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Bikinis for 7 year olds!?!?

I am the mother of a six-year-old and despite the subject matter that I speak about, write about and research for my day job, we are extremely conservative at home. Just the other day, my daughter chastised me for using the “D” word. It’s probably not what you think…I had commented that something was “dumb”.  And, for the record, the word “stupid” might as well be cussing in our household.

 

When it comes to my own profession, I also realize the prudence in speaking openly about sexual questions that come up. A few have with Riley…although not as many as I was expecting by this age. When she does broach the subject, I ask for clarity on what it is she is trying to learn and why, so that I can answer the question simply and truthfully but not answer too much. (There’s the old joke of the Dad who went into a lengthy explanation about sex to his child who asked “what’s sex”, only to find out that the child had been told by his mother that “dinner would be ready in a few “secs”.) I try to balance healthy candor about the subject of sexuality with the fact that we hold pretty conservative values as a family.

 

So, I was horrified to learn that Abercrombie & Fitch has just marketed a bikini for 7-year-old girls with a PUSH UP TOP.

Really????  Seriously!?!  Are you kidding me!!???

 

We are facing an epidemic of little girls growing up believing that their bodies are inadequate because of the ridiculous amount of media pressure to be a perpetual size 0, and yet they want to send a message to our 7-year-olds that their pre-pubescent chests are inadequate? It’s ludicrous.

 

But, as CNN’s LZ Granderson points out, companies such as Abercrombie & Fitch would not sell such items if there were not parents who buy them. Companies have increasingly pushed the boundaries on what is and what is not appropriate for teens and children for years, and have been allowed a ridiculous amount of latitude from parents. As parents, it is our duty to make sure that our children wear items that reflect a healthy amount of self-respect rather than just what is the latest fashion. As Granderson says,

 

I don’t care how popular Lil’ Wayne is, my son knows I would break both of his legs long before I would allow him to walk out of the house with his pants falling off his butt. Such a stance doesn’t always makes me popular — and the house does get tense from time to time — but I’m his father, not his friend.

Thank you, LZ for making the point that is so often lost on my peers. We did not give birth to children so that we could have life-long buddies. When we chose to produce off-spring, we were making a decision to train these little beings how to love themselves and how love others. Decisions that fall within these parameters do not necessarily make us popular with our children, but they do make us good parents.

 

Because of my job, I get asked all the time how to talk to kids about sex.  There are lots of opinions on that subject – when to start, how much to share, what’s age appropriate information.  But I don’t even have to broach any of those points to get to the basic premise here: Talking to your kids about sex includes how you let them dress – or how you choose to dress them.

 

That’s my take-away for this blog post.  But in the interest of fairness, I should say that Abercrombie & Fitch have agreed to remove the term “push up” from the title in favour of the less incendiary “striped triangle”, but have continued selling the padded bikinis.

 

What are you thoughts?

Being a Parent vs Being a Spouse

Does time with your spouse get squeezed out because you are spending so much on your kids? Read this article for tips on bringing balance and protecting your marriage.

Being a Parent vs Being a Spouse

And remember these 4 tips:

  1. Your marriage is one of the most important relationships in your life.
  2. Children need to see you two as a couple who will, at times, need to make that relationship top priority.
  3. Limit your child’s extracurricular activities to one or two special ones. Let them understand that they need to choose. You’ll be surprised how having less “running around” will limit exhaustion and free up some much needed time for you.
  4. If you have children from a previous marriage, include your new spouse in the time you spend with them. It will alleviate tension and resentment.

Mommy Madness Mistake

Are you slipping into “Mommy Madness”???

Michele Weiner Davis, an internationally renowned author and therapist, does a brilliant job summing up the perils of an all consuming focus on your children in this article.

Have you “been there/done that”?  Are you there now?  What are your thoughts about “child centric parenting”?

Post Halloween Reflections

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Since my daughter is still young, Halloween is a HUGE event in our household. The conversations about costumes and candy and safety begin literally weeks before the big event. This year, Riley’s teacher fully embraced the season and read what Riley called “spooky-scary” books to them, wore Halloween ties and pumpkin earrings, and sent home a list of ways to be safe and responsible while Trick or Treating. Riley was so excited that she could barely see straight.

