Sex After Kids — 11 Not-So-Quickie Ideas

I remember reading a chapter title in the book Intimate Issues that I now completely relate to: “How do I make love with children wrapped around my knees?”

When I was in one of my four post-maternity stupors of no sleep, someone else wanting my body (chest included) around the clock, and hoping I could shower sometime soon — alone — I also remember reading some statistic in Parents that something like 78% of new moms, when choosing between sex and sleep, chose sleep. I was like, uh, duh. I can hardly put two sentences together from my need of a REM cycle. Probably shouldn’t even be driving. I love you, Honey! You are sexy to me, especially when my brain is firing on all eight — okay, four — cylinders. But as soon as I get horizontal, wild horses can’t stop my eyes from closing, as long as they aren’t crying or wanting breakfast. What I want to know is what the other 22% of women know about, and how can I get it?!

There ain’t nothin’ like the exhaustion from little kids. I thought I was exhausted in high school, definitely in college, and certainly when I was working forty hours a week, working with the youth group, and taking care of a home. But for me personally, motherhood takes the prize. It also takes the prize for the amount of incessant demands from other (shorter) people I face. I’m sure it’s hard to believe, but I can even start to see loving my man as someone else who wants something from me. And wants it “after hours,” when I see a glimmer of sitting down, doing something effortless I enjoy, or sleeping.

But here’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. Why did God make my husband different from me? As I started to put myself in the shoes of the men in our culture, I was surprised to feel a great level of compassion, especially for Christian men. Not only are they confronting sexual images at any time of day (in the workplace, on a billboard) — and sitcoms that continually mock and belittle their sexual appetite — God’s actually given them a desire and a physiological need for sexual release within a few days. Why did God do that? If God knew sex would be so utterly skewed by sin throughout the ages, and how much young children would make women want to run the other way from the Look of Love, why’d He put such a need in men?

Here’s my very limited understanding. Aside from our need to procreate — the whole “bear fruit and multiply” thing — I think our marriages need it.

Unquestionably, in marriage we’ve gotta work together and sacrifice our needs for the other’s needs and interests. But I think our married relationships genuinely — deeply — need sex. We need that continued restatement of “naked and unashamed,” of our private kingdom, of the intimate garden that Song of Solomon talks about. Author Gary Thomas calls it “a completely free act of pleasure, reserved for marriage, that physiologically renews each partner’s affection” (Pure Pleasure, Zondervan, 2010). And get this footnote:

“A man’s levels of oxytocin—the brain chemical that leads to bonding and feelings of closeness—are highest immediately following a sexual encounter. In fact, this is the only time that a male’s oxytocin levels approach those of his wife.”

Trust me. Statistically speaking, your husband wants your energy here even more than he wants it invested in folded laundry or an empty dishwasher. So here’s a few practical ideas toward being a better lover for all of you who are too tired to remember what libido felt like.

11 Not-so-Quickie Ideas for Sex After Kids

1. Flirt. Remember what that was like?! For me, I looked in the mirror a lot before I saw him, listened with rapt interest, did what he thought was fun, laughed a little loudly at his jokes, touched his arm at weird times, watched his body when he wasn’t looking, reached for his hand at the grocery store. One couple I read about even arrived at a restaurant separately, then pretended they didn’t know each other and were meeting for the first time. Brilliant!

2. Think Sex. The brain is our largest sex organ. If I don’t engage it throughout the day, for me it’s a lot more difficult to tune in at night. Think about your husband. Maybe without (his) clothes on.

3. Cut out the “emotional pornography.” I read this term recently, which was applied to the romantic fiction we read or watch that gives us a really false idea of reality, where guys say all the right things, don’t pass any form of gas, and leave no socks next to the hamper. We don’t want guys putting unrealistic, airbrushed ideas of femininity on us, and I think this can be our version of fake, scripted masculinity.

