6 ways to maintain intimacy after kids, according to the experts.

It will come as a surprise to absolutely no one that having kids can turn your life upside down. Saturday morning sleep-ins quickly become a thing of the past, just like catching up with friends at a moment’s notice or having the ability to work from home uninterrupted for more than two and a half minutes. 

The arrival of children can render your pre-kids life unrecognisable in many areas, but perhaps none more so than the bedroom, which is kind of ironic given that’s where it all started. 

When couples find themselves deep in the trenches of parenting where time, energy, and privacy become scarce, the mere logistics of sex can get tricky.

Watch: The horoscopes as new parents. Story continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

So, how do parents keep the intimacy alive after kids? Anya Grichina, sex and relationship counsellor at Intimate Matters and Jacqueline Hellyer, clinical sexologist at The LoveLife Clinic explain more.

Why is sex so important, anyway?

Now, before we dive in let’s just back it up a little and think about the importance of sex for a sec. Anya describes it as being multifactorial, saying: "If you look at physical intimacy, physical touch is actually a requirement of the body to produce specific hormones just in order to survive and thrive."


When it comes to sex in relationships specifically, Jacqueline says, "When you have quality loving sex, the cascade of hormones that floods your body just makes you feel fabulous, and it makes you feel good about your partner. You get all those lovely oxytocins... and then you don’t mind so much about the children and the mortgage and all these things – you feel good. It builds resilience in relationships, that’s why we have lots of sex, or at least we’re capable of it."

Okay, so now that we’ve established that sexuality is a fundamental aspect of human nature and an important part of relationships, let’s get into the expert advice. 

1. Redefine what sex is.

According to both Jacqueline and Anya, changing the way we view sex and what we consider being sex is a great place for couples to start. 

"This is one of the things which I really try to reprogram in people's heads," says Anya. "When you're talking about sex, what is sex and what is outside of sex? I wouldn't want anything to be outside of sex. I want everything to be encapsulated in this beautiful, sexy bubble. We want to almost inject this sexy dust throughout the entire day and night and destroy this linear progression of sex where everybody knows what's going to happen. Sprinkle it everywhere, so then you don't have to go psyching yourself into 'sex'."

2. Take responsibility for your own desires and the way you express them.

Anya says it’s important for individuals to take responsibility for their own bodies and desires and be mindful of the way they express these to their partners. 

"I can't demand my partner to attend to my body just because I have sexual arousal going on, that's just not fair," says Anya. "We want to make sure that partners understand that the first responsibility is with the individual. And when we ask for somebody else to take an interest in our sexual desires, we ask in a nice, playful, seductive way, rather than demanding it."


Likewise, Anya says that sexual arousal doesn’t always have to be resolved. "If you're aroused, you can just... enjoy the energy of it and use it as anticipation for the next time you see each other. That would be a nice, mellow way of dealing with sexual arousal."

Anya also recommends people start implementing more language around sex instead of relying entirely on non-verbal clues so much, as she says, "Change that pattern by asking verbally something like, 'What would you like to experience tonight?'"

3. Anticipate, accept, and adapt.

Jacqueline says it’s important for parents, especially those with young children, to anticipate and accept that their relationship and sex life is going to change. She also says it’s important for couples to adapt to each phase of life and get creative when they have to. 

"When you have your babies is not the only time you’re going to have to adapt. All throughout life there’s going to be times when you want different types of sex... and you have to learn how to communicate your needs and accept the other person’s needs and figure out what it is that you want."

"For instance, when my third child was born, I remember with my husband... the mornings were too busy, the night-time [we were] too tired and it was like, 'When are we going to have sex?' So, he started coming home for 'lunch' on Tuesday," says Jacqueline.


"The eldest was at school, the middle one was at childcare, and hopefully the baby was asleep. So, every Tuesday for about three months, he came home for 'lunch' and sometimes he actually had lunch too. Sure, it wasn’t swinging from the chandelier type sex, but... it got us through and a few months later we could resume more and more standard types of lovemaking. But if we’d taken those three months and just gone 'Nup', we wouldn’t have had any sex and probably in three months' time we still wouldn’t have been having any more.

"You have to look for what’s good in each phase. What can we create that’s going to bring goodness to us, that's going to keep the connection going, that’ll keep the love going?"

Listen to Sealed Section. On this episode, Chantelle delves into the complicated but incredibly important topic of postpartum sex, and answers questions from listeners who are trying to reconnect with their partner, and themselves, after having a baby. Story continues below.

4. Create a sacred time and sacred space.

Often when it comes to advice around sex after kids, couples are told to 'schedule sex weekly' or something quite regimented like that. Anya says this is an outdated concept, while Jacqueline says that couples don’t necessarily need to schedule sex, but they should plan to make 'us' time. Additionally, Jacqueline says couples should create desirable spaces and ways to connect while remembering the importance of relaxation in it all.


"In long-term relationships, you're not just going to be spontaneously horny for each other... you have to create those spaces in which you can be relaxed and enjoy each other's company. You literally cannot get aroused if you're stressed. You’ve got to down regulate before you can potentially be sexual."

"Maybe a busy mother needs to go and have a nice bath for half an hour before she comes into the bedroom and then maybe her husband puts on the soft lights and there’s music's playing. Even with same-sex couples, the one that's looking after the little kids is always the one who's like, 'I don't want to have sex'. I've seen that in same sex male couples and same sex female couples, and I've seen it in couples where the man is the main caregiver."

"So, the partner can't be like, 'Just give me something, I need it.' They’ve got to be like, 'Hey Darl, come here, let me hold you. You deserve to be held, you deserve a rest. Let me give you calm and peace in my arms.' Then you can go, 'Oh, this is so nice' and then maybe from that something can happen but if it doesn't for a while, that's okay, too."

Jacqueline goes on to say that making your bedroom beautiful can help too. "Make sure there’s no photos of kids or too much kid-crap in your bedroom. Make your bedroom gorgeous because that’s what you need. If you’re a tired mother, you’ve got to let your environment do it for you as well."

5. Get your kids comfortable with the concept of 'cuddle time'.

Jacqueline says it’s healthy to raise your children to know that Mummy and Daddy have 'cuddle time'. "That’s the term I used with my children. From the tiniest age, they grew up knowing that Mummy and Daddy have cuddle time, which tended to be on a Sunday morning, and they were allowed to watch lots of videos."


"Kids love cuddles, they get it," Jacqueline continues. "So, if you say to your children, Mummy and Daddy are having cuddle time – you don’t need to give them all the details – but when Mummy and Daddy have cuddles, we make love. And when we make love, we make love for the whole family. If you raise your children to know that, then that gives you time to do it as well. And you’ll also be modelling a really good quality relationship for them. If you’re feeling good, then they’re going to be feeling good."

Jacqueline also adds the wider benefits to this transparency saying, "Children who get brought up with open discussions about sexuality in an age-appropriate way have sex later, have fewer teenage pregnancies, less STDs and make much wiser choices."

6. Seek help from an expert.

Of course, experienced practitioners like Anya and Jacqueline have many more strategies to help couples reconnect, both emotionally and physically. So, if this is something that’s becoming an issue in your relationship, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. 

Emily McGrorey is a full-time reader, part-time procrastinator, freelance writer, casual Pilates student, andl aspiring author. You can follow her on Instagram here.

Feature Image: Getty.

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