When you become a parent, everything changes. You go from doing whatever you want whenever you want, to having to put your heart and soul into a tiny human being. It’s overwhelming, but beyond that, it also makes you lose yourself a bit. You go from constantly being called by your first name to now only hearing ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad.’ So, switching from parent to spouse can be a little difficult. Like the other night when I asked my husband, ‘Do you need to go potty?’
Yeah, that was my bad. But seriously, one of the biggest things that parenting changes is something that is often not talked about at all. Parents do it, single people do it, even the birds and the bees do it. And I’m not talking just about sex (but we’re talking about sex, too). I’m talking about intimacy in all of its forms. From stealing kisses to holding hands to running away and locking your bedroom door for some ‘alone time,’ parenting comes with its challenges. So, I asked some of my favorite moms how they felt intimacy changed with their partner now that they’re parents. Oh, and I’ll tell you a bit about my own experience, too.
It’s Not Easy To Get It On
Rachel, from Whine and Cheez-its, is one of my favorite Instagram moms. When asked about how intimacy changes throughout parenthood, she said, “Nothing, and I mean nothing, sets the mood for sex like staring at the bedroom door in fear, waiting to see if your kids will come busting in at an inopportune moment. Being a parent is kind of like birthing your own c*ckblockers. You can’t (and shouldn’t) forgo sex just because you are a parent, but they certainly don’t make it easy to get it on. The days of throwing everything off the dining room table to have a spontaneous sesh are replaced with ‘quiet ninja’ sex in the bedroom as to not wake the kids. Except when they sleep at a friend’s house, or better yet, the grandparents. Then it’s ON!”
Heather, over at Avocado Mama, says she’s as extra as the guac that comes on your burrito (which is why she’s one of my favorite humans). She definitely was right when it comes to sex during parenthood! Heather said, “When the stars align and we are finally not completely exhausted from work and keeping kids alive (and I’ve had time to shave and find that sexy feeling), I still have to overcome hearing phantom footsteps. ‘Did you hear something?’ is not the sweet nothings my husband wants to hear.”
Finding The Time
Mette, from Raw Motherhood, is another one of my friends who just gets it. She said, “One of the ways our sex life has changed since having kids is the frequency. Now instead of just worrying about work and the other day to day tasks that can get in the way, we have to also find time around the kids. Our best bet is usually to put a TV show on for them and sneak upstairs for a quickie. There’s not as much spontaneity, and we don’t get to do it as often as we used to, but finding time to get intimate is an important part of keeping our marriage strong so that we can also be better parents for our children.”
Kara, from The Vagina Diary, is the sex-positive comedian you need, and she gets that having a few little ones can definitely be a game-killer. She said, “It’s ironic that the very people in our lives that were created out of an intimate moment are also the ones that hinder us from continuing those moments (as I was proofreading this with my husband, our son interrupted us).”
Little Ones Can Distract Us
Jenn, from Salty Mermaid Entertainment, is another mom who understands those who may be apprehensive about intimacy in parenthood. She said, “My one-year-old sleeps in our room and is still nursing. He’s walking now and slowly becoming more independent, but he’s clingy and wants to be held all the time. For me, it’s hard to switch from mom-the-milk-machine to lover mode. I miss quality time with my husband, but it’s so much harder to connect on a sexual or romantic level right now.”
It’s Not All Bad
Danielle, over at Out of Control Parental, recognizes that intimacy in parenthood is hard, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. She said, “When we became parents, we no longer had the time and energy to calmly work through every disagreement or stay up late for a date night. But that’s okay. That was one season, and now that our daughter is a little older, we’ve reprioritized our connection. Intimacy often grows out of shared joys and challenges, and parenthood is full of both.”
Sometimes, It’s Even Better
Jenn, from Spicy Disaster Mama, recognizes things definitely change, but maybe, they get even better. She said, “After my husband watched me give birth to our son, I thought, how could he ever want to be intimate with me again after ALL that? Turns out my husband was even more sexually attracted to me after having his child. Watching my husband become a father also increased my sexual desire for him. Well… and that’s how baby number two happened.”
Fear Of Getting Pregnant
Amanda, from Motherhood Awry, talks about one of the biggest fears from parents who aren’t ready for (or don’t want) another little one. When it comes to intimacy with your partner, she said, “I never imagined the impact becoming a mom would have on my willingness to be intimate with my husband. Exhaustion led to resentment and even fear of getting pregnant again, so I withdrew. It got better with time though. In fact, judging by our recent afternoon rendezvous with the TV playing babysitter, I’d say we’re back in business. (Let’s just hope it’s not the baby-making kind.)”
Things Are Always Busy
I’m Jess from Jess Carpenter Writes (and the cool author of this article). For me and my husband, sex and intimacy are often two different things. Sometimes, I miss those little things, like holding hands and innocent make-out sessions. But, now that we have two little ones running around, intimacy isn’t bad, it’s just completely changed.
We’re always really busy, so instead of hanging out, talking about our dreams, and holding hands while cuddling up in a hammock (work with me here, I’m fantasizing), intimacy is stolen glances from across the room while our kids do something completely funny but absolutely inappropriate, or whispered conversations late at night. Intimacy is inside jokes and laughing along with each other at two in the morning when you’re delirious and tired. We might not hold hands as much as we used to, but intimacy hasn’t disappeared.
You Adapt Quickly
My husband and I went on a vacation this past January without the kids, and I was like, “Whoa, this is what couples are like when they don’t have children running around!”
But, let’s be clear… sex doesn’t disappear when you become a parent. You adapt to hearing those phantom footsteps, like Heather mentioned, and worrying about a kid barging in, like Rachel said. There may be seasons of no-sex and seasons of don’t even touch me right now. But soon enough, you get that feeling back. It becomes your new normal, and can even make intimacy interesting… in a good way. Yes, parenthood changes sex and intimacy a lot. No one will argue on that. But it’s not gone, it’s just different, and maybe that’s okay.
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jess Carpenter. You can follow her journey on Instagram and TikTok. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
Read more from Jess here:
‘After 5 months of taking care of a baby, stacking credit hours, and barely seeing each other, we insisted on not walking for graduation.’: Wife talks sacrificing for marriage and family
‘I’ve been in class, begging for it to end early because I was leaking breast milk I knew my baby would want.’: Mom shares heartfelt letter of support to other mothers attending school
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