A recent survey conducted by parenting site TantrumXYZ in collaboration with The Hotbed Collective (more about them in a minute!) found that 77% of parents were unhappy with their sex lives. What’s more, a whopping 93% of parents surveyed said they’d like to improve things in the bedroom, with 36% citing ‘embarrassment’ as the reason why they are not as adventurous as they were before.
On the one hand, I’m not sure I’m all that surprised to learn that us parents are in dire bedroom straits – there are, after all, a multitude of reasons why getting jiggy falls by the wayside following the pitter patter of tiny feet. To start with, you have to find the time for some hanky-panky (or a speedier wanky) and even then you might find you don’t have the energy or are just not in the right frame of mind. I felt like I existed under a fog a good six (possibly twelve) months after both my babies were born and if my memory serves me correctly my ultimate bedroom fantasy during that time involved throwing back the duvet, diving in and snoring alone for an uninterrupted ten hours. I was so tired at one point that I’m reasonably certain I became asexual – you could have presented me with Jamie Dornan in a towel, fresh from the shower and I would have said ‘Not tonight Jamie,’ stuck my dressing-gown on and watched Corrie instead.
However, not all parents surveyed were new parents and with nine out of ten respondents saying they’d like things to improve in the bedroom department this is arguably an issue we shouldn’t ignore. Do we talk about sex enough? Do we even talk about sex at all? I consider myself to be an open book on most things and have even written about my sex life (and the nosedive it took post-baby) but sex remains something I rarely talk about with any of my friends (bar when alcohol is involved and a quick game of ‘I have never’ proves enlightening – it’s always the quiet ones).
Perhaps if we were all a bit more open to a discussion around our sexual needs, wants and – let’s face it – droughts, things would improve. But how do we get there? I find it hard to imagine throwing sex chat into the mix when out with friends for coffee (“has anyone tried the carrot cake? What about anal beads?”).
Three women on a mission to ‘get people talking honestly about the highs and lows of sex’ are TV presenter and author Cherry Healy, founder of Tantrum XYZ Lisa Williams and writer and Selfish Mother blog editor Anniki Sommerville. Together they have formed The Hotbed Collective which aims to make the world better, one orgasm at a time.
I caught up with Anniki for a chat about the reality of sex as a parent and asked her why she thinks women, or mums in particular, are still reluctant to talk about getting down and dirty.
Aside from the practical challenges around finding the time and/or energy for sex as a parent, do you think there is something psychological about becoming a mum which changes the way women view themselves in the bedroom?There is definitely something psychological that goes on after becoming a mum and many women talk about not wanting more demands made on their bodies. Our relationship with our body often shifts so it becomes more about feeding and nourishing than being sexy and feeling desired. There is also a sense coming through our survey results that sex can feel like another DEMAND – something that we should do but not necessarily we want to do. It’s hard for women to get back to that place in terms of mindset.
Why do you think women are so reluctant to talk openly about our sexual preferences and desires, and can you see this changing anytime soon?It’s still the case that women are viewed very differently when they talk about sex and how often/with whom. We [The Hotbed Collective] really want to bring this sex talk out into the open because everyone has gone through terrible sex, great sex, so/so sex and yet we tend to only bring it up when we’re completely pissed and even then it can be embarrassing and we can clam up. Women are judged if they’re seen to be sexually open and have a strong idea of what they want. It’s not seen as very ‘motherly’ and women worry that others will talk about them. Also, it’s super hard to know what’s really going on in others’ relationships. So, we suspect that everyone else is at it but in reality loads of people are watching boxsets, avoiding sex and maybe watching porn to get their sexual kicks because it’s easier and doesn’t involve too much effort. We need to talk about it more for sure!
I think what Anniki has said about assuming that everybody else is at it like randy rabbits is really interesting and I’m sure if we all made an effort to chat a little more openly about sex (or lack thereof) we would feel less isolated in that new-mum fog. I also agree wholeheartedly that we shouldn’t feel ashamed to admit that we have sexual needs and desires – I just don’t quite know if I have the tools to broach this convo with pals without a double G&T to hand.
What do you think, Mummy Social mums? Should we be more open to chatting about sex, porn and all that jazz or would you prefer to keep your coffee-shop chat to the carrot cake offering?
Let us know, if you’re brave enough …
With thanks to The Hotbed Collective, who can also be found on Instagram @thehotbedcollective.