One morning, she announced to me that her teacher had said that they could wear heels to the class Halloween party, as long as they “went with the outfit”.

Now, allow me to give you a little insight on my daughter. She is a fashionista. Young though she is, she has an innate sense of style – albeit her own unique style which often involves pairing pink fluffy dresses with cowboy boots and a string of costume pearls. I seriously doubt that you would find anything even remotely resembling a “Riley Line” on the catwalks of Wal-Mart much less Milan or Paris. But it nevertheless emanates from who she is and how she wants to present herself to the world.  And ever since her MiMi bought her first (and only) pair for her this summer, she has absolutely adored heels.

So after her big announcement regarding the permissibility of wearing heels, I then asked her, “What do you want to be for Halloween?”

“A WITCH!” She cried excitedly.

“Do witches wear heels??” I was a little dubious.

“THIS witch does!” She grinned from ear to ear. Her enthusiasm was matched only by her self-confidence.  However, in an unfortunate blow to fashionable Halloween witches everywhere, when we went looking for costumes, she decided that big pointy hats and black shawls were not so stylish and she ended up going as a mermaid.  And with the same enthusiasm she employed towards her first idea, she made no bones about the fact that mermaids also wear heels.

And so, when the big night finally rolled around, we dressed up and unashamedly set off to randomly knock on doors, beg for food and take candy from strangers.

Like all kids, Riley loves the costumes and candy, but I love the community spirit that Halloween builds. It is one of the few times when we actually see and interact with our neighbours. Parents linger along the streets as their children go from door to door. I met – for the first time – the moms and dads of many of Riley’s schoolmates. I walked through my neighbourhood rather than driving. I slowed down. I chatted. I began relationships.

One couple in particular stood out to me. As they walked along, they held hands and were as warm in their affection for each other as the night was cold. But when I realized that they newly dating and not married, it made me very sad that they were showing up all the rest of us who were.

But it also gave me pause to think, as I grabbed Eric’s hand and cuddled up to him.  I know for a fact that I am more in love with my husband than she is with her boyfriend.  I know this because we have 18 years of history, of moments lived and memories shared.  So why on earth would I not be more affectionate towards my husband?

So here is my thought for you: make time this week for a little PDA (public display of affection) with your spouse. Nothing obscene, of course.  But hold a hand, give a smooch, link arms together. And then write me to tell what you did and what the reaction was around you. I want to know!

And then have some left over candy as a “reward”!

The Greatest Gift

The Greatest Gift You Can Give

The Greatest Gift You Can Give

When was the last time you told your children how much you love your spouse?

That’s right.

When was the last time you looked your kids in the eyes and said, “I am so in love with your Dad [or Mom]”?

Are you terrified that they will feel unloved? Are you nervous that they will fall over themselves and say, “Ahhhh, that’s gross!!” Would they be totally confused? What holds you back?

Recently, I had to explain the concept of divorce to my daughter. Our goddaughter is part of a blended family, and so when my daughter asked some probing questions about them, I decided to answer honestly (but with brevity since she is only five). Many of Riley’s schoolmates come from single-parent households, but this was the first time she connected the dots with someone who is really close to our family.

The sadness that Riley felt was palpable. She didn’t understand how two people could marry and then divorce. It was incomprehensible to her that you would not live with the father of your child. In fact, she was so disturbed by the concept that she had another heart-to-heart with her teacher that day at school. I wish we were all so disturbed by divorce. The impact on a family is truly nothing less than devastating.

Kids live with the fear that their mom and dad will split up. This is understandable. They see it on TV (in one of Riley’s favourite shows, the dad is conspicuously absent). It is happening to their friends all around them. Why wouldn’t they wonder if they are next?

I believe that one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is love for your spouse. Your marital happiness is the foundation of your family unit. And your kids need to hear about it. They need to know that you go on dates because your relationship with each other is precious. They need to see you flirt and cuddle and laugh. They need to hear that you love each other.

I don’t care if you are on your first, second or third marriage…if you are committed to making it work, then talk about how much you love your spouse around your kids.

