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“What was that?” “Nothing - it’s nothing, never mind” “No, I heard something - stop - what was it?” “Nothing - it’s not them - keep going!” “No darling, no stop - I think - sssh! stop - is that someone at the door?!”

“....Mum?”

I was probably about 12 when I walked in on my parents having sex. Not that I fully comprehended the mess of legs and arms and sheets in the dimly lit room was what it was. I had simply heard a bump in the night, and went running. I never imagined it would be a bump and grind. Indeed, I never imagined my parents up to that sort of thing anyway.

But, of course, they were, as are parents across Australia. Shagging doesn’t stop once kids come along. It just gets a lot more challenging.

So how do you do it? How do you keep the sex alive once child-free life dies? And how do you handle that awkward, if not inevitable, moment your progeny happen upon the process of procreation?

“We panic, generally, when it comes to sex if the kids are home,” my girlfriend tells me over coffee. The opening dialogue loosely reflects the shag-stress she and her partner suffer in said circumstances.

“It’s almost not worth it - we get in such a panic. What if they open the door? What if they see? What if … too many what if’s really kill the mood.”

I know other couples who simply lock the door. Their kids grow up knowing that when the door’s shut, and locked, mum and dad are otherwise occupied. They don’t need to know why or how when they’re younger. They just need to comprehend the room, and the folks inside, are off limits.

“But there’s a problem with this approach,” I’m told by a first-time mother. “I’d be too worried about my children’s wellbeing to really let go and enjoy. Right now, we shag with the baby in the room - she’s too little to understand what’s going on. But when she’s grown up, I’m not sure I’ll be able to lock her out. What if she’s in trouble?”

Yet there’s the trouble of too little sex to contend with as well. Yes, sex isn’t everything. Yes, sex can be more about quality than quantity. But slipping into a sexless pattern post-children is a problem worth being wary of. The most common complaint of unhappily partnered parents?

“We don’t make love like we used to.”

That’s a whinge you want to avoid. So developing a ‘safe’ sex strategy is a smart idea.
“Would it be bad for me to say that we only have sex when the kids are out of the house?” The question from a male mate comes with furrowed brow. “We actually have a sort of shared understanding with the parents of their best friends from school. Nothing is explicitly stated, but it’s generally comprehended - sleepover at your place this weekend means the kids will have fun, and we’ll get some.”

This seems like a pretty reasonable scenario. Though it only applies once the wee one is old enough to manage a night away from home. And it’s complicated if the wee is a ‘we’.

“That’s where grandparents come in,” he continues. “I always say to mum, ‘well, you know what it was like.’ She jokingly pretends she doesn’t know what I’m talking about - or is too mortified to reciprocate my knowing wink and smile. But I’m sure she gets the picture. And she doesn’t want more grandchildren…”

Not all of us have parents to exploit however. And bundling babes out of house often requires planning and promising and compromises. That kind of kills the all-too-alluring spur-of-the-moment shagging previously enjoyed when the house wasn’t shared with other beings, albeit ones of your own bearing.

“Who wants to shag randomly when you have kids anyway though?” The working mother of a three-year-old raises tired eyebrows when I question her lovemaking logistics.

“Honestly, we’re both that rooted by the time we get home and do drudgery, we’re too knackered to knock out a bonk. Perhaps that’s natural though. Perhaps you’re supposed to screw less through the time you have young children because you’re supposed to be focused on bringing them up, not getting it on. Is it really such a bad thing - cutting sex back to the bare minimum to give your children maximum attention?”

I told her I hoped I would be able to balance carnal desire with maternal fire when my time came. I do believe it’s important to at least try to make time for sex even when the exercise has proven to be old-fashionedly fruitful. I will admit that it doesn’t sound easy. Which is why I ask.

How do you manage to have sex with kids around?

@katherinefeeney

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