I’m talking about your kids walking in on you.
Because if you’re walked in on by your in-laws who are visiting or your son’s college roommate who came home with him for Thanksgiving, well… they all need a refresher course in Boundaries 101.
(Unless, of course, you’re having sex in the middle of the living room late at night when you have house guests – if that’s the scenario, then you need a refresher course in Discretion 101.)
For the vast majority of us in the United States (and several other industrialized countries), we have ample access to privacy.
This whole “kids walking in on us during sex” fiasco could be avoided by simply putting a lock on your bedroom door.
You don’t need a deadbolt or something reminiscent of Fort Knox.
Just a simple handle with a lock or a simple slide lock will do. This handy dandy contraption is available at your friendly neighborhood hardware store or at one of those huge home improvement stores.
Seriously, shouldn’t a lock come standard with the dismissal package they give you when you leave the hospital with your first child?
“Yes, here’s your week’s supply of diapers. The little bulb sucker to clear out your newborn’s nose. Your infant thermometer. And a lock for your bedroom door. We’re not sure about that bulb sucker, but you’re definitely going to need that lock. Bye bye now. Have fun!”
I can hear some of you saying, “But I don’t want barriers between me and my kids. Locks are so barbaric. They send a message that I’m not available.”
To which I say… You aren’t available when you are having sex with your spouse.
…unless the house is burning down (which, let’s face it — it never is. Do you know anyone who was having sex when their house caught on fire? Me neither.)
…or the child truly is in need. (The definition of “need” really starts to narrow in circumstances like these, don’t you think?!).
I have been a parent long enough to know that eventually, a small child with a wee little voice (or an abrupt opening of the door) is going to thwart the best laid plans (Best. Laid. Plans. Like how I worked that in?)
Even though we have a lock on our bedroom door, our younger son has interrupted us when we are having sex. (His timing is impeccable. I swear he is the savant of sex interruption).
If we are interrupted by a knock, we have no reason to worry (have I made my case for locks by now?)
Even in those intense moments, I am of sound enough mind to throw on some sweats and tend to our child — and then usher him right back to his bed. (Hey, I can hardly be resentful. After all, I know sex will be waiting for me when I return).
If you don’t have a lock or you forgot to use it and your child does indeed walk in on you during sex, here’s what you do:
1. Don’t panic.
Simply stop what you are doing, cover your body, and ask the child what he or she needs.
If the child is young, trust me — they are selfish little creatures and will be oblivious to the fact that you could have been doing anything that would satisfy one of your needs or desires. They don’t even know that you exist apart from catering to their needs and desires.
So as you can see, panicking at this moment is really pointless.
2. Don’t act ashamed.
Sure, you may feel mortified or embarrassed at first, but the truth — the truth — is that there is nothing wrong with a husband and wife having sex.
No, you don’t want to purposely allow your children to see you having sex, but you can speak to it in an age appropriate way, especially if the child asks what you were doing or seems caught off guard.
You can say, “Mommy and daddy were just spending some time alone together. Mommies and Daddies like to do that at times.”
Then redirect the conversation back to the matter at hand. “What do you need, my dear child?”
3. Do set firm boundaries.
Preschool children and older can understand, “If mommy and daddy’s door is shut, please knock first.” This is a good boundary to establish (and lovingly remind them of often), long before you are getting crazy beneath the sheets.
Whether a child knocks or walks in when you are having sex, if their need is not serious, tend to it quickly and send them (or put them) back in their own bedroom.
The last thing you want to do is draw the process out, because children are crafty.
I love my kids just as much as you love yours, but I’m convinced they all have a sixth sense for this sort of thing — if they can turn a simple request for a drink of water into a 30-minute “rub my back and cuddle with me so I can fall asleep” — well, they will.
Don’t do it. Stay strong.
You have sex waiting for you in your bedroom.
Firm boundaries. Quick response. Clear expectation that the child is going back to bed (after the drink of water, the reassurance about the bad dream, the trip to the bathroom to pee, etc).
And I know I may be digressing here, but why can’t they get their own drink of water? Do they really need you for this? The same child who emphatically insists on tying his own shoes 1 minute before you walk out the door in the morning suddenly can’t work a faucet at midnight? What?!