“Riley, I love your Daddy.”

“Yeah, I know Mom. You tell me that all the time.”

Perhaps she will appreciate it more when she marries. Until then, I will have to keep modeling it for her.

The Body Song

This past week, I had the privilege of introducing my family to Paddy and Carole Ducklow.  Back in the 60’s, when my parents left Texas to move up to Canada, Dad met Paddy in graduate school and they began a life-long friendship. My father wrote his first book in the basement of their home. He logged countless hours sitting out on their deck drinking beer and debating life, the universe and everything. Paddy flew to Texas to attend his funeral.

As a child, I have many memories of the Ducklow’s being a part of our lives. Even when the two men were living in different parts of the Lower Mainland, they always stayed connected. And then, several years before our family returned to Texas, they worked together at Burnaby Christian Fellowship. Dad was senior pastor, and Paddy was on staff as the church psychologist who ran a practice in the church.

One of the programs that they collaborated on during this time was a seminar to teach kids and their parents about the concept of “appropriate touch”. The kids and parents were split into different rooms and taught about issues surrounding personal boundaries, safety and communication. I was one of those kids, and my favourite part of the whole seminar was learning the song, My Body by Peter Alsop (which was thereinafter referred to by us simply as “the body song”).

Fast-forward 20+ years. My family is driving to the Ducklow’s house for the first time and I am explaining to my daughter about the importance of this family in my life. Having a vague memory of the body song, I decided that it would be spectacularly impressive if I could teach it to my daughter to sing for Paddy over dinner. Riley was very much into this idea (life is, after all, a musical for her) and enthusiastically embraced the task. The more we sang it, the more furrowed my husband’s brow became. He finally cleared his throat and said, “Uh, honey? I think you are not remembering that song right. I am pretty sure that’s not how it goes.” I pooh-poohed his concerns and, undaunted, Riley and I sang the song a few more times – to ensure that she really knew it.

When we arrived at Ducklow’s, the conversation inevitably turned to the body song. Actually, Eric brought it up because he was so smug in his assumption that I had the words wrong and thought it would be hilarious to see Paddy’s reaction. I was hesitant because I had an ever-growing suspicion that Eric was, unfortunately, right. Eventually, he coaxed Riley and me into singing it together.  So, in a vain attempt to prove that I was correct (or more that he was wrong) I belted out with great gusto:

My body’s nobody’s body but mine.

You touch your own body,

Let me touch mine.

There was an eerie silence that fell over the room for what was only a moment but felt like eternity.  Then the room erupted!  I thought Paddy was going to fall off the couch laughing. He fell to the side and buried his face in a pillow as he howled in laughter.  It was suddenly inherently obvious to me that I had turned a song on appropriate touch into one on mutual masturbation.

***Epic FAIL***

Later in the evening, Paddy and Riley went to the computer and drudged up the words to this 1980’s song. Thank goodness for Google!

The true version of the body song can be found here and goes like this:

My body’s nobody’s body but mine.

You run your own body,

Let me run mine.

I will admit that the correct one is a much better version for Riley to be singing out in public.  But as I am not one to be easily dismayed, I will brazenly confess that personally prefer my version…even if you’ll never hear me sing it aloud ever again.

So inn the midst of all of this personal humiliation, I figured that I should try to redeem myself by unabashedly sharing the story with everyone and using it as a teaching tool to help parents talk with their children.

Eric, however, is still laughing.

Missing the woman I fell in love with

By Josh Lerman on parenting.com

Tue April 7, 2009


(Parenting.com) — My wife and I share a home and a bed. We kiss goodbye in the morning and hello in the evening with such ritualistic regularity that if one of them somehow gets missed, I worry it means bad luck.

We have a marriage in which we tell each other things, without large, dramatic fights, a marriage that in our affection and respect for each other seems awfully good in comparison to those of most of our friends.

But somehow in the past ten years or so since our first daughter was born, in the mad swirl of breastfeeding and colic, of Pull-Ups and wipes, dinners and playdates, car repairs and sweeping, versions of each other that we used to take for granted — versions of our relationship — have gone missing.

