Recapture the Romance this Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is almost here.

Okay, be honest, moms. When you read that sentence, your first thought was something like “@#$! How many kids do I have to plan for in Johnny’s room?” or “I should probably make cupcakes this year.” ‘Fess up, ladies! Once you become a mom, it doesn’t seem long before Valentine’s Day is more about trolling the dollar store for kindergarten class goodie bag gimmes instead of tapping into our inner red-hot momma.

Remember romance and passion? “Ha!” You say. “Didn’t you hear, Eliska? Sleep is the new sex!” As a mother of three myself, I too count myself among the 87 percent of moms who admitted in a recent poll to Parents magazine that say making love happens less after the kids. Too many marriages suffer post-baby, and this Valentine’s Day is a great time to reflect on how to stoke the home fires again and reclaim the pleasure of intimacy with your partner.

“What’s the big deal anyway?” You ask. “It’s only fifteen minutes out of my life…twenty, if I’m lucky,” you say. Physical intimacy matters so much, because it’s the glue that holds the family together. It’s about more than physical pleasure. It’s about feeling feminine (or masculine), feeling whole as a person, sharing a feeling of oneness and having a higher quality of life overall. By improving your sex life, you can lessen depression and stress, and it’s the best thing you can do for your children. Mom and Dad are the backbone of the family, and your bond will be deepened and toughened when you make time for sex. Your solid sex life ensures the longevity and sturdiness of your family.

And God wants you to have a great sex life! Ever read the Song of Solomon? Hot stuff! Sex is a way to touch each other’s souls, and God created us as sexual beings. But it does take intentional effort. “Are you kidding?” moans my husband as we synchronize our Blackberries; however, when it’s all about the kids, we’re willing to carve out the time and the space for our marriage. Remember: as long as your kids’ basic needs are met, children are more happy and secure knowing that mom and dad have a loving, connected relationship. Taking care of the couple IS taking care of the kids!

Insist on time together. Who’s king around here, anyway? Time to get out of Mommy Mode and into Lover Mode. Consciously look for ideas that sponsor coupledom. Supporting each other’s parenting efforts can bring us together…recognize and praise! Commit a random act of kindness for your spouse. You can turn up the heat and remember to flirt. Slip into the shower with your partner! It’s definitely not platonic to soap each other up. Flirt! Use the sideways glance, the derriere pat, the looooong kiss. One of my favorite was to flirt with my busy husband is through text messages and emails. He works long hours, but he’s always plugged into his devices, and it gives him a little something to think about for the commute home!

It’s also important to actually leave the premises sometimes. It’s worth the investment in time and money to establish a date night. If it’s just impossible, plan a date at home after the kids are in bed. My spouse and I will do a themed dinner, a picnic in the floor…or clear out the living room and make our own club! There’s also the ever-popular midday motel date…meet your spouse for lunch in the downstairs restaurant and surprise him with a room key! Get his assistant to help and clear his calendar for the afternoon. Resurrect the art of dating…complete with restaurants with no crayons on the table or mac and cheese on the menu. Even sharing a coke at McDonalds can be a great date night. Church can be a great resource for trustworthy babysitting, or you can offer to watch the neighbor’s kids for awhile for a return on the favor. Get away a few days annually. Take it from a professional counselor….getting away for a night or a few days is cheaper than therapy…or a divorce lawyer!

“But, Eliska,” you yawn, “How can I reclaim my sexual self when she really just wants a nap?” She’s not gone forever, girlfriends, even if she is sleeping any chance she gets. Get a nap or some help with a night’s sleep. You can beat other libido busters, too: if you’re stressed out, breathe, bathe, take the stairs! Exercise, stress management techniques and support can help. If you’re hating your body, talk it out. If you’re depressed, seek treatment! And keep finding those sparkplugs…new and exciting ways to keep the two of you looking forward to physical intimacy. When’s the last time you went to bed in your birthday suit? Or played a good hand of Strip Go Fish? Leave a trail of Hershey kisses from the door to the bed, or offer to trade massages.

Another obstacle we goddesses can let deflate our inner siren is the insidious influence of Hollwood hot moms versus us, real red hot mommies. The influence of pop culture can have you believing that soccer mom does not equal sexy. “I’m somebody’s mother, for crying out loud,” you sniff. “I’m not entitled to sex!” Cut the martyr act and permit passion. And consciously disregard the media! Believing the images you see on TV are anywhere near a reflection of reality can be a big blow to our sexy selves…why in the world are TV moms so hot and their husbands…NOT? Again, ladies, it ain’t reality. If you believe TV, we’re supposed to do it all…have a flawless house, a sparkling sense of humor AND a size 00 hiney. Reading too many celebrity-focused magazines, watching a few sitcoms, and all of the sudden we’re feeling a ton of guilt.

Beat that body-image love buster. Embrace yourself! Accept compliments, think positively…and ditch the maternity underwear! Time to think Victoria, not Amish. When’s the last time you had a matching pair of bra and panties? Accentuate the positive. No one’s as hard on you as you are. You’ve got great features to play up…your eyes, your hair, your skin. And never forget moving even a little more than you do now will have you feeling better about your body and what it can do for you. Smell good! Realize that the world is filled with different body types, not just the ones Hollywood admires. Love your body…and dress your age. You, too, can take back the night!

So happy Valentine’s Day to all my girlfriends and goddesses out there. Celebrate your inner Venus…and your Martian! Fight for your right to party; be consistent and don’t cave. Carve out time to be together. Don’t put the kids in front of the husband. Little Johnny may be the apple of your eye, but he’s got no business crashing the Love Shack. Once you’ve decided to make your love life a priority again, all it takes is a little creativity, a flair for flirting, and your poor partner won’t know what hit ‘em. Now…get off the internet and get your mojo back! Eighteen years is way too long to wait.

Eliska Counce is a licensed professional counselor who specializes in counseling women, couples, and parents. She is the director of Transforming Tomorrows Counseling Center in McKinney as well as the Director of Counseling Services at Collin County’s only homeless shelter, the Samaritan Inn. Eliska has been working in the Collin County mental health arena for over a decade. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas, a wife of twelve years, and a mother of three: Jack, 5; Jonah, 3, and Juliet, 18 months. She is also a self-professed “edu-tainer” who enjoys motivational speaking for mothers and women, or as she puts it, “for girlfriends and goddesses everywhere.” Specializing in depression, anxiety, relationship issues and parenting, Eliska is a great source of information and support for mothers. She can be reached at 214-762-5617 or at eliskacounce@mckinneycounseling.com.

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