4. Use a food item for something other than its intended purpose. Whipped cream, for example. ‘Nuff said.

5. Set your alarm a few minutes early. Your libido just may feel a little more awake in the morning, and in my oh-so-expert opinion, I don’t think your husband will mind you waking him up a few minutes early in this particular instance.

6. Take a shower together. Gives you both time to talk, get clean (multitasking!), and then … who knows?

7. Make just a sliver of time to work out. I only say this because I finally did it recently, and now that I’m in the routine and I see and feel the results in my post-baby body, my emotions, and my husband’s reactions (who completely accepted me before) to my slightly altered physique, I feel more confidence in initiating with and responding to my husband. I feel sexy again. Please do not tell my coworkers. (If you want to know what worked for me, you have to leave a comment.)

8. Make, and keep, a date night. See if you can swap childcare with a friend; do whatever it takes to feel connected emotionally with your man. Once you feel embraced in your mind and heart, you’ll naturally want to respond sexually.

9. Go to bed in your birthday suit. You can put PJ’s on … later.

10. Give a massage. From personal experience, I know how much work this is. But one time when I knew this would really speak love to my husband and I didn’t really have it in me to give, I just prayed about it. And what came to mind was the story of the widow’s mite — that widow in the Bible who gave two pennies to the offering, compared to all the rich people who were giving only a fraction of what they had, and pleased God with her offering — because it was all she had. (Bonus: You just might get a massage back.)

11. Baby steps. Make a reachable goal of creative romance, like one fun or different idea a month. At the very least, it gets you thinking on that topic. At the most, it communicates a powerful truth to your man: I want you. I love you. And I’m gonna love you in a way that you can’t miss it.

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26 thoughts on “Sex After Kids — 11 Not-So-Quickie Ideas

  1. Thanks Janel,

    I really enjoyed that article and you've given me some new things to think about and try. I'll definitely be passing it around to some friends. And yes, I want to know how you got in shape with your busy life!

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  2. Thanks so much, Jenn. Well, I peeked at your blog and now know that you're a fitness instructor, so I could probaby take some tips from *you*! A crazy number of my friends (and two fellow bloggers) had great results with Jillian Michaels' (from TV's The Biggest Loser) 30-Day Shred DVD, so I decided to go for it. I was already eating fairly healthy, but getting in a workout felt near-impossible with my time and energy levels. The Shred is 20 minutes a day every day for one month (I took off Sundays). It has three strength, cardio, and ab intervals in the 20 minutes, so you're combining workouts. I was INCREDIBLY sore on days three and four, but at the end of the month I was amazed at the results, which I noticed quickly. The big success: A workout became part of my schedule, 'cause I was always like, "C'mon, you can do 20 minutes!" Now I work out three days a week during naptime with a workout that combines cardio and weights, like Jackie Warner's Xtreme Timesaver Training DVD. (Disclaimer: Jillian uses an obscenity, and like any DVD, the women in these aren't dressed very modestly.)

    So Jenn, will you give us some tips?!

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    • I like the fact that men are reading this article as well as women — maybe gives them an insight into what's going on in our minds. I've raised my kids, but finding/making the time for my husband between work, volunteering, church, and caring for our mothers who are both widowed is still difficult. I know why David said what he said, but would loved to have his thoughts — or any male for that matter — on this subject. Are they helping their wives with the housework & caring for the kids so that she'll have time for his needs and it won't be such a "chore"?

      I too would love to know your tips on the weight loss, because with my schedule I too find it near impossible to exercise.

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    • Thanks, David. My husband seemed to like this too, for some reason…

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  3. I really like this article. I accidentally found it today, just when i needed it, so, ok more likely it wasnt an accident but God, but it really spoke to me. I could have written it bc its me as a mom. I will be sharing this with my other mom friends!

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  4. Great article, Janel! The nice part is that if you make time for your husband now, you will have a relationship built for the long-haul, long after the kids are grown! Kudos, Kiddo!

