Review and giveaway: The Happiest Mom: 10 Secrets to Enjoying Motherhood

Amazon: The Happiest Mom (Parenting Magazine): 10 Secrets to Enjoying Motherhood There was a time when the title — even the premise — of this book would have tripped my skepticism alarm. "What can a parenting 'expert' tell me about being happy, especially in ten little steps?" Harumph.

I'm now older and more experienced, and I know better than to pooh-pooh the wisdom contained in this slim volume, much of which I've had to learn on my own (in other words, the hard way).

The wisdom. Ironically, as a new mom, I might have ignored the book's ten "secrets" as too simplistic or obvious to produce something as lofty as Happiness. "#1: Take the easy way out," "#4: keep it real," and even "#7: make your bed" … c'mon, really?

Now that I'm eleven years into motherhood's surprises and challenges, I can say, "yes, really." Happiness as a mom has as much to do with high-level attitude shift as it does about day-to-day habits. The Happiest Mom recognizes this and lays out practical steps to help you with both. Don't be fooled by the cheerful presentation and quiz-and-checklist format: this is profound stuff. Profound and doable.

The author. Meagan Francis, mother of five and creator of The Happiest Mom blog, has been sharing her practical, positive advice for years. She's the best kind of parenting expert…one who has learned from her own experience and shares her discoveries with humor, perspective, and an open mind.

I got to know Meagan last summer at the BlogHer conference, and we spent time laughing and swapping ideas a couple weeks ago at the Mom 2.0 Summit. She's as funny and down-to-earth in person as she comes across in her writing. This is someone you want on your new motherhood team.

The delivery. Meagan manages to give advice without sounding preachy or saccharine. She shares her accomplishments with pride, and her foibles with humor and humility. It's not often you stumble upon someone you can identify with and admire at the same time.

This book is the ideal gift for a new- or expecting mother. Bonus: it comes with a free one-year subscription to the Early Years edition of Parenting magazine.

Win it! I've got three copies of The Happiest Mom to give away. To enter, leave a comment sharing your #1 new parent tip. If you could give your favorite expecting mom or dad a single piece of advice, what would it be?

I'll randomly choose three winners on Wednesday, April 27 at 5PM PST. Good luck!

The giveaway is now closed, and the winners have been announced.

At Amazon: The Happiest Mom (Parenting Magazine): 10 Secrets to Enjoying Motherhood


  1. says

    Feeding a baby in the bathtub. We took that advice yesterday and it worked out great!

  2. Samantha O says

    Give yourself a break. Nobody is perfect and there is a huge learning curve for this parenting thing. ;)

  3. Susan says

    When a stranger or well-meaning older person asks if your baby is a “good sleeper,” just lie. Smile and lie. If you don’t lie, you will hear about how all three of their babies “slept through the night at 7 weeks old.” Those same babies also potty trained at 14 months old. Yes, all three of them, at exactly the same age.

  4. Heather says

    Rock your baby as often as you want to, but lay the baby in his bed while his eyes are still open! Don’t rock them to sleep and then try to sneak away, or he’ll cry when he wakes up somewhere different from where he fell asleep.

  5. says

    Buy yourself some new clothes to wear once the baby is born. Stuff that’s still bigger than your original size, but never worn during your pregnancy. Putting the same maternity clothes on right after the baby comes is kind of demoralizing, and it’s nice to have something shiny and new.

  6. Toria says

    So much of your parenting experience is due to the temperament of your baby, which is luck of the draw and out of your control. If you have an easy baby then yay! But if you have a more challenging baby it isn’t your fault and you don’t suck as a mum.

  7. says

    Let your husband help even if he doesn’t do it RIGHT (i.e. the way YOU would do it). It pays of tons later, trust me.

  8. Holly says

    My biggest piece of advice would be to not worry so much about getting everything right, to do things “good enough” and remember it all goes fast-the good and the bad, so enjoy the good and know the bad is just a phase.

  9. Gina says

    To not worry about what other kids are doing and what milestones they have met, be happy and focus on what YOUR baby/child is doing and enjoy it.

  10. CJH says

    Things like date night might sound stupid and corny but can be so important on so many levels.

  11. Hillary says

    GET OUT OF THE HOUSE and join a Mommy’s group or something. Having other’s validate the experiences and feelings you are having is SO important. To know you are not alone.

