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Reflections on the Book Happier at Home

Book Review By: Sarah Brutovski

Have you ever thought about what makes you happy? In her quest for becoming happier New York Times best- selling author Gretchin Rubin has become an expert on what makes people happier and the effect that has on the world around them. Happier people do not become more self-centered; they end up spreading happiness. Her book Happier at Home caught my interest because homeschoolers spend a lot of time at home. What a great idea to become happier in our homes! Here are a few highlights from the book.

Outer Order, Inner Calm

One of Gretchin Rubin’s favorite hobbies seems to be cleaning clutter. In her book as well as her podcast Happier she often says claims this mantra: outer order contributes to inner calm. Who couldn’t do with a little more inner calm with their kids as they homeschool? But that outer disorder gets in the way. I’ve tried out this concept myself and sure enough the more I throw away or clean out of my home the better I feel.

Create a Shrine

Don’t panic! Creating a shrine in your home is not any kind of religious practice in this context. This is a fun way to bring together those things in your home that you love and hold dear to showcase them in one spot. Having a wall with favorite photos from a recent vacation or a shelf with a collection of a few treasured items you never knew quite where to put is a great way to enjoy those things more and elevate your mood when you pass by.

Better Tools

As homeschoolers we use what we could call tools of various sorts all the time. But do those tools function properly? Fixing a few things around the house might do the trick to make you happier. I am guilty of keeping things that are half broken until all hope is lost, but if I would replace those items sooner then I could avoid frustration. A couple of years ago I bought bright colored battery- operated pencil sharpeners for the kids. After about a month I was taping them shut. Hey, they still worked but not very well. Eventually, we bought a sturdy electric sharpener and it has made all that sharpening easier and quicker with less tape. This sounds unimportant but it’s the little “tools” that when working properly, make our lives at home better, less frustrating, and therefore happier.


We all want happier relationships at home. It’s challenging to be mom to our kids and also the teacher who has to crack down on bad attitudes, laziness, and sloppy work. I’ve noticed such a shift this year in the relationships with my kids when school work is done for the day and we go on an outing. I feel like I get my kids back. One idea from the book that I love and hope to do better this year is taking my kids on solo adventures with me. They each desire one on one time with Mom or Dad but to be totally honest I’m not always up for it. At the end of a busy week I crave alone time so this is going to take some work. But as the saying goes: “The days are long but the years are short.” Making relationships happier at home will have big pay offs in the years to come.

Make Your Own List

You don’t need to read a book about how to be happier to be happier. You can make your own happier at home list. Think of what makes you personally happy and go from there. You can also consider what makes you unhappy and evaluate from different angles what strategies to use to make a few changes. To find more from Gretchin Rubin check out You can also subscribe to her podcast Happier on iTunes.

Could online curriculum be the “better tool” you’re looking for? Check out these great options!


Sarah Brutovski is a homeschool mom of three children. She grew up just down the street from where she and her husband are raising their family now in rural Upstate New York. When she is not teaching her kids, grocery shopping, or drinking coffee you might find  her training for a half marathon, escaping for a morning at the beach, or chatting on the phone with one of her four siblings. Sarah loves writing on her blog and currently teaches creative writing at her kids’ weekly co-op.