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From ‘happily ever after’ to after baby: How I stopped keeping score and started loving again

Maybe you have the most beautiful, conflict-free relationship.


Maybe you do have the occasional spat but you are both just so in love that you are over it within the hour.

“The first year of marriage is the hardest? Bah! Moving in together will be tricky? Not us! We’re the lucky ones. Now, let’s take a so-in-love selfie with the sunset. #swoon”

Spoiler alert: You will fight once the baby comes.

Combine disrupted and minimal sleep with loud crying at 2am and a little human that needs you 24/7 and tell me that you don’t snap at your spouse at one point.

The simple fact is that having a baby will demand more of you and your partner—more than ever before. A relationship that was once focused on each other has now been redirected toward a cute, squishy baby that reciprocates your affection and efforts with crying, blow-out diapers, and the sweetest little coos that make you forget the spit up that she just spewed on your fresh t-shirt.

The man who gave you butterflies when he first told you he loved you is now the one that is so annoying when he leaves the drinking glass on the counter—the dishwasher is right there!

After all, you just got done washing bottles, pump parts, or yourself for the 142nd time today. Maybe more likely, it’s just one more thing to clean in the pile of things to clean.

The man who you would love to curl up with while watching a movie is now bringing out the inner rage monster in you because he’s sitting on that same couch, watching TV, while you wrangle a squirmy baby into her 33rd onesie that day. Because oh-my-gosh, how does this tiny being produce so many bodily fluids?!

The man who would cause you to go buy a new dress or spend extra time on your hair to look extra-great on date night is now the one who just doesn’t get why you are craving to go on a Target-run all by yourself. For a few hours, no interruptions. Perhaps with a hot coffee drink from the in-store Starbucks that won’t spill or get cold because the baby started crying?! Yes. And now, I will stare at all the pretty things and promise not to buy anything. Until I buy something.

Um, and when did you become that wife? You know—the kind you said you’d never be? The nagging, score-keeping, snappy kind?

Girl—you and me both.

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When I became a mommy, I had no idea that I would also get really good at keeping score. I don’t know what your scoreboard holds, but mine looked a little like this…

...who was the last one to change the baby?

...who was the last one to get up in the middle of the night with the baby?

....who had the harder day, thus more deserving of a break?

...who was the last one that got to do that fun thing they love—watch the game, go on a run, take a trip outside of the home by themselves?

...who is just doing more?

And here’s how it would play out: I would be changing our daughter for the millionth time and my husband would be in the other room. Since it was the end of a full work day, I would be tired. My husband would be tired. Our daughter would be morphing into that thing babies turn into before bed—you know—fussy, rubbing her eyes, and wiggling like a live wire. So ready for bed while fighting it so hard.

I would assume, of course, that my husband didn’t care about my needs or how tired I was. I would also assume that he was looking at his Twitter feed or watching TV. So I would sigh loudly as I grabbed a bottle and proceed to feed our daughter. He would ask what’s wrong and I would say “Nothing.” (Because I love passive aggression.) He would get annoyed, ask me again, and then I would say something dramatic like, “You never help! We both work full time and we both are tired but why am I the one who is always taking care of her after work?!”

And then, the scorecard game would begin.

My husband, rightfully hurt and a tad angry, would point out that he was warming up dinner—not just sitting around on Twitter. And that he was the one who got up with our daughter the night before and rocked her back to sleep for an hour. Then, seeing that he was right but not willing to admit it, I would get defensive and throw out something like, “But I give her a bath. I make formula for the next day. And I’m always the one who does the dream feed before bed!” To which, he would remind me that he does in fact help—Don’t I remember that he does the first morning bottle? That part of the reason he lets me take the lead with the evening routine is that he sees the tears I try to hide when it’s hard to kiss my baby good-bye for the day?

And then we would proceed to list out everything we were doing “for the baby” in efforts to prove who was the better parent or working harder. Throw in some tears (from me) and bouts of silence (from both of us) and you’ve basically witnessed all of our fights since becoming parents. You’re welcome.