  12. Supurrkitten says

    Don’t worry about getting the kiddo in the crib in another room so quick. Get a pack n play and set it up in your room/space. It makes the middle of the night stuff much easier at first.

    Take some time just you the baby and your partner if you can after the baby is born. Don’t have tons of folks come over to see the baby. Just nest as the 3 of you and order take out. Time spent in bed with your partner and babe watching tv, nursing and eating take out not worrying about anything else. It will get that wonderful bond started and get you on the right foot.

  13. Jen says

    Let go of everything except the baby and what you need to make yourself content. Also. Accept help graciously and be prepared with a couple specific things others can do to help out.

  14. says

    Listen. It’s amazing how communicative babies are if we manage to slow down, take a deep breath and pay attention to their cues.

  15. Jena says

    Good sleepers are born, not made. Yes, you can and should try your best to find techniques that will help your little one catch more zzz’s — but don’t beat yourself up about it. Some babies nap and sleep through the night easily, some (many!) don’t. It’s not a reflection on your abilities as a parent.

  16. Beccab says

    Listen to and consider the inevitable onslaught of advice you’ll be getting, but always trust your instincts.

  17. says

    no plan is the best plan to not be let down…We learned the hard way with an emergency c-section after planning to go all natural… AND stay in the hospital as long as you can, send your baby to the nursery to sleep, once you go home, they are ALL yours!

  18. Maria Taylor says

    TRUST yourself! All the advice out there seems to contradict itself anyway. YOU are the parent and this baby was entrusted to YOU. Yes, YOU know best!

  19. Sarah says

    Keep calm and carry on. If you have a choice between laughing and crying, laugh. And for God’s sake, plan a date night at least once a month!

  20. Nichol Mattson says

    Find some other new parents to share the joys and struggles with, brag and complain with.

    Also, try to talk about non-baby stuff!

  21. says

    Relax, and realize that kids start off right away with their own opinions and schedules, so you can’t always “make them” fit someone else’s idea of how it’s supposed to be!

    And if you’re nursing, keep a big water bottle filled in the bedroom, because you’ll get soo thirsty and will be too tired to go all the way to the kitchen.

  22. Kris says

    Buy clothes at a resale shop. As cute as all of those new clothes are, you mommy will be much more useful in a college savings account.

  23. Brenna says

    Its true what they say, make time to nurture your relationship with your partner. It’s so easy to get caught up in all things baby and forget who you are as a couple. It takes work, but its worth it. Makes you both better parents.

  24. Marge W says

    It’s okay for a baby to cry and learn to soothe/calm themselves. You are their care giver but if you don’t give care to yourself you won’t be very good for both of you.

  25. julianne says

    “This too shall pass.” When I had my first baby, I was completely overwhelmed by the sleeplessness, the crying (hers and mine!), the constant demands of a high-needs adorable bundle of scream. I thought my life was going to be like that forever–but it passed. It would have been comforting and helpful if someone had come alongside me and told me that this too shall pass. With my second baby I’m exhausted again but knowing that this is only for a season I’m better able to enjoy his babyhood.

    (And don’t listen to too much advice! You want baby to sleep with you, great. You want baby to sleep in his own bed, great. You want to do whatever you feel is right for your baby and your family, great!)

  26. Raina says

    Cherish the bonding time when they are a baby. The battles don’t begin at 13, they begin at 27 months. Once you accept that you can’t control a toddler (or anyone else), you can only control yourself, you’ll be much happier. Guide them to make their OWN good choices, don’t make them do it cause you said so. Unless… your lifelong dream was to have a robot. Then by all means, program away!

  27. says

    Enjoy each moment, no matter how stressful. This time will never come again. No matter how many kids you have, each will be different.

  28. Jenny says

    Ok, I’m still pregnant with my first so who knows what I’m talking about, but the advice I’m most looking forward to is to cherish every moment and take lots of pictures, because the time goes so fast.

  29. Alexis says

    Buy lots of socks and underwear for the whole family so after the baby is born laundry is never an urgent chore.

  30. beanery says

    Invest in a good hand vac. The crumbs will overtake you and the last thing you will want to do is lug out a full size vacuum or a broom and dustpan multiple times a day.

  31. says

    Roll with the punches! You don’t know what your child will be like, and what hurdles you might encounter, for sure until s/he’s here.. so cultivate a flexible attitude and go with what works for your family.

  32. says

    This too shall pass.

