Sexual desire and adventure don’t have to be thrown out the moment you become parents.
Words: Gigi Engle
Illustration: Meg Murgatroyd
I’m fully aware there are new moms (and pops) looking at the headline of this article thinking: What in the actual hell are you talking about, Gigi? I’m exhausted, there is a pile of laundry the size of Brazil outside my washer, and everything in my closet smells like puke. What do you mean sex gets better AFTER kids?
And I totally understand where you’re coming from. When you first become parents, there is a big adjustment period. It’s no longer you and your partner getting freaky on a Tuesday just because you can, it’s now more about waking up at 5am for feedings. As little ones get bigger (and start running around) they can become even more exhausting.
But I can promise you that becoming a parent doesn’t mean your sex life is over. It doesn’t even need to mean it has to get worse.
There’s an assumption that once you have kids, sex goes out the window. The logic behind this farcical idea comes from the simple fact that once you become a parent, that’s all you’re supposed to be. It is an undeniable fact that being a parent doesn’t make you less human. Just because you have a new baby (or a few little ones) doesn’t mean you aren’t capable of being a fully functional, amorous sexual adult.
Here’s what you should know to make the most of the time you have with your BAE.
First of all, the desire for sex is not a “drive.”
We have to collectively agree to stop calling sex a ‘drive’. Sex drive is not a thing and calling it that and imbuing it with mystical powers that randomly come from nowhere for every person is unrealistic and will leave us all with blue balls and blue clits.
Sex is a reward system. The more good sex you have, the more good sex you want. If you’re having crappy sex, it’s likely that you’ll start to think of sex as generally shit and then won’t want to have it. Dr. Karen Gurney points out in her book, Mind The Gap, that the disparity we see in many heterosexual cis-women’s libidos is not because they are ‘less sexual’, but because they’re probably having lacklustre sexual experiences.
And look, I’ll be the first to admit for the vast majority of people, having a healthy sex life is inherently a part of their happiness. Most of us need sexual fulfilment in order to feel fully like ourselves (with the partial exception of our pals in the Ace community). But this ‘need’, however great, is not a natural human drive in the same way that eating or sleeping is. Without proper nourishment and sleep you will most definitely die. This is not the case with sex - though it may feel that way sometimes. Trust me. I get it.
Why is this important to understanding how sex can improve when we have kiddos? Well, a good sexual relationship takes nurturing and love. It takes effort. It takes commitment. If there’s one thing new parents (and all parents, really) will tell you it’s that there is no time for anything and that you’re tired all the time. This will affect your natural urge towards sex - in order to keep the proverbial spark alive and to keep your sexual relationship intact, you and your partner need to recognise that sex needs to be prioritised and treat it as such.
Set realistic expectations for your sex life.
Is your sex life going to be all Afternoon Delight and spontaneous romps now that you have kids? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean your sex life can’t be hot. This is where one of my favorite sex techniques comes into play: orgasm stacking.
Orgasm stacking is a practice where you and your boo place the emphasis on the quality of sex (aka: the amount of orgasms you’re having), as opposed to how many times a week or month you're having sex. While it may not sound super sexy, it’s a realistic approach to sex when you’re balancing hectic schedules and wee ones.
How this works will be different for every couple. If you’re going to practice orgasm stacking, you have to reframe your sex schedule. Instead of having a twenty minute session twice a week (or however often you have sex), set apart forty minutes to an hour, once a week. Communicate with your partner to find a timetable that works for you. Yes, this might involve putting it in your Google Calendar. It’s 2021. Get with it.
Keep in mind that the amount of time you spend having sex is entirely dependent on the satisfaction you and your partner feel in the relationship. If having sex once a week works for both of you, great. Once a month? Great. Once a year? That’s swell. It’s about making sure everyone is happy, healthy, and feeling grounded in their mutual sexuality.
Look at this as an opportunity, not an uphill battle.
Couples who have kids and a hot sex life have a little secret they for sure want everyone to know: you need to think about your sex life in a different way entirely. This means positive thinking. I know it can sound a bit woo-woo, but it makes all the difference.
When you think of sex as a chore, aren’t exploring new things, and just keep up the same old routine of three pumps in missionary and donezo, you’re not going to maintain a very sexy connection.
Think of this new frontier of parenthood as not just an adventure for your overall life, but for your sex life as well. When you’re doing all that tasty orgasm stacking, make the time count. Try new things in bed, get some toys (we have a whole store full of them right here), and exchange a list with your partner of fun things you want to try. It’s important not to think of sex as some trivial take-it-or-leave-it part of your partnership. Sex is a big part of relationships and it deserves attention. Now isn’t the time to let sex fall into the never-ending rut. It’s a time to expand and learn more about each other as sexual beings.
Gigi Engle is a certified sexologist, educator, and author of All The F*cking Mistakes: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.