The other week I heard the term ‘crunchy mama’ for the first time. After a quick google I came to learn that a crunchy mama is a neo-hippie who is basically anti-mainstream. But really, what a crunchy mama is or isn’t doesn’t actually bother me. What bothers me is the labels that seem to be slapped on parents, and particularly mothers, as they go about their business, trying to raise their kids in the best way they can.

It is for this reason that I generally avoid parenting books. I’m sure there are some things that I can relate to in the crunchy mum camp while some days I may adopt more of a helicopter style. I’m not an object to be labelled and try to avoid falling into the trap of prescribing to one point of view. When it comes to my children I try and keep an open mind.

So when I started reading 21 Days to a Happier Family, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It is a parenting book after all. I had seen the author, Dr Justin Coulson, speaking at events in the past and had found his advice very helpful so I jumped in to see what he had to say. Here’s what I thought.

The reality of parenting

Firstly, Dr Coulson is a father of six. In my book that means he hasn’t seen anything that my 2.5 year old is currently throwing my way. He gets it. And you can tell he gets it. I found myself nodding along at so many points throughout the book, relieved that I’m not the only parent experiencing a particular issue. He knows his stuff, from his personal experience, his studies and the many families he has worked with. The advice in the book is practical, based on scenarios that families so often find themselves in.


There is nothing worse than reading a self-help style book and coming away with nothing more than a good feeling. Or perhaps a bad feeling because you have seen all the areas of yourself/your life that need improving, but with no actual steps to make a change. As the title suggests, this book is broken down into 21 days or aspects of parenting to tackle. Each with clear action steps outlined to guide you through what you need to do to make improvements or change.


As a father of six, Dr Coulson has more than enough examples to share about his own parenting adventures. And he does share these throughout the book. But he also shares examples of other families he has worked with to really illustrate the points he is making. What I really like is that it doesn’t matter whether you are parenting a threenager or a teenager, you can relate to the examples. I could relate to so many of the stories he shared and it made connecting with the actions and outcomes much easier.

Research based

So maybe it is the way my brain works but I really appreciated the science that Dr Coulson uses in this book to back up what he is saying. He references many psychological studies and papers that show why each element he discusses is important. Like with the examples, this added to my ability to connect with the outcomes as it gives a reason as to why it is important.

No labels

To me this book is about how you can communicate better as a family. How you can pass your values and traditions onto your kids. So while Dr Coulson does refer to one parenting style, backed by research and examples, there are no unnecessary labels that pit one group of parents against another. This is a simple way to make your family life easier and importantly happier.

So what have I done since reading the book? I actually found myself nodding along so much that I asked hubby if he would read it. He wasn’t really into reading the book so what we have started doing is simply going through one of the “days” each night after dinner (when we can!). Some relate to us more than others but overall, we have something to discover each day. Doing it together is actually much more powerful as any changes are made as a unified front rather than one parent trying to catch up.

I have been recommending the book to so many friends as I really have found so much value in it. Even in just the simple ways it has helped me to reframe my thinking about my approach to situations or why we find ourselves in those situations in the first place. Basically, if you are keen to explore a gentle approach to understanding your kids and building stronger relationships with them then I would give the book a go. It has certainly been very eye opening for me. You can pick up a copy at Booktopia (this is an affiliate link but I have been recommending this book to all my mummy friends so it’s not a bum steer! I was also sent this book for review purposes but it doesn’t change how I feel about it!)

Have you read the book? What did you think?

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