Recently I listened to Dan Savage talk on the podcast “The Longest Shortest Time” about sex and parenting. The question of how to keep a sex life alive and also co-sleep with your baby came up. He basically said, “Just don’t co-sleep.” Super unhelpful. So, I’m looking to my number one sex columnist for help!
Here’s the Q: I’m a newish mom of a nine-month-old baby. My partner and I have decided to continue to co-sleep with our daughter until we’re ready for a transition. How can we keep our sex life alive when our bedroom is now a family zone? What advice do you have for new parents during the first year of parenthood? I feel like I’m finally getting my sex drive back and despite having a baby in my bed I’d like to get it on.
I’ve never had a baby myself and don’t know much about them. My boyfriend and I co-sleep with our dog and our cat. They are quick to give us our privacy when we want to get busy. Therefore, I don’t have many opinions about whether you should or shouldn’t co-sleep with your baby. But I certainly don’t think you need to structure your parenting styles around the ease of your sex life.
Co-sleeping with baby certainly isn’t the only obstacle sex has ever needed to overcome; stressful jobs, long distance relationships, and physical injuries all disrupt the sex lives we’re used to having with our mates. But the best sex lives are adaptable, adventurous, and creative. And the sex you and your partner now need to explore is just more of those things.
Here are my suggestions on what to do when you need a new routine:
Sexually reconnect in small ways. Everything we do with our partners is foreplay. From perceiving qualities we admire in them to watching the ripple of an arm when someone reaches to grab something off a shelf; we are constantly taking in verbal and nonverbal cues from our partner that affect our feelings (both sexual and romantic) for our mate.
Make intentional effort to amplify these small interactions, even if it’s difficult to momentarily break focus from baby. Compliment your mate. Verbalize when you wish you could do your partner right then and there, even if you can’t. Send sexts, homemade porn clips, whatever gets y’all going.
Talk to and about each other beyond mommy and daddy stuff. Exhausted mommy doesn’t get bent over the desk by spit-up covered daddy during a frenzied lunch break quickie. Interact in ways that remind you that before you were parents together, you were lovers together.
Redefine sex. We have a mythical cultural dream that sexual desire and sex are always spontaneous and heavily feature P-in-V penetration and simultaneous orgasms (thanks, TV!). We also get into sexual routines in longterm relationships that may include rituals like candles, certain sex toys, or particular foreplay maps.
Let go of these great sexpectations until baby’s out of bed. Sex may need to be scheduled around baby’s night with grandpa, be quicker than you’d prefer, or even feature mutual masturbation for more reliable orgasm-having. Verbally re-prioritize with your partner what you want to get out of sexual interactions and focus on those aspects first.
Baby’s in bed? Get out of bed! Do it in the shower, the kitchen, on the couch, the floor, the car, a restaurant bathroom. Give up on the idea that you need or can have complete privacy. Trust that baby is more interested in figuring out how her toes taste than what’s happening on the floor even right outside the open bedroom door if you can’t be further from her than that. You know how far and for how long you can be away from baby while still keeping her safe. Do the math and then go the short, semi-private distance to do the dirty.
Forgive yourselves. So you scheduled the sex, but the spark just never catches. There’s a curve when learning how to have great sex as great parents. Use the time to intimately bond with your partner even if this just means a snug and some Netflix. The sex will come again. And so will you.•