It’s ironic that the product of sex – children – threatens the very thing that brought them into the world: sex.
It’s not just sleep deprivation that can turn a sexually charged couple into who-can-be-bothered’s in under a week.
Children put more strain on you, your relationship and your sex life than you ever dreamed possible.
And then there was the lockdown and home schooling.
“It’s relentless – I had no idea it was going to be like this.”
“If I’d known, I don’t think I’d have had one.”
“What have we done? What happened to our lives?”
This is what new parents really say after having a baby – add a few hundred choice expletives if you’ve had one shortly before lockdown.
Don’t get me wrong: babies and children are adorable.
But you already know that – and that’s not what’s going to cause problems in your relationship, so let’s just take it as a given.
What people don’t tell you is that babies and children are disruptive, destructive little buggers that can sense an erection, a cuddle or an air-kiss that threatens to turn into a snog within seconds.
Then they do everything in their power – which is immense – to thwart it.
Is it any wonder that “Will we ever get our sex life back?” is one of the questions most asked by new parents. (“Will I ever want it back?” often hangs sadly in the air alongside what’s spoken, in the mother’s case)
The answer is yes – to both questions.
But not for a while, so brace yourselves.
Here’s how to stay sane – and sexy – in the meantime.
HOW TO STAY SANE
Don’t compete for the ‘I’m worse off’ award.
It’s hard for both so don’t play martyr or try to score points. Instead work together as a team, help each other.
Don’t feel guilty about taking time out for sex and/or cuddles.
The kids get your full attention all the rest of the time, you deserve private time too.
Go out for dinner, no friends, no kids at least once every two months, (if lockdown allows, obvs).
Don’t be the couple who only ever go out solo and have sex on birthdays and anniversaries.
Try to go to bed at the same time and sleep naked.
Skin to skin contact is crucial for keeping the connection going.
One weekend away every so often, minus kids, will rescue and rejuvenate more than you could ever imagine.
If you can possibly, possibly swing it, do it – it’s what every parent I spoke to said kept them remotely normal.
Don’t waste what spare time you have.
Hit pause on the box set, put your phone down. Have phone free times when you’re forced to talk to each other. When you do…
Don’t talk about the kids all the time.
Remember what you used to talk about pre-kids? It’s still interesting even if little Poppy is blowing bubbles with her juice.
Read the papers, stay curious about life.
Don’t replace your partner with your children.
If you’re not getting something you need, ask for it.
Don’t turn to the kids to provide it. Often, they will and you’ll be even further estranged.
Get and use babysitters.
Bribe parents, siblings, your neighbours, friends…Cultivate a tribe of people you trust to look after your children.
Accept that things won’t be perfect.
Sex is necessarily going to be put on the backbench for a while.
HOW TO STAY SEXY
Don’t stop cuddling even if you don’t fancy sex.
Hold hands, hug, swap air kisses for real ones. Have a bath together.
Both do kegel exercises.
Mums are told to do these by everyone from the doctor to midwife to tighten up but just in case you were asleep at the time…..
Squeeze and hold your pelvic floor muscles (the ones that stop you peeing) at least a couple of times a day.
(If you can’t even feel them, go online and buy some kegel balls so you have something to grip around to ensure you’re doing them properly.)
Doing regular kegels also makes his orgasms more intense and controllable.
Do them together and you’re less likely to forget.
Not all sex requires effort.
If you seriously can’t work up any enthusiasm, let your partner let off steam by masturbating while you watch.
Use a vibrator when you’re too exhausted to have sex.
Use it solo to keep your sex drive high (three minutes is possible to find when the baby’s six months or older).
Use it with him to guarantee you an orgasm during quickies.
Just do it.
Seriously, by the time you’ve dodged your partner’s advances, lay there pretending to be asleep, worried that you’ve hurt them by saying no, you could have had a quickie and both be sleeping with a smile on your face.
It’s fine to bargain in those early days.
You’ll have sex if your partner gets up to do the early morning feed.
It’s totally acceptable to say ‘You’ve got five minutes’ when they want sex but you’d cut your right arm off for sleep.
Create the right conditions – babysitter, time alone – or it isn’t going to happen.
Grab any sex you can.
Don’t be fussy. OK sex is better for your relationship than no sex.
Send babysitters and their charges on trips to faraway shops for obscure ingredients, park somewhere for 15 minutes, have sex on the sofa if the kids are asleep upstairs.
Don’t worry if you don’t ‘finish’ having sex.
When was the last time you made a hot meal and managed to actually eat it while it was even slightly warm?
Get used to it. It’s how it is for a while.
Count ‘sexy’ things as having had sex.
It feels like you’re doing it more: long snogs, sexy massages or baths.
If you’re really finding sex a pressure, agree to a sex detox.
Take it off the table completely for an agreed amount of time (one month or two – no more).
Up the affection and promise each other sex is only gone temporarily and it can give you the mental break needed to get through one of life’s most stressful times.