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10 ways to keep intimacy alive after kids (and how to find the time!)

When it comes to intimacy, people usually jump right to sex. Obviously, intimacy has a lot to do with sex. And it can lead to that but, in my opinion, intimacy is more about being close. Liking each other and wanting to spend time with each other—that's what intimacy means to me.

Brian and I are close, and I share that with my followers on social media. So I get asked a lot, "How do we keep intimacy and closeness alive, even when we have one thousand children?"

It's time to stop putting intimacy on the back burner, leaving room for it to occur only after the kids are in bed. You absolutely MUST keep that fire burning ALL. DAY. LONG! You want to be excited to spend that time together once the kids are asleep.

So, let's dive in mamas!

1. Get the overly romanticized, intimate relationship out of your head

It is so easy to have super high expectations that the time you're going to spend with your husband is going to be SO romantic. That your husband is going to want to open up and share all these things with you. But maybe he had a an awful day, and he may have no clue what you want.

Rather than setting yourself up for failure and probably an argument, get out of your head. Let go of your expectations and this overly romantic view of how time should be spent with your husband, and just enjoy the time you have.

2. Communicate throughout the day

Don't complicate it, yo! It doesn't have to be face to face communication. It can be texting or sharing something that's funny, or just making the time to call during a lunch break. You want to keep that closeness, so that it feels like you are there with one another throughout the day.

Brian and I feel like we have better days when we actually take the time to connect, especially when it's a date night. When you've been chatting on and off all day, you kind of feel like the pressure's off, and you can just enjoy your time together.

3. Make time for each other

Life. Gets. Busy. That's why you need to make your relationship a priority. Trust me, if you get to the end of the week and haven't done anything with each other, you're going to feel disconnected.

Make the time to connect, to share, to talk about the day or the things that are going on. Take time to just decompress without the kids.

This can be really helpful for those who have spouses who work outside the home. You'll both know that you get to stop working, the kids will be asleep and you'll be able to do something together.

One of mine and Brian's favorite things to do is sit down on the couch, after the kids are in bed and we've cleaned up a bit, have a snack and watch some shows on Netflix. It just feels so good to connect this way!

4. Be okay with scheduled intimacy

It's not unromantic or anti-spontaneous OR unhealthy to schedule in time for sex or just alone time. It's actually really romantic because it shows that you're prioritizing each other enough to let it hold space on the calendar.

Brian and I have date night scheduled once a week. We're in the season of being able to leave the house and go out on date nights every single week. It hasn't always been like that, though. There were times when I'd have to do some work after the kids were in bed, and it always felt off and weird if we didn't spend that time together.

You need to make it work for you. If you have to take some time in the middle of the day, if that's when the kids have their quiet time and your spouse is home, use it to veg out together and hit reset. (It's always worth it!)

5. Be friends

Ever since Brian and I met, we've been friends, and have developed into best friends. There are so many things we can do together because we like a lot of the same things. At the same time, there are times when we don't like the same things, or don't really care what the other person is talking about.

But how would a friend act? You need to take a step outside of the marital aspect and ask yourself, "What would a friend do?"
They might hang out together or listen to one another. You have to be respectful of each other. I think when people get married, they get way too comfortable and end up being really rude. If it were your friend and not your husband, you'd never say, "I literally don't give two craps about what you're talking about right now, and I want to talk about me."

So, listen to each other, schedule time to be together, doing whatever you love to do.

Tips for scheduling more intimacy into your day-to-day life

1. Put your kids in their place

Your relationship with each other is the number one priority. You came together, married, started a life together, and the kids came after that. Your closeness and relationship is first! Set the kids up with an activity, and then take that time to spend together!

2. Choose a time of day that works best for both of you

Your time together doesn't always have to be at night. When Brian worked outside the home, we'd start our day together because he didn't need to start until noon. We'd feed the kids, get them set up with their school work, and then find a quiet spot in the house to have coffee together and talk.

3. Don't underestimate couch time

This is time before the kids head to bed. This ties into the first tip: putting your kids secondary to your relationship. This is comforting and healthy for the kids to see that their parents prioritize each other. After dinner, just sit on the couch together and talk while the kids play. Don't allow them to interrupt you unless there's an emergency or somebody's bleeding to death or something.

4. Choose a time once a week for prolonged time together

Make it an actual purposeful date. This will look different for every couple, depending on each budget and the season of life, but just set time aside to be together.

5. Communicate that your goal is to be closer to your spouse.

Don't come at this from a combative spot by saying something like "We never do anything." It can almost feel like you're saying, "You suck." Try something more like, "I want to be closer to you, really bad. How can we do that?" Then, talk about what you'd each like to do, and agree on something realistic that you can both look forward to.

Alright, friends. I hope you find this super useful! I hope it answered all of your questions and inspires you guys to open the door to an awesome February that's going to be full of love and intimacy in marriage.

Originally posted on Allie Casazza.

