Last week, as I lay in bed trying to fall sleep with a diapered behind smooshed against my cheek, I pondered why it is that children are so talented at sucking the life out of their parents' sex lives.
My kids don't even know what sex is (I don't think, although I may have just jinxed that), but they're like little sex leeches, bleeding the life out of our bedroom activities. It's ironic that they can be so adept at crippling the very act that got them here. As I gazed at my snoring toddler, his head cuddled on my husband's chest, I wondered how I ended up with the suspisciously fragrant end of the deal. Then I thought about how deliberate we have to be in protecting our sex life from falling by the wayside of a busy family life. Here are five ways we do it:
1. Get a Babysitter
The only thing better than responsible high school babysitters who will keep your children safe and entertained for a small fee are grandparents. Can I get an "Amen?" Sometimes you just have to drop the kids off at grandma's house so you can go on a date — and where that date takes place is nobody's business but yours. Getting the kids out of the house with a safe caregiver and having an hour to invest in our marriage? Priceless. And while we have yet to do this, there's something romantic and downright steamy about having a sitter come to the house and going to a hotel. Who said date night had to be dinner and a movie?
2. Enforce a "Back to Bed" Policy
I've already tattled on myself by telling you about my rounds of nocturnal "Diaper to the Face." I'm not great at standing firm on this, especially when our prospective roommate is endearingly snuggly. My toddler was sick last week, and I had him sleep in our room so I could keep an eye on him. Apparently this was a great adventure, because he's lobbying to make the arrangement permanent. "I siiick," he's begun saying in the middle of dinner. Before I figured out he was crying wolf, this scared me a bit, especially on spaghetti night. Spaghetti puke is gross. But I quickly caught on, especially once he followed up with "I sleep Daddy's room." Aha.
In order to avoid tantrums and a generally miserable end to the evening, we've struck a compromise. We allow him to fall sleep in our bed, and then my husband carries him upstairs when we're ready to hit the sack. So far my boy's kept up his end of the bargain and stayed in his bed once we move him. I have high hopes he'll outgrow this phase soonish, but for now, it's working.
3. Lock the Door
My children do not believe in closed doors, especially if I'm behind them. If I didn't lock the bathroom door, there would be an ensemble every time I had to pee. In order to prevent having miniature witnesses to our married people time, we try to remember to lock the door. If they need us, we obviously stop what we're doing and attend to their unfortunately timed needs, but locking the door at least allows us the opportunity to scramble for clothing without worrying that we've scarred our children's eyeballs.
4. Get in Bed Early — Or At Least on Time
Ah, bedtime. The magical time of day when I can do whatever I want without holding a baby or stopping to draw a choo-choo or answer a question about long division. Once the kids are tucked in their beds (or my bed, as the case may be), I start a mad scramble to accomplish everything I couldn't get to during the day. This is when I write, and do laundry, and dishes, and read — and it's also the time I try to reconnect with my hubby. If I'm not careful, I get carried away and it's midnight. Now, don't get me wrong. There was a time in our marriage when it was never too late for sex. But right now, especially with such young children, sleep is precious, and I'm not sacrificing it for sex. Going to bed on time allows the window of opportunity to stay open for romance.
5. Talk About Something Other Than the Kids
Sex isn't just about opportunity. It's about reconnecting with your partner, and I need to stay plugged in with my husband so when the opportunity arises, I'm ready. If all we do is talk about the kids, we aren't doing so well as a couple. We need to remember that we're a couple first and foremost, that we love each other, and that this is the whole reason we want to have sex in the first place.
I'm not saying we're pros at protecting and prioritizing our sex lives. We're busy parents, and we're human. We have our droughts, believe me. But when our nocturnal bonding starts to suffer, revisiting these rules is a good way to start getting it back on track.
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Originally published on YourTango.com; republished with permission.