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Totally Useful Tips on How to Have Sex (Without Interruptions from Your Kids!)

It’s my son’s fault that my daughter was conceived.

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My husband and I had come to count on him as our main form of birth control—because he was so impeccably good at knowing exactly when we were feeling amorous and immediately waking up and ruining everything. The phenomenon happened so often, we named it “Project Prevent Siblings.” It was always the same. We’d be silently brushing our teeth in the dark, eyes half closed with exhaustion, when Lance would look sideways at me, half-grin, and raise his eyebrows. Then I’d snort, roll my eyes, and spit out a mouthful of foamy toothpaste. The mere thought of sex was almost taxing enough to actually put me to sleep where I stood, narcolepsy style, but my husband did look so cute in his boxer briefs. There was a time in our marriage when I was sexual, so maybe after a quick wipe down with a baby wipe I might be able to rally, I’d reason? Then, we’d tiptoe to bed, get under the covers, grin at each other, and bring our lips together—that’s when Noah would wake up. After rocking, nursing, trading, rocking, singing, and patting the kid back to sleep, one of us was drooling into our pillow, and the other had completely lost whatever desire we’d garnered from our 20 seconds of foreplay.

Until—one night, when he was not quite two years old—he slept through his internal alarm, and I actually had time to perform my “wifely duties” with my husband. Drunk with power (I guess), I whispered lovingly to him that he didn’t have time to fool with the condom, and I wasn’t ovulating anyway, so why bother? “Are you sure?” is what he should have said. “No,” is what I should have said. But there was no time for condoms, and there was no time for talking.

Nine months later, Violet was born. Project Prevent Siblings failed.*

We didn’t realize how easy we had it with only one Sex Destroyer in the house until we had Violet. She and her brother have teamed up in a new and improved Project Prevent Any More Siblings Without Fail This Time. Violet picks up the slack that Noah leaves and looks at him with disgust. “You call this preventing siblings?” she scoffs. “Allow me to show you how it’s done. Feel free to take notes.”

A typical, non-sexual night in our home looks like this: Lance and I read to our kids, put them to bed, get them water, put them back to bed, then clean the kitchen/set the coffee pot timer/lock the doors/watch TV/drink wine/read/go to sleep. We don’t hear from the kids until morning (if we’re lucky), but at the earliest it’s 2 or 3 in the morning before they come wandering into our bedroom. However, when the pheromones start coursing through the house, it’s another scene altogether.

Our foreplay these days consists of one of the following: 1) A raised eyebrow and an admission that one or both parties “need to take a shower.” Bonus points for a wink and/or smirk. 2) A sentence that begins with “Sooooooo……” 3) A raised concern that “it’s been awhile since we…you know…like…yikes, how long has it BEEN?!” If any of these scenes are to progress, we know we have a very small window. Our mere thought of sex has caused a disturbance in her slumber, and Violet will be awake in half an hour or less.

Last week, as we lay in bed JUST TALKING, I SWEAR, we heard the door to her room open, and out she stomped…into our room. She climbed over me like I was nothing more than a lumpy obstacle and then elbowed herself in, inching us apart until she was wedged between us, where she promptly started snoring. I am not convinced she was ever actually fully awake.

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Now, let’s say, for the sake of this example, that Lance and I were making out when our darling toddler came stumbling into our bedroom. And let’s pretend that we put her back in bed, and we somehow rekindled the flame that was promptly doused by the current of icy water she brought with her (which in reality would be impossible to rekindle, but suspend your disbelief for a moment). IF she actually stayed asleep and in her own bed for at least the next hour, the problem is that our four year old would STILL wake up within that hour with a bad dream or a need for water or because he needed to tell me that when we wake up tomorrow we should go to the store to buy some carabiners, ropes, a harness, and some climbing shoes so that he can climb on fences (that’s a true story). Our kids regularly enter a never-ending cycle of waking up and ruining our mojo.

Now, I’ve read enough Huffington Post articles to know that someday I’ll miss these precious night wanderings when my kids are grown and gone blah blah blah, but right now Mama needs some lovin’, y’all! So what’s a carnal couple with younglings to do when the mood strikes? If your dear toddlers have left your sex stores as depleted as ours, these tips are for you. (You’re welcome.)