    As a new mom with an undiagnosed sensory processing disorder infant, my own mom shared this phrase with me & I repeated it often.

  33. Christy says

    Listen to advise that doesn’t raise your hackles, feel free to tell people who are holier than thou that you don’t have time to listen (the baby is crying!), and then sift through all of it and use what makes sense to you!

  34. says

    Let it go. Whatever it is. The laundry can wait, someone else can do the laundry, your friends will bring you food. Take care of yourself and that baby. That’s it.

  35. Jamie Robins says

    ENJOY THE BABY!!! There will always be plenty of errands, chores, etc, but your baby is only a baby once and it doesn’t last nearly long enough!

  36. says

    Double up on the beds: mattress pad, sheet, mattress pad, sheet. This way, when the bed is wet or gross for some reason in the middle of the night, you don’t have to remake the bed. Just pull off the first sheet and mattress pad, and you are left with another set underneath!

  37. says

    Despite your best intentions, not everything will work out the perfect way you’d like it to. Learn to be flexible and realistic, and/or lower your standards!

  38. Gina says

    S L O W DOWN your pace of life for your child’s “little” years (under the age of 5); they go by so quickly.

  39. Queen of Sheba says

    Don’t worry too much about following other people’s advice; try it, but if it don’t work, let it go.

  40. April says

    Try not to feel the weight of the world by thinking you are the ONLY one who can take care of your baby. Let others snuggle with your baby for little bits while you try to remember what it is like to feel human (it is okay to take a shower once in a while). It gives you time to reflect on the precious moments that go way to quickly.

  41. Heather K says

    Your kids are who they are before they’re even born. Remember that when you’re in tears after they’ve done something horrible and you think you’re a terrible parent. And especially remember it when you’re in tears after they’ve done something remarkable and you’re patting yourself on the back. You’re an influence, but their personalities are set before their first breath.

  42. Gina says

    Bedtime rituals and good sleep habits are the MOST important thing. It all falls apart if everyone is tired and crabby.

  43. Kate says

    Crying is typically not an emergency. It won’t harm babies to fuss a little and there may not be anything you can do to end it anyways.

  44. Sara says

    Don’t be too proud to ask for help! If people judge you or it bothers them, maybe you didn’t need them in your life after all.

  45. Kelly says

    Always have a back-up ready before you need it….back-up bottle, shirt, diaper…if you have twins I guess you have a back-up baby haha! Having it ready before you need it keeps many potential meltdown moments from happening when you are fumbling around because the baby spit up on themselves, you’re holding their legs up trying to find a diaper before their butt touches whatever you’ve laid them on for an impromptu changing and the paci just fell on the floor. I’ve had many onlookers comment on how good my baby is and I smile because I know the secret behind it….now not all meltdowns can be avoided, and no one can be prepared for everything (your diaper bag would be filled to the brim; if it isn’t already), but it is less stressful for everyone when you know you can just reach in your bag of tricks and pull out “the back-up” before things escalate!

  46. Jean says

    Don’t feel guilty if you can’t sleep when the baby sleeps. Parenthood isn’t a contest.

  47. Lisa says

    Pretty much no matter what “it” is that’s worrying you about your newborn, it’s probably normal and it will pass.

  48. says

    My advice is to know that YOU are the expert on your baby. (Even when you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, you still know more about this particular child than anyone else.) There is a reason that the two of you ended up together!

  49. AustinMochi says

    Be kind to (and patient with) yourself and your partner. Both of you are going through big changes and into unknown territory, and you’ll need each other’s support through this adventure.

  50. Melissa says

    When expecting #2 or beyond – the baby won’t remember these first few months, give the older kids a little more attention.

  51. Matthew says

    You’ll find you’re most frustrated when your little one doesn’t do what you want or expect. *TRY* to readjust your viewpoint and think about what your little one wants or NEEDS. You might not figure it out all the time, but sometimes it helps just to realize your little one is going to do what he’s going to do and there’s not much you can do about it until they get older–and when you get there, do what you think is best.

  52. Kendra says

    It may be a cliche, but it took me a really long time to learn: trust yourself. Read books if you want, call your pediatrician or your mom or your best friend if it helps. But in the end, you know yourself and your family, and you have to live with the consequences of your decisions. So make the ones that work for your situation, and forget all the stuff other people say.

