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Choose each other daily—and 12 other ways to keep a marriage strong

Marriage is wonderful. But it takes work (especially when you become parents). So, we asked the experts—you, our Motherly Community!—what it takes to keep a marriage going strong.


Here’s what you had to say!

1. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt.

“When we do something and fall short, we tell ourselves we meant well and expect our spouse to see things the same way—but when our spouse falls short we often assume he was being neglectful or lazy. Give your spouse the same grace that you'd want them to give you.”

2. Make the conscious effort to choose each other daily in the little things.

“Drifting apart happens slowly, without having to think about it. Drifting together takes intent and effort. You can make it through anything, if you continue to choose each other.”

3. Look at them with new eyes.

“Something that shifted my attitude one day, not long after our son had left home for college, was looking over at my husband as he slept beside me. I realized that he too was someone's son. It struck me hard how I hope for someone to one day love and cherish and forgive and enjoy my son—and this permitted me to show up differently with my husband. I had always loved him, of course. But this small moment in time helped me see him with new eyes and deepened our friendship after 20 years of marriage.”

4. Look for the best in them.

“If you look for the worst in your spouse, you will find it. If you look for the best, they will exceed your expectations daily!”

5. Make time to REALLY listen and support each other.

Don't listen to respond, listen to listen. Don't ever make the other feel ridiculous for sharing even what seems to be the smallest of events to you. If it makes them happy or excited, be happy and excited with them!”

6. It’s okay to go to bed angry.

“So many times arguments will escalate because we're tired and emotional. Go to bed, get the rest both of your spirits need, and revisit the issue with clearer eyes in the morning.”

7. He doesn't need to know how much you spend at Target.

"Have your own checking accounts.”

8. He’s not perfect, but neither are you.

“Every time you want to look for something to pick on them about or want to harp on something that annoys you, remember that you're probably just as annoying ?.

9. Talk about it.

“No matter what it is, if you’re embarrassed or don't want to be a bother, don't worry how long it takes. Sit down and listen to each other and say all the things that need to be said.”

10. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. So love fiercely, every day.

“When my husband came back from deployment hurt, we went through the sickness and health journey. I can still remember the lump in my throat when he was wheeled into surgery after not seeing him for almost a year.”

11. Know your spouse’s love language.

“The successes in your marriage will be based on communication—if you understand the way your partner gives and receives love you will understand the reason they communicate the way they do.”

12. Find happiness within first.

“If you are genuinely happy with yourself, you will draw someone who matches that. Happy people don’t need to find fault with others and two people vibrating genuine happiness can overcome any obstacles that arise.”

13. Never stop dating.

“The little things make a HUGE difference: say I love you, hold each other's hands, kiss goodbye, say you're beautiful and listen.”

You’re all pretty smart ? Thank you for the #relationshipgoals. Now go out on a date!

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

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

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

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

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

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One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


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