Our children’s school principal always takes advantage of our monthly PA meetings to offer those gathered some parenting wisdom. This might be obnoxious if it wasn’t always such good advice, and usually easy to adopt. (I should be reading my children The Complete Works of Beatrix Potter? Done.)

But then there was last week. “This morning I want to talk about making beds,” the principal told us all. “If your children aren’t making their own beds, they should start immediately.” This because she had just met a Navy Seal who told her that all Navy Seals make their beds upon awaking, as a matter of course. No matter what happens with the rest of your day, he told her, when you go home, at least you’ve gotten one thing done. Our principal put a more positive spin on it for us parents: if our children started with that concrete success as soon as they woke up, she reasoned, how could more successes not quickly follow?

Happiness guru Gretchen Rubin apparently knows this same Navy Seal (or else all Navy Seals believe this) and on her blog, she doubles down on bed-making and its benefits. Making a bed, Gretchen claims, not only brings more order to life- it actually makes the bed-maker happier. In Gretchen’s words:

People tell me a million things they’ve done, but to my astonishment, the one resolution that comes up the most often — and this isn’t the most significant thing you could do to boost your happiness, but it does seem to be the thing that people most often try, and that does work — is to make your bed.  

Talk about astonishment. It never occurred to me that a made bed could make someone actually feel better. I mean, sure, in a hotel– but that’s because someone else is doing it. There, a made bed indicates luxury above the ordinary, being taken care of, being on vacation from the regular.

But for me, in my own home, my unmade bed is itself the perfect sign of higher productivity, proof that I did something with my child-free hours besides putter around the house.

my bed

Perhaps a made bed brings you happiness only if you’re a hospital-corners type of person. Which come to think of it, I sort of am, but apparently only where people can see me.

Back to the kids: I’m pretty sure making my kids make their beds won’t make them happy either– quite the opposite. But maybe it shouldn’t. Maybe I’m supposed to make my kids make their beds because it seems like a waste of time. There is something Sisyphean about making a bed; as every child ever has protested, you’re only going to un-make it approximately 14 hours later, so what’s the point? Perhaps order for order’s sake is the point. And I do like order. (I’m a Virgo.)

But made beds aren’t the sort of order I have ever prioritized. I care about my kids cleaning up the crap they dump in the front hall every day when they get home from school. I care about my kids clearing the table and loading the dishwasher after dinner so that I don’t have to clean up after them, care about their dirty clothes making it from the bathroom floor to their respective hampers. What their beds look like in their rooms  is something I usually leave up to them.

So I’m wondering: do you make your kids make their beds?

Does it count more than other chores? Is it a must-do on the road to general non-brattiness?

And might it make my kids– and me– happier?

How old is too old to trick-or-treat?

Is there a mandatory retirement age for trick-or-treating? Is there a maximum allowable height beyond which you stay home and open the door? I ask because my son Connor is in 6th grade, taller than both grandmothers, and is more gung-ho about this year’s trick-or-treating plans than ever. At least about the collecting candy part. The costume choice has […]

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Bake It Happen 2014- raising funds and awareness for breast cancer research!

It’s October, which is important for two reasons: it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s the season to eat as many pumpkin-flavored things as possible. Since these are two admirable endeavors, I’m combining them into one delicious awareness- and money-raising endeavor by participating in Bake It Happen again this year. Bake it Happen was started by […]

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how to make off-to-school mornings a little easier (for Mom)

This blog has never been heavy on the how-tos. I like to think of it more as a how-not-to guide, a cautionary tale against sweating the small stuff. But our school mornings have gotten a lot easier this fall, and the fix was so simple– so very much easier than all the haranguing from me […]

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remembering Ben Wheeler on his 8th birthday

Below, I’m reposting something I wrote a year ago today. September 12, 2014 is what should have been Ben Wheeler‘s birthday. His life was cut short by the tragic events in Newtown, CT, two years ago this December. Benny’s parents are old friends of mine, and they amaze me day after day with their strength. […]

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when summer is STILL not over

My kids are still not back to school. Based on my Facebook feed, and on the six responses I got when I inquired about this the last time, yup. It’s just us. This became eerily apparent yesterday afternoon, when I dragged my three squabblers to the beach on what turned to be one of the hottest […]

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remember to write!

Last Sunday morning I put my 11-year-old son and five other boys he had never met into a van driven by another stranger for a six-hour road trip to Camp Sleepaway, on the shores of Lake Wait-Did-I-Agree-To-This? Camp Sleepaway has a strict no-electronics policy, so I told Connor he and his compatriots would just have […]

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being the mother means you get to look first (like it or not)

I saw it happen, out of the corner of my eye, and I still didn’t know anything had happened. That’s how minor of a slip-and-fall it was. Or seemed. My 9 and 11-year-old boys were playing some tennis. They were out of balls, and had to pick them up. It had rained the night before […]

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just because they say it doesn’t mean you have to listen

Sometimes I feel like my most important job as a mother will have been teaching my kids that just because your brother says “no, you didn’t” and you say “yes, I did” and he says “no, you didn’t” again, YOU ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO RESPOND. This is a tough lesson- apparently- because it is what pretty […]

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finding new roads with Chevy and Listen to Your Mother

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Chevrolet’s sponsorship of Listen to Your Mother Show, but opinions are my own. It’s a wrap for 2014’s Listen to Your Mother: NYC! Let me count the ways I have “found new roads” with Listen To Your Mother: new friends, new collaborators, new priorities for my […]

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Listen To Your Mother: you’ll be hearing her voice in 32 cities before Mother’s Day

I’m having trouble sleeping for the butterflies in my stomach, so it must be late April! And why yes, it is: the Listen to Your Mother NYC countdown has begun. Listen to Your Mother  started with 12 women and a microphone in Madison, Wisconsin in 2010. Since then, the brainchild of “stay-at-home humorist” Ann Imig has […]

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when I grow up…

A friend of mine was crowd-sourcing on Facebook recently. “For a story I’m working on,” she wrote, “please ask your daughters: What do they want to be when they grow up?” The comments came in so fast you could practically see the churn: Astrophysicist! Veterinarian! Pearl diver! I couldn’t wait to join the fun. My six-year-old daughter […]

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WANTED: good family movies

My eleven-year-old has declared “family movie night” one of his favorite weekend activities. Mine too- at least in conception. But as I search for good older-kids-family movies that are both enjoyable and appropriate for parents and almost-tweens to watch together, I find myself despairing, since any screening must also include their six-year-old sister, who would have […]

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Mom, I left you a note

Lately I’ve been trying to convince my kids that if they want me to take an action on their behalf, they should leave me a note. Pen and paper are on hand at all times for said purpose. If the third-grader finishes the jar of Nutella, and he expects there to be more at some point, […]

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