she leaves the house, there are strategies to reduce key loss and botched family scheduling; for the mom who is doing all the parenting, some tips for balancing the scales.
If it sounds like this book is best for a veteran mom, I’d agree. A rookie mom of one baby who is not yet juggling preschool potlucks with science fair projects and soccer practice may not relate to many of the examples in the book. (If this is you, you’ll still get a lot out of Meagan’s blog, The Happiest Mom, but I’d buy the book for a friend with two or more kids.)
Take a look at my own before-and-after inspired by The Happiest Mom.
One of the 10 secrets to enjoying motherhood in the book is Make your bed. Make your bed is a metaphor for taking care of the little things that make you feel crazy and overwhelmed. It may not be your bed, but rather papers on the kitchen counter.
For me, it is the bench in our entry way. I also want to be clear – in case my mother-in-law is reading – that most of the disorganization and annoying stacks of clutter in my house are my own doing.
When I get out of the car with the kids in the afternoon, I am usually carrying my purse, Scarlett’s lunchbox, Julian’s backpack, a few art projects, some school notices, and some snack wrappers or napkins from the car. As soon as I open the door, I dump it all on the bench. We all kick off our shoes “near the bench”, and over the next few minutes I put some of the stuff away. Then it looks like this:
For the next 24-hours, I am annoyed whenever I walk in the front door, because the bench is not the zen welcome I want it to be. It looks like a living breathing to-do list. Meagan advises that we identify the housekeeping tasks that make the most impact on our moods and prioritize those. (Messy garage? Who cares!) I’ve concluded that I need my nightly chore to be a bench purge so that when I walk in the door, I don’t immediately feel that I’m drowning in stuff.
Ahh, that’s better. I now crown myself a Happier Mom.
When I told Meagan, who I have the pleasure to know, about how even though the shoes should actually go in the closet, this just works better, so those cubbies are always going to have more shoes than is aesthetically pleasing, she responded:
Sometimes we get stuck in the “shoulds” even when they don’t actually help streamline our lives.
For example, when we bought this house there was a cabinet upstairs that I decided would be a perfect place to store board games and crayons/markers/paper and craft supplies. For many months I kept those things in the upstairs cabinet, and then I’d have to make the trek up and down the stairs each and every time anyone wanted to play Sorry or draw or color or glue. Then I’d feel annoyed about it being such a hassle to play games and draw/color/glue and the end result? Everyone played fewer games and spent less time drawing, coloring and gluing! Finally I moved all that stuff down to a little sunroom off of our dining room that doubles as a home office. It doesn’t look as neat and pristine in there anymore, but who cares? I couldn’t believe how long it took me to make the connection that if I have something that’s important to me or makes my life better or less stressful–whether it’s getting out the door faster or playing games with my kids–it makes sense to set up my life and home in such a way that that activity or feeling is as easy to achieve as possible. Duh, right?
That woman’s a genius!
Buy the book on Amazon to get your hands on some of these other gems, included in the text: How to go from panic to peace, Trust your gut, Five ways to blow off busybodies, How to say “No”, and some courage to shed the fear of other people judging you.