Christina and I met around 20 years ago. The friend of a friend of one of my college roommates, she appeared to me first at a party a few weeks after graduation. I thought she was gorgeous, and remember standing in the kitchen talking to her, trying to make her laugh.

She left the party early, and I later heard she’d gone off to Europe. There was a boyfriend.

But through the coincidences of social life in a big city, I ended up living with a high school friend of hers, while she returned to New York to work in the same office as another friend of mine from college. We became part of each other’s circle of friends.

Over the next year or two, as we spent time with each other on a semi-regular basis, our banter became more flirtatious, and I finally asked what she was doing Friday night. She answered “Something with you,” and we’ve been together ever since.

What I remember most about our first years together was our laughter. We giggled in bed at night and over the course of long weekend mornings, lying on our backs, legs draped across each other’s legs. Shameless hilarity in restaurants, malls, on the sidewalk — a private world of absurdity and delight, in love with the ridiculousness of the world and each other.

We moved in together, married, and bought an apartment. Jobs gotten and lost, money pressures, depression, a relative’s drinking problem, fertility issues — the stuff of adult life — all pounded at us but ultimately pushed us closer. At last we became parents together, sharing the shocking face-smack of responsibility and obligation that comes with the precarious-seeming beauty of infancy.

Of course we were still silly together — it’s who we were — but there was less time, less energy. Christina’s body, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and even after, it seemed, was owned by our daughter Olivia. The baby was lavished with affection, but maybe not husband and wife so much.

The baby was tickled and sung to and spoken nonsense to and made to laugh, but maybe not the husband and wife so much.

A new job, more fertility trials, the dehumanizing infinity of adoption paperwork capped by waiting, waiting, and finally our baby, a second daughter, Lucy. Our life continued, almost on autopilot.

The children grow and their needs change. They must be fed, the mortgage paid, the sidewalk shoveled, bedtimes enforced. The obligations — to the preschool, the PTA, my job, Christina’s work, Olivia’s preposterously plentiful homework — are a constant, staticky background to our lives.

My wife and I support each other, can count on the other, and on random weekends away can recapture flashes of that old lightheartedness.

And there are new shared pleasures: looking at each other in baffled rapture at the half-wit brilliance of 4-year-old Lucy explaining “how they make grass”; beaming with outsize pride at 9-year-old Olivia’s dance-recital seriousness and grace; witnessing a spontaneous, unexpected gesture of affection from an older sister to a younger. And the attempted mom-dad hugs in the kitchen dissolving into four-headed laughing kiss-fests.

But it’s too little, too fleeting. We spend so much of our lives passing each other on the way somewhere. Me on the way to see whether the sudden, eerie silence from the girls’ room is Lucy scaling her dresser like a climbing wall (it is). Christina on the way to the basement to put the laundry in the dryer because no, I have to admit, it wouldn’t occur to me to do it on my own.

Our bedtimes drift apart — Christina’s closer to the girls’, mine later toward a precious hour or two of private, need-free quiet time listening to music, reading, or watching bad TV.

What’s gone is the pure selfishness that brought us together. Something that belonged only to us, that was unique to us and part of us, has gotten lost.

But isn’t this what happens in life — that what I remember was a time, not a thing, and we can no more recapture those versions of ourselves than we can travel to ancient Rome? That a normal part of becoming an adult, of raising a family together, is leaving behind treasured swaths of the love affair that got us here — the mindless lust, the inside jokes, the laughter? Perhaps. But even so, selfish though it may be, I miss my wife.

So we must build on what we had — what we still have. We’re different people now, in different lives. We’ve changed, and so our love must change. The problem isn’t really that something is lost. It’s that we’ve been looking in the wrong direction, sitting there waiting for something to materialize instead of getting up and making it ourselves.

We’ll have to try a little harder to see past the day-to-day. If I do, I’ll find my wife — she’s in the basement taking stuff out of the dryer.

And if she can postpone bedtime for just a few minutes (please!), she’ll find me down in the living room watching bad TV. I can’t tell you how easy it would be to get me to turn that damn thing off.

By Josh Lerman

Copyright 2009 The Parenting Group. All rights reserved.  Read the original article here.

