Hey mamma, you with the sweet cooing baby; the wiggly, giggly toddler; the 99-gazillion questions-per-minute preschooler; the sulky I-thought-this-started-until-13 child… Wanna get frisky?
If you’re like many mums, the answer is likely a quick, solid “no.” Not because you don’t love your partner, but because it’s 21:20 and you just finally got everyone fed, bathed, and in bed. Now, nothing but wine, the couch, and blessed silence sounds appealing.
And, you know what? That’s totally ok.
Being touched out
As parents, our days are high-contact. A mixture of being constantly ready to respond to any need, emergency or demand our child has and being touched. CONSTANTLY.
Mothers of small children, especially mums of infants, often report being “touched-out.” This may mean not wanting any more physical or emotional contact with anyone, no matter who they are.
As mums, we constantly wear several hats: nutritionist, therapist, referee, diplomat, housekeeper… It can be overwhelming. Add baby-wearing, breastfeeding, cuddling, toddler-wrangling, playing, and you’ve got a recipe for exhaustion. Our children touch us incessantly. Hugging, tapping, wrapping themselves around our legs as we try to do -well, anything-, then more tapping, more hugging. By the end of the day, mamma is done.
Enter your co-parent, partner or husband. On any given day, a hug of greeting may feel very different. Sometimes, it might feel like a request for something more than a quick “hello.” Sometimes it’s a relief to be with another adult and speak complete sentences. Sometimes, it’s just plain irritating.
All of this is “normal”. These feelings are ok. But what does this mean for intimacy? Isn’t there something you can do to make it better?
Take a few minutes for you. Ask your partner to take over everything so you can “reset,” at least for 15 minutes. Even suggest they take a few minutes to ground themselves and get peaceful before coming home so they’re ready to jump in.
Sounds impossible, right? In an ideal world, this would work and you would both be amazing grounded people who can balance parenting and intimate partnership with grace and ease. But, in reality, it’s not likely. So, let me suggest another approach.
1. Think about:
- What does it mean to me when my partner touches my body? For example, a hug is friendly but a pat on the butt means flirting or a sexual overture
- How can I recharge? Maybe I’d like to take a yoga class or an evening walk? Do I want a regular ladies’ night or a “day off”?
- What will work for us as a family? Do we have grandparents nearby who could take over? What time do the kids go to bed?
2. Talk it through
- Sit down with your partner for a conversation about what you both need for peacefulness and grounding.
- Share how you feel “touched out” and that sometimes, physical contact feels overwhelming or demanding rather than friendly and comforting.
- Talk about what both of you are communicating with touches and which touches feel nice or not.
3. Plan and make it happen
- Decide how much time you need and when it is possible
- Schedule it! Arrange for time away from mom duties to be you, so that you come back refreshed & ready.
- If needed, gently explain that you need the household to not fall to bits while you’re away as it will undermine the relaxation.
4. Share the love
This is important! Find out what your partner needs and make accommodations for them too. The mutual benefit of both of you practicing self-care will far out-weigh the occasional inconvenience of surviving one night or afternoon by yourself.
Hopefully, this will go well. Your next steps? Schedule self-care for you and your partner! A massage, cuddles and Netflix, time to exercise… Whatever you both need, make it part of your routine and stick to it.
And those hugs of greeting? Maybe exchange a friendly high-five on the days when it’s all just too much.
Celina Criss, PhD is a sex coach and educator. She invites her clients to bring playfulness to their encounters while encouraging them to take it s.l.o.w.