No-one tells you how your sex life will change after you have children. It’s not mentioned at birth preparation classes. All the baby books have to say is something discrete and vague along the lines of sex ‘might be a problem for a while’, and other than some general exhortations to ‘talk about how you feel’, there isn’t a great deal of detail.
Until now you’ve had to fend for yourself in the brave new land of sex as parents. Fortunately this dire situation has changed with the release of an engaging new book: “The Sex Life Survival Guide for Parents – how to have great sex in spite of the kids”. According to the author, Jacqui Hellyer, life coach and mother of three, you can continue to have an excellent love life post-kids, in fact, you can have a better love life than before.
If you’ve found that sex has simply become the last item on the to-do list, if it seems irrelevant, too tiring and just not worth the effort, then this may be surprising news. The fact is, your sex life probably will tone down for at least a while after you have kids – you’ll be tired, the kids could interrupt, just to mention the obvious. But keep in mind, there are three phases to sex after kids, and while the earliest phase is the toughest, the third can be better than ever.
If you’re engrossed with babies and toddlers at the moment it might be hard to believe that sex could ever be as good as, let alone better than it was pre-kids, but there will be a time when they sleep through the night, can get their breakfast, can stay with friends and relatives. You will have more time and energy – but this doesn’t mean your love-life will automatically improve. It only will if you’ve kept it going strong in a phase–appropriate way through the earlier phases. If you do that you’ll hone your physical love-making skills and strengthen your emotional connection, and it’s the combination of these two things that will lead to the glorious sex that is only achievable by those who have done it tough and come out stronger, closer and deeper.
Sound good, but worried about how to get through those early stages? Here are ten key points to think about from The Sex Life Survival Guide:
1. Prioritise. You both have to agree that sex is important and worth the effort. It is. A healthy sex life is a Good Thing. It’s good for bonding as a couple, it’s relaxing and energising, and it helps you feel good about yourself and about life in general.
And as to the ‘effort’ – you might think that there’s enough effort in your life already, but all the good things in life take effort – health does, wealth does, and so does love. But the good news is that even a small effort creates a feedback loop that makes it easier: good sex strengthens the relationship and makes sex easier, which in turn strengthens the relationship and makes the sex easier, which in turn strengthens the relationship….
2. Forget spontaneity. Where did the myth come from that sex is supposed to be spontaneous? It certainly wasn’t when you were first dating, you would have put a huge amount of effort into your appearance and arrangements. You still have to, you have to make opportunities for sex, in terms of planning (try a nooky date, it really works!), creating the right atmosphere, distracting the kids, and experimenting with timing and locations. And if planning for sex turns you off, at least plan for the possibility of spontaneity by spending relaxing time together when the kids have gone to bed – if you’re together and you’re relaxed, then spontaneity is much more likely!
3. Don’t think you have to be “in the mood”, already physically aroused, before you have sex. If you do you could be waiting a very long time. Once upon a time you might have looked at your man and felt a pleasant warmth and dampness in your loins, this won’t necessarily happen with a mere look these days. Instead, be emotionally agreeable to starting to make love, and let your physical arousal occur as part of the act. Even if you’re an exhausted phase-one mum you can just lie back and let your partner give you the delicious attention you so deserve.
4. Let your children know Mummy and Daddy have “Cuddle Time”. They like cuddles, so they’ll understand that you do too. Then it’s easier to distract them, you’re less likely to be interrupted and it’s easier to deal with if you are – “Hey, Mummy and Daddy are having cuddle time, go back and watch the rest of the movie and we’ll go for an ice-cream after!” (Yes, bribery is a useful tool too.)
5. Modify your lovemaking to suit the phase you’re in. The first phase is the toughest, so practise gentle and tender Buttered Muffin Sex (he does all the work, you just lie back and enjoy – groan if you can be bothered). In the second phase practise tried and true Chocolate Cake sex. And then in phase three, when the kids are more independent, you can, if you choose, access the full delights of Dessert Trolley Sex – as long as you prioritise, and don’t use your extra time and energy to do the housework, watch TV or surf the net.
6. Work as a team with your partner. When you become parents your roles and responsibilities will change and will continue to change. You don’t have to be the same, you don’t have to do it 50:50, but you do have to be clear about who’s doing what and why. Otherwise you’ll build resentments and you’ll become exhausted, and those are dead cert libido killers.
7. But don’t reduce your relationship just to logistics – live life as foreplay. If you’re receptive to sex it’ll be easier to take the opportunity when it arises, planned or otherwise (how about a quickie in the bathroom while the kids are engrossed in breakfast?). This means the two of you have to make an effort to get on together, to keep your feelings of intimacy and closeness high, to communicate and to be kind, to actually treat each other like lovers. You have to nurture your relationship, because without tender nurturing anything withers and dies, or at best limps along lamely.
8. Shift from a stereotyped image of ‘sexiness’ to one of ‘sensuality’. If you feel like you have to look and feel like a skinny teenager to be sexy and have good sex, then you won’t! Think sensual: it’s softer, rounder, full of depth and warmth, rather gorgeous really. And becoming a parent can enhance your sensuality, because you are surrounded by these wonderful little creatures who are incredibly sensual, who approach the world through their senses. Tune into this feeling and allow your life and your sex life to be richer and more beautiful because of it.
9. Practice selfish selflessness. You have to look after yourself to look after your kids well. Tired, grumpy, resentful, flustered people do not make the best parents. You’ll enjoy your parenting and your kids will enjoy your parenting more if you’re relaxed and energised, getting on well with your partner and having a good sex life. That might seem like a big ask, but it’s actually all about small things that lighten your load and make life easier. So you do less, take life more gently, let life flow and welcome back a long-lost sense of horniness! This puts the spark back into life so that you build up your love of life.
10. You’ve gotta love life to have a love life. Learn from your children, savour and enjoy life like they do – be playful and carefree, appreciate all the little things that go to make up your life. Synergize with your kids’ energy rather than fighting it. Engage in and really experience life, especially when you’re busy and harried. Do this and you’ll love life all the more, and that means your love life will improve – another great feedback loop that makes the tough stuff progressively easier.
Actually, it’s all about love – keep the love between you and your partner strong and that’ll spread to your kids and you’ll have a happy loving family all round. So if you can’t be bothered having sex for your own benefit – do it for the kids, there’s nothing they like better than seeing their parents happy and in love! And there’s another feedback loop: if you’re happy, they’re happier, so you’re happier, so they’re happier…