We often think of parenting as a one-way ticket to a sexless marriage, and that isn’t exactly untrue: Of the some 75 percent of people in marriages they deem sexless, 30 percent (the largest group) pointed to kids as the clear culprit. That’s depressing, but at least it means some people who breed still find a moment here or there to get it on. One survey found that 45 percent of parents still have sex once a week. Question is: How are they doing it without getting busted by their own spawn?
Enter The Extendables, an app from Australian condom-maker Four Seasons that’s marketing itself to horny parents as a way to have sex without traumatizing their children. (They’ve used boldly provocative ads to sell condoms before.)
As the video above explains, the app shoots the show — which appears to be about four goofy muppets — from your phone to the TV in the living room, while you’re presumably going at it in a bedroom nearby. It uses motion sensors to alert you if little Suzie has wandered away from the screen, presumably toward the sounds of you and your partner humping. You can either zip it up or tap a +5 button in the app to extend the viewing for longer, presumably to draw the kid back to the screen. Get it? Extendables extends your sex time.
This app was based on Four Seasons’ own internal survey, which found a third of parents live in fear of being interrupted during sex. Not an irrational fear, either: Some 73 percent said they already had been interrupted. The executive creative director of the agency who came up with the campaign said:
This is a real issue that affects nearly all parents at some point of their lives and I hope our fuzzy friends allow parents around the world to reconnect again. I’m the target audience. I’ve got two children — a 3-year-old and a 7-week-old, and I haven’t had sex for about four years. The Extendables is Four Seasons’ way of highlighting the importance of this time. A healthy sex life makes for happier, less stressed parents.
Four years! Get this man a Real Doll.
At any rate, while sitting children in front of any type of media to sneak away for sex is nothing new, there are a few issues with The Extendables. One is that the show is clearly geared toward children under about 5 years old. No self-respecting 8-year-old (let alone teen) will be remotely drawn into this ruse, and they can walk in on you having sex, too. Second, don’t most people try to just have sex at night in bed once the kids are asleep? Yes, there’s still a solid chance of being walked in on if your kid is still of the age that they have nightmares and need that drink of water at 3 a.m., but it seems drastically reduced by waiting until dark to do the deed. But perhaps most egregiously, nothing says spontaneous passion like listening for your phone to buzz while trying to fuck.
That said, whatever it takes, right? Most of the solutions parents use for sex involve trickery and distraction: If you can’t swing a quickie on a lunch break or date night or send kids off to grandma, then media, bribery and general subterfuge are the name of the game.
That’s because generally we agree that kids shouldn’t see their parents having sex, not only because it’s among the grossest things that could ever happen to a human, but also because it’s confusing if they don’t even know what sex is yet.
Basic guidelines for having sex around your kids depends largely on their age. Generally speaking, when children are under 6 months of age, experts don’t think they will have any sense of what’s going on or be damaged by it, so fuck away. A 13-month-old should be put in the crib in another room because seeing you do it would be distressing, and a preschooler will likely tend to think Daddy is hurting Mommy. (Or vice versa).
This is when locks on doors become necessary, as do creative explanations (Silly Daddy, tickling Mommy!). As kids get older and into their teenage years, experts say, you can explain the concept of needing private time to them (and by then, hopefully, they prefer to leave you alone), but that’s not going to prevent an incident entirely. For proof, just watch this recent video asking (grown) kids to recall the time they busted their parents having sex. (The parents are sitting with them in the video.) For most of these people, The Incident happened anywhere between the ages of 5 and 13, and as you’d expect, the anecdotes are deeply, deeply embarrassing for everyone involved.
But experts say it doesn’t actually have to be traumatizing to see your parents making sweet, tender love to each other (sorry). For one thing, the fact that they’re in a loving enough relationship where they still want to have sex means they’re probably presenting a good model of what good relationships look like for their kids. As for those kids, marriage and family therapist Anna Toth told Today’s Parent earlier this year that they will draw their own conclusions about what they’ve seen, and depending on their age or understanding, it necessitates different kinds of conversations.
“They may be shocked, or they might even think you’re fighting. Kids can come to all sorts of conclusions,” Toth said. “Most children at this age do have some understanding of sex. Try saying something along the lines of, ‘This is why the door is closed. This is how we show we love each other as adults, in adult relationships.’”
The takeaway here is that you should be trying to get it on somehow, regardless of the method you use. Four Seasons ultimately wants you to “get back to the sex life you had, before the kids ruined it” so you will buy their condoms. The truth is, getting back the sex life you had before kids is about as likely as getting back to your high school weight. But just because it’s not possible doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Just be smart enough to lock the door.