(If the need is serious, your sexual escapade is probably over for the night. But these serious needs are the exception, not the rule).
4. Remember that you have just gathered good material for comedic relief later.
I know in that moment that your child walks in on you having sex, it doesn’t seem so funny. But years down the road, it likely will be an easy way to inject humor into a conversation.
This is especially true if you are building a marriage where sexual intimacy is valued and nurtured (if you can laugh with each other in that moment of interruption, that’s even better!).
I’ve often said that it is good for kids to know (age appropriately of course) that their parents have sex. They don’t need the details or need to see you having sex.
But if you can help your kids embrace a positive perspective on sexual intimacy in marriage, you are honoring God — and you are setting those kiddos on a good course for nurtured intimacy in their future marriages.
For those of you who are afraid you have scarred your child for life because he or she inadvertently caught a glimpse of you having sex, please relax. Your kids are fine.
You just need to go buy a lock.
Copyright 2011, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
25 thoughts on “Walked In On During Sex? Here’s What You Do.”
Great post! Many lols were had by me. 🙂 Good common sense advice!
My wife and I dubbed “the little bulb sucker” as the “boogie blaster”.
Julie, true story: when my youngest was about six, we heard her jiggling the doorknob (it was locked). My husband yelled out, “Katie, honey, just go back to bed,” and we heard feet pattering down the floor, so we got back to it. Two minutes later we heard a click and the door was open.
Turns out 6 is old enough to know how to pick a lock, but not old enough to know you DON’T WANT to pick that lock!
That story has served us well in many marriage conferences!
And one more thought: keep the kids out of the bed! I’m just not a fan of cosleeping. It’s so difficult to be spontaneous with sex when the kids are in the bed with you. So reserve the bed just for you!
Great post, Julie!
Sheila from To Love, Honor and Vacuum!
Thanks Bob and Sheila for the comments!
Sheila, that is hilarious!! I’m with you on keeping the kids out of bed.
What if your wife is of the mind that it’s perfectly ok for the kids to sleep on the floor (our bedroom floor) or elsewhere in the room? And I mean every night? I have been trying to get my wife to have our kids sleep in their own rooms. Our oldest is finally settling in to her room at the tender age of 11 (years that is, not 11 months) and our 4 year old sleeps in a small bed in the corner of our bedroom while he “transitions” out of his crib. I wanted my kids in their own room all along but my wife refused (and I agreed since I thought it would be short term).
We have talked and talked and talked about this and I’ve gotten nowhere. I try to be understanding and find ways to accommodate this but, quite frankly, I think she’s using it has a hedge against having sex with me anyway. She did tell me that if our older child ever walked in on us that she would probably never be able to have sex again. I told her we can lock the door, and she was infuriated that we would ever lock our children away from their parents at any time. So maybe there’s a bigger problem, but our marriage in every other aspect seems to be so good. She tells me that a lot of her friends’ kids also sleep with the parents or in their room too, so she thinks it’s normal. I told her that there are things about marriage and intimacy that are normal, too, especially in the eyes of God. But that tends to shut her up more than lead to meaningful conversation about our mutual needs.
I will have to read the article Shelia posted for insight (thanks Sheila!) and see if I can lead her to read and consider it as well.
I recounted our story of being walked in on in a post: http://hotholyhumorous.blogspot.com/2011/04/lock-door-for-heavens-sake.html. I don’t want repeat the story, but we pretty much followed your advice! If it doesn’t work, I’ll send you my kid’s therapy bill later. 😉
Also, agreeing with Sheila, another kid could pick locks at age 3. We had to intentionally teach him to respect the locked door. Your advice to speak to kids openly about respecting your alone time is great. Totally agree.
Hey Mrs. Hot Holy Humorous… I always appreciate you stopping by. And thanks for the link to the article on your site. Fabulous!
Nameless — Thank you for your comment. I’m saddened by what you’ve shared, but unfortunately, I’ve heard similar stories from other people. I think it is a huge detriment to a couple’s marriage to have their children regularly sleeping in the parents’ bedroom. And you’re right… I think some spouses use this as an excuse to avoid sex.
