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6 secrets to keeping your marriage on track as new parents

2. We talk about something other than (gasp!) the baby. 

6 secrets to keeping your marriage on track as new parents

One little secret that no one tells you is that your marriage will be different after having a baby. Or maybe they do try to tell you, but it doesn’t register until it’s too late.


About two-thirds of couples will see a drop in marital satisfaction after the birth of a baby. Your routines go out the window, days and nights blur together, eating is erratic, and don’t even think about having sex. Conflict and emotional distance are routine.

My husband and I definitely did not think this would happen to us. We were so happy, so nauseatingly PDA with each other, our relationship was immune, right?

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Wrong.

In his book You Can Be Right (or You Can Be Married), Dana Adam Shapiro interviews divorced people to figure out what makes marriages end and how to make them last. In one interview, a divorced mother explains:

“That first year after you have a kid is all about survival. And I don’t know a lot of couples who are having much sex. The underlying thing you have to know is that, as the husband, you are totally displaced. And that’s a bummer…. The baby gets so much love and attention and the mother gets so much satisfaction from the child—there’s just not a lot left for somebody else.”

Nail ? head.

So, what can you do? Here are a few ideas we applied to our relationship from marriage + family experts who helped us:


1. We have a weekly logistics meeting.

As popularized by Stephen Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families and supported by research, we have adopted a weekly “meeting” where we hash out the logistics for the week. Who’s doing pick-ups, drop-offs and otherwise playing with the little one throughout the week? Dinners, work schedules and social engagements all go on a Google Calendar. Life with three is way more complicated—you’ve got to use every tool at your disposal.

To get started, check this out from the Center for Effective Parenting.

2. We talk about something other than the baby.

For a while, we played a game each night when we got home: We had to tell each other three new things we were grateful for that happened that day. This is an adaptation from the “Minimum Daily Requirement” as described by Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages, where he encourages a “daily sharing time in which each of you will talk about three things that happened to you that day and how you feel about them.”

We also played a variant where we thought of three things we planned to tell the other about the day. It kept us connected and thinking about each other throughout the day, looking for interesting things to tell the other when we got home.

We purposefully kept this sharing to things not related to our baby so we maintained a connection beyond our child.

Many people recommend a weekly date night, which is great in theory... but that requires a babysitter and a lot of planning, and we found we missed more weeks than we made.

Sharing three things might sound cheesy, but it’s free and you really have no excuse for skipping it.

3. We bring feelings to the surface as they come up.

One major way we’ve learned to avoid unnecessary conflict is to label feelings as they come up. This is important for me in particular. For example, telling my husband, “I’m starting to feel frustrated” saved us from more than a few fights. It was a signal to pause and investigate before a heated conversation turned into a major blowup.

Bonus: Recognizing and labeling a feeling lessens its intensity and makes you feel more in control. I first came across this in an article by Gretchen Rubin from The Happiness Project, where she says: “If you’re feeling a negative emotion, you can work to reduce it by labeling it in one or two words.”

4. We stopped fighting to ‘win.’

You will feel very passionate that you are right about a lot of things in parenting, and your partner will feel just as passionately that you are wrong. You will fight, and your goal will be to convince the other person to adopt your viewpoint. This is a road to continued unhappiness. A “Fighting Fair” guideline explains:

“Remember that the idea is not to win but to come to a mutually satisfying solution to the problem.”

We finally figured out that there are just some topics we’ll never agree on. We now try to fight with the goal of being heard and understood, rather than to agree. This has been huge for us.

5. We’ve learned to listen to understand.

It’s important to signal to the other person that you’ve heard what they’re trying to say. “Reflective listening,” or reflecting back to the other person what you heard them say, is another cheesy-but-powerful practice that has helped us avoid or resolve a conflict. Here is a brief primer.

6. We’re working on a true partnership.

One study found that both parents were more likely to be satisfied with the marriage when household chores were equally divided. Women were also more likely to report sexual satisfaction when they reported that they shared household duties with their husband. So apparently, the way to a woman’s heart is through the dishwasher??

Finally, just remember that it will get better. Most of us need to work at it, but your marriage will get better even if it stinks for a while after baby. You won’t have time to read any self-help books, since you’ll barely have time to pee when you become a parent. But don’t be afraid to ask for advice or hire a therapist before things get bad.

Invest in each other. It’s time well spent.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

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I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

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My 3-year-old is eating peanut butter toast with banana for breakfast (his request), and we are officially running late for preschool. We need to get in the car soon if we want to miss the morning traffic, but he has decided that he no longer wants the food that he begged for two minutes earlier. What started off as a relatively calm breakfast has turned into a battle of wills.

"You're going to be hungry," I say, realizing immediately that he could care less. I can feel my frustration rising, and even though I'm trying to stay calm, I'm getting snappy and irritable. In hindsight, I can see so many opportunities that fell through the cracks to salvage this morning, but at the moment… there was nothing.

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