1. Don’t wait. In my experience, kids seem to sleep hardest within the first hour of going down, so as soon as they are tucked in bed, hit the sheets. Don’t watch a show, don’t play a game, don’t eat dessert, don’t chit-chat about your day. There’ll be time for that kind of frivolity after you’ve done the deed.

2. Spread the foreplay out throughout the day. If you need foreplay at all (as sleep- and sex-deprived as you are), think about sex all day so you have more time for the actual act in those few crucial moments. Send each other a dirty text (in our case this could be anything that doesn’t mention the kids’ poop or what to pick up for dinner on the way home), change out of the avocado-smeared t-shirt and holey yoga pants at some point before bedtime, shave your pits, do the suggestive eyebrow-raising thing as soon as you see each other, etc.

3. Don’t be afraid to be direct. Gone are the days when leisurely flirting equalled getting it on at some point in the near future. The NEW sexy? Telling him you need it. Now. NO. Put down your iPhone, and leave the dishes in the sink. I SAID NOW.

4. Schedule time for sex. It sounds like a drag, but it really works. If your kids are total pains about going to bed so it’s late when you finally have time to yourselves and your brains are mush, you’re more likely to rally if you have a date for sex already set in place. (Extra sexiness points if you send each other a calendar invite. That’s like numbers 2-4 combined!)

5. Do NOT remind each other how lame your sex lives have become. For some reason this seems to be a total buzz-kill for my husband.

6. ALWAYS lock the door. Even if you are following tip #1, there is a chance you may have miscalculated the amount of time it took you to brush your teeth and get naked. I may or may not be speaking from experience here, y’all: there are just some things you do not want to have to explain yet.

7. Don’t risk it. Unless you’re ready to make having sex that much harder by adding another Sex Destroyer to your family, make the extra effort to protect yourself. Think you don’t have time to fool with the condom? Think about how much time another newborn will take away from your game. (Hint: A LOT.)

8. Take it easy. There will be plenty of nights when there’s just no recovering the romance. Hey, it happens to all of us! Just try again tomorrow. Don’t be like me and start thinking your marriage will never include sex again. Laugh, don’t cry. After all, someday it’ll be funny, right? RIGHT?

I’m sure there are other (supposedly more helpful) tips if you do a google search on “keeping the romance alive” while living under the same roof as small children, probably some baloney about getting away together for a weekend or hiring a babysitter and having a nice dinner together, but come on. Who has energy and time for THAT when just squeezing in a quickie is super challenging?

Now, who’s ready for bedtime?

Share your own successes (and please share your failures…we could all use a laugh) in the comments!

*Of course, we were thrilled to be pregnant, and we are overjoyed to have Violet. When she was about three months old, I giddily asked Lance, “aren’t you glad we didn’t wear a condom that day?” He smiled. “Yeah.” Then he groaned. “But let’s never do it again.”

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16 Responses to Totally Useful Tips on How to Have Sex (Without Interruptions from Your Kids!)

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    Dawn October 17, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    This is too funny!!! As parents of four, ages ranging 19 to 8 it doesn’t get easier. Especially when you’re living in a house that you didn’t design and the main bathroom that is literally right next to our bedroom is used by two of the kids one getting up randomly all hours of the night can really put a damper on things. We have never slept with our door closed so closing it now and locking it is really awkward because I know the older ones know what the heck is going on. So trust me when I say it doesn’t get easier. All we can do is laugh, and just do what you need to do. Even if it’s in the closet!!!

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      Kaitlin December 28, 2014 at 10:36 am #

      Maybe we will start closing the door when we go to bed now while they are little so they won’t suspect anything thing when they are older! Maybe that will work… Ha!

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    Belinda Castillo October 17, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

    cute article. Our 21 month old leaves us with little energy at the end of the day but when he’s in a deep sleep we sneak away to our walk in closet, throw down a blanket and pillow and “get busy”. It’s not romantic or glamorous…but we’ve come to love our little “get away” closet these days! Hahaha

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    Amanda October 20, 2014 at 12:49 am #

    I have a 2 year old son who has always slept in his own bed in his own room except for when he was a new born. He’s never come crawling into our bed. I think the moral of this whole story is to not let your children sleep with you and form these habits of coming into your bed in the middle of the night. Simple as that.