And read Eryn-Faye’s response to this article in her blog, then share your thoughts too!

Learning to Date Again

Why is it that we stop dating when we get married? Theoretically, once we live under the same roof we should have more money to spend on each other because we have combined expenses. Are we afraid of spending time alone because we have forgotten what to talk about? Do we confuse quality time together with the fact that we are in the same room watching TV together? If we are going to keep that spark alive – the one that drew us to each other in the first place – then it needs to be nurtured. And one of the best ways to nurture it is to date each other!

Learning to Date Again

How do you do it? Here are five ideas:

1.    Start dating again. Choose to go on regular dates with your spouse. Put the date on the calendar, book a babysitter, make reservations at a restaurant, purchase tickets to the game and go! If you are out of the habit, then begin dating your spouse once a month and make it easy to remember (for example, the first Saturday of the month is date night). Make it your goal to decrease the time in between so that you eventually go on dates once a week.

2.    Don’t let cost get in the way. I promise you, the cost of having regular dates is far less than the cost of a divorce. Build the expense of your dates into your budget so that you know how much you can spend and not feel guilty about it. Remember that this money is an investment into your marriage. However, if you are really pinching pennies, then get creative. Set up a babysitting co-op with friends: you watch their kids one night, and then they watch your kids another night. Go on inexpensive dates: have coffee at a local coffee shop; park close to the airport and watch the planes come in; take a long walk together.

3.    Try a “Happy Camper” Date. For a lot of couples, just trying to decide what to do on their date causes conflict because they have different interests and tastes. Here’s how the “happy camper” date works: one week you go on a date and your husband gets to choose what he activity he wants the two of you to do. (He gets to pick the movie, the restaurant, the hockey game, etc.) You go on this date with a great attitude – you are the “happy camper” this week. However, the following week, it is his turn to be the happy camper and do whatever you would like to do without complaining. This experience gives us greater insight into what makes our spouse tick and it builds our common history together which, in turn, leads to a stronger marriage.

4.    Set the rules of the date. The focus of the date is the two of you deepening your relationship together as a couple. So consider limiting your conversations about the kids or work (these can often be all consuming topics). If this leaves you nothing to talk about, then think of things that you used to talk about before the kids came along, what is going on in the world around you, or get a book which gives you questions to ask each other. Learning to talk again as two lovers may feel awkward at first, but the more you practice it, the easier it will be.

5.    Put some effort into your appearance. Remember spending hours in front of the mirror or in the closet picking out the perfect outfit when you were first going out? Fixing your hair so that it looked just right (women – this isn’t just directed at you. I have known plenty of men who spend more time on their hair than women!) Doesn’t your spouse deserve the same now? The art of attraction should never be neglected or lost simply because your partner said “I do.”

One of my coaching clients had an amazing perspective on marriage. She told me that her spouse is the one person who will be witness to her journey through life. We leave our parents’ home, our kids eventually leave ours, we change jobs and friends move away. But our spouse stays with us and we build a common history together over the years. Solidify this history with memories of the two of you.

Talking to my 5 year old…

Dear Eryn-Faye,

I really appreciate your what you are offering couples, families and individuals.

My wife and I are looking for some ideas/ advice about how to talk to our daughter.

She is 5 years old and for about 2 years (since she was about 3) we have noticed at times when she is bored/ alone in her room (as she has a younger brother who is 2 years younger), she “humps” her pillow or teddy bear. At first we thought nothing of it, and then we noticed that she would get quite red in the cheeks and was quite worked up. When we inquired what she was doing, she said it felt good. Understanding a bit about the way we’re built, we could see she was stimulating herself, and it felt good. This behavior has seemed to decrease (maybe we see her doing it once a month), but is still consistent to when she is in her room and “bored.”

I know there may be many thoughts on masturbation (which this might be defined as, but I would probably lean toward the definition of self-exploration, as she’s only 5).

So I struggle with dealing with her behavior or trying to figure out what to say, without making her think that her sexual feelings are bad (which I’m sure she doesn’t think these are sexual feelings).

How do we as a couple talk address this issue with her?

Advice? Books to read?

Allow me to say that I appreciate that you have decided to write, because it demonstrates that you are taking your role as a parent very seriously!

