The How It's Done Email:
Up top: One Thing You Can Do This Week
Middle: What's up with KJ
Down low: Motherlode transition news
Way down: Caption Contest
What One Thing You Can Do This Week
Every week, I'm sharing one idea for making raising your family more of a joy that you can use now. As I write, what’s next for me-the-parent is game three of my older daughter’s regional hockey tournament—also known, in our world, as a chance to explore wherever we find ourselves. Last weekend, we found possibly the best chocolate in New Hampshire (and certainly the most enthusiastic chocolatier). Ask me about tacos in Montpelier, ramen in Jay and yarn and bookstores anywhere in New England—I’m on it.
And that’s this week’s How It’s Done—if school or sports hands you a long drive or weekend with a child in the car, do two things. First, grab that one-on-one time (one thing I learned this week—that relationship we build with each of our individual kids isn’t just for them). Second, make it about you, too. Find a hike, put your bike on the car, target your favorite food or shop and make that trip into something you can both look forward to.
Adventures in Parenting and Book Writing
So, how do you even start to write a book? Because now that I’m not writing, producing and editing blog posts full time, that’s what I’ll be doing (in addition to my regular column at the Times). One book, draft due to my editor at Avery early next year, on How It’s Done: Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute of It.
Step one wasn’t writing the proposal or getting the contract. Step one was deciding what more the world needed in a book about raising a family—and more importantly, what I actually wanted to write. At one point I drafted a full proposal on what we could do to make life more fun—and then I contemplated writing it, and realized that above everything else, I do not want to do more things. Or suggest that you do more things.
But I do want to enjoy my life and my family more, and that’s what’s at the root of the book I’m working on. The happiest families are the ones where the adults build a life that the children are part of—not those where the grown-ups build a life around the kids. I’m starting by looking for those families, and trying to figure out why so many of the rest of us, are, shall we say, structuring our lives around youth hockey. Have things objectively changed since we were kids? (Yep.) Is it all the fault of us overly driven Boomer, Gen X and Millenial parents? (I think not, and I’m following the money.)
What’s next for me-the-book-writer is research. If you know a parent who is really taking kids along for his or her own life journey—literally or figuratively—or if you are that parent, please get in touch. I also want to hear about all the ways you changed your life when you became a parent, and whether, looking back on it, you really needed to give up skateboarding or your dream of owning your own pottery wheel.
A lot has happened in the last few weeks. After eight years, five on my watch, the Motherlode blog finally got a new name (Well Family), and a whole lot more love from the NYT mother ship in the form of resources, writers and liberal dashings of secret sauce.
Some people are asking “what does that mean for you?” The short answer is that I’m no longer producing—no more patching together code for the sidebar and driving to the library parking lot to upload images when my home internet is too slow. I’m still writing—you’ll find me on Well Family on Tuesdays and Fridays and whenever something happens in the world, good or bad, that demands immediate response. The long answer? Stay tuned, but I'll be updating my blog and website more often. Visit! (There's a fresh entry now.)
Here’s the scoop for you writers who are also asking “what does that mean for me?” I’m still reading submissions. I thought I might take a break from them, and I said as much on Facebook—but I would miss it too much. I really love bringing new voices into the conversation. So submissions to Well Family can still come to me. You will still, mostly, get a canned rejection, even if I love you and you’ve submitted before. But we’re still working with freelancers, still accepting essays (although we’re chock-full at the moment).
My old advice to contributors still holds: Write about that thing you really want to write about, whether it's a farewell to the minivan or something that's more obviously meaningful, and make it an essay, not a blog post. Make it great, and if it doesn't work here you'll hopefully be able to make it work somewhere else. As for the details? Still about 800 words, still as good as you can make it, but at least you don’t have to spell Motherlode right any more.
The minifigs and Playmobil people aren’t getting nearly as many outings under the new Well Family banner (what with that whole budget-for-actual-art thing). And I can’t give them up. So here they are, starring in my new caption contest. Look for a new image every week in my email, and then tell me (by email or on Facebook) what’s happening. The best caption will appear in the next week’s email.
What else will be in next week’s email? More on what I’m learning as I talk to parents about how they create family lives that make whole families happy, more thoughts, how to write a book: the actual tapping of fingers on keys, what’s happening with Well Family and more of my own How It’s Done (or Not).
Thanks for reading, stay in touch, and see you in the Well Family comments! --KJ