Art by Jim Cooke/GMG
Kids are beautiful miracles, but damn, do they annihilate your sex life. From clinging to your side at all hours of the day to banging on your bedroom door at night to draining every last ounce of your energy, kids make it seem near impossible to even dream of having an active sex life again.
But there is hope! Here's how to have a sex life when you have young kids.
Communication is always important in a relationship, but it's crucial for new parents. There is no way you're going to have a sex life as parents of young children if you can't communicate about it.
It's far too easy for things to go unsaid, and frustration and resentment to build.
At a calm, private time, talk to each other about the challenges of maintaining a sex life. Ask each other what you need in order to feel open to sex. Like I mentioned above, you might each need wildly different things.
One partner might need more help around the house with chores, while the other partner might want more alone time. Anything that's a concern for one of you should be a concern for both of you.
Even when you can't come up with solutions, commiserate with each other about the challenges you're facing. If you feel like you're on the same team, acknowledging your frustrations together, you'll both feel infinitely better.
Communication may even extend to your children. You can start talking to your children about the need for privacy and space. You can also talk to your kids about sex itself, in age-appropriate ways.
It takes a lot of effort to ensure that you stay connected to your partner even when you have young kids. But your relationship needs that energy and attention in order to survive.
Some people use sex to connect, but other people need to feel connected in order to have sex.
Make sure to schedule regular date nights. And talk about something other than your kids during your date nights. Your relationship needs some kid-free space.
Make a point of touching each other throughout the day - hugs, kisses, caresses. In addition to being pleasurable, this prevents touch from becoming loaded.
So many couples stop touching in non-sexual ways. Over time, touch starts to become associated with sex only. You get to a point where you're on guard with each other, wary of being touched, because you can sense the agenda behind the touch.
Put Your Partner Before Your Chores
If you're like many parents, the second your kids go to sleep, you start your mad dash to complete all of the chores you neglected during the day. You spend hours running around the house, then finally crash, exhausted. There's zero time for intimacy.
The reality is that there are always going to be chores. You're never going to feel like you're getting ahead when you're a new parent. Making some time for connection and intimacy with your partner is going to feel better in the long run than doing another load of laundry.
Try your best to prioritise spending some quality time together as soon as your kids hit the hay. Who knows, you might even get a post-sex burst of energy and feel inspired to finish the dishes.
In order to keep yourself sane, you need to create a bit of space for privacy. Hire a babysitter or send the kids to their grandparents. Work with your partner to give each other some alone time every once in a while.
And try to get your kids to sleep in their own beds as often as possible. A lot of parents worry about their children needing them in the middle of the night, but the reality is that sex is a pretty easy to interrupt act. If your child suddenly needs you, it's not like you're going to be completely unavailable to them.
Set Yourselves up for Success
There are a lot of logistical realities that make having sex more complicated when you have kids in the house. You might be worried about your kid busting in on you while you're naked, or being able to hear those guttural moans you make when you're close to orgasm.
But fortunately, many of these challenges are actually quite manageable. Play white noise or music to cover your sounds. Adjust the screws on your bed frame so it doesn't squeak anymore. Put a lock on the door.
One quick note — you and your partner will have different concerns. You might be not be nearly as worried about making noise as your partner is. That's OK. Don't waste your time, energy, and goodwill fighting about whether or not something "should" bother either one of you.
If there's something that gets in the way of either one of you being interested in intimacy, work as a team to find a solution.
Sex is just not going to happen in the same way it used to before you had children. You're going to have to be far more creative and far less picky. Here are some ideas:
- Schedule sex
- Have sex at different times of the day
- Take advantage of even the tiniest bit of alone time. Kids gone for 15 minutes? Go to your bedroom immediately.
- Try different locations. If your child passed out in your bedroom after a bad dream, go lock yourselves in the den.
- Be open to a variety of sexual acts. Maybe you just have time or the energy to make out, or to masturbate together.
- Enlist help. Set up a kid swap with family, friends, or neighbours.
Do What You Can
I won't sugar coat it; your sex life is not going to be what it was before you had kids. But with communication, effort, and patience, it can be enough to get you through until your kids are a little older!