The Happiest Mom: an interview (and giveaway!) with Meagan Francis

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by Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and is currently traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

This contest is now closed. Check back soon for the winners!

Meagan is a busy woman. Not only did I spotlight one of her books last month, but she now has another recent book released called The Happiest Mom (she writes on her blog of the same name), and to top all this off, she has FIVE kiddos. You can rest assure — Meagan knows what busy is.

But she also knows what happy is, and wrote a book covering ten secrets for becoming a happier mother. Her book has been resting on my nightstand the past few weeks, and it’s been a fun encouragement for me to read before I drift off to sleep.

Some of her ten secrets include loving your love life, taking the easy way out, and aiming low. In a world spotlighting tiger moms and parents who let us know frequently that they’re just not happy, Meagan’s words have refreshed me. Reading her words is like grabbing coffee with a friend — a friend with five kids — and finding encouragement through her words of wisdom.

I’ve shared a workshop panel with Meagan, and we’re also in a writer’s group together, so I feel like I’ve gotten a good feel for who she is and how she operates. I think Simple Mom readers would love both the blog and the book of the same name.

I recently interviewed Meagan, and she shared some of her thoughts about writing with kids underfoot, making her bed, and being genuinely happy. Check out the end of the post for how you can win a copy of The Happiest Mom!

An Interview with Meagan Francis

1. There’s been a recent online trend of moms being “honest” and sharing with the Internet that they don’t really love being a mom. But quite — well, happily — there’s more and more of you singing the praises of motherhood and encouraging us in the trenches. What’s your take on the value of moms encouraging other moms?

“I think it’s so vital to watch the kind of messages we’re giving each other about motherhood. It’s really hard to buck a trend–it takes energy and confidence to look outside of what everyone else is saying and go your own way, and energy and confidence can be in short supply for newer moms particularly. If you hear a message enough times — like ‘Motherhood is exhausting’ or ‘you’ll never have time for ____ again after having kids’ — it’s only too easy to start believing it.

“I’m still working on checking the messages I send, myself. Recently I noticed that one of the ways I tend to relate to other moms when I first meet them is to commiserate about something hard about motherhood — probably because I’ve been socially conditioned to do so! I’m trying to change that about myself, because I realized that one, I was saying things I didn’t really believe sometimes, just so they would think I was relating to them (“As if any of us have time to shower!”) and two, I was helping to perpetuate myths about motherhood that I am passionate about stomping out (“Moms should never expect to sleep again!”).

“I think most of us do this unconsciously and without negative intent. It’s easy to gripe about the fact that your toddler is going through a tantrum phase or that your husband never picks up his socks; not so easy to share a solution that worked for you or admit that when you let go of caring about socks, your life got better. Venting has become the new playgroup small talk. And in large doses, it really affects the way we all feel about ourselves about about motherhood.”

2. You’re a mom to five kiddos. What was it like writing a book about parenting with your brood underfoot? How much of your real life can we find in The Happiest Mom?

“I leaned heavily on my husband during that time and let go of a lot while in the most time-consuming stretches of writing. I just kept reminding myself that book writing time wasn’t forever. After I met my deadline a few short months away, I’d have time for cooking big dinners and keeping my bathroom clean again. Also, I was lucky in that it was summer when I was writing the book, so I could let the big kids play with the little ones for a couple of hours in the morning and bought myself some focused writing time.

“It’s amazing how much you can get done in just a little time if you’ve got a fire lit under you and can focus in and stay off Facebook.

“The book isn’t super-personal, but you will find out some details about my life as a newer mom and my marriage, especially. What I like about the book is that it’s general enough that anyone could see herself in the scenarios we put forward, but what’s in there comes from my own personal experience — with considerable input from the editors I worked with at Parenting and Weldon Owen, who are all experienced moms themselves.”


Photo by Jennifer Mayo Studios

3. Your book covers ten “secrets” to enjoying motherhood — finding your tribe, trusting your gut, making your bed, and the like. What part of motherhood comes naturally to you? What’s a bit more challenging; out of your comfort zone?

“The part that comes totally naturally to me is the nurturing, emotional side. I am always available for a hug or snuggle. I also really love taking care of our home, though I am not naturally organized, so that takes a lot of work and attention. But I enjoy it.

