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co-sleeping interfering with intimacy

Source: Hispanolistic / Getty

Potty-training my daughter was simple. From start to finish, it took us all of three weeks before she was excited to wear “big girl drawers” and was announcing to everyone in IHOP that she’d “peed and pooped in the potty.” When it came to self-soothing, the pacifiers went missing in one night and she never looked back. However, sleep training has always been a challenging milestone for us. You name it, we’ve tried it: bed and bath time routines, night lights, white noise, and crying it out.

Ever since my daughter got a taste of our king size mattress one night when I was nursing her back to health from her first cold, she never looked back to her nursery. She’s four now, and currently in a transitional stage where she spends half the night partying to Paw Patrol before she gathers up her crew of stuffed animals and comes boot-stomping into my room to finally take it down for the night. My husband grunts and turns his back to us. I simply move over, pull back the sheet and let her nestle herself in the middle because when you’re a working parent you know any sleep is good sleep, even better if it’s uninterrupted after surrendering to a pre-schooler placing dibs on one of your pillows.

Actress and mother-of-two Tia Mowry recently addressed co-sleeping with her own children when appearing on The Breakfast Club to promote her new Netflix series, Family Reunion. When asked about how she’s been handling juggling the project with being a new mom of two (Mowry has an eight-year-old son named Cree and a one-year-old daughter named Cairo), Mowry shared that she still co-sleeps with her baby girl:

“She’s still in the bed with my husband and myself.”

The radio show hosts of course jumped in with warnings most old-school parents have about how Mowry will never be able to get baby Cairo out of the bed. The actress and lifestyle expert shared that she and husband Cory Hardrict did the same with their son until he was around age four.

“That’s what’s so beautiful about it. They’re not going to be babies forever,” she said.

Co-host DJ Envy then dropped the question that never ceases to confuse me:

“Well, what about when you and your husband want some? The baby’s in the middle.”

Why is it that whenever parents express their decision to co-sleep, folks automatically assume their sex life is completely shut down until further notice? DJ Envy and his wife have Gia have five kids. Clearly, their children’s vastly different development stages and sleep schedules never got in the way of intimacy.

For whatever reason when co-sleeping is mentioned, all of sudden people act like sex is an act that is restricted solely to your bedroom between the hours of 9:00 PM and 4:00 AM. I don’t know about y’all but my sex drive doesn’t exactly work like that. And if anything is bound to break out the creativity in a person, it’s parenthood. In addition, when you’re truly a united force against the “terrible twos” or the threenagers who suddenly learn the lost art of sarcasm, you’ll depend on one another to make your personal needs a priority when it seems like your offspring is trying to take over.

Admittedly, I spent the first year-and-a-half getting accustomed to parenting and balancing the needs and wants of my child and my spouse. Our sex life definitely changed, but it didn’t disappear. As an infant, safety kept the baby out of our bed, but nonetheless, she slept in a crib in our room. I wasn’t even breastfeeding and was exhausted by waking up every few hours to feed her, so I’m sure the libido runs low for moms who have a newborn attached to their chest regularly. As my daughter has grown older it has gotten much easier to teach her to be comfortable in her own room and help her understand the need for all of us to have our share of privacy. That doesn’t necessarily make her want to sleep in her room, but she definitely gets the hint that there are times when her parents will have “alone time” and she will need to respect that and occupy herself. Kids are often capable of understanding more than we give them credit for.

It’s also important for mothers to remember that we were whole, grown-ass adult women before we had children. With enough support, as tiring as motherhood can be, balance is key. It can take some adjustment, but it’s important to try and find a way to maintain the yoga classes, therapy sessions, happy hours and all of the butt-naked nasty sex you were used to having before someone lied to you and said kids should cease and desist any sexuality left in your body. The logistics may be a challenge, but intimacy isn’t impossible. Here are a few tips on maintaining intimacy even if you do have a little bedroom intruder on your hands:

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