  53. Anna says

    Don’t try to buy everything before the baby is born. You’ll make better purchases once you’ve met the baby and figure out what works for you and your family. I have four carriers – three of which I never use!

  54. Julie says

    Hold and cuddle your new baby as much as you want. They don’t stay that small for very long!

  55. says

    The 2nd night after my daughter was born, I had an air bubble in my shoulder (C-section) and was in tremendous pain; she was only nursing on one side; it was one in the morning. I told myself, “Tomorrow, we learn new things. Tonight, we do what works.” More often than not, I’ve gone back to that.

  56. whitney says

    I’m ashamed to say my kids are four and six, and I’m only JUST beginning to understand what this book is about. (So much so, in fact, that we’re going to try for a third kid!) I was SO intent on NOT letting motherhood define me that I never figured out how to let go and ENJOY the ride! I was just proving I could do it, powering through pregnancy, delivery, middle-of-the-night feedings, traveling, etc. So, my best advice (that I feel like everyone understood but me): Embrace the imperfection of parenthood.

  57. Deb says

    even if you have had a child before – each child is different so if what you did with yoru first is not working you need to change your ways rather than forcing future children to work with YOUR chosen methods. I lost the first 4 months with my 2nd until we finally figured out new ways to get her to eat, sleep, wind down etc

  58. says

    Treat yourself at least once a week for something that’s just for you- doesn’t have to be much- maybe Starbuck’s and your iPod without the baby for 30 minutes.

  59. Michelle says

    Find a good babysitter!!! You still need to nourish the relationship that brought this beautiful child into the world.

  60. Elisabeth says

    Be courageous and ask for help whenever you can–anyone who’s had a baby before knows how it feels to be overwhelmed, and will be more than willing to wash a few dishes, fold a load of laundry, hold a cute baby, or even babysit for an hour or two–while you take a shower, go for a walk in the sunshine, grab a quick coffee date with your husband–or just take a nap! Even friends who haven’t had children yet are often eager to help in some practical way–so relax, enjoy this brief time in the parenthood journey, and take all the help you can get!

  61. Brie says

    Let dad or partner do it their way… they just *might* have a better or unique way of doing something that the baby likes. The more you do this, the less you feel like the sole caretaker of the baby, and the more confident your partner will be in stepping up and being a true equal partner. Try it–you’ll like it!

  62. says

    Ask a seasoned mom for their suggestions before making out your baby registry. Chances are 50% (or more) of the stuff you THINK you will need – you won’t.

  63. Stacy says

    Don’t waste energy feeling “guilty” for not holding baby all the time, for letting her cry, for working, for staying home, etc. Feeling guilty prevents you from being present and enjoying the moment. There’s no such thing as a perfect mom…just a perfect you!

  64. Sandra says

    Hold them as much as you want/can ( and i know you want to ) they get so big so fast and they only love to cuddle for so long. and if it spoils them who cares? because tommorow they will be running away from your arms but today…. there is only today

  65. Jessica says

    Best advice — don’t stress the decision of formula vs. breastmilk. Your kid will turn out fine regardless (unless something else is wrong with him).

  66. amanda says

    don’t wish away the present or dwell over how fast it flies by. I hear so many parents spending time lamenting the time gone by, but it’s so much better to simply enjoy as much as possible to the fullest as it happens.

  67. CJ says

    Everyone is full of “helpful” advice and will give it to you whether you want it or not. The bottom line is that nobody knows your baby better than you. You can do this, you are doing it, and nobody can do it better. So trust yourself, love your baby and learn to block out the unsolicited “help.”

  68. Alex K says

    There will be highs and lows and enjoy them both because if you wait a week it will all change again. Also be kind to yourself….you will do just fine!

  69. Kathy O says

    That baby’s not going to be little forever. Hold em and rock em and snuggle em every chance you get!

  70. Michelle says

    Take a deep breathe, it will pass.
    But don’t blink, because it does pass.
    Simply love your child.

  71. Anita S. says

    While there is plenty of tv programming available for the under 2 bracket, use that time to foster imaginative play, love of books & exploration as much as possible.

  72. stacy says

    I always tell new parents that each phase ends… enjoy the good phases and know that the rough ones will be over eventually!

  73. Caroline says

    One of the best pieces of advice I got was from my daughter’s pediatrician, when I asked for advice on a parenting guide when she was just a few days old. “You really don’t need one. It’s not rocket science.” SO true!

