How to keep the spark alive after having children

Early last year, Perth blogger and author, Constance Hall, pulled off every blogger's holy grail. She wrote a very honest post on her Facebook account that she and her husband, Bill Mahon, had "parent sex yesterday". With just one post she boosted her facebook following from 17,000 to almost a million, and now boasts 203,000 followers on Instagram. That's serious media mojo.

Parent trap

"You know what parent sex is," she wrote in a piece that was picked up by media around the world and made her queen of the mummy bloggers overnight. "It's that 3.5 minutes you get in between changing nappies and making food, where you notice all your kids are pretty distracted.

"Where you realise it's been almost a month since you banged and are starting to feel like flatmates.

"Where you position the bed to have one foot against the door because for a loud bunch of kids, yours can be pretty quiet when they're sneaking up on people…it's a pretty romantic scene, really, listening to Iggle Piggle in the background and knowing your days are numbered when you hear the ad break."

She touched a nerve, speaking for millions of clearly frustrated parents out there.

The risk of oversharing

Fast forward to now. Constance and Bill are no more, their breakup playing out in the same huge public arena her description of their sex life first created. "If you make yourselves redundant to each other, you won't find a reason to stay together. I guess that kind of happened to Bill and I," she wrote.

A self-confessed "queen of oversharing", it was Constance's relentless authentic revelations that made her famous. But if you write it warts and all, people are going to look at your warts.

I remember that "parent sex" post and it sent a shiver up my spine. It wasn't a description of some messy but cute suburban love story, it was a window into a doomed relationship.

Seriously, nappies and Iggle Piggle? No wonder she and poor old Bill ended up "redundant to each other". (It's all the more cringeworthy/fascinating because Bill has an issue with a bloke called "Denim" Constance met after a couple of beers at a local skate park and now they're scrapping very publicly on social media. The story continues to play out and the likes must be going through the roof.)


Make the effort (and the time)

Screw parent sex. Sex is supposed to be sexy. No-one want to do it covered in dried pumpkin puree.

I'm in my second long-term relationship and I'm determined the stuff of life – including significant health issues and a number of other real dramas – isn't going to get in the way of our ongoing love affair, even after five years.

Don't find time – make it. The kids can go to granny's. Toddlers are usually asleep by 10.30pm, anyway. Lock doors, set alarms, make plans like smart adults do – whatever you need to be with each other.

Because what will happen is, if you don't bother tonight, or this week, or this month, because you're all too tired and busy and bored with each other, it'll suddenly be 15 years in the future. The kids will be gone and you're looking at each other going "who the hell are you?"

The good fight

Sex is a habit and not doing it is a habit. If you want your relationship to be vibrant, rich and real, you've got to put a little effort in. And it's not work, it's fun, it'll make you both feel happy, fulfilled and desirable. Keep sexting. Leave love notes lying around. Buy her lingerie because, yes, you would like to see her in it, actually. Tell her how beautiful she is. Tell her what you want to do to her when she gets home. (But don't text it to your dad like I once did. He was remarkably composed and replied he doesn't own any undies like that.)

Everyone's life is hard, we all get exhausted. Having kids under five is tough, but so is a bunch of other stuff. Somehow the prams-and-active-wear set believe they own being tired. It happens to all of us, actually.

There's a billion words of advice online, telling us if we don't use it, we lose it. We all fell in love for a reason, because of who the other person is and our attraction to them. It would be sad to forget that just because Iggle Piggle is over.

Have you faced a similar struggle post-kids? Share your experience in the comments section below?

With more than 25 years in Australian media, Phil Barker has edited NW and Woman's Day magazines, and published such titles as Vogue, GQ, Delicious, InsideOut and Donna Hay. He is owner of a creative events and activations agency and is a regular commentator on the life and style of Australian men.

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