Having Sex Gets More Challenging When Your Kids Get Older

by Grant Talbot
Originally Published: 
A couple lying in bed covering their faces with sheets

When I was 8, just before my parents’ divorce, we were still doing family movie nights. Once a month, we’d go to the video store and my brother and I would select a movie of our choice, and my parents would get something for them. They’d stick us in front of the living room TV with some popcorn, and they’d go to their room, lock the door, and turn their own TV’s volume up to 11.

One movie night in particular, I must have knocked on their door a dozen times during that two-hour flick, and each time I was greeted with an exacerbated “what!?” from both of them, in unison. And for the life of me, I couldn’t understand what they were doing in there. Why was the door was locked? And how could they possibly be so irritated when all I did was knock?

Near the end of Masters of the Universe, I finally asked my older brother about the situation. He rolled his eyes and said, “They’re having sex, you idiot.” It was everything I could do to keep my popcorn down.

I couldn’t help but remember this moment from my youth as my wife and I pulled the same movie night trick with our three children. Naturally, I assumed things would get easier in the sex department once our children got older. But, let’s be honest, it’s the faulty line of thought that “it will get better once they get older” that keeps us all working through today, hopeful for tomorrow.

The reality is, finding time for sex doesn’t get easier, and in a lot of ways it just gets more awkward. We used to cram sex into nap time. Perhaps cram isn’t the most flattering word, but it’s pretty accurate. With three kids, getting all of them to sleep at the same time took some pretty serious coordination, and for all their nap times to overlap for more than 15 minutes felt like the stars aligning, so we really only had a short window of time to get naked and get to work.

Scott Webb/Unsplash

There were evenings, of course. Young kids go to bed pretty early, but they also like to crawl out of bed and ask for a glass of water at the most inopportune time.

But when you’re kids are tweens, they’re up later, they don’t nap, and you like to assume that they don’t know what a locked door means, but the reality is, they probably do, which makes that little knock at the door all the more awkward.

Just last weekend, all three kids were downstairs watching TV around 7:30 a.m, so my wife and went for it. We were well into the mix when I heard a knock at the door from my pre-teen son asking if he could have an ice cream sandwich.

Both my wife and I said, “YES!” in unison, and I heard him run downstairs. Not more than two minutes later, our 10-year-old daughter was knocking on the door and asking for a treat as well. We said, “YES!” again and then she ran downstairs.

Somehow this all translated to “mom and dad are giving away the farm,” and we ended up getting interrupted a million times, our kids asking for all the treats and all the video game time until we were so distracted that we couldn’t finish.

I know people often refer to their small children as cockblockers, but the real cockblockers are the tweens. Regardless of how awkward it is to knock on your parent’s bedroom door when they’re getting it on, apparently it’s worth it if it means an ice cream sandwich at 7:30 a.m. and some additional time playing Roblox

It’s not much better at night. I get up really early for work, and my kids fight to stay up late as if putting them bed at 9 p.m. is denying them a right. All of this has culminated in a million and one times where my wife and I are just getting to the good part and a pre-teen son knocks on the door to ask why he can’t sleep, as if I’m the sandman and I’ve been holding out on him. Or my daughter knocks on the door and asks if she can Google why ducks don’t have arms.

I swear to you, next time I’m interviewing for a job and they ask if I work well with distractions, I’m going to tell them that I’ve successfully had sex in my house with pre-teens around. They will offer me the job with all the benefits. (Okay, so maybe I won’t offer that as an example of multi-tasking, but you get the drift.)

Now, I know some of you are reading this and wondering if there is any hope for your sex life as your kids get older. Listen, I’m not the kind of person to get dismal. I’m not the kind of guy to tell you that it only gets worse. But what I will say is that the struggle to have uninterrupted sex is universal, regardless of your children’s ages.

There are times that you can make it happen without any interruption. There are times when the kids are with Grandma or with friends or at school and you have the house to yourself, and suddenly you’re newlyweds again, only with bad backs and you can’t eat spicy food before sex anymore. There are times when all the gears roll and the kids stay asleep, or they are so zoned into whatever that you actually have time for foreplay, sex, and the after glow. But it’s not always. It’s not 100%. And sometimes the worst part of that realization is that sex becomes tainted with this fear that it will get interrupted, which can sometimes be worse than actually being interrupted.

I know there are a few tricks, like giving the kids so much candy that they couldn’t possibly interrupt. I also know that some people set an alarm for the middle of the night and have sex at 4 a.m. I personally have never successfully done anything at 4 a.m., sex included, but if that’s your thing, rock on.

What’s important here is to realize that enjoyable, consensual sex is important to a good marriage. Make time for it. Connect, and realize that sometimes those little cockblockers will get in the way, but there will also be times that it will feel like old times. Don’t give up on intimacy because of the short legged, pre-teen distractions. It’s just too important. And make sure to understand that you aren’t the only couple fighting for uninterrupted sex.

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