My response typically is that choices like this really aren’t good for anyone, especially if the parents aren’t diligent about nurturing their intimacy (In other words, if you are going to have your kids room-in with you, then you’re going to have to go the extra mile to get creative in still making sure you’re having sex when the kids aren’t around. Otherwise, the marriage will suffer).
Nameless, I do think your wife likely has other issues with sexual intimacy that she is not addressing… issues from her past, issues with resentment, issues with not experiencing pleasure, etc. Those are just some ideas, but my prayers go out to you and her that she can somehow start to see that a couple needs time alone.
And a couple needs an identity that is separate from who they are as parents. I’ve often said that it is good for my kids to know — to really know — that my life isn’t all about them. Much of who I am as a wife has nothing to do with who I am as their mother.
I know a couple with nine children; I once asked their teenaged daughter how their parents ever found alone time, and her eyes widened as she said, “We knew if we EVER even knocked on the closed door and it wasn’t an emergency, we were in big trouble.” Those parents would agree that teaching children to respect the lock and the logic behind it goes a long way! 🙂
Great post, and great suggestions. We try our hardest to deal with whatever issue is going on behind the closed door, (i.e. go back to bed, and we will come in to give you a drink in just a minute). This worked great, till then started with the habbit of waiting right outside our door! Sometimes I think sounds are harded to explain then the visual! I was kind of dumbfounded by the “what where you doing???” look!
Thanks for a great post!
Wow. This is really good. I’m sharing this. And I loved your last comment: “Much of who I am as a wife has nothing to do with who I am as a mother.” Amen.
This is mostly a good post that I agree with, but I do disagree with the cosleeping part.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has come out officially endorsing infants sleeping in their parents’ bedroom because it reduces the risk of SIDS. SIDS is most common between 2-4 months of age, so the “room sharing” would need to extend beyond the age of 4 months to get the most benefit.
In Luke 11:7 cosleeping is mentioned by Christ in a parable (“the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed”)…and while He does not specifically endorse it…He also does not speak against it…which might be interpretted to mean He thought it was acceptable…or perhaps it was the King James translators who thought it was acceptable?
Not all cultures are so blessed as we are in America to even have the possibility of children not sleeping in the same room with their parents. Even in America not so long ago it was common for families to have one room houses, or one bedroom houses–read Little House on the Praire to see the Ingalls family experience that. The belief that children need to sleep in a separate space to preserve the marriage is really a cultural one, not a universal truth.
My husband and I have had all of our children sleep in our room for approximately their first year. We had 4 children during our first 6 years of marriage, with the 5th coming 10.5 years in. Obviously we somehow found a way to make love…even when we had an infant/toddler in our bedroom. Our 5th child has been the hardest to transition out…and having just turned 3, is still in our room. Since she would transition her to sleep with her older sisters…it seems most wrong to force her sisters to deal with her midnight screams and her to deal with them needing to get up to get ready for school at 6 a.m. when she sleeps peacefully (until 8:30 a.m….which I am most thankful for!) in her own bed in our room, oblivious to what Mommy & Daddy are up to…actually, truth be told, the most common time for us to have some “alone time” is on Saturday mornings when she is already up and downstairs, so her sleeping location does not affect that. But for the record, *I* want to transition her out of our room more than my husband does.
Oh, and the lock…our house is a bit out of kilter, and so our door doesn’t latch, let alone lock. Its one of the many things on our “needs to be fixed” list. In the meantime a rubber doorstop stuffed under the door slows the kids down enough for us to compose ourselves.
Unless I knew they were all sound asleep, I couldn’t enjoy sex with my husband for a long time after our kids walked in on us & kept picking the lock despite warnings and discipline … but a $10 keyed exterior doorknob installed on our bedroom door did the trick. One of the best investments ever! (Just need to remember to keep the keys in the room with us!)
Thank you so much “Knitted in the Womb” and Diane for your comments! I really appreciate you stopping by.
Knitted in the Womb — I know that co-sleeping can be a hotly debated topic and some married couples feel strongly about their little ones being in bed (or in the same bedroom) with them. It sounds like you and your husband have done well with this and have still made sexual intimacy a priority. Unfortunately, some people who champion the co-sleeping cause are not so healthy about still nurturing sex in their marriage, much to the detriment of their marriage. Or, what sometimes happens, is that the marriage gets lost in the mix and childrearing takes all precedence. But definitely I think each couple needs to figure out what works for their family and keeps their marriage strong at the same time.
