When you’re a mom, every day is full of small gifts: watching your children grow, cuddles at bedtime, making it through to wine time. But every day is also full — full stop. With joy seeing your children learn, with boredom watching the dishes pile up. Life is so full that you can lose your sense of self outside of motherhood and with it, your sex drive.
Stress is a libido inhibitor for many women, and balancing kids with life and work is stressful enough without a global pandemic. But sex is not only important to your relationship; it’s an important part of your humanity.
After the birth of my second child I forgot about my sex drive completely, until it came crashing back one evening when I came across a sexy scene in a book. Literary erotica, I discovered, is proven to awaken desire in women. But every woman has a different way of getting in touch (ahem) with her sexual side, so I talked to some other mums to see what got them in the mood. I hope these tips can help you, too.
1. This first one sounds obvious, but your monthly cycle will often dictate your libido. Whether or not you’re using a period app, if you’re feeling sexy at a certain time of month, follow your body. “I get turned on more quickly when I’m ovulating, and my orgasms are stronger, too. So I try to take advantage of those days because I know I’ll get more out of it,” says Dina, 42.
2. Don’t save yourself for your partner. Indulge in a bit of self love, and figure out what you really like. Many mothers today received a crummy sex education at school, but if you haven’t started embracing sex positivity, I highly recommend it. “I didn’t have an orgasm until my mid-twenties, and it’s taken me years to get comfortable with my body. I’m so glad that I finally feel comfortable masturbating—I’ve realized that it’s good for me, and wholesome,” says CC, 40.
3. Embrace sexual fantasy. Su-Yin, 48, said: “I had to come to terms with the fact that I fantasized about different people or scenes when I was with my husband. It’s not that I don’t find him sexy, but fantasies make the sex better, and doesn’t do anyone any harm!” If you’re feeling brave, share your fantasies with your partner — you’ll probably get a warm reception.
4. Discover what stimuli turns you on. There is a growing number of sex positive sites for women including feminist porn, audio erotica, and my own website and podcast The Good Bits, which draws its sexy stories from bestselling erotic novels.
5. Schedule a sex night. (What’s more sexy than a schedule, right?) Sarah, 35, says: “Having a night scheduled where we make time to be intimate has really helped our sex life. I like to give myself the time and space to get in the mood. For me that’s dimming the lights, having a bath, maybe reading a sexy story so I’m feeling relaxed and in the mood.”
6. Make him do the dishes. Not because the sight of a man in rubber gloves is sexy (whatever floats your boat though, right?). But if you’re in a hetero relationship, statistics tell us that women still bear the brunt of the housework. (Any coincidence that statistics also tell us that straight women have the fewest orgasms?) When you’re feeling overworked and under-appreciated, chances are you’re not feeling horny.
7. Don’t be too hard on yourself. This has been a really stressful 12 months, and many of us are still trying to pull through. Ask any sex therapist about sex in a long term relationship and they’ll tell you “you have to work at it.” But the same is true of your own health and mental health. It’s hard to put yourself first when you have a family, but it’s crucial to take time for a walk, to get away, and remember who you are. A mother, yes. But a whole person, as well.