So I wrote this mantra

I wrote ten mantras, actually, and I dubbed them Ten Mantras for Happier Parents. (Ten secrets? Ten sayings? Aphorisms, mottos, truisms? Sometimes is not your friend.)  Number seven has been giving me a really hard time of late. Here it is: You can be happy when your children aren’t. I’ve been struggling to live that lately. One of my kids has been unhappy, for reasons biggish but not catastrophic, and it’s been bringing me, and all of us, down. […]

Why You Need a ‘Buy It Later’ Button

This is from my weekly email. Normally, I like to have the email essay go only to subscribers, but I had so many requests to share this that I posted it here. If you’d like to get my weekly short essays on How to Be a Happier Parent (even when I’m not), you should subscribe! It’s free and fun and usually cheerful. Except for that one time with the car thing.) Here’s what we did last week: swapped rooms. One […]

Guest Room, or Bedroom?

Ok, I’m torn. Here’s the issue: we live in a 4 bedroom house. That’s a nice big house, right? One bedroom is mine and my husband’s (that would be non-negotiable). Our two sons sleep in one, our two daughters in the other, and the third (much the smallest, but with a bathroom) is a guest room. There have been complaints. My daughters are very different people, and they would much prefer not to share a room. So one concocted a plan. […]

I have a book cover! How to be a Happier Parent arrives for pre-order.

  How to Be a Happier Parent appears for the first time in online bookstores this week! I’m so thrilled. I love the book, and I’m looking forward to sharing it. For now, here’s what my publisher has to say about it: An encouraging guide to helping parents find more happiness in their day-to-day family life, from the former lead editor of the New York Times’ Motherlode blog In all the writing and reporting KJ Dell’Antonia has done on families […]

For Kids (and Adults) Habits and Plans Beat Resolutions

Goal-setting feels overwhelming to many kids. Try these simple steps to help them make a change feel do-able for a new year.

How to Buy Better, Fewer Holiday Gifts for Kids

This year, spend less, stress less and make everyone happier.

Rules for Happier Parents: Children Change. When We Let Them

  Here is a list of some of the labels I was given as a child: Always Late. Picky Eater. Hates All Sports. Makes Excuses. Messy and Disorganized. Doesn’t Play Well with Others. It took time (decades, in some cases), but I’ve outgrown every one of those. (You’re still welcome to use stubborn, impulsive and loud-mouthed, however). I’m a foodie, an athlete, a hockey fan, and a reliable worker who never misses a deadline. But when my parents are around, […]

You Are the Parent I Wish I Was.

We’re all doing what we think is important, and we’re all doubting, wondering if another road is smoother or more likely to include a bus stop for success.

Rules for Happier Parents: The Road to Jack O’Lantern Glory is Paved with Pumpkin Guts and Tears

Cook a simple meal, do a load of laundry, clean a bathroom, carve a pumpkin. Life skills, man.

The Blessing of an Ordinary Week

Soak up the joy of ordinary days, and you build up a reservoir of peace and contentment that keeps you strong when the storms come.

October Book Recommendations, Part 1

  A memoir from an accomplished novelist is always a gift, but this one stands out. When you tell me it’s about growing up in and marrying within the Orthodox Jewish culture, I’m hooked–but when you tell me it’s some of the best writing I’ve seen about growing up, evolving your beliefs and finding your own way outside of the stories you’ve been told—and have told yourself—then I’m blown away, and I was.         How many real […]

You Do Not Have to Go to a Bad Party

That kid who is yelling at you from the kitchen, ranting and angry? He’s throwing a bad party—and you don’t have to go.

September Book Recommendations, Part 5

  If you’re a fan of practical parenting books, especially the kind with lots of amalgamated-from-my-client-list-with-real-identity-disguised examples of people who are doing it worse than you, I highly recommend this one. The “13 Things” in question really are things that we’ll all be happier if we don’t do (make your child the center of the universe, take shortcuts to avoid discomfort) and will often make you pause and take a hard look at what you really do as a parent […]

Say Good Morning.

For a long time, when I head upstairs to make sure everyone is up in the morning, I’ve been walking into my sons’ room saying, cheerfully, “time to get up!” or “time to face the day!” And for the past week or so, my oldest son has been rolling over and saying “Good morning.” I answered him, of course. “Good morning!” I liked it. It’s so much nicer, I thought, when he says good morning instead of something like, “I […]

September Book Recommendations, Part 4

In honor of the fall cooking season, I’ve got two food-related memoirs this week.   Growing up torn between a sugar-loving German baker and a spice-loving Arab dad, the author was bound to learn to cook. This is the story of how she reconciled those two very flamboyant, and very different, personalities within herself.               Girl cooks in crazy prestigious NYC kitchens and then moves to rural off-the-grid Minnesota? That’s a story I wanted […]

The One Thing You Can Do When the Homework Is Killing You All

We’ve all been there. Your child is frustrated, and insisting the teacher never showed her how to graph the results of the word problem. The 210 page reading assignment had him up half the night; the “measure four rooms in your house” question took the combined efforts of the whole family to complete and taught your kid nothing, and seriously, who does the second grade teacher think is really doing the online research on lemurs? You’re annoyed, you’re confused, everyone […]

September Book Recommendations, Part 3

  I was so thrilled to find this memoir of a young German woman’s experience as an immigrant and newbie farmer in Vermont in the 1940’s. It’s both a classic city slicker in the big country story (love those) and a glorious, contemporaneous depiction of another time, with party lines and pony carts and train travel. I’m treasuring every page.         Gretchen Rubin’s four tendencies framework won’t fully explain you or everyone around you, but once you’re […]

School transition bringing out your child’s more challenging side? Slow down, give in, let things go.

It’s happening again. Every year, just as school starts, we find ourselves in a place I thought we’d left behind. The kids on edge, constantly provoking, teasing and pushing one another’s buttons. One child’s skin so thin she might burst. Tantrums, oddities and tics return. What’s up? You’d think something big was going on and—oh. Yeah. School’s started. A new teacher. A new grade. New expectations and old ones that have never been easy. It’s a challenging time for all […]

September Book Recommendations, Part 2

This week, Mary Laura Philpott was a guest on the #AmWriting podcast. Our topic: #Youandyourbookstore, on writers forming relationships with the bookstores we love. I’ve done this before, but Mary Laura convinced me to go all in, and from now on the links to books in this email will be to Indiebound. Click, and you can get the book ordered from your local—or any—independent bookstore. It’s been a good week for reading. Here’s why:       To Siri with Love is Judith Newman’s […]

Resistance Is Useless

You’re going to read the bedtime story, make the extra orthodontist appointment or pick up the kid who missed the bus. You might as well do it with grace.  Some days (weeks, months) are frustrating. All anyone wants from you is everything—every spare minute, every ounce of patience, and oh, that sandwich you just made for your own lunch looks good too. Everywhere you look, there’s another octopus, all grabbing arms and suckers, holding you in place until they use […]