It can be hard enough at times to keep the romance alive after you’ve been with your partner for a long time. Then you mix in planning sex around your ovulation cycle, and sex that was once lively and fun can turn (dun dun dun) stressful.

The horror!

When everything and everyone seems to be telling you how and when to have sex (I’m looking at you, fertility apps, ovulation calendars, doctors and the lunar cycle), the act of sex itself can seem tedious. Creating a life should be intoxicating and primal, full of excitement, thrills and anticipation. But... we are only human. We get stressed and overworked, and we easily forget the little wonders of everyday life.


Trying to conceive can be an emotional and sometimes difficult time for couples. But remembering to keep the passion and enchantment alive while trying to become pregnant can make a world of difference for your relationship and your well-being.

Here are 3 ways to keep the romance alive when making a baby.

1. Remember: Sex is not a chore.

If you start to dread when it’s time to get sexy with your loved one, sex has become more of a chore than a joy. A chore is a hard or unpleasant task. No one likes doing chores. Now compare this to your sex life. Hitting home a bit?

When an added stress is put on sex, like trying to conceive, it can drain all the romance from the process of making love. Outside voices (in the forms of apps and calendars) just exacerbate the issue. So of course intercourse is going to seem like something else to check off the to- do list.

Try changing your internal dialogue.

Sex is not just a kissy-face emoji on your iCal four times a month (but it is a little bit ?.) It is an incredible opportunity to connect with your partner on the most intimate levels. It’s also an opportunity to have fun and feel good!

Try changing your internal dialogue. Instead of thinking, “We HAVE to have sex tonight. I’m ovulating, his sperm is jumpin’ and the moon is full,” try this instead: “I am so excited about having sex tonight, and the possibility of making a child only intensifies things. Let’s do this!”

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2. Be kind to yourselves.

As hard as it may be, try not to put too much pressure on the actual act of sex. Every couple’s conception story is unique. Some might need those outside tools to help them along. That’s okay!

After seeing close friends struggle with conceiving, I know the heartbreak, tears and frustration that can come with trying to have a child. Yes, sometimes it can be extremely difficult to just “take it easy.” But the more positive energy you put toward intercourse, the better your chances of conceiving.

Stress affects fertility.

Recent studies have found that stress hurts fertility. So instead of looking at sex as a means to an end, try to look at it as a stress reliever. In addition to feeling awesome, lowering blood pressure and burning calories, sex and orgasms help reduce stress and chill you out.

3. Don’t be afraid to switch things up a bit.

Nothing kills a sexy vibe more than doing it at the same time, in the same place and in the same position every time. To keep the amour alive, switch it up!

Try hotel sex.

Your next splurge: a room for the night at a fancy hotel near you. Get room service, bring your own bubbly and berries and role-play all night. A new location and a new identity (just for one night!) can make for quite a scintillating romp.

Use an app.

Download a sex position app and try two or three suggestions per night. There are plenty of free apps available that walk you through everything from the Kama Sutra to cowgirl.

Reconnect with your partner.

Spend an evening making a favorite meal, drinking a favorite cocktail and reminiscing about great memories, including some of your more adventurous moments in the bedroom. Then re-create that night down to the last detail, even if it means breaking out the tequila... and the handcuffs from that old Halloween costume.

The point is: Have fun. This is a magical time in your relationship. Soon you will be squeezing in a quickie between feedings and messy baths, so take advantage while you can!

Happy baby-making! ?

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It's official: You have a 1-year-old. Cue all the happy tears! As you think back over the past 12 months, there were undoubtedly highs and lows. Your baby's transformation from sleepy newborn to active toddler is major. But your own transformation shouldn't be underestimated either, mama. Just think of how much you've learned and grown in just one year!

Throughout this past year, you came into your own as a mother, bonded with your baby and made memories you will cherish for a lifetime.

After one year on the job, you probably have your day-to-day routine down pat and feel confident saying "yes" to more opportunities again—whether it's new work opportunities or a skill you want to learn during those rare moments of downtime.

As you look ahead, here are a few of our favorite items for the next stage: Life with a 1-year-old:

For educational play: Fisher-Price Little People farm set

Fisher Price Farm

Little People toys from Fisher-Price are classics for good reason: They feel nostalgic and promote imaginative play. This is one collection that will get use for years and years to come.


For those precious little feet: Surprize sneakers

Stride Rite Sneaker

As your baby starts to take their first steps, you'll want to get them used to wearing shoes. Podiatrists recommend looking for shoes that have a stiff heel, flexible toe box and rigid middle.


For introducing close-ended play: Melissa & Doug jumbo knob puzzles

Melissa and Doug Puzzle

Puzzles are fun, but they also help teach persistence, sorting skills and more. This kind of close-ended play, where your child can get to the satisfying conclusion of a completed picture, can help with building attention.


For open-ended play: Fat Brain toy suction cups

Fat Brain Cups

On the other side of the coin, open-ended play asks for more creativity and social interaction. When there isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, your little one will feel encouraged to use their imagination and free-thinking skills.


For bath time splashes: Skip Hop pour and stack bath buckets

Skip Hop

Bath time doesn't have to be all about washing and cleaning. It can also be a great opportunity for sensory play, especially with some fun bath toys in the mix.


For showing your skin some love: Honest Beauty deep hydration face cream

Honest beauty

You've probably streamlined your beauty routine in the past year due to time limitations, but one thing you shouldn't skimp on? A moment of self-care. A good face cream can improve the quality of your skin and help enhance your natural glow.


For your busy schedule: Ubrands dry erase calendar

Dry erase board

More time in the home means more dishes, dust and dirt to clean up. Rather than nightly debates about whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher, get everyone in the family on the same page with a visible chores calendar.


For easy style: A New Day t-shirt dress

A new Day

When you're a mama, getting dressed is all about ease and comfort. This dress is stylish, yet relaxed enough to wear around the house when you are ready to change out of yoga pants. Add a nice jacket or some fun earrings for a virtual-meeting-ready look!


For those birthday pictures: Project 62 matted frame

Project 62

Baby's first birthday is a great occasion to take lots of pictures. These will definitely be frame-worthy, so display them in style with this beautiful piece.


For some well-deserved rest: Threshold weighted blanket

Threshold weighted blanket

There's no way to really catch up on the sleep you lost during the past year, but you can start having sweeter dreams now with help from a weighted blanket. Seriously, people rave about these for good reason!


This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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How often do we see a "misbehaving" child and think to ourselves, that kid needs more discipline? How often do we look at our own misbehaving child and think the same thing?

Our society is conditioned to believe that we have to be strict and stern with our kids, or threaten, shame or punish them into behaving. This authoritarian style of parenting is characterized by high expectations and low responsiveness—a tough love approach.

But while this type of authoritarian parenting may elicit "obedient" kids in the short-term, studies suggest that children who are shamed or punished in the name of discipline face challenges in the long-term. Research suggests that children who are harshly disciplined or shamed tend to be less happy, less independent, less confident, less resilient, more aggressive and hostile, more fearful and at higher risk for substance abuse and mental health issues as adults and adolescents.


The reason? No one ever changes from being shamed.

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