How parents can reignite intimacy after kids

Toronto couples share how they make time for sex no matter the schedule

Columnist Dr. Jessica O’Reilly is a sought-after speaker, author and sexologist (www.SexWithDrJess.com). 

Do you consider yourself busy? And do you find that your hectic schedule as a parent and a professional takes precedence over your role as a partner?

If you find that you are too tired, busy or distracted to prioritize or enjoy sex, you’re not alone. Some research suggests that one in five parents are no longer having sex.

If you’re a busy parent, you can still have a happy relationship and a fulfilling sex life if you opt to prioritize your intimate connection using some of the strategies below:

Make sex simple and take turns

Oftentimes we avoid sex because we erroneously believe that it must be mind-blowing each and every time. But sex doesn’t always have to be a big production, and it need not be a marathon or a caloric burning session to be satisfying. Sometimes sex is simply a utilitarian tune-up that leaves you feeling relaxed, satiated and/or connected. If you’re not in the mood for a drawn-out production, let your partner know.

Take turns giving and receiving pleasure and don’t feel the need to reciprocate right away or keep score. You might lend your partner a hand on a Tuesday night and your partner can ask you to do the same on Saturday morning.

Swansea mother of three Denise* says that taking turns and learning to “service” one another was a game changer after their twins were born:

“It was weird to just lie there and not to return the favour at first, but now it’s our secret weapon. I like sex and want more of it, but when I was feeding the twins, I had no energy. The fact that he took care of me meant so much and made me want to do the same.”

Secretly schedule sex

Some parents find that scheduling sex also helps; I suggest that you take turns “secretly” scheduling sex. This worked for Rosedale residents Tomas* and Isabelle* who, between the two of them, have five kids .

“Obviously we want sex to be spontaneous, but with our schedules, we have to plan,” explains Tomas. “We now take turns initiating about once per week each, so we make sure it happens and we get some element of spontaneity.”

Isabelle says they find that they’re more playful because they are constantly trying to come up with a way to surprise one another. And this playfulness is equally important to the relationship.

Eroticize daily interactions

If you want to have more sex, you might also want to eroticize your daily interactions. Making daily interactions erotic doesn’t mean making lewd jokes every time your partner eats a banana, it simply means that ongoing affection and flirtation will help you maintain the connection even when sex is off the table.

You’re not a light switch, so it’s likely you can’t go seamlessly from talking about your kid’s bowel movements to tearing off one another’s clothes. However, if you weave playfulness and flirtation throughout the course of your day — a brush of the thigh in the car, a hug from behind while they’re brushing their teeth, or a quick text to make them laugh and let them know they’re on your mind — you’ll find that the connection arises more naturally when you finally have the time to physically connect.

“We’ve also learned to try to have sex even if we’re not in the mood at first,” says Isabelle. “Sometimes I’m not in the mood and that’s that. And sometimes I’m not in the mood, but I tell Tomas that I’m open to getting in the mood with his help. And vice versa: he does the same with me.”

Obviously you should never feel pressure to have sex. But if you wait until the mood strikes spontaneously, it may never happen — especially after a long day of work, chores and putting the kids to bed. Sexual desire is both spontaneous and responsive (desire that occurs as a response to arousal), so look for opportunities to cultivate it rather than waiting for it to happen.

Make time for yourself

You deserve to be a whole person — not just a parent. Taking time to be alone or to hang out with your friends can be as important for reigniting your sex life as spending time with your partner.

Alana Kayfetz, founder of MomFest, agrees: “When a woman becomes a mother for the first time, they often struggle with their new identity. They assume their job is to put everyone ahead of themselves. Having a new baby who is completely dependent (on you) is the ultimate game changer. It is a very hard job and the learning curve is steep.”

This is why she founded MomFest — the mom “Super Bowl” event at the Warehouse Venue, scheduled for Sept. 10  — to give moms an opportunity to put themselves first. According to Kayfetz, “This includes everything from friends, soul health and sex!”

*Names have been changed and relationship details have been shared with permission from all parties.