“The hardest part for me is being truly present and engaged in what my kids are doing. I am just such a grown-up these days, which is sometimes hard for me to believe. I used to think I’d be the mom swinging at the park with my kids, but it turns out I’m the one standing off to the side chatting or thinking Deep Grownup Thoughts. I think that’s all fine and healthy, but the negative side is that I have to work hard to be truly interested in my son’s school dramas or the first-grader’s homework lessons. I think we all have our challenges, though, and as long as we are aware of them we can work toward that happy medium of being ourselves while still trying a little harder in the areas that don’t come so naturally.”

4. What’s the main message of your book? If readers finished it with just one big idea, what would be their big take-away?

“Be Yourself. We all have different talents, strengths, and parenting styles, and that’s okay. Motherhood won’t magically turn you into a crafting goddess when you formerly couldn’t even cut in a straight line (believe me — this I know) but you have other talents that make you a fantastic mom. Instead of trying to turn yourself into a different kind of mom, be the very best version you can be of the mom you really are — because that’s the mom your kids need. Plus, it shines through to our kids, and they are inspired to be the best possible versions of themselves, too.”

Giveaway

Meagan wants to give five Simple Mom readers a copy of her new book, The Happiest Mom! (Psst — it would also make a fun Mother’s Day gift.)

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post, answering this question: What part of motherhood makes you happiest?

If you’re reading this in an email, you must come over to the blog to comment.

That’s it! But if you’d like two additional ways to enter the giveaway, here’s how:

Additional entries

1. Mention this giveaway on Twitter, including @simplemom, @MeaganFrancis, and the URL of this post — http://bit.ly/hpfXLa. Then come back and leave an additional comment on this post, telling me about your tweet.

2. ‘Like’ Simple Mom on Facebook and The Happiest Mom on Facebook.
Then come back here again and leave a comment, telling me you did so.

This giveaway will end on 11:59 p.m. this Saturday, April 23 (tomorrow), and I’ll announce the winners this weekend. I hope you win!

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Comments

  1. Cuddling’s the best part of being a mom!

  2. Seeing my kids laugh.

  3. Rediscovering the joy in everyday living – almost anything can be fascinating and joyful if you take the time to really experience it. I never took the time before I had my daughter. Now, she shows me new and miraculous things every day.

  4. I like both Simple Mom and The Happiest Mom on facebook.

  5. I tweeted!

  6. The part of motherhood that makes me happiest is watching my children laugh! The sound of their laughter is just the best music ever! It makes me realize that they are happy so I might be doing the right things!

  7. I love being at the park with my kids. No distractions, just giggles and smiles.

  8. avatar
    Thais Winzen says:

    Love Simple Mom, just liked the Happiest Mom on facebook! Adding this to my want to read book list :)

  9. The happiest part of motherhood is singing in the car on road trips. we are so cheesy, but we are a cheesy team together and we all belong here. :)

  10. Giggles and dancing makes me the happiest! With Joy, Carey

  11. A tie: watching my little girl learn new things and those occasional full-out belly laughs she gifts us with!

  12. avatar
    Trish Gibbs says:

    I love learning from my kids about forgiveness, unconditional love an faith.

  13. Sounds like a book full of truth! My favorite part of mothering is seeing my kids make good and kind choices independent of me- parenting blood, sweat and tears paying off in small moments!

  14. My son’s sweet smile!

  15. avatar
    Jenny Myers says:

    I love snuggling with my girl as she nurses down for a nap. Still going strong at 14 months…

  16. I like Simple Mom on facebook as Cravings. With Joy, Carey

  17. avatar
    Jenny Myers says:

    And I just “Liked” you on BOTH Simple Mom and The Happiest Mom, two more entries for me! I really want a new book…

  18. New “liker” of the Happiest Mom as Cravings. With Joy, Carey

  19. I love watching my kids say or do something that shows they learned something I was trying to teach them, usually something I didn’t realize they were paying attention to at the time. It is one of the most amazing parts of being a mom.

  20. Right now, my favorite aspect of being a mom is our snuggle time in the “snuggle chair” that is in my daughter’s room. At nearly two-and-a-half, she is getting too big to comfortably cuddle with me, but it’s clear that she values it as much as I do. And even though some nights I am desperate to get one more thing done while my husband puts her to bed, I will gladly put down that paper or pot or wait to lace up my running shoes if she says, “Snuggle Mommy in snuggle chair?”

  21. Getting unconditional love from my kids!

  22. What a wonderful post! And what a breath of fresh air Meagan is. Being a Mom is the BEST thing in the entire world. What I LOVE most is the unconditional love I have for my son…and his sweet sweet smiles and kisses. I truly was like falling in love with my husband all over again…when I had my little guy.