But, before you swear off ever having children or get really judgy about our marriage (please don’t!) let me say this: I love my husband more now than ever before.

It’s tough and it’s hard. But what’s amazing about the hard things in life is that they make you value the sweet and precious things in life all the more. And I do miss our pre-baby days but I would never go back to them.

The scorecard game is a primitive, self-serving game. In contrast, everything about raising a child and maintaining a healthy relationship with your loved one is about becoming more and more selfless. It’s about treasuring your relationships with them more than anything else. It’s not easy, but it is so, so worth it.

A few months ago, after we had a conflict similar to what I described above, I found a blog that changed my perspective forever. It was written by a woman was a widow after losing her husband of 5 short years She talked about how, before he got sick, she would get so annoyed at how he snored at night. And, now that he was gone, she would have given anything to be annoyed by that snore again.

I realized I was taking for granted that I had someone to keep score with. And all of the sudden, the scorecard game felt kind of silly. There is a time and a place for expectations and I’m 110% for moms and dads sharing the load of raising a child. I can turn into an absolute stress-ball sometimes with all the to-do’s of a full-time job and motherhood. But my husband knows how to snap me out of it better than anyone. The problem with the scorecard game is that I am really good at keeping my score and not really bothering to notice my husband’s efforts.

And not just noticing them—but being grateful for all of his hard work:

Like how he is so good at putting our daughter to sleep.

Like how he will do the grocery store runs on the weekends and help get dinner ready during the week.

Like how he keeps track of our finances to make sure our family is provided for.

Like how he gets so excited to play with her and make her laugh.

Like the funny things he says when he changes her diaper (“How does someone so small poop SO MUCH?”).

So here’s what I’ve learned: In the moment, keeping score feels like a way to prove something. But all it really does is drive a wedge between you and the person you love the most.

I’ve found the much better way comes in two parts. First, I look for and express gratitude in what my husband is doing to help our family. If I stop looking for all the ways I rock and he sucks, I find that he is actually crushing it. And I find a thousand reasons to say thank you. Second, I speak up when I need help. If I am overwhelmed one evening but I normally do the bedtime routine, now I raise my white flag and ask for a trade for that night.

You and bae got this, Mama. And the quicker you lose the scorecard, the quicker you can get back to the things that matter—like the person you’re playing it with.

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Sometimes inspiration just strikes.

Diana, our Motherly Experts Editor, had a moment just like that. The result was magic. "I was tucking my middle guy in, and he was all toddler-perfect... lost in a sea of blankets, so cute and little, and I just had this moment of, "wow, one day he is going to be a grown up, and someone else is going to love him..." And the rest is history :)" These poignant moments of motherhood touch the heart in immeasurable ways...balh able bla

After the tears have dried, this unique story, inspired by the overflow of love in a mother's heart, stays with you for a loooong time and is bound to resonate in your heart fas long as a mother's love remains for her child, long after they've left home. That's motherly. And, that's Motherly.

"To the person who falls in love with my son" went viral.

This video, more than the sum of its parts, has provided an overall experience that has transcended its concept, writing, execution, quality of craft—and heart.

• It has been viewed 26,387,039 times.


• It has reached 58,287,532 people.


• It has garnered 2,363,086 social engagements (comments, likes, and shares).


This video elevates what is in plain sight to something timeless, universal, and memorable. Bound to live in the heart of anyone who views it, this video is destined for legend in the parenting community online. Our innovative strategy, tactics and creativity combine to succeed at truly engaging our community.

Motherly not only has over 3X the engagement of competitors in the parenting space but also across women's interest and lifestyle categories.

FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS VS. ENGAGEMENT RATE

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With a clean and direct design aesthetic, our content does not get lost in the overload that is so endemic to other brands. Our unique sense of honesty and our authentic and emotional content connect with our community of engaged Millennial moms across channels to deliver results that empower and inspire. Through the powerful lens of motherhood, our content generates mom-to-mom sharing and valuable conversation, unlike any other brand.




