Inside: So what are you supposed to do when your child walks in on you (having sex)? Do you just hide under the covers and pretend you were having a playfight? Or do you explain what was really happening?
Finding time to have sex can be difficult, especially once kids come along. So when it does happen, you usually want to make sure that you enjoy it.
But that can difficult, especially if you are living in fear of the moment when your child walks in on you having sex. It's a common fear amongst most parents!
So what is a parent supposed to do? So that they can enjoy the 'little sex that you have', without the fear of an audience!
Keep on reading to find out what to do when you're 'caught in the act'
You’ll also find more information about sex education in my Sex Education 101 page.
Not all of us are able to come up with a quick witty response for when your child walks in on you. And we all respond differently!
But there are a few things that you can do, that might make it less traumatic for everyone involved!
If your child walks in on you having sex, they usually don't know what it is that you are doing. They see you and your partner naked, pushing and shoving each other's bodies and making noises that sound like mummy is being hurt. They don't know that you're having sex (unless they already know what sex is - which isn't usually until they are much older). So sometimes they might be scared by what they see. Or they might think you are having fun and try to join in on the fun.
First of all, stop what you are doing. This is something that you will probably instinctively do. It is a bit like someone throwing a bucket of cold water on you! But just in case you don’t, it is a good idea to stop doing whatever sexual act you happen to be in the middle of. And if your child isn’t used to seeing you naked, it is a good idea to cover the naked parts with some bedding or to quickly throw on some clothing.
What you do next, depends on if it is the middle of the night or the middle of the day.
If it is the middle of the night when your child walks in on you, and your child is half asleep (they usually are when you have night time sex), you should take your child back to their bed. Take them by their hand and gently lead them back to their bedroom. You don’t need to explain what’s happened, unless they ask.
If they do ask what you were doing, and you are feeling brave, you can be honest and say having some private /special /mummy & daddy (or mummy) time together. They will just nod their head, or go ‘urgh yuck’ and probably leave it at that. Or you can just distract them by asking them if they want a drink of water. Whatever you say, they will have forgotten what you said, by the morning!
You can investigate what they actually saw and do some explaining, in the morning. Which gives you time to reread this post!
If it is the middle of the day when your child walks in on you, because you have stolen an opportunity whilst the kids were busy doing something else, there are a number of things you can do.
You could distract them by saying ‘ ‘First one to the kitchen gets ice cream!’. That is guaranteed to get them out of the room very quickly whilst you have a chance to recover from the shock of being caught!
Or ask them to go back to whatever they were doing or to leave the room. Or gently lead them out of the room yourself, back to whatever they were supposed to be doing. On the way, you can find out what they wanted.
If they ask a question about what you were doing, just say that you were both having some private /special /mummy & daddy (or mummy) time together.
If they look scared, reassure them that you weren’t hurting each other (sex to a child can sound like mummy is being hurt). If they ask questions, keep your answers short and sweet.
If you feel ready, you can explain what they just saw.
If it is the middle of the night when your child walks in on you, the best time for talking is the next day.
Try starting the conversation with something like ‘Do you remember coming into our bedroom last night?’ and see what response you get.
If they remember, ask them what they think was happening. You could try saying, ‘What do you think we were doing when you came in?’.
This way you can find out what they saw and how much they already know about sex, before you respond with an explanation.
If they are under the age of 7 or 8, just talk about how sometimes mums and dads like to do private things together and that if they felt scared, that there was no need to be scared.
If they don’t remember a thing, you can just leave it at that – it is up to you!
If they are over the age of 7 or 8, you should probably explain what they saw. This is the age where kids can start to feel uncomfortable talking about sex with parents. So they may just shrug it off, and say they saw nothing.
Let them know that they did nothing wrong and explain to them that you were having sex, which is something that parents like to do.
And if you haven’t yet spoken with your child about sex, then it is a great time to start! You might find my parent guide on how to explain sex to kids helpful.
There are also some wonderful childrens books that will help with explaining sexual intercourse to your child.
There are a few things that you can do to prevent your child from ‘catching you’ having sex. You can:
Yes, it can be pretty embarrassing when your child catches you having sex, but it isn’t the end of the world!
Trust me, I’ve worked as a sex therapist.
We might joke about how traumatic it was, seeing our parents having sex, but I have never seen an adult scarred by a childhood viewing of ‘fornicating parents’. They just laugh about how gross it was!
But, on a serious note, I have seen many parents who are unable to relax and enjoy sex because of that constant fear of being caught! Luckily, it is a problem that is easily fixed!
My mission is to create resources that will help parents to naturally talk to their child about sex, all while respecting your family values.
If you’re unsure about how to start explaining sex to your child, then Let’s Talk About Sex, will help you to explain sexual intercourse to your child in a way they will understand.
If you’re worried about how to answer their questions about sex, then The Sex Education Answer Book will give you age-specific answers to tough questions kid’s like to ask about sex.
I'm Cath, a sex educator living in Australia with my husband and 2 kids. I help parents to talk about sex (with less cringe and more confidence) and empower their child to make smart sexual decisions. To find a better way to talk about sex, you can join my community of parents and visit my shop for helpful resources.