by Sheila Wray Gregoire
Sex obviously leads to parenthood, but for many couples, it then becomes rather rare. How can you keep your sex life fresh when kids are hanging off of you, you’re exhausted, and you need some time to yourself?
For the last few days we’ve been talking about sex when you’re pregnant or sex when your hormones are out of whack. Today I’d like to do a summary post of some of the things we’ve talked about lately that can help make sure you still have sex after kids come along!
1. Stress Intimacy, Not Just Sex
If you’re thinking, “why would I want to have sex? I don’t have the energy to get in the mood”, you likely won’t make love at all. Instead of seeing sex as simply a physical thing, we women need to see it as more. Yes, the physical is great, but when we’re tired, it can lose its appeal. But one thing that we desperately need is intimacy. We need to feel close to our husbands. We need to feel his love. That’s going to energize you!
When you feel like sex is a chore, think to yourself, “It’s not primarily about release as much as it is about feeling close to each other.” Concentrate on that, and it will become much more appealing (and your body may even kick in!)
2. Use Sex as a Stress-Reliever and Sleeping Pill
Intimacy isn’t the only other benefit of sex. Making love also relaxes you and helps you to sleep better. So if you’re exhausted, sex is often the best prescription! It helps you sleep more deeply and helps you fall asleep faster. I remember when I was nursing my babies, one of the problems I often ran into after the 2 a.m. feeding was that I’d be absolutely exhausted but I wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep. Waking up Keith (creatively) to make love would often do the trick!
3. Use Lubrication
When your hormones are out of whack, or you’re finding it more difficult for your body to respond because you’re worried about kids coming in or getting to sleep, lubrication can be a shortcut to arousal. It’s not cheating to use lube!
4. Make Use of Other Times of Day
One of the reasons sex and parenthood don’t always go together is that night times become difficult once kids come. You have Kids not sleeping through the night. Difficult bedtime routines. Even shift work! All of these things can make sex at 11:00 pm rather difficult. But there is no reason you can’t make love at other times of day! Many couples find the morning the easiest (if you happen to wake up before the kids do). Or make use of nap time. Just be open to mixing it up a little!
8. Enforce Bedtimes and Schedules to Make Predictability
You need your time with your husband. You’re a parent now, and that means your marriage is more important, not less. Other people are counting on you. So enforce bedtimes and schedules so that you can get some rest, you can get some predictability, and you can get some romance! Obviously when babies are small this isn’t possible, but once they’re not eating every three hours, you can start to organize a schedule that works for you and your husband.
That doesn’t always mean an early bedtime, either. Maybe you’re morning people and would rather have an hour in the morning together before the kids get up. That’s fine! But decide when you want your alone time, and enforce bedtime and naptime around that.
10. Sleep During the Day
The two biggest impediments for a woman getting in the mood are being exhausted and feeling overburdened. So be proactive and sleep during the day when the babies do! Do everything you can to get some rest. If you have babies and toddlers who still nap, but a 4 or 5 year old who doesn’t, make a rule that everyone has “quiet time” in their bedrooms from 2-3 in the afternoon anyway. The older child can read or play with toys on their bed. You need a nap. Do this consistently, from the time that they’re young, and they likely won’t put up too much of a fight. It just becomes routine.
And then take that quiet time to rest, not to mop or do laundry. That can wait. You will always be a better mom and wife if you have your rest.
11. Take Time for Yourself
If sex is going to be exciting, you can’t resent your husband. And often we do because we think, “I just want some time to myself! I don’t want him hanging off of me, too!” It’s a very real need. Acknowledge it and do something about it–just not at the time when it’s easiest to have sex. If you need time to yourself, join a gym that has baby-sitting. Ask your husband to take on the bathtime routine so you can scrapbook or knit or just sit and read for an hour. Do what you can to rejuvenate at other times of day.
12. Swap Baby-sitting
Need a date night? A time to concentrate just on him? Swap baby-sitting with a friend or a sister so that you take their kids and then they take yours. Even take the kids overnight to give each other a whole night to bond.
13. Make a Date Night when your Kids are Older
While sex is difficult when children are young and can’t be left by themselves very long, it gets even more complicated when they’re teenagers and stay up late and know what’s going on. So as they age, make a deal that everyone is out of the house on the same night so you and your husband can have some alone time. Send the older ones to youth group, and arrange for the younger ones to visit friends. Or always schedule activities on the same night. You need some time in the house alone.
14. Talk to Your Husband Throughout the Day
If you have lots on your mind, it can be hard to concentrate enough to make love. And we women can’t enjoy sex unless our heads are in the game. So talk to your husband throughout the day to get some of these concerns out. Take walks with kids in strollers after dinner so you can debrief. Bathe the kids together and talk while they splash. Take time to connect earlier in the day, and it will be easier to connect in other ways later.
15. Be His Best Friend
Sex has to flow out of a deep friendship. It can’t be something where you both lead totally separate lives and then you try to connect your bodies. So be your husband’s best friend. Talk. Do things together. Don’t shut him out because the kids come; try to involve him in everything you can.
17. Don’t Sleep with the Kids
I know this one is controversial, and it got me in some hot water a few weeks ago in the comments. Many women who sleep with their children in bed with them said, “we just are intentional about sex and find ways to make it work.” Good for you! But let me suggest that while your sex life can still be fine, it will never be as good as it would be if there were no barriers in the bedroom. You essentially are sacrificing a part of your marriage for sleeping with the children.
You may decide that it’s worth it, and if it’s a decision that you come to with your husband together, that is completely your prerogative. But children will grow up attached to you even if they sleep in a crib. Learning to self-soothe, and to be able to go back to sleep without Mommy, is actually an important skill.
Interestingly, every single man who commented on that post about sleeping with your children said it was a bad idea. That’s consistent with what I’ve seen. Most men do not want to co-sleep, and when they do, it’s often because the women have insisted. Women tend to be the big advocates of it, and men tend to go along. That’s really not a healthy marriage situation. Again, if it is a decision you’ve come to together, that’s fine. But don’t let your eagerness or desire to co-sleep blind you to the fact that your husband may not be as enthusiastic as you are. And his feelings should count!
Read the entire article here.