Meet Motherly.
We are a community–driven lifestyle brand redefining motherhood. Motherly occupies a unique position in the media landscape, sitting at the intersection of parenting, lifestyle and women's interests to address her entire life and connect her more fully.

At Motherly we have a voice.

We are the only positive, encouraging parenting site reaching and influencing Millennial moms when they are looking for and absorbing more information, products and services than during any other life transition. How we think, act, and express ourselves is why we have built such a strong community of mamas.

Our community engages across all platforms, at Motherly, on Instagram and on Facebook, because mamas are on the move.

Motherly supports mamas through their entire parenthood journey, delivering women-centric content that addresses her whole lifestyle through thousands of articles, images, videos and classes each month with Mom-to-mom insights, inspiration and empowerment.

Our innovative strategy, tactics and creativity combine to succeed at truly engaging our community.

With a clean and direct design aesthetic, our content does not get lost in the overload that is so endemic to other brands. Our approach to content and how it is presented crosses all platforms for a cohesive and truly branded aesthetic that is fresh, clear and direct, always light and enlightening.

With a unique sense of honesty, our authentic and emotional content connects with our community of engaged Millennial moms across channels to deliver results that empower and inspire. Through the powerful lens of motherhood, our content generates mom-to-mom sharing and valuable conversation, unlike any other brand.

Motherly not only has over 3X the engagement of competitors in the parenting space but also across women's interest and lifestyle categories.


FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS VS. ENGAGEMENT RATE

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Sources: Facebook Analytics 2018


The synergy of our compelling content, pure aesthetic and fully engaged community has afforded us staggering fan growth.

In October, 2017, we doubled down on our engagement strategy to reach our community with our innovative approach to content and realized a stunning fan growth of 442% over the following twelve months.



That "something" extra...

Through our social presence—encompassing concept, creativity, content, structure, visual design, functionality and interactivity—women are encouraged and have the confidence to know, "I've got this". As savvy, digital natives, Millennial mamas take Motherly everywhere for information, inspiration, and empowerment—we are the brand that helps her redefine what it means to be motherly, every day.

Vacationing with a baby isn't for the faint of heart. But while it typically means more luggage (hello, travel-friendly bassinets, clothes for all seasons, and more diapers than you can shake a boarding pass at!), it's still possible to have a fun, memorable adventure with your little ones―especially with the right equipment.

Our favorite family vacation saver? The right baby carrier, like BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One Air. The breathable, mesh design is perfect for a variety of climates, while the supportive construction will help you stay comfortable while you trek across your favorite destination.

One of our favorite family-friendly locales? Los Angeles. That's why we teamed up with LA mama extraordinaire Magin Birrenkott to share the best places to play in La-La Land when you have little ones in tow.

DO

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
Perfect for your little dinosaur lovers, the famous Tar Pits and art museum feature something for everyone. Take the tar pit tour to learn more about excavation, or simply let the little ones run around the park to see the variety of sculptures. The museum features a Fossil Lab, atrium, and even a 3D theater to learn more. "You can have lunch and play on the grassy areas around the tar pits and fossil areas, as well as grab a coffee and stroll through the different art exhibits around the park," Birrenkott recommends.

Kidspace Children's Museum
Who says vacation can't also be educational? This incredible children's museum helps your little ones learn about everything from physics to biology―all through the power of play. Babies can face out in the Baby Carrier One so they'll have plenty to look at while staying snuggled up to you. Bigger kids will love experiencing the indoor and outdoor exhibits. Note: Several attractions feature water play, so pack a spare outfit for any kids who like to get messy.

Magin navigating a day out in LA with two little people and one free hand, thanks to the BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One Air.

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Lions, tigers, bears...and more! The LA Zoo is home to a variety of animals from around the world―all of which your kiddos will love to admire. The bird show and giraffe feedings are especially popular hits. "Make sure to plan the short trek to the giraffes between 11:00-12:00 and 2:30-3:30. For $5 you get three branches and are able to feed them up close and personal!" Birrenkott says.