(As for other cultures, situations or past times, where having ample space isn’t common — obviously in these situations there is a different perspective on privacy and space than exists in most American homes). Most of my writing is in the context of the most common situations, and in America, most married couples are in situations where they have their own space.
THANKS again!!! Stop by whenever you can.
Wow, great comments. I have to say, on co-sleeping, we were told in no uncertain terms by our very highly respected pediatrician that co-sleeping is bad for your kids as well as your marriage. (I’m not talking about infants, who are being breast fed and are up during the night.)
And I know that you can find a pediatrician who will tell you anything you want to hear, if you look long enough.
As it was explained to me, when a two year old starts saying “me, mine, I want it” and so forth, he has developed his normal ego. He is saying that “I am separate from my mom and dad. I am my own person.” (And therefore, I need my own space, my own toys, my own bed, etc.) And I’m not saying that when a child wakes up scared, they can’t climb in with mom and dad until they settle. Then mom or dad can take him back to his bed.
I know a lot of people will come down on these comments–co sleeping proponents–but I have to say, you need to take care of your spouse’s needs, so you can BOTH truly be there when your kids really need you. Otherwise, there is going to be resentment. AND, your child is going to learn to not be separate from his parents–his own person.
Ummmmm okay to all you parents of small ones who have remembered to lock the bedroom door, may I just say three words for when you don’t realize your 12 year old sons are in the back yard during your spontaneous afternoon delight? Close. The. Blinds. (oooooooh, this was not an “under the covers” kind of moment either.)
Oh my gosh, Gina… I laughed so hard when I read your comment. HILARIOUS!!!
You bless me with your realness. And your humor.
Cosleeping is good for families. That being said, so is the sex life of a family’s parents. So, like with just about everything involved in parenting and family-making, the needs of the individuals are considered, and a plan of action is developed and implemented.
Here’s an example: if you are a non-cosleeping family, a lock comes in handy. Another example: if you are a cosleeping family, you learn to recognize opportunities for intimacy.
I’d like to point out that a family with 5 children is clearly not having any difficulty obtaining intimacy in a cosleeping arrangement.
When I was about 13,, my bedroom was right next to my parents room and my brothers was across the hall. I was all too familiar with their romantic endeavors as they had a very old, very squeaky mattress. My brother (3 years younger), however, was not. One particular night, I remember my brother getting out of bed, knocking on their door, and asking “Mom? Are you ok? Are you guys jumping on the bed?” I know I had to stifle a laugh in my pillow, and I can only imagine how they felt. As we got older, we enjoyed teasing my parents about “how their night was” and we would always tell them that we thought it was great that they still had sex, we just didn’t want to hear it. Now that I’m married and have a little one (17 mos), I’m dreading the day this happens to us. Fortunately, she still sleeps in a crib so she can’t get out of bed herself yet…but I know that day is coming! 🙂
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I walked in on my parents and have never been more disgusted in my life – they showed complete lack of respect by not closing their bedroom door and knowing they have a child in the house. I know it happens, I just didn’t need the visual! I actually got nauseous. I did tell them however there’s a reason bedrooms have doors and they should really learn how to use them to prevent embarrassing situations. It still disgusts me.
Divorce is generally the outcome of parents who allow their sex life to be destroyed by paranoia of the kids catching them at it. People are squeamish and lack the understanding of how children are in fact mini adults. If you think it’s wrong, shameful or damaging for your offspring to see you having sex, why are you doing it? Maybe just to be on the safe side you should give it up until they’re adults and have left home? How utterly tragic and ridiculous. When children walk in on their parents it is not the natural sex which freaks them out but their stupid, clueless, uninformed, patronizing parents’ reaction to it. Sex in the marital bed or anywhere in the house or garden is normal, exciting and hot. Children need to know that and understand how it all works so they can grow up into balanced, future parents themselves.
And people who are disgusted by their parents having sex are the type of ungrateful lowlife that won’t have successful marriages themselves.
I know this was written a while ago, but I need to comment ?
