Nothing kills the mood quite like when your kid barges into the bedroom, screams about ghosts, and insists on hiding under your sheets. Sex-while-parenting is often tricky to maneuver, requiring patience, flexibility, and a whole lot of foresight.
It should come as no surprise that in a survey of 1,000 moms and dads, Parenting found that 30 percent of respondents had sex only once or twice per month; 10 percent got it on less than once a month; and 15 percent had stopped having sex entirely. (Gulp.)
More often than not, the parents in the poll cited exhaustion and too many obligations as reasons for their lower libidos, but another problem is failure to prioritize the deed. That's understandable: having to juggle kids' schedules, needs, and basic care takes up a lot of time. Plus, parenting often means putting your children first. And so adult needs go unattended, which—as one Redditor put it on the site's parenting forum—is not always the best.
"My husband and I are dying to have more intimacy in our lives," the Redditor wrote. "Honestly, without it we feel quite disconnected and grumpy." This user and their partner have a 4-year-old and a 20-month-old, and while they promised each other one weekly night of intimacy, minimum, "once we finally get into bed we look at each other and agree that sleep is just way too appealing. Or we start to do our thing and one of the kids starts crying or calling for us and that just ends things."
The big questions of how to keep the magic alive when kids are in the picture is a common one, and luckily for sex-starved parents, Redditors have answers. Here are our five favourite tips for finding time for sex as a parent.
GO FOR QUICKIES
For many parents, there are specific times when you know the kids will be out of the house—maybe the school bus picks them up at 8 a.m. and you don't have to be at work until 9:30; maybe they have extracurriculars, meaning the house is empty for a few hours in the evening. Have sex during those times, Reddit users suggest, even if it's just a quickie.
Is one of you going to take a shower? Great, have a quickie. Are the kids currently hypnotized in front of the television? Hop to it. Is a trusted relative visiting who can keep them occupied for a few minutes? Slip away. Or, jump on the opportune-seeming time slots that open just after you've put the kids to bed or settled them in for a nap. As one Redditor puts it: "As soon as they go down, go to town!" And don't wait until bedtime—at the end of a long day, it's too tempting to choose sleep over sex.
Some women are averse to quickies, because they don't generally guarantee orgasm for both parties. And if you're worrying about your children bursting in on you mid-coitus, that distraction can also keep you from climax. Luckily, there's a simple solution to that problem: sex toys.
"If you want to orgasm during a quickie, I recommend experimenting with vibrators/toys," one user suggests. "My husband surprised me with some after I was having difficulty right after our first. It has changed our lives!!"
Plan ahead if you want to have sex on a regular basis. While scheduling a fun and often spontaneous activity might seem likely to sap the sexiness out of the act, as one Reddit user on a separate thread notes, "the anticipation can be fun."
"A lot of parents schedule sex," they add. "Especially with a baby. Otherwise it just doesn't happen because parents are busy and exhausted people...You both are interested, you have a solution, take it."
That can be as simple as texting your partner a cheeky message, or setting weekly one-on-one time: "Saturday night is date night," one user writes. "After the kids (2yo and 3yo) are in bed we eat dessert, drink some wine, and watch a movie (we alternate who picks the movie each week). It's a huge motivator to get the kids into bed early and gives us at least one guaranteed night each week where we're focused on each other."
If you really can't make the time for a full-fledged sex session, try masturbating together: People can often get themselves off in less time than another person can, making co-masturbation a viable option for time-pressed parents. Self-supplied orgasm might also help tide both of you over until you can fit in a night of intimacy.
"What works ... for my wife and me is masturbating together," one Redditor recommends. "Everyone is doing it to themselves—together. We kiss and touch each other. It works fine for us as we both like doing it to ourselves. But it took a bit to not feel different. Now it is kind of our thing and we like it... After that we cuddle like after normal sex."
GET COMFORTABLE WITH SKIPPING THINGS
Maybe the only solo hours you get are reserved for Sunday chores; maybe it's just before bed and sacrificing that extra hour of sleep sounds dismal; maybe getting intimate would mean you're a little bit late for work. Throw caution to the wind, Redditors overwhelmingly recommend.
"Be intimate first, then finish your chores if you have time," one user advises.
The sacrifice is often worth it.
This article originally appeared on Women’s Health US.