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Five tips to ensure your kids don’t kill the romance in your relationship

Kids bring a lot of joy into our lives, but they can also bring a lot of stress into a relationship. Find out how to carve out couple time alone so you can keep your connection alive.

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In today’s child-centric society — where the norm is that children come first, and the relationship comes second — it can be difficult to find that one-on-one couple time that is so crucial to maintaining good intimacy and passion.

So if you want to keep the romantic spark in your relationship alive and well, here are a few helpful tips to prevent your precious little bundles of joy from ruining your sex life. 

1. Rewrite the definition of a vacation and a family trip
Seeing the joy in a child’s eyes at Disneyland as they meet the elusive Mickey Mouse and his pants-less friend Donald Duck is truly a gift onto itself. However, this type of trip is not necessarily conducive to reconnecting physically and emotionally with your partner. Distinguishing between these types of family trips, and vacations that are for adults only, is important. Budget for both and commit to taking vacations without your little gaffers on a regular basis.

2. Adopt a separate-bed policy
Many couples have come to realize that being a parent means rarely being alone. But this shouldn’t hold true for the parents’ domain: the bedroom. It is therefore very important that your children learn how to sleep alone. Embracing a separate-bed policy is not just vital to ensuring a space in which your sexual connection can flourish — it also teaches your children independence, and creates uninterrupted mommy-and-daddy time. Get a lock for the bedroom door!

3. It takes a village to raise a child….and maintain an active sex life
We’ve all heard the above proverb before, but we may not have taken the time to explore all the ways in which it’s true. If you are living in a community of friends and family that you trust, then by all means solicit them in your quest for a great sex life. Create a circle of loved ones who would like to see your children’s smiling faces on a more regular basis, and combine those with parents who could also use a little quiet time of their own. Work out a schedule where the children congregate at one house once a week. This may mean a couple extra kids to babysit for a day once a month, but on the flip side it gives you a few extra days per month for some much needed alone time.

Then use this time alone to focus on only you. Take a bath, read a book, meditate, go to the gym — but vow to keep that time chore-free and partner-free. By devoting these dates to being alone, you are creating a space for desire to flourish, as love seeks closeness but desire needs distance. Plus, this time will energize your body and mind so you are more apt to jump on a sexual opportunity when it arises, instead of wishing instead for some alone time because you’re too exhausted to think of anything but sleep.   

4. Check your superhero tights at the door and set discipline rules with your sidekick
The modern superhero soccer mom races to and fro — running errands, dropping kids off and picking them up at multiple activities, attending PTA meetings and volunteering at all the events, while still managing to hold down a job, keep the house clean and cook decent, healthy meals for her family. This mother is often so consumed with activities that the there’s no time or energy left to devote to sex and romance. The solution: limit your children’s extracurricular activities to no more than two per season, and limit your involvement in these to one. Then, make use of the few times in which the house is empty, during these activities, to squeeze in some alone time with your partner.

The ruckus that all these activities can spawn — compiled with the mayhem of day-to-day life — often takes its toll on couples, and disagreements on discipline can become more frequent. Children are quick learners, and if they can pit one parent against the other in order to get the answer they crave, they will. The solution: agree to never disagree about discipline when the children are present. Not only will this save you years of avoiding a ping-pong battle field, it will help prevent the possibility of one partner feeling as though their opinion is unimportant and inconsequential — two very deadly enemies to a happy relationship. 

5. Date nights are as precious as gold
We’ve all heard the cliché advice: schedule date nights weekly, or at the very least, monthly. This may not be news to you, but it bears repeating. Date nights are vital to preserving your connection and sustaining a bond that will be the roots for a strong foundation when times get tough. We all have foundations with cracks, and children often test their strength. But they should ultimately help to support and reinforce our foundation, not rip it apart.  

Dr. Teesha Morgan is a sex therapist based in Vancouver, BC.