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Our favorite date night is Netflix + takeout

If prioritizing your marriage doesn't look like dates out on the town, you're okay. Your marriage isn't doomed.

couple on couch

I need a break with date night lectures. We get it, it's easy to lose yourself in your marriage and parenthood.

Would I love a standing date night, alone, once a month with my husband? For sure. Is it possible? Yes. Will it cause me more mental strain than pleasure at this time in our lives? Also yes.

Of course, we all need reminders to check in on our marriage. For my husband and me, it usually comes in the form of a disagreement that almost feels like it has no resolution because that's how different our wavelengths are at that moment in time. Would I like to be more preemptive in resolving marital conflict? Absolutely. Would a few hours alone, away from our home each month solve that? Absolutely not.

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Everyone has their reasons. For us, my partner doesn't work a standard nine-to-five. He's gone for 24+ hour periods two to three times a week. I have meetings for work at night and when the stars align and those meetings fall when he works, it's a mad dash to get one of three trusted sitters or family friends to step in to help with our kiddo.

We don't have family nearby to fill those gaps. I overpay sitters in hopes of attracting the best young adults in town. Those costs add up, especially when you factor in daycare (which is about to be the cost of our mortgage when number two joins us this summer).

We are tired. We already feel like we don't have enough time as a family. So what do we do? How do we prioritize our marriage?

Early, consistent bedtimes for our kids are key for us. We try to be done at 7:30-7:45 p.m. each night. That leaves us with over three hours to chat, catch up on shows, watch new movies and connect without the constant interruption of a toddler asking for another fruit snack or showing us her princess dress for the 87th time.

When we are visiting family, I'm not shy about asking them to give us a few day dates during the trip. We've even taken a parent-only weekend trip with the help of my mother-in-law so we could get a few nights to sleep in.

We LOVE our alone time, but the extravagant times come at a cost.

It's worrying about putting family or friends in a position where they feel like they can't say no. It's texting your shortlist of sitters and getting a string of "sorry I can'ts" in return. It's worrying you're using a favor for fun when you may really need it for work purposes around the corner.

I know these are all MY problems and worries. Some couples sort it out, make it work and don't stress about the logistics of leaving their kids and I couldn't support you more. I am of a 'you do you' mentality. Because we are all unique in our needs and that doesn't make anyone more or less right.

I just know these years are short and time is fleeting. If we do this right, we only have a handful of years of being "needed" the way we are now. Before we know it, these babies who need one more feed, one more kiss and one more sip of water will be off at camps and sleepovers and we will be sitting on the couch, wondering how the house got so quiet so quickly.

It won't be like this forever. It's hard to remember that in the midst of the sleep-deprived fog of newborns, toddlers, and some combination of all of the above.

Prioritizing your marriage isn't about standing reservations at the newest restaurants or lining up sitters, it's about recognizing what each other needs, verbally or non-verbally and responding with empathy compassion, and communication. It's apologizing for short tempers and cold shoulders. It's talking through resentment you're feeling and offering solutions to overcome it. It's asking for help in a way that your partner understands you aren't saying they don't do anything to help, but there is just SO much that needs to be done and you can't continue carrying the heaviness of your load.

So if you're where we are and prioritizing your marriage doesn't look like leaving the house without your kids, you're okay. Your marriage isn't doomed and you don't have to feel guilty.

One day in the distant future, you will have ample alone time to connect and you will long for the weight of a baby rocking in your arms and a sweaty toddler wrapped around your neck, under the covers. For us, we chose this family—this home full of chaos, busy schedules and ample needs, and it stems directly from our love for one another. As long as we have sight of that, we have it all.

And to be honest, we're doing just fine watching Netflix, trying new recipes, and ordering our favorite takeout. Our family has never made me love my husband more.

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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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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

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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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