Sex

18 Ways To Get In The Mood (Even When You’re An Exhausted Parent)

Take a deep breath and reignite that flame.

What do you do when you want to have sex, but can barely keep your eyes open? (Because, kids.) One of the biggest conundrums parents face is finding the time to have sex. Let’s say you’ve carved out that precious hour (or at least 20 minutes), now you have to make sure that you actually feel up for the act. Somewhere between sleepless nights with a baby and shuttling preteens to soccer practice, you might lose your mojo.

So, you do what has to be done to get in the mood despite your exhaustion. Is it hard? Yes. (Also, that’s what she said.) But is it worth it? Absolutely.

1

Flirt Relentlessly

Get back to the basics with your partner and flirt to encourage connection. “Flirty texts, playful dialogue, verbal affection, or compliments are small but significant ways to start to build some excitement or connection between two tired parents,” relationship coach Babita Spinelli tells Romper.

Flirting can also include talking about and anticipating sex throughout your day — even when you’re parenting. (It’s called a whisper, you guys.) This doesn’t even have to necessarily be dirty talk, but as certified sex educator Dainis Graveris tells Romper, “You can use 'sexy codes' when you talk about it over breakfast or even text each other in the morning. Allow yourselves to get excited for your sexy time.”

This type of flirting also releases chemicals in your brain linked to intimacy. “These pleasure chemicals have a lot to do with motivation as well, which means once they are piqued, you will likely want to do the things that keep that happy feeling going,” says Dr. Judy Ho, a licensed clinical neuropsychologist and Forbes Health Advisory Board Member. “So flirting and foreplay are really important as they naturally stimulate dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin, which may then lead you to get in the mood for sex even if you weren’t in the mood at first.”

2

Practice Gratitude

“Your sex life can often be an indication of how well your relationship is going. When you're happy in bed, likely, your relationship is, too,” Graveris explains. “So if your sex life is suffering, try cultivating more gratitude.”

This can look like thanking one another for small, but meaningful gestures, but also the big stuff, too. You know, the things that make you feel super loved, like folding a load of laundry so you don’t have to or running the errands you hate. Once you make gratitude a regular part of your daily routine, you can do the same by showing appreciation for your sex life.

3

Focus On Self-Care

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To help get yourself in the mood for sex when you’re exhausted from parenting, first, focus on self-care. “I have found that when a mom gets recharge time and takes care of her body, long hot baths or a massage or facial, while the other parent takes care of the kids, etc., it can create more desire,” Spinelli tells Romper. “She not only can get some needed ‘R and R,’ but a little pampering helps to feel better all around.”

4

Date Your Partner

Alone time may be in short supply as a parent, but it’s still important to date one another to keep your sexy spark alive. “Even if you can't get out of the house, you can still make time for each other by setting up a date night at home,” licensed marriage and family therapist Megan Harrison tells Romper.

Ho says to “court your partner” to help get in the mood for sex: “Go back to the time when you were actively courting each other. What was that like, and what did you enjoy doing? Make a list of activities that you used to enjoy together in the early part of your relationship, as well as any new ones you might want to try out if you were to ‘date’ each other all over again at the present time.”

5

Talk About What You Want

“Unfortunately, many couples struggle to talk about what they want in the bedroom. This can lead to frustration and disappointment, which means you are less likely to enjoy intimacy together,” says Harrison. Keeping an open line of communication with your partner about what you want your sex life to look like, things you might want to try — think toys, lube, fantasies — can help you get in the mood for sex.

“Open and honest communication is crucial for successful relationships,” Harrison continues. “With open and honest communication, you and your partner will likely become more sex-positive as you change and grow together. The trick to continued satisfaction? Keep each other’s comfort level in mind, and don’t take yourselves too seriously!”

Don’t assume that if you’ve said it before, you can’t mention it again. “Reminding each other what you enjoy and what turns you on is a great way to ensure both partners are satisfied,” Graveris says. “Do this by sexting, while doing the dishes, during sex, or after — whatever works for you!”

6

Use Lube

Plain and simple: Lube up. “Your hormones can be all over the place when you're stressed from parenting — and work. This makes it more challenging for you to get in the mood for sex, especially if you're also worried about getting some sleep or your kids coming in,” Graveris explains. “Lube is your best friend. Using lube turns a lot of couples on faster, making sure you're aroused and ready to have sex. Also, lube is very pleasurable.”

7

Wear Lingerie

Even when you feel like the last thing you want to do is don some sexy duds and adjust it all into place so that you can look sexy after a full day of parenting, lingerie can actually make you feel sexy and get you more in the mood. Make it a part of your regular routine to wear something underneath your clothes that makes you feel strong and empowered.

“Lingerie shouldn't be worn only when you're hot and heavy with your partner or something that's only used once per year. Instead, you should wear lingerie as much as you can,” Graveris explains. “Sexy lingerie isn't about being beautiful or showing off your body. It's about feeling comfortable and confident when you're wearing it.”

8

Don’t Skimp On Foreplay

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When you’re a busy parent, it can be tempting to rush through foreplay. But experts agree this is an important step to take to get in the mood for sex, even when you’re stressed to the max.

“Foreplay helps to lubricate the mind and the body for sexual play and intimacy,” Dr. Rufus Tony Spann, a licensed clinical professional counselor and Forbes Health Advisory Board Member tells Romper.Many of my clients state foreplay helps them to connect with their partners and creates a heightened excitement towards intimacy.”

