Today’s blog is for adults only, so please turn off your computers when the kids are home from school. I want to talk about s-e-x, especially the kind of s-e-x that happens after kids have entered the picture. Let’s call it SAK (sex after kids). We all need to have SAK, but how and when do you schedule it in, when you’re both working, sleep-deprived and feeling (and looking) like a very unsexy version of your former self, and have zero time to get busy in the bedroom?
Fellow Parenting Post blogger Taylor asked me for my advice on this the other day, for an article she’s working on—I guess working at Playboy for as long as I have, people think I’m somewhat of an expert on the topic of sex. I do spend my days talking about sex, strategizing about articles about sex, editing blogs that deal with topics involving sex—it’s pretty much sex, sex, sex, all day long at Playboy. Let's just say, if there was a fly on the wall during our meetings, it would make for some very interesting conversations between flies.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m just as sleep-deprived as the next mom—some weeks I borderline on walking mom-zombie, depending on the deadlines I’m under—but sex and sexiness is something I've spent a long time studying, and know a thing or two about. Especially the importance of it in a marriage, after the kids have arrived (SAK). I’ve interviewed countless people on the topic of sex, from celebrities to regular folks, for various articles I’ve written. I used to interview celebrities about their sex lives on a regular basis for Playboy.com, which was one of my favorite gigs ever. (I sat down with Kim Kardashian for over an hour, talking about her sex life—not the worst assignment I've ever had.)
But for one article in particular for Chicago magazine called "Bedroom Confessions," which was part of a bigger cover story called “Love and Sex” that won a national magazine award in 2010, I got to interview all kinds of regular Chicagoans in various states of relationships, about their sex lives. Two women I interviewed for the article are married with kids—a SAHM to three boys in her mid-30s, and an empty nester in her late-60s (both having lots of SAK, btw). I also interviewed a single, 85-year-old World War II vet who was having more sex than I was at the time (granted I was in my second trimester with marginal placenta previa).
You can check out the article here, but the most enlightening part of the interview process for me was that everyone—men and women—saw sex as a crucial part of their lives, and wanted to be having more of it. Married, single, kids, no kids—we all need to have the s-e-x to feel s-e-x-y. The more sex you have, the more you want it—and the better you'll actually feel about yourself.
The problem for new parents is finding the time and energy, and setting the mood. So here are my tips for making the time to work sex into your hectic, post-baby schedules.
1. Put your sexy on. Put on a sexy negligee or one of his T-shirts and nothing else—whatever makes you feel sexiest. Because if you feel sexy, it’s a pretty sure bet that you’ll act sexy, and he'll see you as sexy. Sexy begets sexy.
2. Set the mood. You know how in those cheesy romantic-comedies someone lights candles in the bedroom before having sex? That’s called setting the mood (and by the way, everyone looks better in low-lit candle lighting). Your bedroom has probably become messy and unkempt with the arrival of a new baby—clean out the clutter and set the sexy mood, the rest will surely follow.
3. Rally. No matter how tired you are, dig deep under that sleep-deprivation to muster the energy to have sex with your spouse. The longer you go without it, the harder it is to get it back. Just like the flipside: The more you have it, the more you want it. So one word: Rally. Even when sex is the last thing on your tired mind...
4. Schedule date nights with your hubby. I can’t stress the importance of this enough. We tend to go too long without date nights. We had one this weekend at a great sushi restaurant, to celebrate our anniversary, and at dinner we agreed that we need to make more of an effort to go out once a month, with or without other couples. That doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money, but that alone time helps you reconnect on a deeper, more adult level. It helps bring you back to a time before kids ruined your sex life, er, made your family complete.
5. Exercise. Exercise. Exercise! The better you look, the better you feel. And we all know exercise gives a nice boost to your endorphins, which make you feel sexier. After that baby comes you’ll find it hard—no, impossible—to find the time and energy for exercise (much less sex), but you have to make time. I made the mistake of not making time—we treated my three-month maternity leave like a big ol’ party, and indulged ourselves way too often. I should’ve started eating better and exercising the minute the baby came out, or as soon as I got the okay from my OB. It took me at least a year before I saw a number on the scale that didn’t make me cringe—yup, a year. Working full time also meant that hitting the gym was not going to be feasible for me (and let's be honest, I hate the gym anyway), so I convinced my husband that we needed an elliptical machine in our house. It’s still sitting in our bedroom collecting dust, but I swear I'm going to use that thing any day now…
6. And last but not least, get dressed and put on makeup, even if you have no reason to. I don’t always follow this rule myself, but when I do it does wonders for my self-esteem. I am a jeans and T-shirt gal, but even that is dressed up for me since having a kid—I change out of my work clothes and into comfy clothes the minute I walk in the door. Not sexy. I feel so much better when my hair is blown out and I’m in something other than yoga pants. It also gets the attention of my husband, which makes me feel good (although he claims I look better without makeup, how sweet is that?).
What’s your own personal experience with SAK? Do you make time for it, and how?