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Do you miss your husband? Tiny actions can make a huge difference in boosting your bond

Did you know that using text messages to express affection creates a stronger partner attachment?

Do you miss your husband? Tiny actions can make a huge difference in boosting your bond

If you’re feeling a little disconnected from your partner these days, you’re not alone. Researchers have found that about 67 percent of couples experience a decline in relationship satisfaction in the first three years of a baby’s life and this often persists into subsequent years.


Though many couples are over the moon about their new bundle of joy, they also struggle with work-life balance, loneliness, financial stress, friendship changes, more chores, and minimal free time. One study revealed that working couples felt their daily workload increased by four hours each day after they had a baby, not to mention the sleep deprivation which, research suggests, also greatly diminishes your ability to stay positive, communicate and manage your emotions.

Couples notice a 40 percent increase in arguments after having a baby, and two-thirds of these couples admitted these were often "silly" arguments caused by stress or exhaustion.

But there’s hope.

By committing to science-backed tiny actions that bond, repair and boost a relationship, couples can avoid unnecessary arguments as well as a "silent drift apart after baby."

These "micro-behaviors" (that often take two minutes or less), can protect your relationship from stress and grow it to the next level:

1. Make greetings and goodbyes count

Have you ever walked in the door only to hear your partner bark, "You forgot to take out the garbage!" Researcher Bill Doherty argues that the most important moment in your marriage is “the moment of reunion” when you greet each other.

He suggests that if you consistently greet each other well, you will maintain a sense of excitement about seeing each other. Set out to greet your partner with a positive comment like, “Morning, beautiful!” or, "So happy waking up with you!" or, “Thanks for watching the kids all day!” or, "Wow, you made a great dinner and painted with the kids this afternoon? You're my superhero."

During goodbyes, try something warm and gracious like, “I’ll miss you today,” or “Thanks for working hard for our family today.”

2. Stir up some oxytocin

Parents are often so busy snuggling their kids they forget to snuggle each other. Touching releases the feel-good neurochemical oxytocin (nicknamed “the bonding hormone”), so hug, kiss, or put your hand on your partner’s shoulder.

Hugs also help you buffer stress, help you avoid getting sick, relax you, and boost your mood. Research suggests that people feel more loving and affectionate toward their partner when they cuddle.

This simple act also inspires feelings of love, happiness, comfort, satisfaction, bonding and feeling appreciated. Cuddling is a time when many people go deeper in conversation and talk about relationships, the future, work or school, and friends and family.

3. Complete kind gestures and surprises

When participants in a relationship study were asked, “What two things do you like best about your relationship?” they mentioned small words, gestures and actions—like having their partner cook a meal for them.

A thoughtful holiday card, pouring a partner's coffee, a surprise breakfast in bed, letting a partner sleep in, ironing a partner's work clothes for the week, buying a partner their favorite food at the grocery store, or even playing a partner's favorite music add up to create goodwill between you.

Marriage researcher John Gottman found that there need to be five times as many positive interactions between partners as there are negative for a relationship to be stable. Kind gestures are the perfect way to achieve what he calls "the magic ratio."

4. Thank your partner at least once a day

Thank your partner via text message, post-it note, comment or card. Each day, pinpoint one thing about your partner that you're grateful for. Gratitude is a powerful “booster shot” for romantic relationships.

Gratitude predicts how happy someone will be in their marriage, improves levels of commitment to a marriage , improves the quality of intimate relationships , and makes it more likely that partners will stay together over time. Gratitude even guards and protects against the negative effects of arguing.

5. Send positive text messages throughout the day

Researcher Lori Schade and colleagues found that while aimless texting or arguing over texts can hurt a relationship, using text messages to express affection enhances relationships and creates a stronger partner attachment.

Sending a loving text is even more strongly related to relationship satisfaction than receiving one. Try sending your partner texts with compliments, happy memories, flirtatious phrases, activities you're looking forward to, positive "Yes!" moments, or kind hearted jokes.

6. Go to bed at the same time as your partner, at least a few nights a week

Go to bed at the same time as your partner at least a few nights a week, with time to talk, connect, cuddle and be intimate before falling asleep. Researchers found that couples whose wake and sleep patterns were similar had less conflict, spent more time in conversation and had more sex than couples who had different sleep schedules.

Plus, going to bed at the same time makes female partners interpret daytime partner interactions more positively the next day.

When couples talk after sex—“pillow talk”—oxytocin can make it more likely that partners will disclose positive feelings for each other. Remember to keep your phone out of the bedroom, as looking at your phone while talking to your partner can lower relationship satisfaction.

Relationships after having a baby are tough. But there are simple ways to stay connected that will help you thrive as a couple and as a family.

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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5 brilliant products that encourage toddler independence

Help your little one help themselves.

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

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This viral post about the 4th trimester is exactly what new mamas need right now

"We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Artist and teacher Catie Atkinson at Spirit y Sol recently shared a beautiful drawing of a new mom crying on a couch—leaking breasts, newborn baby, pile of laundry and what we can only assume is cold coffee, included. Everything about the image is so real and raw to me—from the soft stomach to the nursing bra and the juxtaposition of the happy wallpaper to the palpable vulnerability of the mother—I can almost feel the couch underneath me. I can feel the exhaustion deep in this woman's bones.

My heart feels the ache of loneliness right alongside hers. Because I remember. I remember the confusion and uncertainty and love and messy beauty of the fourth trimester so well. After all, it's etched in our minds and bodies forever.

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