10 ways to live a more joyful life

I decided to surrender that which does not serve me so that I have sufficient time and space for that which does.

10 ways to live a more joyful life


I’m chasing it in 2017. Not just because I’m writing a book on it, which I am (stay tuned!) but because as I’m nearing closer and closer to 40 (in 2018) I feel a deep longing to surrender that which does not serve me so that I have sufficient time and space for that which does.

To know what I can let go of and what I must tend more to, I’ve had to evaluate what does and doesn’t serve me in this season of my life. Connection. Healthy relationships. Reading. Writing. Volunteering. Worshipping. Being slow, being intentional, being present. These things serve me well because they fill me with joy.


Living at warp speed does not serve me.

I do not want to look back on this season and only remember that I was busy. I want to remember playing with my kids, gathering around the table, reading great books—I want precious memories to hold on to, and I can only make them if I slow down.

The critic in my head does not serve me.

And neither does the one in my life who tears me down or the one behind that keyboard who does the same. Comparisons don’t serve me—comparing my home to the photo on Pinterest or my child to hers doesn’t allow for me to appreciate what I have. You’ve heard it said that comparison is the thief of joy (Theodore Roosevelt, I believe.) It's true.

Distractions don’t serve me.

They pull me away from joy and overload me with too much input. The ever-moving newsfeed that sucks me in with photos of your beautiful family and interesting articles on brain science can be a joy-enhancer in small increments or a joy stealer if I dwell there too long or allow the wrong things into my mind and heart. An overwhelmed mind is not a peaceful mind. A discontented heart feels no joy.

Pushing myself beyond the limit where I feel safe and comfortable because of the expectations of others does not serve me.

And friends, I’ve wrestled with this one for years. There seems to be a certain glory awarded to those who “live big” and “get outside their comfort zones.” Push yourself,” they say. “Reach for new limits.” “Don’t play small.” “Be bold and brave.” You know what? I’m okay with my limits where they are and pushing myself beyond them doesn’t bring glory or growth, it brings me anxiety.

Some of us are made to live big, but we don’t all have the same path or purpose. There’s nothing wrong with living small so long as your heart is content, so don’t let anyone shame you into believing you must be more.

Some of us do the most good in the small, quiet comfort of the ordinary day to day, right where God put us.

Joy is all around me. And you.

If I slow my mind down, Sherlock style, and really pay attention—if I open my eyes and ears and slow my breathing and notice—it’s all over the place! Take a second and look around you. Really look for joy. What do you see?

I wonder with a troubled heart how much joy I missed out on because all I could see was the mess, the deadline, the to-do list, the pile, the same ole monotonous routine. How many smiles did I forfeit? How much laughter passed me by? Most importantly, how many moments of connection did I miss with my loved ones because I was looking at something else? How much living have I missed out on?

Here are my 10 tips to live a joyful life.

1. Set 3 intentions to start your day. Examples— will call an old friend. I will play with my kids. I will be gentle.

2. Tidy your home early and often. It helps your headspace be tidier too.

3. Burn the best candle. Use fancy glasswear. Make a toast. Dress up even if you have nowhere to be. An ordinary day can (and should be) celebrated.

4. Make time to read, both alone and aloud to your children. Every single day.

5. Kitchens are for more than cooking and eating. They often have the best dance floors in the house. Try them out.

6. It’s really hard to hear your own voice when your head is crowded with lots of voices. Clear them out.

7. There is absolutely nothing going on in the online world that is better than what you can cultivate in your real world with a bit of creativity and connection. Spend more time making it interesting and beautiful.

8. If you start saying positive, encouraging, genuinely kind things to your kids every day, you’ll see the power struggles dissipate and your home will be a happier place. Try it and see.

9. Don’t miss out on making a wonderful memory because you don’t want to get your hair wet or smear your mascara.

10. The years with your kids are going to be short whether you slow down and live intentionally or keep up at high speed. The only difference is the amount of beautiful memories you will collect. They’re only little once. Choose joy.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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