This parenting writer says scheduling sex is essential for couples with children
We promise it's not as formal as it sounds.
We all know that when you have kids, your priorities change.
Life no longer revolves around you and your needs – instead, it's all about the life (or lives) that you've created.
For those in relationships, so much changes when you welcome more lives into your little union. On one hand, it brings you closer together, but on the other, you can feel like passing ships in focusing so heavily on kids, jobs, and household responsibilities.
After all, you go from being able to prioritise yourselves and your relationship to a life-long commitment of putting your kids first.
Parts of your relationship can be damaged in the mix as you now have less alone time together, are much busier and are therefore more tired. You spend so much time being someone else's parents that you forget to be each other's romantic partners.
That affects everything from the basics like lounging together (your body is mostly a mattress/jungle gym/bouncy castle to your kids now in downtime) to the more intimate moments between the sheets.
One parenting writer, Kristen Winiarski, has come up with a solution to ensure sex remains a living part of her marriage throughout parenthood: scheduling. Spontaneity, she says, just isn't realistic when you have jobs and kids to tend to.
"Windows of intimacy become severely limited, and you're restricted to certain times of the day," writes Kristen in Cafe Mom. "...Scheduling sex can be really helpful in making sure it actually happens because if you don't, you'll find an excuse not to."
Now, bear with us a minute – it's not as formal and rigid as it sounds. We're not talking marking calendars or creating spreadsheets. It's more of a conceptual schedule than an official one.
What we mean is, there are certain times during the day or week that you know your kids are essentially 'booked,' in that they don't immediately need you or your company. When they're sleeping, when they're at school, creche, or extra curricular activities, or when they're spending the day with grandparents or other relatives.
The trick is to find which busy moments in your kids' schedules overlap with both parents' free time and marking them as time for just the two of you.
For Kristen, that mostly includes bedtime and nap time. "Nap time became our time to reclaim what we could in the day, including sex," she says.
She also says that knowing when you're going to have sex allows you to properly get in the mood or the right frame of mind.
"It gives you something to look forward to and takes the pressure off the rest of the time. You can do what you need to do and not worry that your partner is expecting something."
But like all aspects of parenting, 'scheduled' sex is something you have to be, eh, flexible with.
"You will have times when kids won't be sleeping as you want, you won't be in the mood, or you may just be too exhausted," Kristen says. "Some nights I just want to go to bed when the kids do. Listening to my body is important because sometimes I'm just not up for anything that involves effort.
"...My husband and I make sure to take the time to talk to each other. Even if we're too tired to do anything but sit on the couch, we still check in during this time since no kid is trying to talk over us. Going into it optimistically but with realistic expectations has been key in keeping the intimacy in our relationship after having kids."