    Delighted Momma

  23. I liked both Simple Mom and The Happiest Mom on FB!

  24. I’m not a mom yet, but the part I’m looking forward to most is watching them learn new things.

  25. avatar
    Stephanie Maxfield says:

    I would love to win this book. I am also a mother of 5 kiddos. 4 boys and 1 girl. I jsut recntly went back to work and it is very hard to juggle everything. I especially love the unexpected cuddling time.

  26. Letting go of outside worries and surrounding yourself in their imaginative play.

  27. avatar
    Stephanie Maxfield says:

    I just “Liked” you on BOTH Simple Mom and The Happiest Mom on Facebook

  28. Right now, it’s getting to snuggle a tiny baby, but that’s because I have one, so I’m living it up :) More generally though, it might be listening to pretend games and made-up stories.

  29. The happiest part of motherhood to me is watching my kids’ personalities unfold and sharing in their view of the world. They’re all so completely different and it’s just an amazing thing to witness. LOVE it.

  30. avatar
    Stephanie Maxfield says:

    I would love to win this book I am also a mother of 5 kiddos, 4 boys and 1 girl. I just recently went back to work and I struggle with trying to manage it all.
    I escecially love the unexpected cuddling!!

  31. I love seeing my little ones laugh. I love seeing them cuddle up against mama or papa just to read a book and hold a hand.

  32. The best part of being a Mom is seeing my little baby’s huge smile when I go get him up in the morning!

  33. I liked both Simple Mom and The Happiest Mom on facebook!

  34. As simple as it sounds, I love seeing my bedroom door creep open in the morning and two little men come flying in to greet me. It gives me the best feeling!

  35. avatar
    Jen Snider says:

    What part of motherhood makes you happiest?

    So hard to pick one, but I think it is watching my daughter with my hubby. They have such an amazing relationship and that makes my heart SO happy! My husband is an incredible Dad and watching him snuggle, kiss, play, and laugh with our daughter is truly a gift! :)

    Thanks for doing the give-a-way! :)

    ps. I also liked Simple Mom and The Happiest Mom on FB!

  36. I like you both on Facebook

  37. The thing that makes me happiest about motherhood is watching the person my daughter is and is becoming. It’s amazing to see her grow and develop – she’s always the same and yet becomes more like herself. If any of that makes sense!

  38. avatar
    Jenny Runyan says:

    Getting the hugs and hearing how much they love me!! That makes everything worth it!

  39. Just being with the kids, especially with no commitments…just peace

  40. avatar
    Jenny Runyan says:

    I like Simple Mom on Facebook

  41. I love the relationship that is growing between me and each of my kids, and seeing their relationships with each other develop too!

  42. I also liked Simple Mom on FB! Thanks for a chance to win!

  43. I “like” Simple Mom on Facebook.

  44. And…I just liked you both on FB. :)

  45. I “like” The Happiest Mom on Facebook.

  46. I never thought you could love so much! Being a mom is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me! I love watching them achieve their dreams and being happy!

  47. Getting to snuggle with and pray for my 3 special cuties!

  48. Hugs and giggles…sorry I couldn’t just do one :)

  49. I tweeted about this giveaway!

    https://twitter.com/#!/Andanbre/status/61297823852933120

    @Andanbre

  50. The unconditional love is awesome! I have learned and I am learning so much about myself and about God as I watch these beauties grow.

    Oh, and I like you and the happiest mom on FB!

  51. One of my favorite parts of motherhood is reading with my daughter and being there to watch her learn about the world. I’m fairly bookish and am so happy that she seems to have inherited that “gene.” Would love to win a copy of the book. I’ve started reading Meagan’s blog and have found great perspective there. Thanks for the giveaway!

  52. What makes me happiest about being a mom is being able to share this amazing journey with my husband.

  53. The best bit is seeing my toddler love the baby, and knowing she learnt how to express that love from my example!

  54. I like both Simple Mom and The Happiest Mom on facebook!

  55. getting hugs and kisses from an 8 year old boy is fabulous. so is hearing the laughter that constantly pours from the 3 year old. our six year old is the most positive child we know! seeing the differences in each of them is fun. this christmas the older two really got the “compassion” side of things by looking through the worldvision catelog. watching that scene, without speaking myself… letting them read the words and stories and wanting to take money from their piggy banks was very rewarding. so i guess the best thing would be watching them discover the world around them.

  56. I like you both on facebook! thanks!!!

  57. I tweeted about the interview and giveaway!!

  58. For me, the best part of being a Mom is when the kids ask me to hang out with them for a while before bed, ” just to talk”.

