This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in 2021.

Advice For Parents Who Want To Get Their Sex Lives Back On Track

The kids may have an early bedtime, but you won’t.

It’s funny how a church-sanctioned holiday has become the international day of getting laid, but that’s Valentine’s Day for you.

But not everybody’s getting profanely porked: for stressed parents, V-Day sex, or sex on any day at all, is a distant memory.

It’s completely valid for parents to abstain from adult naptime. No privacy from kids (or at least, alone time not spent worrying if the door is locked or sneaking around like teenagers) is a big reason. The grueling pace of raising kids is a major factor in stamping out frisky urges, too.

If you and your partner end up like this after a day of non-stop parenting, no one would blame you.
Getty Images/Tetra images RF
If you and your partner end up like this after a day of non-stop parenting, no one would blame you.

After the birth of her second child, Sherley Joseph remembers feeling overwhelmed. Although her husband was raring to go, she found that the everyday stress of raising kids regularly took precedence over getting frisky.

“Whether you’re a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, kids can get in the way,” the 42-year-old Torontonian told HuffPost Canada. “I was neglecting my relationship when it comes to intimacy.”

New parents may deal with a more physical set of challenges, as body pain and breastfeeding can reduce a mother’s inclination to fool around.

There are some risks to letting desire go unchecked. Daily Mail columnist Rowan Pelling wrote that parents who haven’t had sex in a while may have an unspoken agreement to ignore their intimacy issues. Pelling warns that upholding this pact of silence can leave both parties unsatisfied or at risk of infidelity.

But just because it’s been ages doesn’t mean you can’t get back in the sack with each other. For parents going through a dry spell, here’s how to break it:

Talk (or text) dirty

Flirting might elicit groans from kids and cringing from teens, but all those cheesy pick-up lines are healthy. Married couples report flirting kindled their sexual desire for their spouse and created a “private world” between them in small ways.

If you find yourself getting tongue-tied, therapist Dr. Chris Donaghue told Fatherly that texting can fan the flames between parents who’ve lost their erotic groove, as it is “a resource for maintaining romanticism and closeness.”

Should sexting be new territory, describing fantasies or recounting wild bedroom memories are great thread-starters.

Watch: Suck at sexting? Here’s how to do it right. Story continues below.

Not only do phones give partners time to compose their filthy correspondence and are discreet enough to allow flirting to happen anywhere (yes, even during daycare drop-offs or on a grocery run), getting an intimate text reminds lovers that they’re desirable even when they’re not close by.

There’s also no knocking good old-fashioned courtship. Research from the University of Kansas suggests there are five types of flirting styles. Some may be more receptive to playful teasing, but others get hot around the collar when they’re treated with polite, sincere emotional interest.

Words not getting your message across? A tasteful nude’s worth a 1,000 words. Just make sure you’re protecting your privacy and please don’t cloud-share.

Treat old flames like new lovers, make time for them

Joseph and her husband Clove host “Chonilla,” a podcast chronicling their life as an interracial couple parenting three kids. As high school sweethearts who’ve been going steady for over 20 years, they’ve had lulls in bedroom fun as well as spikes in desire when they couldn’t keep their hands off each other.

What those adrenaline-pumping sessions have in common? The spouses felt like they were exploring their counterpart’s turn-ons, all over again.

“You have to re-introduce yourself every seven years or so. Your views, ideas, and how we move in the world can change, which can affect your intimacy,” she says.

As people get older, their turn-ons and turn-offs may change.
Getty Images
As people get older, their turn-ons and turn-offs may change.

Joseph notices that it makes a big difference when she and her husband schedule their intimacy. It builds anticipation and gives them time to make the necessary preparations, like sending the kids for a visit to grandma’s and finding a hotel (or even a nice, secluded outdoorsy place) for a romp. Outdoors sex out of public view isn’t illegal, FYI ...

But don’t over-schedule it

While date nights are great intimacy instigators, parents may be distracted by babysitter updates or too fatigued by the daily grind to woo each other. Over-scheduling intimacy can overbook you and turn love-making into a chore.

Research indicates that many parents aren’t keen on intercourse and have pretty terrible sex when they do: a survey of almost 977 heterosexual couples found that 46 per cent say sex got worse after they had kids. While only 30 per cent of men say they had a lowered libido, nearly double that number of women experienced a decrease in sexual desire.

After months of no action, new moms may feel more pressure to have sex again: a HuffPost Canada survey found that new moms may take up to two years to feel ready for sexual intimacy.

So don’t force yourself to go through with the act just because you put the effort in. If desire doesn’t come naturally, there’s always next time.

Come hither > all the way

It can be nerve-wracking to have sex after not doing the deed for ages. In that case, it might be time to re-define what sex is between you and your partner, psychotherapist Esther Perel suggests.

“You can do the act in [five] minutes, done, and it has zero effect on you,” she told Fatherly. “If people had a less narrow definition of what sex is, there would be an ability to feel much more sexually connected after having kids.”

Unhappy bedfellows are the worst bedfellows.
Peter Cade via Getty Images
Unhappy bedfellows are the worst bedfellows.

Expanding that definition can look like upping the ante on (fairly appropriate) foreplay. Lingering shoulder squeezes when you greet each other and footsie under the dinner table are ways you can build anticipation through physical contact.

Other sex acts beyond penetrative intercourse or genital-to-genital contact are worth considering: the Leesa study of almost 1,000 parents shows a rise in oral pleasure and manual stimulation after having kids.

Toys, toys, toys

A helping, vibrating hand can help reignite sparks, especially for those who need time to climax. A poll by American sociologists found that over half of couples over 50 use sex toys. There are plenty of erotic aids on the market, but they all have a common benefit: a study of vibrator use posits that when couples share toys, their desires feel more accepted. This leads to having sincerely satisfying sex.

Read: 10 mind-blowing sex toys to try. Story continues after slideshow.

We-Vibe sync

13 Mind-Blowing Sex Toys

Having problems? Always talk it out

Your partner’s into role-play, but playing boss-and-secretary is not your fantasy. Or maybe your partner thinks you’re gorgeous, but you feel incredibly unattractive.

Communicating your needs is key to figuring out how to make sex something you both crave, as opposed to an act you both put off until the last-minute.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Natalie Rosen and the Halifax-based Couples & Sexual Health Laboratory launched #postbabyhankypanky to help new parents communicate their sexual needs with each other.

For some, maintaining a sex life is part of how they still connect as a couple, separate from now being parents,” Rosen told HuffPost Canada in an earlier interview. “For others, it might be less important as they focus on their new role as parents … both parents’ sexual needs are important — and those sexual needs include both the need to have sex and the need NOT to have sex.”

See a professional

There are some dry spells that are too difficult to face alone. If it’s been an incredibly long time or if the awkwardness feels impossible to overcome, consider booking an appointment with a qualified sex therapist.

They’re well-equipped to clear the floor between you and your partner so you’ll be back to dancing the horizontal tango once more.

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