You have a wonderful opening to speak with your daughter about healthy sexuality. These conversations should take place throughout the rearing of the child in an age-appropriate manner, beginning with basic knowledge such as the proper names for anatomy and going from there. Most experts will tell us that if you have not initiated the concept of sexuality to your kids early on, they will hear about it on the playground from other children (albeit a very convoluted version). Proactive parents will take control of the message so that this topic is accurately presented to their children. I believe that, as parents, we have an amazing message to communicate to our children about how we were made.

The body is a magnificent design, and it is understandable and natural that we want to explore it. It is very common for little girls to “hump” things. I had one coaching client relay to me that her (probably very embarrassed) parents had to drag her out of church one day because she wouldn’t stop humping the church pew! (I bet you are breathing a sigh of relief right now that you aren’t dealing with that one!)  But I tell that anecdote mainly to let you know that your daughter is completely normal and that this is fairly ordinary behaviour.  We simply don’t talk about it publicly too often which can lead to concerns such as what you have.

As far as things you can do as a parent, considering your daughter’s age, you can explain that it is acceptable for her to explore in private but not in public. We use this same reasoning when we explain why we cover the areas of a bathing suit because these are the parts of our bodies that belong only to us and need to be kept private (understanding, of course, that mommy and daddy and doctors might touch those areas for health/hygiene reasons). Not only are you able to set the foundation for a series of conversations about sexuality and create a sense of openness about this topic but you will also be setting the groundwork for appropriate touch and “stranger-danger” conversations with your daughter.

I would also recommend that you and your wife construct your answer to THE QUESTION right now. (Meaning, “Where do babies come from?” or “What is sex?”) Decide together what you are going to say, and practice it together if this makes you more comfortable. At your daughter’s age, it is best to keep your answer simple, and having a book to illustrate your conversation is extremely helpful especially if some (or all) of these terms are new to your daughter.  Amazing You! Getting Smart about Your Private Parts by Gail Saltz and Lynne Avril Cravath is an excellent resource for your daughter’s age.  You can find it on Amazon here.

And the website Talking with Kids has some helpful hints on these discussions as well.

As a parent myself, I want to encourage you again.  Your desire to be proactive in your daughter’s life is exceptional.  Taking the time to ask questions -even when they are seen as “awkward” – is indicative of how seriously you take your parenting duties.  You have my deepest respect.  I wish that all parents were so willing to seek help and advice.

I hope you find these resources helpful! If you have any further questions or feedback for other parents, please feel free to write back at any time!

Warmly,
Eryn-Faye, Passion Coach

10 Ways to Reconnect with Your Spouse as Lover

In my business, I often ask couples to tell me what hinders them from having the sex life they dream about. The number one answer that I get is, “the kids.” These parents deeply love their children, but are keenly aware that their sex life began to abate when little Johnnie or little Susie was born. We live in a culture which dotes on children – we make them the center of our world; we make sure that they are exposed to every possible activity so that they can thrive in adulthood; we keep them up with us until we go to bed so that we can spend as much time with them as possible.

The problem with having our kids as an exclusive focus in our marriage is that we forget the romance, the friendship, and the attraction that drew us together in the first place. So many times, couples have very little to say when I ask what they talk about besides the topic of their kids. It seems to be the only thing that they have in common. However, if we want a long-lasting relationship with this person, we need to remember that the kids will eventually leave home (after all, we are raising adults, not children). And when that happens, we want to make sure that our companionship together was not built wholly on them.

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Here are 10 ways that you can stay connected with your spouse as a lover, not just as a parent:

  1. Start dating again. Go on regular dates with your spouse. Begin with once a month and then increase the frequency so that eventually you go on dates once a week. #1 rule of the date: No talking about the kids! If you are struggling about things to talk about, think of things that you used to talk about before the kids came along, what is going on in the world around you, or get a book which gives you questions to ask each other. Learning to talk about as lovers may feel awkward at first, but the more you practice it, the easier it will be.
  2. Establish good sleep patterns for your children. This includes having a regular bedtime for them that is earlier that when you and your spouse go to bed. If your kids are younger, have a set time when they have to be in their rooms even if their lights are not out. Not only is this good for your sex life, but it is also essential for the health of your children.[1] Need some advice on how much sleep your kids actually need? Check out the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendations here.
  3. Establish good sleep patterns for yourself! Oftentimes, we fall into the trap of thinking, “If I stay up later, I can get more done.” However, exhaustion ultimately makes us less effective and it also undermines our sexual relationship (which, in turn, undermines our marriage). So, get into a bedtime routine which ensures that you will get enough hours of sleep. Not sure how much is enough? Find out here.
  4. Take time each day to connect emotionally. Have a time each day where you and your spouse sit down together and have a short conversation without the children present. Let the children know that Mom and Dad need ten minutes alone and make sure that they have something that can keep them occupied and safe during this time. This allows you to connect daily but it also models to your children the importance of your relationship together as a couple. They will reap the benefits of this modeling when they have their own relationships.
  5. Make sex a priority. Sex is the one thing that sets your spouse apart from a really good friend. It is the physical and spiritual connection that you have with this special someone that you share with no other. Set up “sex dates” so that you don’t allow too much time to pass between sexual encounters. Get answers to any physical difficulties that you are experiencing. Stop making excuses (when the kids get older, this will get better…).
  6. Ensure privacy. Are you one of those people who can’t get past the idea of your children walking in on you in the throes of passion? Start teaching your children the importance of Mommy-Daddy alone time. This is time when the two of you focus solely on each other.  It doesn’t have to be sex every time, but once the kids understand the importance of the uninterrupted time, you can worry less about, well, interruptions. But just to be on the safe side, put a lock on your door and get a white noise machine so that you can ensure that you will not be seen or heard by the kids. After all, the modeling I spoke of earlier only goes so far!
  7. Begin a regular exercise routine. What does this have to do with sex??? The science behind arousal is all about blood flow. When you are working out on a consistent basis, you are increasing blood flow to your extremities and you can reap the benefits of this in the bedroom. Not convinced? Exercising also leads to a better body image, helps us sleep better and reduces stress – all of which make intimacy easier.
  8. Variety is the spice of life! We all have our favorites (and knowing your spouse’s favorites is great way to make your marriage sizzle) but variety expands our horizons. How do you find our whether your kids like PB&J sandwiches? Or curry? Or sushi? You let them try. So, add something new to your “menu” once a month. If you both hate it, then scratch it off the list of things you will do again. However, you might be surprised and find a new favourite!
  9. Find out what makes your spouse feel loved. As spouse who feels loved is much more likely to want to jump into bed. Do they need a back massage? A heart-to-heart talk? An afternoon away from the kids? A compliment on how good they look? A love note tucked into the laptop? How about the having the toilets scrubbed? Find out what sets the stage for romance for your lover and then do it unbidden.
  10. Get out of town! Vacation sex is the best. The kids aren’t around (so you don’t have to be quiet or worry about them walking in on you), you can sleep when you want to, you don’t have to get home to a babysitter and you have time to linger. Figure out a way to spend at least one weekend a year away from the kids and try to increase this frequency as the years go on. If you don’t have a relative or babysitter to watch the kids, do an exchange with friends. You take their kids one weekend and then they take your kids another weekend. It’s a win/win for both couples.

Not to put too fine a point on it, there is a reason KT Oslin wrote the lyrics “Don’t kiss me like we’re married…Kiss me like we’re lovers”. All too often we separate the two – especially once kids come along. Never let that passion for each other fade away. It is much easier to stay connected in the first place than it is to re-connect after years of simply parenting together. As my husband likes to say, “parallel parenting is great so long as you can be horizontal in the bedroom too!”

If the spark is fading, then take the steps now to rekindle the passion that you once had (or always wanted). If you still “got it”, then don’t lose it through neglect. Work on it like you were losing it, and you will always have it!


[1] In the September 1 Issue of the Journal of SLEEP, Jacques Montplaisir, MD, of the Sleep Disorders Center at Sacre-Coeur Hospital in Montreal, Canada concluded that children who do not get enough sleep are at higher risk of obesity, ADHD and slower cognitive abilities.