  59. avatar
    Kelly M. says:

    The hugs and kisses! And when my second grader wants to hold hands on the walk to school. :)

  60. Holding her!

  61. When I sing a silly song and my one year old belly laughs. (His dad is a professional musician, guess I should leave the singing to him.)

  62. I tweeted.

  63. Hearing them talk to the Lord! Nothing is better than hearing the kids choose and grow to love Him.

  64. Watching all their new discoveries!

  65. what makes me happiest as a mother is reading together and watching them learn so much in this world. some of it from me and someof it figuring out on their own

  66. avatar
    Sarah G. says:

    For me, the best part of motherhood is seeing my babys sweet smile and hearing her giggle.

  67. The sound of everyone happily doing their own thing, all together… some may call it background noise, some may call it life, some may call it chaos … but I love it, it fills me with joy, it is the hummm of my life.

  68. Just being with my kids makes me happy. I love naps snuggled between my kiddos and hugs and kisses goodnight.

  69. The part of motherhood that makes me the happiest is seeing what they grow into. I have grown kids, as well as a few still in the nest, and I have so much joy in seeing the people that they become. They are all totally different, and yet, in someways, very similar. It reminds me how very good life is.

  70. My newborn’s smile and my toddler’s laugh! Melts my heart every time.

  71. avatar
    Catherine A says:

    Best part is the everyday little things… my 11yr old’s bedtime routine, my 13 yr old boy still hugging me and telling me he loves me (in public!!) & my little daughter’s joyful laughter. ah! just thinking about them makes me smile.

  72. The unconditional love from my children…

  73. avatar
    Pipsqueak says:

    The hugs!

  74. Bed time reading…

  75. I love laughing with my little girl–especially when my hubby is on board…we get a real kick out of watching her throw her head back and imitate us.

  76. avatar
    Leah Gillette-Fox says:

    I love their smiles and laughs

  77. I love he silliness and watching their sense of humor develope.

  78. The smell of my children when they have just woken up and are still all dopey.

  79. I love that even in the midst of times that supposedly stressful, like caring for sick children, I can have one of those moments I’ll look back on later and think “remember when (insert name) was sick and we all got up to help and ended up watching tv in the middle of the night and laughing and snuggling on the couch?”

  80. Seeing the friendship that is finally developing between my children makes me happy!

  81. Happiest Mom moments? Laying in the sun-dappled grass watching clouds form and unform with my six year old; admiring my toddler in his intense focus on a pile of dirt; chatting with my older girls on the lawn while they wove dandelions into my hair. Moments in which I had no to-do list and just lived them and enjoyed the children just exactly where they were. I should stop being so busy.

  82. I love watching my boys grow up. It’s amazing when you give them a chance to do their own thing and you realize just how much they know, and how much they’ve learned.

  83. I’m happiest as a mother when I see my children being happy, riding a tricycle, playing with a friend, enjoying a meal, and being proud of something they have accomplished.

  84. avatar
    Stephanie Fallon says:

    “Liked” it on FB.

  85. There is no better part of motherhood for me than being goofy with my boys. Goofy faces, goofy noises, goofy games… I love it!

  86. Wow! That’s a tough one because there are so many! My daughter is 2 years old and my son is 2 months old and I’m going to say when their faces light up and they give me the happiest smile. My heart melts and I just want to hug and squeeze them and kiss them all over. I love that God chose me to be their mommy and that I get to raise them and love them and teach them and watch them grow and learn and become who He wants them to be.

  87. I “liked” both on Facebook!

  88. Sounds like a good, encouraging book to read!

  89. avatar
    Elizabeth says:

    Oh, by far the happiest part of being a mom to me is witnessing my children play together, help each other and love on each other. It makes me smile to hear their innocent giggles and conversations or to see them hugging and holding hands, unprompted by anyone.

  90. Watching my children’s moments of pure joy!

  91. avatar
    Stephanie says:

    Snuggling!
    Watching them master something they have really been working on.

  92. Listening to my kids giggle as they play together! It’s the best sound ever!!

  93. When I see or hear my boys do something kind that I know isn’t coming natural to them. It gladdens my heart to think I’m teaching them those things.

  94. I tweeted!

  95. Snuggling in with them and reading aloud. Love that!

  96. Watching the delight in their faces when my girls learn something new is so sweet to me!

  97. I like you both on Facebook :)

  98. I’ve like both on FB. : )

  99. Love reading aloud with my kids and snuggling into the couch.