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Somewhere between birth and age fifteen, some societal stereotype or little voice in my ear lead me to believe that I would magically meet the one, get married, buy a house, land the perfect job, maybe even have kids, and then live happily ever after.


Of course, this would include occasionally jetting off on little beachside holidays and frequent dinners out—with our beautiful children peacefully, happily playing along, always immaculately presented, smiling and without tantrums. Haha. ?

Then I had kids and realized not only had we done things the hard way, but even doing things the easy way would never be trouble-free.

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Marriage is hard work.

I mean, I love my husband and can honestly say I wouldn't wish to spend my life with anyone else—but he does some things that absolutely drive me insane (as I'm sure I do to him), and each and every day I make a decision to either badger on about his downfalls, or push them aside and focus on the positives.

Every day I make a decision to parent and live in line with our common values, or to habitually put my own desires first. Some days are so much harder to do this, and it would be so much easier to focus only on my desires and values. After all, I’m only human, and marriage is hard.

But most days it is so worth the extra effort to love and live with him.

I've spent years having a coffee made when my husband wakes, making his lunches, and having dinner on the table when he gets home. I’ve cooked and cleaned, thinking that this is what would make him happy, that these tasks are what would fill his love tank.

Similarly, my husband has spent years working day in and day out for our family, buying me expensive, unnecessary gifts and organizing dinners to lavish restaurants, thinking that these are the things that would fill my love tank.

Eventually I became resentful because he wasn't doing what I wanted or needed him to do to fill my tank—at this point, I wasn’t even acknowledging his efforts.

And then I realized...

I had never told him how I needed to be loved.

I had never mentioned that words of appreciation, words of love and words of gratitude spoke louder to my soul than childfree dinners at overly priced restaurants.

I never mentioned that I didn’t care whether I received a $300 bracelet or a $3 scratchie, I'd just love a heartfelt card with it.

I never told him that my love language was words of affirmation, and so he didn't know. He was trying to make me happy, but it was like filling a vehicle with unleaded when it needed diesel—it was doing more harm than good.

After reading The Five Love Languages, I realized that we had different love languages. My husband had been loving me the way he wanted to be loved, not how I felt loved.

And I hadn't told him otherwise. Instead, I just built resentment.

I've since told him, and he's trying. As a man of few words and even fewer emotions, it seems ironic that my love language is probably the hardest for him to do. And yet, he's trying, because now he knows that is what fills my love tank.

Similarly, I’m trying harder to give him more quality time, his love language, by focusing solely on him, not multitasking, not getting sidetracked, just soaking up his presence and our love.

PS. This doesn't mean I'm giving up child-free dinners—I mean, those are the best opportunities to speak words of affirmation!

Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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


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