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7 habits that helped strengthen my marriage before baby

2. Become fluent in each other’s love languages.

7 habits that helped strengthen my marriage before baby

My marriage has been stretched and tested by the fires of new parenthood. In the midst of sleep deprivation, intense responsibility and raging hormones (mostly mine), we’ve had to make some of the most important decisions of our lives.


All over social media, we see posts about how women love their husbands even more after watching them become dads. Despite the challenges that come with being new parents, I’ve also shared this sentiment and experience. My love for my husband has grown much deeper as we learn to parent together, as I watch him fall more and more in love with our little girl, as he changes countless dirty diapers without complaint.

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But it doesn’t change the fact that the experience of being a new parent is a crucible of change, and it can be really hard on a marriage. As we continue walking through it, I’m so grateful for the ways we developed healthy habits before we had a baby.

There’s nothing that can truly prepare you to have a baby, but there are many things you can do to strengthen your marriage before welcoming a child into the world.


1. Make dating each other a habit.

This probably isn’t new information for any of us—there’s so much good dialogue happening about the importance of dating your spouse! I’d add to this that you should explore what makes time together feel like a “date” for you. Maybe a date means being out of the house, even if it’s just going to the grocery store together. Maybe a date means quality time and undivided attention for a conversation, even if it’s on your own couch.

It’s not always possible to get out for traditional dates when you have a young baby, so knowing how to make your time together feel like dating is so important.

2. Become fluent in each other’s love languages.

Babies bring on a bit of tunnel vision, and if you’re not used to speaking your spouse’s love language, it can be hard to learn to do it once the baby is taking up so much of your brain space. If you’re not sure what your love language is, you can take the quiz here.

3. Get comfortable asking for what you need.

I had to ask for so much help when my daughter was small (heck, I still do) and I had to learn to get over my guilt at doing so pretty quickly. It’s not that my husband didn’t want to help. He just wasn’t sure how, so I had to make it clear what I needed. You can try to do it all yourself... until you get overwhelmed and snap, pleading for help. Or you can learn to ask for help graciously now, it will really go a long way as your family grows.

4. Learn to handle conflict well + forgive swiftly.

Having a baby results in... well, let’s just say some differences of opinion. There is so much to think about, research, decide and do, and you’re trying to make decisions for the health and well-being of your child while you’re sleep deprived. It breeds some conflict, folks.

Learning to share your opinions graciously, listen well and find unity in conflict is critical to staying on the same parenting team—even if you have different parenting styles or models from your childhood.

There are a million little ways you can hold a grudge against your husband in the early days of parenting (and a million little ways he could do the same to you!), but choosing to let go of the little things and forgive quickly will serve your marriage and your children well.

5. Determine your financial goals + establish healthy money habits.

Babies don’t come cheap. It’s wise to plan for big expenses like doctor appointments, hospital bills and baby needs, but it’s also wise to think beyond these immediate expenses.

Do you want to be able to buy a house before you have a baby? Do you need a more family-friendly vehicle? Does one of you want to stay home when the baby arrives, or will you both continue working? Considering the bigger financial questions and making decisions together will help you know when the time might be right for a child and how you’ll make things work once they arrive.

6. Adopt a pet.

I’m well aware that taking care of a pet is not as difficult as raising a little human, but I do think caring for an animal can teach us many transferable lessons. When we adopted a dog, it forced my husband and me to learn how to divide up care, work through our conflict about the best ways to train and raise Riley, and put someone else’s needs ahead of our own.

It was also such a cool new bonding experience as we worked together to take care of someone we deeply love, and it made us even more excited to welcome our daughter.

(One caveat, because I just have to say it: Don’t adopt an animal unless you’re 100% committed to loving this animal for their whole life. Obviously, things happen that can change your ability to care for an animal in the way he needs, but don’t adopt a pet just to test things out. Animals are family, period.)

7. Travel together.

It’s completely possible, albeit a little stressful, to travel with a baby. My reasoning for this one is less about the post-baby difficulties of travel and more about how traveling together shapes a marriage.

You learn so much about navigating new circumstances together, communicating well and handling conflict and stress as a team when you travel. You also create memories and a shared history you can draw on when times get tough and the days become more mundane.

My husband and I definitely did not master these habits before having our first baby, nor do we do them perfectly now—but we have been very intentional about developing these habits. They have served us well as we’ve learned to be true partners and preserve unity in these early days of parenting, and they are helping us model the type of marriage we want our daughter to believe in.

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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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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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