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

The problem with the scorecard game? I am really good at keeping my score but I don’t notice my husband’s efforts.

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.

Join Motherly

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.

Join Motherly

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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.


I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

Keep reading Show less

My 3-year-old is eating peanut butter toast with banana for breakfast (his request), and we are officially running late for preschool. We need to get in the car soon if we want to miss the morning traffic, but he has decided that he no longer wants the food that he begged for two minutes earlier. What started off as a relatively calm breakfast has turned into a battle of wills.

"You're going to be hungry," I say, realizing immediately that he could care less. I can feel my frustration rising, and even though I'm trying to stay calm, I'm getting snappy and irritable. In hindsight, I can see so many opportunities that fell through the cracks to salvage this morning, but at the moment… there was nothing.

Keep reading Show less