As social distancing directives stretch into the five-month mark, my two favorite vibrators remain tucked away in the drawer of my nightstand.

My go-to audio erotica app remains unopened. My big bottle of lube (and my vagina, for that matter) collect dust.

While this stasis is due in part to the fact that I am often too anxious and exhausted to be touched, it is also the result of living in our world now. A world in which I am trapped here with my husband and my 6-year-old. Stuck in the house. Never alone.

I don’t want to fire up my smoothie vibrator when my husband is right across the hall. I don’t want to have sex with my husband when our child is still awake, right down the hall, using her flashlight to read books in the dark. At any moment she might wander in and ask for water. There is never an ideal time to slip on my headphones and listen to a naughty track about two people getting it on because, with my headphones on, I can’t hear whether someone might be approaching.

It reminds me of a time nearly 20 years ago when I was living in an apartment with three other people, reviewing sex toys and porn for an adult personals site. I remember the clitoral vibrator that seemed as loud and whining as a weed whacker, the way I tried to muffle the sound with blankets and pillows. I remember lowering the volume on erotic films, taking notes on plotlines and cum shots. I remember the time one of my apartment-mates walked into my room at a moment when a male friend was beneath my bedsheets, tickling my belly. My roommate thought he’d walked in on me receiving oral sex. I wasn’t, but I could have been, and the incident only underscored the impossibility of achieving some semblance of privacy.

While many people are stuck home alone at this time, struggling with the isolation of self-quarantine, I know there are others of you out there who are just like me. Sick of your family members (or, for that matter, your roommates) and losing your damn minds.
So how can we get off?

1. Invest in a quieter vibrator.

Now is the time to invest in toys that are more discreet. Check out the product descriptions and customer reviews for the toys you’re considering. They’ll typically give you a hint as to whether or not a toy makes a ton of noise. And if you want to go full-on stealth mode (last night, my daughter spotted one of my vibrators and asked what it was, picking it up and pointing out that it looked like a computer mouse), opt for something that won’t catch your kid’s eye, like a clit vibe that looks like a tube of lipstick or, um, a piece of lint.

2. Get really good at silent sex.

Consider it a personal challenge to hold in all of those moans and sighs and orgasmic screams. See how controlling this one aspect of sex heightens your other senses. Or instead of skipping the dirty talk, see how still you can be. Avoid the heavy humping and pumping. All the stuff that makes your box spring squeak. Stick to oral sex. Erotic massage. Mutual masturbation.

3. Move your bed away from the wall.

I mean, if the headboard has been keeping time with your every thrust, this could help.

4. Get yourself a white noise machine.

A sexy soundtrack might make your kid think it’s time for a late-evening dance party. But a white noise machine will not only mask the sounds coming from your bedroom but can also help them fall asleep. In fact, put the damn machine in their room.

5. Hide in the basement.

Pick the most remote corner of your house. Someplace where you’re not likely to be interrupted while masturbating, like the laundry room or locked up in the bathroom. (Note: This latter suggestion will only work if your child is old enough to understand “boundaries” and no longer stares at you while you pee.)

6. Invest in extra-thick blankets.

These can muffle the sound of your vibrator or provide essential coverage when someone walks in on you.

7. Send your spouse and child out on long walks together.

Who cares if it’s 90 degrees and the humidity makes it feel like 100? Just imagine how many orgasms you’ll be able to squeeze in while they’re gone!

8. Expand your bubble.

As social distancing directives loosen, some families are expanding their social bubbles, pinpointing extended family members and friends with whom they feel comfortable spending time. Who do you trust to be most responsible with the rules around masking and remaining 6 feet away? Might another mom host a drop-off play date? Might your in-laws feel comfortable taking the kiddo for the day? Your tiny human is likely clingier than usual because they miss their friends. They’re also super-duper sick of you. Leave them with someone else while you rush home and get busy.

9. Coordinate your schedules.

If it’s a roomie you’re forced to contend with, be straight-up with them. Let them know when you plan to go grocery shopping. Find out when they’re going out for that power walk around the neighborhood. Give each other the alone time you’re both craving.

10. Put together a bedside sex toy cleaning kit.

Once upon a time, when all of my roommates were out, I boiled a dildo in one of my pots to get it good and clean. Thank god none of them chose that time to walk through the door. Maybe it’s time you bought a cleanser you can keep by your bedside.

11. Buy a beautiful robe for that post-sex pee.

Anyone else out there loath to pull on their underpants when they emerge from their bedrooms for a post-sex pee? Don’t feel like explaining why you’re stark naked to anyone you might bump into on your way to the bathroom? Get yourself a luxurious robe or kimono that makes you feel pampered and covered up.

12. Become nocturnal.

Your child won’t fall asleep until the wee hours? Have sex in the wee hours, normal schedule be damned.

13. Install a lock on your door.

And have a cover story prepared. “Mom? Moooooomm??? Why is your door locked?” “Oh, I was just wrapping up presents for Christmas, which is still four months away!”

Good luck and Godspeed.

Stephanie Auteri

Stephanie Auteri

Journalist, author, & sex educator
Steph Auteri has written about sexuality for the Atlantic, the Washington Post, Pacific Standard, VICE, and other publications, and has collaborated with folks at the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), the Center for Sex Education, and Good in Bed. She is the author of A Dirty Word, a reported memoir about how female sexuality is so often treated like a dirty word.