Are any other parents having trouble figuring out how to have sex when their kids are home all the time?

We’d already been through all the stages, or so we thought. When we first moved in together, it was a crazy free-for-all; we were newly in love, and anytime we were both home we were all over each other. Then came marriage, which didn’t change anything, but then after that came the kids. You all know how this goes.

Once we got past the baby phase and the sleep deprivation and the overall upheaval, we found we were still able to get time alone. The kids were little, they went to bed early, and we could hang out on the couch and watch TV, or better yet, head to the bedroom, fool around, then come back! It would still be only 10:00.

Time went on. The kids got a little older. Their rooms are upstairs, which we thought was terribly clever when we set it up, figuring we’d get to keep some privacy. But the kids went through some weird phases, one of which had one of them (either one, but usually our daughter) show up in the wee hours in our bedroom, right next to my side of the bed, where they’d lean over and wake me out of a deep sleep by saying “MOMMY” just a few inches away from my face. Fun times. I didn’t get any sleep during that phase, which absolutely has a negative effect on one’s sex drive, if only because the bedroom becomes a place of desperate need (“please God let me sleep tonight”) rather than rompy fun.

Now, those kids are teenagers. They’re up late, while my husband has a new habit of going to bed early (so he can wake up well before the rest of us). Bedtime is exclusively about sleep. That was fine with us up until March, because we both worked from home a fair bit and were able to take advantage of the greatness of the school day. They’d be off at school, we’d have some fun, then get back to work with grins on our faces. Good times.

I even used to joke that we were getting paid to have sex with each other, although we both put in long enough working hours that we more than made up for it. So don’t worry about it, bosses. Just think of it as the ultimate expression of work-life balance.

But now we’re in a pandemic. The kids have a hybrid school schedule, but the time they spend there is shorter, and their schools keep closing temporarily based on… well, you know! Based on everything that’s happening around us.  It’s the era of COVID, and everybody is home all the time. How the hell are we supposed to have sex anymore?

My daughter still gives us a hard time about the night she came down to use the bathroom and “heard sounds.” She looks at us meaningfully when she says it. We shrug and laugh: You stand outside our bedroom, you take your chances, right? But the truth is, as much as it bothered her, it bothered us more. Knowing your kids can hear you does not really turn up the flame on sexy.

So we’re adults in a house with teenagers who don’t go out much anymore. They’re here during the day for half the week, they’re here on the weekends, they’re here every evening. I’m starting to think it might be worth waking up at five a.m. just to get some action, but we’re already so damned exhausted from everything this past year has sent our way that starting our day earlier almost feels like a punishment. Anyone have any better ideas?

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About Laurie Ulster

A transplanted Canadian living in New York, Laurie Ulster is a freelance writer and a TV producer who somehow survived her very confusing adolescence as the lone female Star Trek fan in middle school. She writes about pop culture, lifestyle topics, feminism, food, and other topics for print, digital, podcasts, and TV.

View all posts by Laurie Ulster

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