How Parents Can Keep the Spark Alive in These Crazy Stressful Times

There are Zoom meetings to attend, kids to take care of, household chores to tackle and some serious anxiety to address. Who has time for sex? Here’s how to make it a priority even amidst a pandemic.
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Published October 22, 2020
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These past several months have been particularly tough on parents. Our schedules have been upended, our jobs have changed and our family lives have shifted, with partners working from home while juggling child care and remote schooling. And the fatigue is real. It’s been harder than ever to prioritize self-care, let alone time with your partner. We get it! But taking care of your connection as a couple is paramount, and your sex life is a great place to start.

According to Lasting, the nation’s no. 1 relationship health app, research shows that in unhappy relationships, couples attribute 70 percent of their unhappiness to sex. Yes, 70 percent!

Your sexual relationship is one part of your overall emotional connection, and healthy couples view sex as a small (though important!) part of the equation. But when emotional connection starts to weaken—due to conflict, lack of time or outside stressors (such as, oh, say, a global pandemic), sex is typically the first thing to go. And for parents, this is especially true.

So how do you keep the spark alive when your kids are cooped up at home and you’re navigating a quarantine as best you can? Here are some therapy-backed tips.

Reframe Foreplay

Foreplay is about more than what happens in the bedroom. “Meeting your partner’s non-sexual needs can contribute to a thriving sex life,” says Liz Colizza, LPC, NCC, MAC, a psychotherapist and Lasting’s head relationship expert. “Believe it or not, help with chores, errands and parenting duties can all be part of your sexual connection.” Which is good news, considering that our ability to multitask is seriously being put to the test these days thanks to COVID-19.

Remember, when trust and appreciation are high between you, sexual intimacy can increase. Take a moment—especially now, when we’re all home more than usual—to think about how you can build your connection by addressing your partner’s practical needs.

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Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

It’s a myth that only spontaneous sex is good sex. Scheduling sex, especially when your lives are busy with little ones, is a great way to keep that sexual excitement buzzing. “Planning sex feels boring, but it actually allows space and time for eagerness and anticipation to build,” says Colizza. “This opens the door for creativity and desire.”

When you plan intentional moments for intimacy, you prioritize your sex life and don’t let it take a back seat to the thousand other things on your plate. And if one of you tends to need more time to “get in the mood,” this allows for that too! Win-win.

Focus on Pleasure, Not Just Romance

Carving out time for romance was already a challenge for parents, but the chaos and stress of COVID-19 have made it next to impossible. But that doesn’t mean your sex life can’t still be exciting! Focusing on pleasure in this trying season allows you to meet each other’s needs even in your exhaustion.

How? Get in touch with your own sense of pleasure. It’s understood that sex is about bringing pleasure to your partner, but many people have a difficult time also pursuing sex for their own pleasure. “The truth is, it’s even more pleasurable for your partner when you also pursue pleasure for yourself,” Colizza says. “Pleasure leads to more pleasure, and good sex is about pursuing pleasure for yourself as well as for your partner.”

Ground yourself in what is pleasurable to you, and then give yourself permission to try new things in the bedroom with these in mind. It could be something as simple as sensual touch or the scent of something that brings you joy. When you can identify what pleasures you, you create new contexts for connection with your partner. Get creative with it!

According to a survey by Lasting, nearly 70 percent of couples with kids say they do not make their sex life a priority, and we totally get it. Being a parent is hard, unending work. But it’s hugely beneficial for your kids to know that their parents have a strong connection, and a healthy sex life is a big part of that.

Amid the craziness of parenting in a pandemic, commit to keeping that sexual spark alive. Start today and download Lasting to begin a seven-day free trial. With series like Sexual Connection and Sexual Desire, you’ll be well on your way to the sex life of your dreams.

About the expert:

Liz Colizza, LPC, NCC, MAC, is a nationally certified Licensed Professional Counselor with a certification in addictions counseling. She’s also the head relationship expert for Lasting, the leading relationship counseling app in the US. She has thousands of hours of clinical experience, and her relationship advice has been featured in GQ, Vox, Oprah and more.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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