Back to School: Friend or Foe?

I wasn’t ready for summer to end, or kids to go back to school, until suddenly I was.

August Book Recommendations, Part One

Hey—want to win a totally random book and help me spread the word about my weekly missives on making this whole parenting thing a joyful part of our lives? I’m conducting a Random Book Mailing. I’ve got a stack of 19 recent releases to give away, including the two novels below. Do something—anything you’d like—to encourage friends to join the list, then let me know you did by Monday, August 7, 2017. (You can also just reply to this email.) I’ll drop everyone’s […]

Want a happier end to summer? Try this: Sometimes, if you see something, don’t say something.

  Last week, we took out annual summer family vacation: a trip to Cape Cod, where we stay in the same place and do the same things, every year, which still manages to always be just different enough. As we often do, we took a fishing trip. We saw whales. We dropped lines and jigged for mackerel to use as bait. We zoomed at top speed to a place where the striped bass might or might not be—and for the most […]


Episode 63 Show Notes: #Priorities 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 #Priorities Scrivener Bullet Journal #AmReading Razor Girl, Carl Hiassen Peter Mayle Chomp, Carl Hiassen The Decent Proposal: A Novel, Kemper Donovan The Other Alcott, Elise Hooper All of a Kind Family, Sydney Taylor Little Women, Louisa May Alcott Pride […]

It’s common, and easy, to relax tech rules for the summer. But what if you didn’t?

There is plenty to do. It’s just not stuff that will easily sate and sedate you.

The end of the school year might be harder on your kid than you think.

As much as your children may be looking forward to summer, they may also find it hard to see the end of the school year—even if they never admit it or recognize it.

What’s It Like to Eat at Your Kid’s House?

Something—some mention, some sound, some elusive flavor—reminded me of Captain Crunch yesterday. Captain Crunch, those indefinably flavored rectanguloids best known for scraping all the skin off the roof of your mouth as they stubbornly held their crunch even in the face of the deepest bowl of milk. Thus the name, I guess. But in addition to the flavor, Captain Crunch means something else to me. It means breakfast at Stephanie Ellis’ house, the girl who lived across the street from […]

If your kid’s in the car, your phone should never be in your hand.

Your future drivers are watching. Spring is Driver’s Ed season in New England, and my oldest child starts next week. But there’s one thing about driving that I’ve been teaching him for years: It’s not compatible with mobile phones. If you aren’t putting that phone aside while you drive already, start doing it now, in a big, loud, pointed way. “I’m putting my phone in my bag because I’m driving!” you should say. “I’m not answering my phone even on […]

My kid has a “project” due. What’s ok to help with, and what’s not?

Teachers assign projects to our kids for a reason, and it’s not to see what their parents can do.

Before You Limit Your Kids’ Screen Time, Should You Look at Your Own?

New research has parents of kids 8-18 reporting an astonishing 7.5 hours of personal screen time a day. If that’s true, how can we help our kids learn to limit themselves?

#AmWriting’s Tax Tips for Writers Download

Episode 39 of the #AmWriting podcast was all about taxes for writers. Jess stunned me with her organization and then laid out a plan to follow for 2017, and we dished about getting things together and organizing our deductions and whatnot for 2016. To go with it, Jess made a Tax Tips for Writers download, and then I lined it all up so that you guys can get it. Just sign up here, and our Tax Tips for Writers download […]

Win a Book to Change How You Think About “Busy”

I’ve changed the way I think about time thanks to Laura Vanderkam’s work—and now I’m giving away two copies of her book (and a fun copper bracelet). Read why, and enter.

#ReadySetGo2: Setting #WriterResolutions for 2017

For me, one of the biggest barriers to setting goals is stopping doing things long enough to decide what I want to do. On Episode 34 of the #AmWriting podcast, Jessica Lahey and I talked writerly goals: specifically, what makes a good goal, and how to set some in honor of this traditionally goal-setting time of the year. For Episode 35, we’re actually setting those goals—which means getting them down on paper. It also means checking in on last year’s […]

My Word for 2017: Linger.

Linger. That’s my word this year. Professionally, personally, with family, with friends, over essays and book chapters and all the work I put out into the world or keep to myself, I want to linger. I I want to take time, to stay at the table, to rest in the silence or the laughter. In my work, I want to re-read, to edit, to set aside and revisit. And, of course, with the book I’m working on, I need to […]

The Workout I Actually DO

I don’t even have to make a resolution around exercising this year, because—after years of trying things and failing, I’ve actually found a workout I can do, I will do, and I don’t really mind doing.

#ReadySetGoal: Non-Resolutions to Guide You Into a Productive New Year

On Episode 34 of the #AmWriting podcast, Jessica Lahey and I talked writerly goals: specifically, what makes a good goal, and how to set some in honor of this traditionally goal-setting time of the year. We started off by defining a goal by what it’s not—it’s not a resolution. Or maybe it kind of is, but resolutions are often big and amorphous, hard to measure and somewhat doomed. (“I will be kinder. I will be a better daughter. I will […]

You want to give experiences, not things—but that’s not as easy as it sounds. 

Ok, you know the drill. I know the drill. The best gifts, for our over-indulged children and our cluttered homes and the simple lifestyle we aspire to in the post-Kondo world are experiences, not things. Got it. But that’s a hard standard to live up to, right? Experiences take time and effort. Having given them, you, too, often must experience them. And as much as I don’t feel the need to add more Lego to our collection, I also don’t really […]

KJ’s Best Gifts for Writers

In the most recent episode of the #AmWriting podcast, co-host Jessica Lahey and I offered up—along with my December Keep Your Butt in the Chair Manifesto and a reminder that even though the holidays are upon us, WRITERS GONNA WRITE—a list of some of our favorite writer-y things that we’ve aquired over the years. Mine, I realize, skewed awfully heavy on the Decoupage Tissue Box covers–but I am telling you, these are great. Everyone needs a tissue box cover, or at least, […]

The Get Your Butt in the Chair Manifesto: It’s Up to You Whether You Write Today.

I read the Get Your Butt in the Chair Manifesto, below, today on the #AmWriting podcast I do with Jessica Lahey, after a day of cursing out every interruption even as I accepted and, shall we say, enabled them (especially those “interruptions” called Messages, Twitter and Facebook). (You’ll find it in Episode 32.)   I know it’s December. I know things are tough. I know that, quite literally, EVERY SINGLE PERSON I have interviewed this week has at least one […]

It is harder to raise the comeback kid than the golden child. And better.

What you want for your child now may not lead to what you want for your child in the future.