Move your little one to your back in the Baby Carrior One Air so they can get close to the action too. "We like to go at the very beginning since they can get full and sometimes walk away if there were too many people in front of you." After letting the kids run out their energy in the zoo, the Botanical Gardens make the perfect spot to relax and have lunch. "There's a beautiful grassy area that's quiet where you can set a blanket and enjoy the beautiful LA weather. And for us struggling tired mamas, there's a coffee shop that has the most amazing lattes and cappuccinos. Huge win."

SEE

The El Capitan Theatre

More than just a must-see on your tour of Hollywood, the El Capitan Theatre is an excellent spot for family memories. There are "Tiny Tot Tuesdays" for families with younger children (AKA, no one will give you a dirty look if your kiddo wants to sing along...or just throws a tantrum mid-show), and all of the family-friendly movies feature something extra, whether it's live Disney cast members, gift bags, or extra effects like confetti. Check the website to find out what is showing during your trip.

Aquarium of the Pacific
If your kids are fans of Finding Dory, they're going to love the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. With everything from penguins to sea otters to sharks (not to mention millions of fish in every shape, size, color), there's something to catch the eye of everyone in your family. The aquarium also features seasonal festivals and events, so check the calendar during your visit to make sure you don't miss their best shows. As for your littlest family members, they'll enjoy a comfy ride through the aquarium in their carrier.

"Our weather is all over the place sometimes, but in the BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One Air, he didn't get sweaty at all!" Birrenkott says. "Plus, after two days of activities, my back is in one piece. I can babywear him all the time now!"

Traveling Tikes
Forget something at home? Traveling Tikes on Santa Monica Boulevard is the perfect spot to scoop up any baby gear that didn't make it into your suitcase―including the BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One Air for easier travel around town. One other store we love? KIDSLAND on Wilshire Boulevard.


Making the time to explore is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family―and yourself. And thanks to BabyBjörn, now everyone can come along for the ride.

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

If there's anything better than dressing your kids up in adorable holiday outfits, it's gotta be matching them.

We rounded up seven of our favorite looks for this season. 🎁

1. Classic Christmas for kids

Go crisp, clean, classic and Christmassy with a Short Sleeve Smocked Holiday Dress from Feltman Brothers.

Short Sleeve Smocked Holiday Dress, Feltman Brothers, $67.95

BUY

Classic Christmas made modern for mama

Match your cotton cutie in a crisp and modern shirtdress that can last you far beyond Christmas.

Kowtow Monologue Shirt Dress, Garmentory, $93.00

BUY

2. Nordic-themed sweater set

Get cozy + complimentary with black and red family sweaters that you can wear all winter long.

Oh Sno Happy Christmas Collection, Hanna Andersson, $68 - $92

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3. Matchy matchy mommy

A super-affordable option for the matchy matchy mama.

Emmababy Mommy and Me Matching Plaid Long Sleeve Shirt Dress + Princess Tulle Tutu Dress, $14.99

BUY

4. Mommy + me tutus

Tutus make everything, including the holidays, a bit more magical. Grab a matching set to enjoy a twirl with your girl.

Mommy and Me Tulle Tutus, Etsy, $110.00

BUY

5. The perfect plaid dress

Quick! This one is perfect, grab it fast.

Ruffle Trim Babydoll Dress for Toddler Girls, Old Navy, $20.00

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Mama's plaid

Mama deserves ruffles and plaid, too.

Relaxed Plaid Twill Classic Shirt, $24.00, Old Navy

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6. Best sweater set yet

Moms and sons can play match-up, too. Grab a sweater set you can return to the entire season.

Festivewear Sweater Sets, Boden, $55.00-$130.00

BUY

7. Big blue

Light up the night with Santa's sleigh and a sleek little number for mama.

Festive Big Applique Dress, Boden, $48.00

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Blue for you, too

The perfect LBD (little blue dress).

Flippy Pencil Dress, Boden, $170.00

BUY

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.

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