As mothers and mothers-to-be, we constantly care for other people. Our spouses, our children, and our jobs almost always come before anything we want or need. It’s easy to put our own desires on the back burner—especially when it comes to love and affection.
Lorilee Craker, the author of We Should Do This More Often: A Parent’s Guide to Romance, Passion, and Other Prechild Activities You Vaguely Recall, says that women often bury their sexual desires under their duties of caring for others. And while it’s not always easy to transition from Mommy Mode to Hot Mama, it’s important for you—and your spouse—to try.
“Studies show that couples with healthy sex lives get along better,” says Craker. “There is less tension and irritation in the relationship when couples are connecting in that way.” A woman’s hormone levels also drop when she goes without sex for extended time periods. So, the less you do it, the less you’ll want to do it.
Identifying Libido Busters
There are always reasons to avoid being intimate: You have too much to do, you’re feeling espeically pregnant, you’re too tired. You’re never in the mood. Craker cautions against waiting for the perfect mood to strike. “With kids, and a job, and a house to clean, the ideal time may never come. Just wait for the semi-ideal time,” she says.
In Craker’s book, she describes “libido busters,” or things that make it more difficult for moms to feel sexy. The number one libido buster for most couples? You guessed it—the kids. It’s hard to feel romantic if you are worried that your children may walk in on you and your spouse at any moment. For this, Craker suggests setting some boundaries. “Kids are total narcissists. They think that they should be at the center of our world at all times. But we need to underscore that selfish attitude if we are ever to have time alone.” Tell your children that it’s time for you to be alone with Daddy for a little while. Even if your kids don’t like it—and they won’t—it’s still important to take time away to be a couple.
A common libido buster is a woman’s own body image. It’s difficult to feel sexy if we are comparing our bodies to the ridiculous standards of Hollywood. “The more we’re self-conscious about our bodies, the less we can let loose and enjoy the moment,” says Craker. What if you’re concerned that your husband may be the one doing the comparisons? Craker says not to worry about that either. “If you have a passionate sex life, your husband won’t care what size you are,” she says.
Another concern is miscommunication between the spouses. If your husband asks for sex and you say no, he may take the rejection personally. He may hesitate to ask again on another night. “We can’t assume that our husbands understand our moods,” says Craker. “It is important to talk with him about when good times for intimacy are.” No matter how often you are intimate, you need to tell your mate regularly that you still love him and find him attractive.
Setting the Stage
Ready to rev up your sex life? The following are some fun tips for getting in the mood for love:Get yourself some new PJs. What you sleep in sends a message to your mate, and flannel does not say, “I’m in the mood for love!” You don’t have to wear an ultra-sexy (read: uncomfortable) negligee either. Sometimes a tank top or strategically tight t-shirt can be just as effective. “Wear anything that makes you feel cute,” says Craker.
Give compliments. Saying something nice to your spouse will make you feel closer to one another.Get creative. Many moms find that they are simply too tired to enjoy sex at bedtime. Try it in the morning before your kids wake up—or “nap” when your children nap.Catch him off-guard. At dinner one evening, whisper sweet nothings over the mashed potatoes. Your husband won’t be able to get the kids to bed fast enough!
Have a slumber party. Actually, have two. Set the kids up with a movie, snacks, and their blankets and pillows. When everyone is comfy, you and your husband go to another part of the house for your own time together.
Don’t be afraid to take drastic measures. A friend once confided in me that she and her husband got so desperate for sex that they put on a kids’ DVD, handed each of their four children a fruit roll-up, and then ran upstairs for a quickie. Well, if that’s what it takes . . .
Try something new. “Novelty can be a real turn-on,” says Craker. Try a different restaurant or splurge on a new outfit. Just get out of your usual routine.Plan an at-home date. While one spouse is putting the kids to bed, the other can pick up take-out. You may eat dinner late, but if you can enjoy a meal without having to shout over the kids, isn’t it a good trade?
Hire a babysitter. Indulge in a night out or spend the night in and escape to your own room for a movie, dinner in bed, and some serious cuddling, while your babysitter tends to the kids downstairs.
Surprise! After the kids have been put to bed and your husband is picking up toys, surprise him by dressing up in your best outfit and invite him upstairs for desert and drinks. Or on the sly, arrange for your children to spend the night with grandparents or friends and enjoy a date with your husband; make dinner reservations or pick up his favorite take-out, quick change into a fun and flashy outfit on your way home from work, and treat him to a surprise night out (or in!).
Maintaining a passionate sex life while raising young children can be a real challenge, but the benefits are definitely worth the effort. You may feel selfish taking time away from your kids to reconnect with your husband, but keeping your marriage healthy is one of the most loving things you can do for your family.