Leandie Buys Realtionship Therapist & Clinical Sexologist

Kids happened, what happened to us?

Photo by Liv Bruce on Unsplash

Photo by Liv Bruce on Unsplash

The day you bring Baby home, your life changes. And changes... And changes… And I’m not just talking about nappies!

So you’ve spent nine months preparing for your bundle of joy. You’ve read all the books, you’ve got all the educational toys, and you’re ready to be the best parents in the world.

But being a new parent isn’t easy. In fact, it’s one of the toughest journeys a couple can ever take tougher.

The biggest complaint I hear from new parents is that they feel like their freedom has been taken away. “What happened to ‘us’ time? What happened to spontaneity, romance and our sex life?”

I often get asked if it is selfish to crave “alone time” with your partner and if you are “terrible parents” when you leave the kids with the babysitter for an evening alone?

Once you have children, life changes

Your carefree days of few responsibilities and spontaneity are over. But life isn’t over. You just have to put in a little more effort when it comes to the things most important to you.

In order for your child to have a stable home, the relationship between you and your partner should be stable too.

Here are some things that you and your partner can do to keep the flame alive after having kids:

1.     Consistent relationship-building

Re-building your relationship after having a child takes effort and understanding from both parties. It takes commitment, and it takes time.

Remember your marriage vows? Here are some vows you can make to each other at this stage of life:

You and your partner need to make a decision to work on your relationship constantly. Please understand that this doesn’t mean that your relationship is not good enough, or that you’ve “fallen out of love” it just means that both of your lives have changed. You now have to incorporate a new person into your previously exclusive relationship. It just requires a little more effort than before, and this can actually be a good thing.

You and your partner need to make a promise to be completely honest with each other about where you are emotionally, physically and sexually. Once you know where you both are, you can build on that. It is important to respect each others honesty at this time, and not to get frustrated or angry about the way the other person is feeling.

You and your partner need to make a decision to work on getting that connection back. This could be a very easy process, or it could take a little longer. You both need to be committed to working at it constantly.

2.     Communicate with each other.

Reconnect as lovers rather than as parents. Reminisce about your first date together. Chances are that you find each other as sexy and attractive as you did then.  

Savour the times that you get to spend alone as a couple. You can even wake up a few minutes early in the morning for a “quickie” or book a lunch date. Make a concerted effort to reconnect as lovers, and you will find that your ‘mojo’ will return, perhaps not quite in the same way as before, but you are entering a different life stage and you have the choice to make it as fun or as difficult as you want.

3.     Deal with the guilt

It is also important for new parents to stop feeling guilty about their emotions!

Many new moms feel bad about leaving their children alone at crèche. However, a 2007 survey by Women24.com revealed that more than half of toddlers and pre-schoolers are in daycare and only 7% of the families surveyed had the ‘luxury’ of one parent at home with the child all day.

A surprising discovery of the survey found that the happiest children (81% happy) are actually the ones who are looked after by a nanny at home, closely followed by those that attend daycare or crèche (72% happiness).

Children who are looked after by one parent all day were said to be the least happy (60% happy). This is because the child’s happiness is often dependent on the care-giver’s happiness.

Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash

4.     Recovering physically from the birth

Doctors say that a mother’s body only fully recovers from the birth experience up to six months after giving birth. Sleepless nights, increased responsibilities and the sheer over-whelming task of raising a child will definitely leave you feeling run-down, exhausted and un-sexy.

However, a partner’s frustration is understandable, and regaining a satisfying sex-life is vital to the health of your relationship.

Sex after the birth of a baby is all about starting slowly. Relaxation is one of the most important activities for increasing libido.

I also encourage communication about the topic. Don’t just say “no”. When building up your sex life after having a child, it is important that each partner is involved in negotiating regarding sex. Sometimes, it’s just not convenient, or a partner as a valid reason that they don’t want to have sex at that time. Remember, a relationship is about understanding and compromise.

Often women might say “I don’t want to have sex” but their partner hears “I don’t want to have sex with YOU.”

Rather say “not now” and give your partner a reason. This will let your partner know that they are still desirable, and that you will have sex, but the present time is not ideal. It is important to make time for intimacy within the next 24 to 48 hours though. Otherwise your partner will start to feel that “Not now” means “No”.

If you are experiencing a time of low libido, there could be many factors contributing to it. As a couple, try to identify the cause, and work on it together.

Causes include:

  • Low self esteem
  • Fatigue
  • Hormones (the birth control pill can affect libido)
  • Medication
  • A medical problem

Although your life as a couple may change significantly when you become parents, you still have the choice to work on your relationship or not. Just because it’s “different” it doesn’t mean it has to be “worse.” The key is teamwork, time, understanding and good communication.