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      Erin December 30, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

      Haha, only in your perfect world.

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    Carla December 26, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

    I co-sleep/bed-share and have with my kids. My husband and I still have sex. The kids aren’t the problem. It’s everything else in life that slows us down. We just put the 3 year old that still sleeps in my bed on the sofa. Easy Peasy. We’ve got a routine down.

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    Nicole December 27, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    Wow! My husband and I have never had that much trouble! We have 6 kids from 11yo to 2yo. We coslept when they needed it. It doesn’t form bad habits as a previous mom said. Bed time here is 8ish pm. We don’t hide in closets or schedule anything. I guess we did something right with our kids.

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      Bri December 30, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

      Wow. How’s the air up there on your high horse?

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      Kate January 4, 2015 at 9:26 pm #

      We cosleep, too, and manage it 3-5 times a week, although sometimes we just leave our bedroom for the hall, den, kitchen, living room, car, if baby wakes and gets distracting (as in, distracting one of us). If we’re beyond foreplay, we just finish up and ignore him. Maybe some will find this weird, but husband sometimes starts feeling me up while I’m nursing baby to sleep Mornings I make sure and lock the door before we start. The children tend to get into a lot of stuff they’re not supposed to on Saturday mornings, so there’s usually a cleanup cost, or sugar high cost…. quickies are easy in the summer when big kids are outside and babies are asleep. Only had one walk in on us once…

      We have 5 children, 7 to 10 months and #6 on the way, woohoo! I am looking forward to when they’re gone more at night during late HS/college. I hear upper elementary/junior high gets tricky to be sneaky. But, hey, it’s good for kids to know their parents are enjoying each other, right?!

  6. Avatar
    Kaitlin December 28, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    We shared a room/ co slept for a few years with my oldest. He doesn’t come in our room till the morning. I think it’s just a personality thing. My parents never co slept with me and I’ve heard stories of how I always came in their room in the middle if the night.

    But alas, gone are the days of morning sex. We have a 4yr old who thankfully sleeps till 8. And we have a 7 mo old that wakes up whenever he wants to. Sometime between 5:30-7.

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    Laura December 30, 2014 at 7:42 am #

    When my daughter was still little enough to be sleeping in the bassinet my husband and I somehow worked up the energy for a little love. A few minutes in our sweet little angel starts wiggling and farting super loud just feet away from us! It had been so long at this point that my husband didn’t need too much time and we managed to power through with a few laughs!

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    Amy September 8, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

    This happened just yesterday: We got our 2 year old down for a nap, and since it was my birthday hubby was making that winky face… And so we got down to business (see tip #1). Things were going great, I was having a wonderful time (ahem… ?), and hubby was ALMOST there. Then we hear it- the pitter patter of tiny feet in the hallway and the cry “Mommy! Poopoo!” Our newly potty trained daughter has just poo’ed herself. Like bad. Down her legs “oh I’m going to have to throw those pants away” bad. Like time to change the linens and disinfect the entire bedroom bad. Talk about dousing the situation with ice water! To our credit we were able to redeem the situation later on that day. Yay kids!!

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    Cinella December 26, 2017 at 1:22 pm #

    We have been blessed 4 times over with GREAT SLEEPERS!! haha

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    Nikki April 28, 2018 at 11:36 pm #

    Oh my I can relate. Our first was not planned it was a lot like your little Violet bless her heart. My son was planned as I wanted my children three years apart ( I dont know what I was thinking ) The trouble started when my daughter was 5. All pf a sudden I had a 5 yr old with insomnia. Sex went out the window all together. Every single night she would be up till well after dad had fallen asleep. It stressed her out and it stressed me out. We watch TV in bed so eventually after about a month we couldnt take it anymore and shut the door. We learned how to rekindle after the first interuption. Never a second though. Her insominia has withstood the test of time. After about a year I mentioned it to her pediatrician. I waited because who gives a child sleeping pills and that is not what I wanted, but we were both so stressed and tired we would end up crying in the hall at 3 am. Her pediatrician suggested melatonin 3 -6 mg. Finally relief! We still use the TV trick though even though they are both now old enough to get it we all know they dont want to hear it. We are also in the market for a bigger house lol

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