Sex has been proven to reduce stress, increase feelings of intimacy, improve your sleep, decrease pain and improve your immunity—plus it’s fun. Many of us want to have more sex in our lives, but prioritizing sex in a relationship can be undeniably challenging when you’ve got kids. Many parents are unprepared for the inevitable hiccups their love life might endure as their families grow.
I’ve been there, and I can share from experience that it is possible to be proactive and make sex a priority, even as you’re adjusting to life with a baby (or a toddler, elementary schooler, or teenager.) It’s not always easy and romance is certainly a different world when you’re juggling feedings and diaper changes… and then bedtime routines, homework, and playdates… but where there’s a will there’s a way to keep the flame alive, I promise!
Here are a few things my husband and I have done to stay connected in the bedroom.
Get honest with eachother.
A lot of parents, especially mothers who give birth, experience some serious changes in sensation, desire, and confidence that can easily be misinterpreted as a lack of interest in their partners when really they’re just getting used to their new bodies and roles as parents. It’s a major life change and I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to jump back into our relationships like nothing happened. Communication here is key. Tell your partner what’s up. How is sex making you feel? What are you comfortable with and what are you uncomfortable with?
Set realistic expectations.
Once you and your partner have shared where each of you are, chat about what a healthy sex life looks like for you as a couple. There’s no right or wrong answer here as long as you’re on the same page. The desired frequency of sex in a relationship is specific to each and every couple, and no one can make that decision for you. It’s important here to be realistic about how much time you have available to actually make it happen considering kids are part of the daily equation. This doesn’t mean you need to set a schedule, in fact, that’s not something I would personally recommend unless that truly feels fitting to your relationship. Instead, get clear, make some commitments, but don’t set yourself up for failure with anything too rigid.
Honor your commitments and hold each other accountable!
Talking about sex is difficult for many of us, but actually following through is so much more of a challenge. Keep the dialog open and don’t be afraid to make the first move. Every element of your relationships requires active participation from both individuals and I honestly think that this is where a lot of people get hung up. They have an idea of where they’d like to see their sex life or what they know their partner wants but they have a hard time putting the checklist aside, turning the TV off, bowing out on those few minutes of extra sleep, and actually doing it. Just do it people!
Life with kids is overwhelming. Let’s be honest, it’s a sh** show most days! Even if you have a routine date night you most likely don’t have as many opportunities to get the same quality alone time you once did before becoming parents. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative about when and where you contribute to your sex life. Maybe it’s a quick moment in the shower, taking advantage of a little screen time, or maximizing an early morning, late night, or afternoon while they’re sleeping. There are plenty of ways to make it (safely) happen with kids in the house!
Plan an overnight date night or staycation.
Of course, there can be more to this than sex alone, but as parents, sometimes you really just need a night together to reconnect, enhance the intimacy and get a little break from the kids. Maybe you live near the grandparents and they’re dying to watch your kids overnight, or maybe you have to make it happen when they’re visiting or vice versa. It might not be an option for everyone but if you have someone who’s offering, I highly recommend taking them up on it!
Would love to hear more ways you all prioritize sex in a relationship…
This post was originally published on February 17, 2020, and has since been updated.