Do you remember your sex life before kids? You could do it anytime, anywhere, and for as long as you wanted to. There were no forced quickies, poorly timed interruptions, or hiding in the closet. But then comes pregnancy, birth, and raising children, which can do a number on the intimacy you and your partner share. So can we please just normalize this so people won’t be so disappointed when their sex life changes post-kids?
I am not here to give you 10 ways to revive your sex life. I just want to take a moment to get real because I am sick of people acting like becoming a parent doesn’t forever change your sex life. When kids come along, your sex life is usually the first thing to get pushed to the side. Because the reality is, having kids changes everything … your relationship, who you were as individuals, your lifestyle … everything! And it usually takes a while for things to settle back into a new rhythm.
Let’s just start with the fact that your priorities seem to shift overnight. Suddenly the needs of a tiny human (or humans) trump the needs of anything or anyone else. Children take up so much of your time and energy, and there isn’t always time for yourself left over. Dishes, laundry, sleep and definitely sex often fall to the wayside. And if you don’t have time for yourself or anything else on the to-do list, you definitely don’t have time to worry about the needs of another adult … i.e., your partner.
Those of us birthing the babies have a very different experience than the person who doesn’t. A postpartum body brings about a lot of changes that can affect libido. First of all, if you birthed a baby, you are most likely dealing with the fact that the body you have now is not the body you had before kids.
Suddenly there are more stretch marks, squishier body parts, a few extra pounds to deal with, and a vagina that doesn’t feel the same. So you may not be feeling as sexy and carefree as you did before kids. And don’t forget wildly fluctuating hormones from birth and breastfeeding can also do a number on your libido.
And for the primary caregivers, libido can also be tied to how much partners help around the house. Because nothing kills the mood more than being dead tired while still staring down a dirty kitchen, piles of laundry, and wild, overly tired kids that need to be wrangled into the bed. And did I mention being touched out? If I haven’t had an inch of personal space from the moment I woke up, I am not exactly in the mood to be touched by anyone at the end of the day, much less have sex.
Finding the time for sex can be one of the biggest challenges. Kids can rule your schedule in ways you never imagined. It seems that every waking moment of every day is filled with 101 things to do. Sex can often feel like another chore to add to the to-do list, and it can be more appealing to prioritize sleep over anything else that might happen in the bed. And spontaneity? You can’t count on that much anymore. It’s almost guaranteed that one of your kids will sniff out the fact that you are up to something and immediately start cockblocking.
Not to mention romance is usually running short, and foreplay is somewhat of a luxury. Taking the time to light candles, put on some sexy lingerie, or “get things going” may be the difference between you getting it in or not. But as much as those things may help you get in the mood, ain’t nobody got time for that kind of stuff anymore. (Just kidding … but not really.)
I’m not saying you should give up. Because if you intend to stay married, you do have to make an effort to keep the intimacy alive, whether that includes sex or not. But you definitely have to adjust your expectations and be willing to get a little creative. That doesn’t mean sex post-kids can’t be hot, because it definitely can, but it sure does take a whole lot more effort.
You might as well get comfortable with the fact that your sex life will ebb and flow — even past the healing process after birth. You don’t just wait the requisite six weeks and then return to sex as you knew it. As parents, you have to grapple with so many challenges from interruptions, to scheduling challenges, to mismatched libidos, to plain ol’ sleep deprivation. If we learn to expect this, we’ll be less dismayed (or downright disappointed) by it when it happens.
So install locks, kick the kids out of your bedroom, or find places outside of the bedroom to have sex. Sext during the day, read romance novels, and get it on when and where you can. And yes, you might even have to resort to planning sex. Because even as kids get older, you will still find yourself sneaking around to have sex in your own damn house.
In other words, find ways to prioritize your sex life. Because just like you can’t leave your kids to fend for themselves, you can’t leave your sex life to fend for itself either. And although it may take a little more work and creativity than you are used to, the payoff is worth the effort.