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  5. Janel,

    Lot of good advice there, Janel. Your Aunt Jan and I found this to be very close to how life in our home was after three boys in 27 months!! Somehow, Jan mustered up the courage and energy to be what I needed her to be. If only I had known how tired she really was back then………..! Funny thing, now we struggle to find energy after a long day at work and finally dropping into bed at almost midnight every night, knowing the alarm will go off again at 5:45AM. Someday soon (it will go faster than you think)

    you can write an article about finding energy at 55 plus!!

    Uncle Randy

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    • …So you're telling me it might not get easier? :) Somehow with all the ministry you two put your hands to, I do not find that surprising. But I actually think you put it really well: it takes courage to give like that, persevering to love people well. You two know a lot about that, from my personal experience!

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  6. I found your article lastnight and it spoke volumes to my heart because I"m in that season of life. Blessings to you.

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  7. wow….just wow….this really spoke to me today….so many times I put so much energy into keeping the house perfect for my husband to come home to, and when he gets home I’m just exhausted and want to run away from the 4 kids….this is really eye opening to me….yeah I’m sure he appreciates the clean home, but I’ll bet he’d REALLY appreciate an enthusastic wife in bed. thanks for this!!
    Now, off to get my kids to bed, since my hubby will be home soon, and I need him all to myself!! :-)

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  8. Great advice! I think it’s really important for women to have a “ministry of affection” toward their husbands. Our four oldest kids are now ages 16-25, but we’ve still got an eight-year-old and I’m fast approaching the big 5-0 myself, but physical affection is so important, especially as we get older. And guess what. I find it actually gets BETTER with age! Great surprise! Maybe because we use NFP, but also because we communicate (as best we can). One tip I would add: send your lover a suggestive text once or twice a day, to remind him that you’re thinking about him and might make it worth his while to help with the dishes later tonight. We’ve come up with lots of fun acronyms that only have meaning for us. Like when we were working on project HSMO. It was a success, btw. God bless and keep up the good work!

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  9. Thank you for this. I often find myself wrapped in the chaos of raising kids and forget that my husband needs me just as much. He’s an adult, but he asked me for a lifetime of companionship and love, and I committed to that. This was what I needed. Thank you.

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  10. You talk of things I get, except one thing, He has low “wants” and I “need” him more than he’s willing or wanting.
    It sounds absurd, I know, and I have had SEVERAL people tell me it is because my man looks at porn, takes care of “business” by himself, etc, but that honestly isn’t the case.
    Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there have been a few times of weakness, but really. He has a “healthy” for HIM appetite.
    *I* have been the one who has had to be creative in getting his attention.
    Twisted huh. I hear of women who have *him* wanting the affections and I literally wish I could trade them.
    God gave us these desires, but it is so difficult when they are not met or always wanted.
    Thank you for your post.

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  11. I really enjoyed this post! I found it through reading your post about 50 ways to encourage your husband. Loved them both! Thank you for your insights…especially the reminders that our Men are made a certain way by God! HE made us all with special gifts and talents, and very different, for a reason! I am discovering that our strengths, as we see them, may also be our weaknesses. Some of the things That my husband does that annoy me are actually his strengths. The things that annoy my husband about me, I feel are my strengths, can also be my weaknesses if I don’t learn how to make them work for me rather than control me. As we pray to understand our Men, we will learn to appreciate them and recognize their strengths.
    Thank you for the reminder of how blessed we are to have Great Men in our lives, and our role in helping them become the Men God created them to be! I love it!

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  12. Hey there. Together my husband and I have four children the last of which is 22months. I lost most of my baby weight but still look blah! What worked for you? I love reading your articles. I hardly ever have any energy anymore and am not very motivated either.

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  13. I can soooo relate to your article here, and your sense of humour literally made me LOL. Enough fights have happened in the bedroom and yes, “loving my man as someone else who wants something from me” is how I have been feeling for some time now. It’s time for me to make amends and start anew if I still want a marriage after the kids grow up. Bless you for writing this.

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  14. Thank you for your comments. I appreciate the references to the bible without any preaching or judgement, more helpful and educational. Thanks

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