Parents of babies and toddlers, listen up: have sex now

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images 

There's not a great deal of my youngest daughter's infancy I look back on with fondness, despite how much  I now love her. She was, and remains in her unguarded moments, one of God's loudest creations.

Each trip to the doctor, supermarket, and coffee shop brought with it a flood of unsolicited commentary on the strength of her lungs. Garage doors opened when we walked past, flight instruments on passing planes malfunctioned, burglar alarms were triggered.

In 2017, the US government accused Cuba of perpetrating an ongoing series of 'acoustic attacks' on staff at their embassy. Finally, I had the words to describe the first three months of my daughter's life: I had been the victim of an ongoing series of acoustic attacks.

Surprisingly, the one thing I did manage to do a bit of during this otherwise pleasure-free phase was sex.

It was the only activity available to two adults confined to the home every evening; Netflix hadn't been invented yet. And during the brief hours when she wasn't operatically flexing her lungs, my daughter presented no great obstacle to me and my partner's sex life.

She couldn't walk, talk, or even roll onto her side. If we didn't want her to see us having sex, we just shifted her bassinet so it faced the wall.

Our older children, aged five and seven at the time, were in bed by 7pm every night, so we had a few hours to ourselves before the baby began her 12-4am night shift.

I also had the pert, bountiful, and as it turned out, temporary, rack of a Hooters waitress, and I wasn't about to let it go to waste.

I didn't realise it then, but these were the salad days of our post-baby sex life. You might not think a quick shag in a dark corner of the bedroom, soundtracked by the snuffles of a newborn, would be anything to aspire to, but here's the thing: that desultory shag is as good as it's ever going to get once you start inviting babies into your home.


Babies, you see, grow into toddlers, who graduate from sleeping in a blonde-wood cage to sleeping in an actual bed, from which they can freely escape, scurrying into your room just as you've wriggled suggestively out of your old maternity leggings.

Toddlers, in turn, grow into tweens and then teens, who are capable of staying happily awake till much later than you are.

What all this means is that the windows of opportunity for you and your partner to have sex  gradually shrink as your children grow older and less physically dependant on you, one of the many brutal paradoxes of parenthood.

They need you a bit less, but they watch and listen to you more closely.

A two-year-old, for instance, might hear her parents having sex in the next room, but have no knowledge of or interest in what those noises mean. A 10-year-old, on hearing those same noises, will silently pad down the hall to your room, open the door, and stare, bug eyed, at the undeniably confronting sight of two geriatrics rolling around on the bed. And a 13-year-old who hears her parents having sex in the next room may not pop her head in to see whats going on, but she will audibly vomit, a sound you will never hear - with good reason - in erotic films.  

With our children now far past the newborn and toddler stages, the only time my partner and I are able to have sex is between 9:30am and 3:00pm, hours that are not generally devoted to carnal pursuits, but to earning enough money to feed all the children we produced before we stopped having sex.

Occasionally, my partner will arrive home at 3:05 pm, a panicked, horny mass of high-vis and steel cap boots, and say "OK, NOW!". This leaves a sensual five minutes to get from A to B; I usually decline the offer in favour of eating a kiwi fruit and looking at Instagram.

But I do miss sex. It's like going to the swimming pool and doing a few laps: despite all the faffing around with getting your clothes on and off and showering afterwards, you always feel better for it, even if do you wind up with a urinary tract infection, or swallow a band aid (actually, that only happens at the swimming pool).

So, new parents, I urge you to have all the sex you think you might like to have over the next 18 years NOW. Sit down and do the sums and then have all the sex now.

In a few short years, when your plans to have sex are again derailed by your six- year-old you'll be glad you took my advice.