Sex was the furthest thing from my mind after my daughter was born, and when my husband and I did have sex, it was pretty painful for a time. But two things helped: (1) K-Y Jelly, and lots of it! And (2) I made sure that I wasn't feeling too run down before a "sex date." I found that the more my husband could help nurture me in other ways (giving the baby a bottle so I could skip a feeding or making me a nice dinner), the more energy I had for him and for our sex life. Believe me, he was more than happy to comply!
When we were sleep training, I was on the phone with my parents and friends for all of the crying. It kept me from going in to comfort the baby when I wasn't supposed to, and I got pep talks.
My husband and I have a date night every week, no matter what, even though sometimes we're tired. We also have a 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. happy hour, which is my son's "witching" hour. He gets to run around and play on his own a bit while we catch up on the day. The glass of wine helps with that last push toward bed!
If we're about to transition from one thing to the next, I often set a timer for two minutes and tell them, "You have two more minutes to play, so play hard! Then when the timer goes off, it's time to go!"
Try having regular family meetings. We started having these with our four-year-old, and she loves them. We usually start with a short game of some sort, and then we get out a piece of paper to keep track of what we want to talk about. We go around and say one thing we'd like to happen differently, and one thing we think is working really well. My daughter has said, "I don't like that we have chicken all the time for dinner," and we agreed we'd change up the menu. Then I got to say, "I'd like there to be less whining. What do we think we can do about that?" It's gotten to the point where she will even call a family meeting if we haven't had one in a while. I think it gives her a sense of control about what's happening at home, and it's a great way to talk to her about problem behavior at a time when she's really open to hearing it.
My husband and I have found it helpful to plan our nighttime approach ahead of time. The key is getting clarity right up front about what we'll do if our son wakes up. Negotiating a sleep philosophy at 2:00 a.m. is not good!
We buy plain yogurt and mix in fruit or a fruit puree pack. Our kids love it and it gets them used to what yogurt should taste like.
One of my kids' favorite meals is "make-your-own soft tacos." Everyone gets a soft tortilla and picks his own toppings (black beans, Cheddar cheese, tomatoes, grilled onions). It also works well for "burrito bowl" night, with rice as a base and lots of toppings to choose from.
I use children's books to help me teach my children manners—that way, it isn't all coming from me! The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is about a bunny who teaches her babies to take care of the home and pull their mom's chair out for her—the mom is considered "wise" for her teachings, and is chosen to be an Easter bunny.
Our son has his own stationary for thank-you notes, which he sends after every gift. He's only fifteen months old, so of course I write them, but he gets to add a slobbery kiss and we read them before sending.
Potty training was a nightmare with our three-year-old until we implemented a schedule. She would resist each and every time we took her to the bathroom, until we made bathroom times part of the routine. As soon as she woke up: potty. Before leaving the house: potty. As soon as returning home: potty. The more she got used to sitting on and using the toilet as part of her daily rhythms, the more she was willing to use it.
If we have dinner at a friend's house, we have our bath and change into pajamas there, to stick to our routine and make it easy to get to bed as soon as we get home.
I used to suggest consequences that would be way too difficult for me to follow through with, but now before explaining a consequence to my son, I think through how I'll feel carrying it out and make sure I buy into it fully. Just taking a moment to do this makes a difference in how confident I am when I explain it to him. It's almost like he could sense the uncertainty in my voice when I'd say something like, "You are not going to get television privileges tonight if you continue whining . . ." (knowing as I did that I needed him to be occupied with the TV so I could get dinner on the table!).
When my first child was about fifteen months old, she would constantly throw her bottle of milk onto the floor from her high chair, and then cry for me to pick it up. Mealtimes were a constant process of me bending down to pick up the bottle. When a visiting friend who had older children saw this routine, she told my daughter sternly and calmly that if she dropped the bottle again, it would be taken away. And amazingly, the "game" stopped. I hadn't realized my toddler was capable of understanding and responding to a consequence like that, and it changed my entire approach to setting boundaries with her!
Before we had kids, we had a puppy, and my husband and I took him to obedience class. The instructor explained that before leaving the puppy for work, we shouldn't fuss over him, but should say very cheerfully, "Good-bye, George!" which would make him feel at ease with our parting. (His name, by the way, wasn't George, but that was the example the instructors used.) Now that we have kids and our littlest always fusses when we leave, we've gotten into the habit of saying, "Good-bye, George!" It reinforces the lesson for us, the cheerful tone is helpful for our daughter, and it's also a particular signal that we're going but will be back later. She was a little confused about who George was at first, but ultimately just thought we were funny.
My husband and I try to ask our son for help a lot. "Liam, can you please bring Daddy his shoes?" He feels like he's helping us, he's very proud about it, and he also gets to have the reverse role of hearing us say "please" to him when we ask for something.
We talk about how we (the parents) aren't perfect, and how we are good at some things but not so good at others, and how we are always working on getting better. We try to verbalize when we make mistakes and make light of them if they are minor ones. Our older son now says, "Ooops! That was just a mistake" when he goofs up but is able to realize that it is really just part of life.