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The temperatures are dropping and that can only mean one thing. Whether we like it or not, winter's cold chilly months are upon us. As a born-and-raised Alaskan, and mama of three, I've got a lot of cold weather experience under my belt, and staying inside half the year just isn't an option for us. As my husband likes to say, "There's no bad weather, just bad gear."

Here are some of my favorite picks to keep your family toasty warm this winter.


1. Bear bunting

This sherpa bear bunting wins winter wear MVP for being a comfy snowsuit for your littlest babe, or base-layer under another snowsuit for the chilliest of winter outings. Bonus: your baby bear will never look cuter!

Sherpa Hooded Bunting, Carter's, $15.20

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2. Patagonia Capilene base-layers

Speaking of base-layers, for any prolonged winter activity outside in the cold, it's best to layer up to create air pockets of warmth. These moisture wicking base-layers are a family favorite.

Baby Capilene Bottoms, Back Country, $29.00

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3. Arctix Kids limitless overall bib

These adjustable snow pants keep kids warm and the bib style keeps snow from going down the back of their pants. Bonus: the price is excellent for the quality and they can grow with your child. The Velcro strap also makes bathroom breaks for kids so much easier.

Arctix Kids Limitless Overall Bib, Amazon, $14.99-$49.99

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4. Hooded frost-free long jacket

Keep your little one warm and stylish in this long puffer jacket. Great for everyday outings.

Hooded Frost-Free Long Jacket, Old Navy, $35.00

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5. Patagonia reversible jacket

This jacket is windproof, waterproof and the built-in hood means one less piece of gear to worry about (or one more layer for your little one's head). It's a best buy if you live with cold winter temperatures for many months of the year and still love to get outside to play. It also stays in great condition for hand-me-downs to your next kid.

Reversible Down Sweater Hoodie, Nordstrom, $119.00

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6. Under Armour Decatur water repellent jacket

Made of waterproof fabric and lined with great insulation, kids will no doubt stay warm—and dry—in this. It features plenty of pockets, too, so mama doesn't always have to hold onto their items. We love that the UGrow system allows sleeves to grow a couple inches.

UA Decatur Water Repellent Jacket, Nordstrom, $155.00

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7. Stonz mittens

Ever tried to keep gloves on a 1-year-old? It's a tough task, but these gloves make it a breeze with a wide opening and two adjustable toggles for a snug fit they can't pull off! Warm and waterproof, and come in sizes from infant to big kids.

Stonz Mittz, Amazon, $39.99

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8. Sorel toot pack boot

Keep their little toes warm with these cozy boots from Sorel. With insulated uppers and waterproof bottoms their feet are sure to stay warm. They're well constructed and hold up over time, making them a great hand-me-down option for your family.

Sorel Kids' Yoot Boot, Amazon, $48.73-$175.63

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9. Stonz baby boots

These Stonz stay-on-baby booties do just as their name says and stay on their feet. No more searching for one boot in the grocery store parking lot!

Stonz Three Season Stay-On Baby Booties, Amazon, $29.99-$50.29

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We make a lot of things this time of year. Gingerbread houses. Christmas cards. New traditions. Babies.

Yes, December is peak baby making season. It's a month filled with togetherness and all the love felt in December is what makes September the most statistically popular month for American birthdays.

According to data journalist Matt Stiles, mid-September is the most popular time to give birth in America. He did a deep dive into the birth stats from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Social Security Administration collected between 1994 and 2014 and found that the most common American birthdays fall on September 9, 19 and 12. In fact, 9 of the 10 most popular days to give birth fall in September.

If we turn the calendar back, we're looking at Christmas time conceptions. Stiles illustrated his findings via a heat map, which presents the data in a visual form. The darker the square, the more common the birthday.

The square for August 30 is pretty dark as it is the 34th most common birthday in America. It's also 40 weeks after November 23, and the unofficial beginning of the United States' seasonal baby boom.


And while the Christmas holidays are common times to conceive, they're not common days to give birth, for obvious reasons. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Day and the fourth of July are all represented by light squares on Stiles's data map, meaning they're among the least popular days to welcome a little one into the world (Boxing Day is just a smidge darker, still a pretty rare birthday).

OB-GYNs are not likely to schedule C-sections on major holidays, so that might point to the low birth rates on these special days.

As for the September baby boom, it probably has less to do with the magic of the holiday season and more to do with the fact that many Americans take time off work during the holiday season. It's not that mistletoe is some magic aphrodisiac, but just that making babies takes time, and at this time of year we have some to spare.

This Christmas be thankful for the time you have with your loved ones and your partner. That time could give you a gift come September.

[A version of this article was originally posted November 21, 2018]

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When I gave birth the first time, I had two doulas—one for me, and one for my husband. (I wasn't messing around!) They worked hard to support me in what ended up being a long labor. About 20 hours in, I remember hearing my doulas whisper to my exhausted, hard-working husband, “Go lie down. We can take care of her."

This was absolutely true. They were more than capable of helping me through contractions, which up to this point I'd been handling really well. So upon their urging, my husband walked about three feet away and lay down on the daybed in the labor and delivery room. And then the strangest thing happened—

I completely lost my rhythm and my ability to breathe through contractions. It was as though I'd lost my way. The next handful of contractions were unbearable and caused me to cry out in anguish. My husband hurried to my side and held my hand once more.

