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Say Yay.

Sometimes it helps to celebrate the very little things. Last night, as I closed the dishwasher, knowing that the last kitchen straightening was done, that I’d taken the final things off the counter and wiped the sink (the one thing the kids never manage to do when they clean up after dinner), I set its fancy timer and shut its door and happily said “Yay!” My daughter happened to be standing there, and she looked at me in shock. “Yay […]

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A secret to a happier vacation: plan some nothing.

We tend to fill our vacations with plans and projects. What if the plan was not to plan at all? A funny thing about Americans is that we can be a little afraid to do nothing. Our Puritan ancestors (who are absolutely not my direct ancestors and probably not yours either, but they still managed to dump this on us) were all about getting the things done. Milk that cow, tote that bale. Want some rest? Why not sit here […]

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Mild. Lame for hot sauce, great for parents.

It’s not just the lamest flavor of hot sauce. It’s the tone and the mental state you want to reach for when your kids shake on the Extra Hot.

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The two things I learned about chores that made a difference

Okay, one of these just kind of sucks. And the other actually helps. Here is perhaps the biggest takeaway from the chores chapter of How to Be a Happier Parent: kids will do chores. Seriously. They’re all capable. The only difference between a kid who doesn’t do chores and the 5-year-old in Peru’s Amazon region hauling “logs bigger than her legs” to help build a fire is (I hate this, I really do): Us. Man, that blows. But there really […]

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Wet, Cold, Miserable–and Memorable

Here’s how a wet, cold, miserable Memorial Day weekend might make you happier than the one you’re imagining. I know what Memorial Day is supposed to look like. Maybe yours won’t. Maybe your view looks more like this one: And maybe–bear with me for a minute–that could actually make you happier. Here’s the thing about vacations and holidays: they’re weighed down by the burden of expectations. That means times we really really feel like need to be happy have to […]

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Oh, Just Join In Already

Some things are just cheesy. I was at a conference recently, and I went to a session where we were first asked to draw our inner monster. (The voice that tells you you suck all the time, and if you don’t have one, then, well. That’s great. I was going to say something snarky but that would be contrary to the spirit of this missive). Next, we went on an inner meditative journey to meet ourselves in 20 years, and […]

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I don’t mean to frustrate, but

I always make the same mistakes. I’m not bad at love (and that’s a Halsey lyric, in case you don’t have a Top 40 loving kid in the house), but that always make the same mistakes part? I got that down. I burn nuts and garlic toast, every single time. I always believe I can get places faster than I actually can (and sometimes, at speeds that would require me to travel backwards in time). And if I told you […]

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Why Is My Laptop WiFi Default “On?”

I use my laptop, and other digital devices, for a lot of things that don’t require them to be connected to any outside sources. I listen to podcasts, although I sometimes discover to my surprise and dismay that they aren’t actually downloaded. I use a meditation app. I read on Kindle and iBooks. Most importantly, I write books, essays, blog posts, lists and even social media posts and emails–and to write those things, I don’t need the dubious “help” of […]

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1 is better than 3 is better than 20

Turns out more stuff equals less focus, for toddlers, and for us.

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8 Reasons Why There Is No Salad with Dinner

There is a leek in the soup, thus covering the vegetable requirement. Made salad last night. It’s Caesar salad! That counts! What if every body just eats an apple? Can we do that? Can that be okay? I broke the salad spinner. I put out carrots and cucumber and dressing after school and they ate that. That lettuce looks wilted. I just can’t, okay? I don’t exactly hate salad. I eat salad other people make. But I hate making salad, […]

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My Day, By the Numbers

Hand-dipped chocolate-covered Peeps eaten: 3 (1 pink, 2 yellow) (yellow are better) Words added to novel: 1,125 Children who had annual physical: 2 Milkshakes purchased to make up for shots received at annual physical: 1 Texts sent to Jess and Sarina:15 Texts sent, other: 26 Emails sent: 22, not counting misc replies within conversations or those sent via magical phone Children driven to or picked up from school, sports or activities: 6 (2 more than once, 1 not mine) Children […]

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#DrivingTwoCars

Episode 100 Show Notes: #DrivingTwoCars kjdellantonia.com NY Times Well The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, Jess Lahey #AmWriting with Jess and KJ The Atlantic Vermont Public Radio Grown and Flown KJ’s How to Be a Happier Parent (even when I’m not)   #DrivingTwoCars Sarina Bowen Laurie Abkemeier KIWI Magazine Bittersweet (True North #1), Sarina Bowen The Creative Penn Podcast, Joanna Penn The Art of the Book Proposal, Eric Maisel […]

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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 thesaurus.com 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. […]

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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 […]

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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. […]

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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 […]

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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.

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How to Buy Better, Fewer Holiday Gifts for Kids

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

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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, […]

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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.

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I've got Ten Mantras for Happier Parents (based on the research for my book, How to Be a Happier Parent). They've worked for me—want to try them?

Hi, I’m KJ. Can I send you something?