Feb. 14, 2014 at 10:22 AM ET
Good sex improves sleep, provides a total-body release and strengthens your marriage. “It provides so many benefits that make us all-around better mothers and people,” says Logan Levkoff, a sexologist, sex educator, author of "Got Teens?," and most importantly, a mother.
So if sex is so good for us, why does it keep falling off our to-do lists? Sure, some of us are so sleep deprived that just opening our eyes is an act of willpower. But there are many other reasons our intimate lives tend to wane, and most of them are easy to overcome.
Consider the following common anti-aphrodisiacs, and how to avoid them.
Talk nonstop about the kids. “It’s easy to fall into a pattern where you only talk about how many diapers you changed that day,” says Levkoff. “Diapers are the least sexy thing you could ever talk about.”
The fix: Vibrant conversations are like a form of foreplay. So think back to your lives before children. What did you used to talk about? Politics? Pop culture? The news? Push yourself to start conversations that don’t revolve around your children.
Wait for the mood to strike. Sure, that might happen every once in a while, usually at a time when your spouse isn’t around or it’s not convenient.
The fix: For the rest of the time, learn how to cultivate a sense of sexiness, suggests Rachel A. Weinstein, a psychotherapist in Portland, Maine. “Even when you don’t feel loving, act loving,” she says. “Think of love as a verb rather than a noun.” When you act affectionate, for instance, you’ll feel affectionate. When you act in love, you’ll feel in love, and when you act sexy, you’ll feel sexy.
Reserve foreplay for just before the main event. Doing so can make foreplay feel mechanical and about as enticing as painting your bedroom.
The fix: Instead, practice intentional acts of foreplay all day long, suggests Dayna M. Kurtz, a postpartum specialist. Maybe you send playful emails or texts, leave love notes in each other’s bags, or make a point of grabbing one another for a long embrace. “Harken back to the days of your early courtship,” she says. “That worked once before, and it can work for you again.”
Never let strangers watch your kids. That makes it tough to find time for yourself as well as for each other.
The fix: “From the day that my kids were born I realized the best money I could ever spend was on baby sitters,” says Weinstein. Baby sitters are what make date nights possible, which brings us to the next anti-aphrodisiac.
Don’t bother finding time for just each other. All the mom experts interviewed for this story mentioned “date night” as one of the top ways to keep a sex life strong. That doesn’t mean you must do dinner and a movie or even stray far from home.
The fix: Kurtz used to ask the grandparents to watch the baby so she and her husband could walk around the corner to a chocolate bar where they sipped hot chocolate and connected for 45 minutes. Weinstein and her husband sometimes attended yoga classes together. Other ideas: Walk around your neighborhood while holding hands, go to a museum together or just cuddle in a different part of the house.
Where and how you pull off date night is up to you. Just follow this one rule: “No talk about the baby,” says Kurtz.
Don’t bother finding time for yourself, either. That’s a recipe for fatigue, resentment and boredom, none of which will perk up your bedroom life.
The fix: “Getting dressed up and going out with girlfriends allows you to come home feeling great, and that translates to better intimacy,” says Levkoff. Other just-for-you ideas: Locking yourself in the bathroom and taking a long bath, doing yoga or another form of exercise without the kids, going to a library or bookstore so you can read without interruption.
Reserve intimacy only for your bedroom. That way the two-and-a-half-foot-long human propeller who continually sneaks into your bed can become a wedge that prevents you from touching one another.
The fix: If you’ve got a kid in your bed, consider getting out of bed and going somewhere else for a short rendezvous.