And then, just as quickly, I found my rhythm, my breathing returned, and I was able to to handle my contractions until I gave birth several hours later.

In a recent study published in Nature, it was discovered that when a partner held the hand of a woman during labor, the couple would begin to synchronize their breathing and heart rate patterns, otherwise known as physiological coupling.

In addition, the women reported that their pain lessened while holding hands with their partners. If they were just sitting next to one another, but not holding hands, their pain levels weren't affected.

This study has obvious implications for the families I teach in my Childbirth Preparation classes, and it's important to share this news far and wide:

Everything you do for your partner while she's in labor makes a difference. Even if all you do is hold her hand.

Labor is not just something that a birthing woman experiences. Her partner experiences labor too, just in a very different way. For far too long, we've either diminished or ignored the partner's experience of labor—to everyone's detriment.

I realize that it makes sense to pay close attention to how a woman moves through her pregnancy, labor and birth. But if we're not paying equal attention to her partner's experience, we're not setting this new family up for success. In fact, we might be doing the exact opposite.

If partners don't realize the importance their words, actions and touch can have on the laboring woman's experience, many may freeze up and feel helpless as they witness the power and intensity of labor and birth. They may end up feeling as though all of their efforts and suggestions for comfort measures are without any effect. But this couldn't be further from the truth!

Every little thing a partner does to make the laboring woman more comfortable matters immensely. Every sip of water offered, every new position suggested, every word of encouragement, every reminder to breathe, every single touch, provides comfort to the laboring woman. And partners need to know this and believe in the power that their undivided attention and connection can bring to the laboring woman.

Here's why I think the findings from this latest study are so important—it's that feeling of shared empathy between the laboring woman and her partner that causes the physiological coupling and pain relieving effects that help a woman when she's experiencing pain.

That's why I've always told the partners in my classes that even if they hired an army of the world's greatest labor doulas, their unwavering, focused and empathetic attention during birth, is the reason why she'll tell everyone that she couldn't have made it through labor without her partner! Even if all they did was hold her hand.

It's a conundrum many parents wrestle with: We don't want to lie to our kids, but when it comes to Santa, sometimes we're not exactly giving them the full truth either.

For Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, lying to daughters Lincoln, 5, and Delta, 3 just isn't an option, so everyone in the Bell-Shepard household knows the truth about Santa.

"This is going to be very controversial," Shepard told Us Weekly earlier this month. "I have a fundamental rule that I will never lie to them, which is challenging at times. Our 5-year-old started asking questions like, 'Well, this doesn't make sense, and that doesn't make sense.' I'm like, 'You know what? This is just a fun thing we pretend while it's Christmas.'"

According to Shepard, this has not diminished the magic of Christmas in their home. "They love watching movies about Santa, they love talking about Santa," Shepard told Us. "They don't think he exists, but they're super happy and everything's fine."

Research indicates that Shepard is right—kids can be totally happy and into Christmas even after figuring out the truth and that most kids do start to untangle the Santa myth on their own, as Lincoln did.

Studies suggest that for many kids, the myth fades around age seven, but for some kids, it's sooner, and that's okay.


Writing for The Conversation, Kristen Dunfield, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Concordia University, suggests that when kids come to parents with the hard questions about Santa, parents may feel a bit sad, but can take some comfort in "recognizing these challenging questions for what they are—cognitive development in action."

Kids aren't usually the ones who are upset when they figure it out, researchers note. Typically, kids are kind of proud of themselves for being such great detectives. It's the parents who feel sadness.

Some parents may not choose to be as blunt as Shepard, and that's okay, too. According to Dunfield, if you don't want to answer questions about Santa with 100% truth, you can answer a question with a question.

"If instead you want to let your child take the lead, you can simply direct the question back to them, allowing your child to come up with explanations for themselves: "I don't know, how do you think the sleigh flies?" Dunfield writes.

While Dax Shepard acknowledges that telling a 3-year-old that Santa is pretend might be controversial, he's hardly the first parent to present Santa this way. There are plenty of healthy, happy adults whose parents told them the truth.

LeAnne Shepard is one of them. Now a mother herself, LeAnne's parents clued her into the Santa myth early, for religious reasons that were common in her community.

"In the small Texas town where I grew up, I wasn't alone in my disbelief. Many parents, including mine, presented Santa Claus as a game that other families played," she previously wrote. "That approach allowed us to get a picture on Santa's lap, watch the Christmas classics, and enjoy all the holiday festivities so long as we remembered the actual reason for the season. It was much like when I visited Disney World and met Minnie Mouse; I was both over the moon excited and somewhat aware that she was not actually real."

No matter why you want to tell your children the truth about Santa, know that it's okay to let the kids know that he's pretend. Kristen Bell's kids prove that knowing the truth about Santa doesn't have to make Christmas any less exciting. Pretending can be magical, too.

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