  74. says

    It is totally normal for children to try to control their worlds where they can (what goes into their body and out of it). Don’t worry too much about picky eating and potty training resistance. They will get over it eventually.

  75. says

    Praise your partner’s babycare skills and instincts. Point out to him/her how much your baby already loves/trusts/delights in her/her.

  76. Liz says

    I read way too many parenting books… and can’t wait to read this one! My advice to my soon-to-be-a-mom friend has been to ignore all the ads and articles telling her what gear she ‘must’ purchase, since most of it is totally unnecessary. I spent way too much time obsessing about registries and lists before my first baby was born. Second time around, I was trying to get rid of stuff!

  77. Emma says

    Sometimes, (small) babies just cry. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing anything wrong. Also: this too shall pass – and in a few months time you’ll be looking back thinking “whoa, where did my little baby go?”

  78. says

    Play with your child. Just enjoy their company. Your presence means everything to them. If you make them happy in this one small way, they will want to make you happy.

  79. phillippa says

    Always be ready to get out of the house. This goes against what everyone says about even *having* time to get ready, but make the time to get everyone dressed and presentable, especially yourself (even if a shower isn’t possible). On those days when no other indoor methods work and their going wild, you’re ready to pack up the kid and step out to change the scenery. With a newborn, you’ll just roll, but with toddlers, you’re ready to zap their energy at the park. My 2 are 18 months apart, and I’ve practiced this (most of the time) since the birth of the first, til today.

  80. Susan says

    No matter what age your child is (or children are)… don’t forget to stop every once in awhile and look at them as if you are meeting them for the first time.
    Like you did at the moment that they were born.
    Look at them fresh, look at yourself fresh.
    It renews your continuously growing and changing relationship and gives you moments of utter peace no matter what has or is going on…

  81. sheriece says

    I’m sure this advice will be repeated over and over, but that’s because it’s great advice:


    Seriously, I’m getting ready for #3 right now, and it’s amazing how much less sleep I lose worrying about silly things. Bottom line: odds are, it’s going to be fine.

  82. Alex says

    Go outside every day. Well, maybe not in snow, I don’t know, but when you feel overwhelmed, take your kid outside. If you feel isolated, walk your neighborhood. Let other things slide, and go outside!

    I disagree with “no plan is the best plan”–have a plan B and maybe C, or things will just be done to you.

  83. Tina says

    Tell yourself the things you tell your child: Try your best, be kind (to yourself), take a deep breath, take a nap, and a hug and kiss can fix anything!

  84. carrie says

    This was from a friend – Don’t try to make a happy baby happier. Go with it, let them have fun and joy in whatever it is they are doing. Life is complicated, and babies are sweet creatures that can be happy with the simplest of things.

  85. Shannah says

    Jsut remember: what you are doing today will not guarantee your child a perfect future, nor will it scar him/her forever. If it works for your family, go with it.

  86. Gina says

    S L O W down for the “little” years (under 5). And it is easier to break a pacifier habit than a thumb sucking habit.

  87. says

    Establish a network of fellow parents who will tell you the truth about their experiences. As wonderful as our kids are, this is a tough job & sometimes you need to vent!

  88. says

    My #1 new parent tip: Accept any help that is offered to you!!!! I just had my first child 3 months ago and my family has been so supportive. You really do need a great support system, it’ll make all the difference.

  89. John Watson says

    Make sure to go out as a couple while the child is still very small (< 3 months) and will still sleep through the event. You won't get that chance again for a while…

  90. Anna S. says

    Enjoy your baby, and call those people who asked if they can help … and ask them to help! Even if you don’t know what you need.

  91. Danielle says

    You don’t have to run out and buy the “latest” or “greatest” baby gadget. There is a LOT of baby gear retailers will make you feel like you just HAVE to have, but in reality, your baby doesn’t care.

  92. says

    Always do what you feel is right in your heart for you and your family and love your baby everyday even when things seem tough. As Mother Teresa once said “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

    Love from @babyapeel

  93. Jessica says

    Accept any and all help offered! It’s easy to think “I can do it all” but it can get overwhelming, fast! If someone offers to grocery shop, cook, take out your garbage or even watch the new baby so you can sleep or shower (whatever!) take them up on it.

  94. says

    Trust your instincts.

    And get an exercise ball for when the baby wants to be rocked (bouncing will do) and you have just got to sit down.