9

Move Outside Of The Bedroom

When you’re a parent, sometimes you have to get creative to get in the mood. This means taking things outside of the bedroom when you have the opportunity. “Get out of the bedroom and explore other parts of your home or apartment,” Graveris suggests. “There are many places to get it on, from the shower to your kitchen countertop and even inside your car.”

10

Try Tantric Breathing & Mindfulness

Spann says that “tantric breathing and mindfulness with your partner can create a deeper connection within moments of touch, sexual play, and pleasure.” He suggests engaging in these mindfulness and breathing practices while doing the things you’re already doing together, like cooking or showering, to be present with one another. “Being present with your partner can help to connect with them on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. These moments of reconnecting can help us find and make time to enjoy our bodies, our partners, and our pleasure. The idea and action of sexual play, pleasure, and arousal can be spontaneous or planned.”

11

Start Slow

There’s no need to rush to the main event. “Partners can begin with basic touch, caressing, and being touched,” Spann says. “Furthermore, dialogue, discussion, enjoying moments resting in the same space, cuddling, taking a shower or bath together, or slow dancing to music can all be helpful to create those small moments. This simple engagement allows for contact, connection, and sensation on the body.”

Sometimes, a nice rub down can help parents engage with one another in a sexy, soothing way. “In the bedroom, starting with massaging each other with oils and taking time to ignite arousal is another way for a tired couple to ease into having sex,” Spinelli suggests.

12

Play Together

“As adults we can lose the idea of play; however, we support and encourage this idea with children. However, fun, play, and sexual play are essential in adulthood,” Spann tells Romper. “Enjoying pleasure and life allows for us to be connected to our bodies, our partners, and to create balance.”

So, find ways to tease one another throughout the day, plan a fun date, play a sexy game, or watch an erotic movie together. Do something you both find fun and sexy.

13

Get Busy During The Day(light)

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“Sex at night isn't as easy as people think,” Graveris says. “There are many obstacles, such as kids sleeping late or shift work. Or you might just be tired from working all day.”

This can be tough to execute, but sometimes you just have to push through and get creative. Graveris suggests that “instead of your usual night routine, try to take advantage of nap time or morning sex — when you wake up before the kids.”

14

Experiment With Sex Toys & Games

Every now and then you give in and get your kid a new toy—why not do the same for yourself? “For some couples, a sex toy may be all it takes to ignite the spark they’ve been missing,” Harrison says. “For others, adult toys can be a gateway to bringing other fantasies to life.”

In addition to toys, playing sex games can help get you both turned on and ready for sex. “Truth or Dare is a fun game for couples who enjoy a challenge. You play by taking off items of clothing until someone gets naked,” says Graveris. “Playing Uno is another fun activity for couples. Set a timer for ten, 20, or more minutes before getting down to business. Make something up that works for both of you.”

(Not to the makers of Uno: New marketing idea?)

15

Schedule Sex If You Need To

You’ve probably heard this advice before, but scheduling time for intimacy can be the key to squeezing it in. “Scheduling sex is helpful, but I suggest reframing how we see it. Define scheduling sex as ‘special connection time’ or similar language,” suggests Spinelli. “Shift the mindset from we are scheduling sex with all its negative connotations to we are curating moments for ourselves for our own pleasure. It’s like preparing for a vacation. We plan it in our calendars and prepare during the time leading up for it!”

And though you may worry that the scheduling aspect will turn sex into yet another item on your to do list, but the opposite is true: It can help build anticipation.

16

Value Spontaneity

Or try the exact opposite of scheduled sex. “It doesn't have to be planned or a romantic event with scented candles, rose petals, etc,” Graveris says.

Sneak in a quickie during nap time, meet up on your lunch break, or wake your partner up early to work out some spontaneous sexy time. According to Graveris, “You don't need to do it for hours to be enjoyable.”

17

Stick With What You Know (And What’s Easy)

Sure experimentation and adventure are sexy. But if you don’t have the energy for that, don’t give up on what you know. “Dear exhausted parents, now is not the time to go full-on acrobatic during sex,” says Graveris. “Finding the right sex position is key if you're tired but still in the mood for sex.”

Furthermore, sex doesn’t have to be penetrative to count as intimacy — you can use toys, your hands, and your mouths to make each of you enjoy sex in a more relaxing (and sometimes quicker) way. Honestly, sometimes oral sex is better when you’re tired — and for plenty of women, it’s the most reliable way to orgasm. “Oral sex requires less energy than penetrative sex, so it won't tire you out like having sex would,” says Graveris. “Even research shows that women tend to climax more easily during oral sex than with traditional penetrative sex.”

18

Drop The Comparisons

When it comes to getting in the mood for sex, every couple will need something different. Getting caught in a trap of comparing yourselves to other couples or even how you used to have sex pre-kids helps no one. “Don’t compare yourself to others in terms of frequency or length of time, every partnership has a rhythm for their sex life and what feels like just right,” Ho tells Romper.

Experts:

Dainis Graveris, certified sex educator, relationship expert at SexualAlpha

Megan Harrison, LMFT, Couples Candy

Dr. Judy Ho, triple board certified and licensed clinical neuropsychologist, Forbes Health Advisory Board Member

Dr. Rufus Tony Spann, Ph.D., L.C.P.C., L.P.C., and Forbes Health Advisory Board Member

Babita Spinelli, LP, relationship coach

This story is part of Romper & Fatherly’s Sex Issue, The Moms & Dads Are Horny. Because it’s Valentine’s Day, and parents deserve good sex, too.