When my first daughter was born, I watched House Hunters and Property Brothers non-stop for the first two months. In my hormone-saturated, sleep-deprived state, the predictable formula of strangers examining walk-in closets and countertops before settling into heavily-mortgaged domestic bliss was such a comfort. I lived in a rental in the Los Angeles area, where the hot real estate market meant I had about as much chance of saving for a down payment on my own house as I did of getting 8.5 hours of sleep every night.
Four years later, the postpartum nesting instinct has subsided, and even though I finally did get myself a mortgage, I am less interested in knocking down walls or even painting them than I thought I would be. I liked those HGTV shows then because they represented a well-edited, simplified version of the trickier real-life phase of my own life that was just ahead.
The Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast represents the well-edited, simplified answers to the next set of questions I’m trying to answer as my kids get older and my family’s schedules and demands get more complicated than they were a few years ago. Happier is full of useful advice and tips for getting more organized, developing better habits, and becoming more self-aware. Rubin’s sister and co-host Elizabeth Craft always plays devil’s advocate, test-driving new ideas by talking through how in the world they would work in her constantly-under-construction home.
Just like my old HGTV friends the Scott twins, the sibling/host dynamic on this podcast makes me as happy as a Costco-sized pack of multicolored Post-its probably makes Gretchen. The show moves along at a good clip, separated into “Happiness Hacks,” “Gold Stars and Demerits,” and “Try This At Home” segments along with interviews and more in-depth discussions.
I love this show even though the idea of implementing most of its ideas are a fantasy, at least for me right now. Here are four recent tips from Happier that I loved listening to but probably won’t try:
- Reclaim your dump zones: My house was designed in the 1960’s for people who entered through the front door, hung up their one coat they owned in the tiny coat closet, and then, I assume, got real drunk every night downstairs in the rumpus room (at least that’s what my 80-year-old neighbor tells me they were like). I will occasionally redistribute the junk before retiring to the rumpus room for the evening myself, but that’s the best we’re gonna do.
- Make a “ta-da” list: This means writing down things you got done at the end of the day instead of making a to-do listI don’t know, somehow it feels way better when “made coffee” gets crossed off a to-do list than when I list it 18 hours later as an accomplishment.
- Tackle a “power day:” Gretchen and Elizabeth love these. They just take a whole day and power through annoying tasks that build up in their lives, like paying bills, making appointments, and cleaning out long-neglected corners of their homes. I agree with the concept, but because I’m used to doing everything with a two-year-old in tow, don’t even need a whole power day. The last time my kids were gone from my house for two hours, I got as much in those two hours as Mary Poppins on meth.
- Conquer the snooze alarm: The Happier ladies suggest putting your alarm clock on the other side of the room so that you’re forced to get up to turn it off. I get this in theory, but those fifteen minutes just seem disproportionately cruel to mess with.
I love the feeling of knowing these hacks and tips are there when I need them the same way I love knowing which cool indie bands are coming to the restored retro theater downtown even though I’ll only spring for a babysitter to see a show about once a year. One day soon, there will be more time for both. In the meantime, I can listen to both.