Okay so I have a 9 year old and a two year old..both girls and as soon as my two year old is a little more old enough and learns to respect her sister’s things and I they can cohabitat a bedroom my two year old is sleeping in our room. My 9 year old’s room is small so we are going to trade her rooms when that happens. Anyways My husband put a board against our 9 year old’s door, we always have incase she would wake up we could hear her door open and would have time to get dressed although in all 9 years she has never gotten up in the middle of the night..until tonight. We were in the living room making love on the recliner (with a sheet on it of course) and I’m assuming she must have heard the chair squeak twice-only twice because other than that we were very quiet, we’ll, so was she. She somehow opened her door without making a single noise (something I wish she would be able to do when her younger sister is taking a nap) and I hear “what are you guys doing??!” and there she is, standing at the end of the hallway staring straight at us completely naked and right in the middle of sex. My husband (her father) runs and hides behind the coat rack leaving me covering myself with a pillow defenseless. I asked her to please go in her room and I would be in in a moment and she told me no not until I told her what we were doing I then told her that I would tell her everything if she would go to her room so she’s still standing there with her arms crossed at me so I had to do the count to three move. We hurry and get dressed; I look at my husband and of course we both speak briefly about what just happened and how horrible we feel that she had to see that, but he leaves to go to the store so I can talk to our daughter because we both decided that she would feel a lot more comfortable without him there for our talk. So I go into her room and I turned her television on so she wouldn’t feel like she had to stare me in the eye when I started talking with her, sat on her bed and asked her if we could talk. She pulled the covers from over her head and sounding pretty upset she asked “what were you guys doing?” Kind of dropped my head a little and opened my mouth to say something a few times, but couldn’t find the right way to explain it and after deciding there’s really no guide to go about this and I realized I would just have to go with my gut I finally looked at her and I apologized to her telling her “I am so sorry you had to see that sweetheart, I am so, so, so very sorry.” “Well what were you doing?” she said sounding a little more mad than upset now; I just said “sweetheart, when two adults love each other the way your father and I do they sometimes do things like that and it’s completely okay and natural for grown-ups to do this sort of thing; what we were doing is how we made you and your sister; I did not want to have to tell you about this and hoped that I would not have to talk to you about this adult stuff until you were somewhat old enough to understand this better, but what your father and I were doing is something very private, very personal and you were not meant to have seen that.” So then her response was “okay, but you have to promise me that you won’t ever do that again.” Oh boy…what to say here, “if you ever get up in the middle of the night again just knock first on your door before you come out here” “No because then you won’t promise me that you won’t do that again. ” “Honey, I can’t promise you. We are adults and that is something that adults, moms and dads, do when they love eachother; it is something that one day you will understand when you are older and you are an adult after you meet someone that you love very much..when you are 20.. and most of the time I am usually asleep anyways, mom and dad don’t hardly ever do things like that, but I would still like you to knock to be on the safe side, you never get up in the night ever, but I still should have been more careful so that you would not have had to see that very private moment your dad and I shared; are you okay?” She told me yes and to change the subject I asked if she wanted to go back to sleep or stay up and watch TV since she had to get up for school in another 40 minutes anyways; she decided to watch TV so I told her since she was up earlier if she would like me to fix up her hair in curls since we would have time and that seemed to make her happy then her dad came home with a new toy for her and walked her to the bus stop after I got her ready so despite all of that! her dad and I was able to at least make her feel better with the hair, cute outfit and new toy and also managed to not have her feel any awkwardness between us. Sucked horribly that it had happened, but it did happen and I feel I did the best that I could in that very sudden situation. I am definitely going to be planning some new arrangements for our sex life now because I did tell one lie- I told her that I was asleep most nights, but the truth is is that we have always had a very intimate relationship so I need to think of some very intricate plans soon ?
I am a married mom. Honestly, it’s only ok when the kids are gone. You don’t want your child acting out sexually because they saw or heard you acting out sexually. It’s not ok in my book. Sorry. Get a sitter or something just not with the kids near. It’s disrespectful because they have to live there too.
What about families that only have one room I know of people in the Philippines that have to share their room with all their children
Everyone has made some good points, but it is not true for most families, even in the United States, even in the 21st Century, that there is enough available sleeping space in the house (or apartment, etc.,) for parents to have a separate room.
As good as the ideas sound, they are realistic only for the most well-off, but not the majority.