6 Tricks to Treating Yourself (When You Have Kids)
Hi! I pushed a baby out of my vagina three months ago! Still reading? Stay with me, it’s going to get more interesting. Most days, the idea of having sex has me feeling… well, look left.
But I love my husband and I want to stay married, so even though I now have two kids, a dog, a career that needs cultivating, and a deep need for sleep, I have to find a way to rally when it comes to sex.
As most marrieds with kids know, the list of reasons for not having sex is long: no time, no energy, no interest, distracted, my stories are on, I’m not turned on and I’m worried that the four-year-old will walk in on us and be traumatized for life. The window for intimacy is small—usually about two hours between my oldest daughter’s bed time and mine. But a few times a week, my husband and I have to put away the remotes and phones and find a way to connect with each other. It’s not always easy, particularly for me.
Like many women, my brain is my biggest obstacle. I found with a second kid, my mind-body connection is even more out of whack—like there is a mental marathon I have to run before it’s quiet enough upstairs to get things fired up downstairs. I have to shut out the overflowing laundry basket, the dog hair on the floor, the dirty sheets, the sleeping baby, the leaking breasts, the unreturned emails, the unsent thank you cards and the dishes in the sink. This is no easy feat. But here are a few tricks I’ve incorporated into my life these last few months that help me feel like me again, and keep us feeling like a couple that’s still hot for each other after all these years and sleepless nights.
I used to think of exercise as a way to lose weight or work off calories, so I never did it. But upon the advice of my labor and postpartum doula, I made a promise to myself to take 30 minutes minimum daily. This started as a walk, but then I signed up for a race that gave me a goal to work towards. Now I’m benefitting from breathing better, having more energy, clearing out the mental cobwebs, feeling strong and having a little time to feel like a person, not just a mama and a wife. It also helps me to separate physically from a day of having the littles on me, so my body feels like it belongs to me again.
Not only am I working out my body, but I’m working out my pelvic floor, too. Just 10 minutes every night with my Intensity, and I’ve yet to have the sneeze and pee incidents I had after my first daughter was born. Hallelujah!
My husband and I are terrible at this. In fact, we’ve had exactly one date night since having my second daughter, and it was only two hours. We had just enough time to drive to our favorite ice cream store and walk a couple of blocks before returning home. But in that time my brain synapses fired in a different way, and I felt a deep value for his ear, humor and our conversations. Connecting one-on-one, even just briefly, is the best advice we’ve been given that we don’t follow nearly often enough. After all, communication is a lubrication, so what better trick to get the right feelings flowing than some old fashioned mental and emotional connection?
After giving birth, my vagina is like Palm Springs in the summer. Dry. It’s a desert. That’s what Palm Springs is and so is my vagina (but without the lovely mid-century architecture). There is no moisture. So even once my brain noise is turned down, the ol’ lady parts are still unfriendly to visitors. If this sounds familiar, why not make them more suitable to your suitor, and wet your come-hither whistle with some lube? I recommend something unscented and water based (System Jo makes some really great options.)
My head is my worst enemy during intimacy. To keep me connected and in the moment, I sometimes need something “atmospheric.” There’s no shame in finding the right visual aids to get the fires burning. Sometimes even just talking with your partner about the type of porn you’d be into can get you going, then looking around online for something you both like is a fun activity to focus on. You can do this on your phones, so there’s no risk of one of your kids walking into your room and seeing all of that in HD.
Even though our toys get old and outdated, using them never does. They’re a great shortcut to success for both of you, so even if you’ve only got 15 minutes before weeknight curfew, you can still connect. But take note: I recently upgraded from an old-school Magic Wand model to the fancy new cordless, and I had NO IDEA how loud the old bedside buddy had gotten!
Nowadays, toys are made whisper-quiet, so if that infant is sleeping in a basinet nearby, you can still fire up your favorite assistant without worrying you’ll wake her up.
Grown Up Toy Basket
Pinterest has all sorts of ideas for organizing kids’ toys; or you can do what I do, which is just throw whatever is on the floor into whatever bin is nearby. Clean! But when it comes to our grown-up toys, it’s not so easy. So far, my four-year-old hasn’t thought to open that drawer in my desk, despite her never-ending curiosity about every nook and cranny in our house. After one close-call, we realized it’s time to get a little more crafty about how we store our devices.
The best solution I’ve found is the Uvee. This handy contraption is a sleek, locking storage bin AND charging station AND sanitizer! WAIT, WHAT!? It’s true: your toys are kept hidden away in a secure and discreet box with built-in USB charging cords, PLUS ultraviolet lights that kill all the germs hiding on your favorite devices. Investing in one of these ingenious inventions is like investing in your marriage. No arguments about who’s “doing the dishes,” no in-the-moment let down because someone forgot to charge the toy or change the batteries, and no worries about your toddler grabbing “mommy’s favorite flashlight” on the way out the door to go trick-or-treating.