Being a single mom is difficult; no matter what age your kids are when you embrace the single life. Young children may mistake a banging headboard and orgasmic screams for a their mommy being in trouble, while teenagers will call you a filthy hypocrite—and possibly throw degrading words like “whore” and “slut” around. So do you trade in your handcuffs for a chastity belt, or is there a way for you to be both mom-of-the-year and your old sexy self? The following tips may not solve all of your single-mom sex woes, but they can certainly help to keep you from replacing sex with a well-worn copy of Fifty Shades of Grey.

My Bedroom, My Sanctuary

The #1 mistake that you can make as a sexy single mom—particularly if you have young kids—is giving your children an all-access pass to your bedroom. Unless you can score an overnight babysitter every time you want to get lucky, you’re going to have to bring men to your bedroom for all-nighters. And, let’s face it, there’s nothing sexy about Legos and My Little Ponies on your bedroom floor. Even if he doesn’t notice them, you will, and when you’re in bed with him and you see those little plastic pony eyes staring at you, all your feelings of guilt and motherly-betrayal will come rushing back. Since judgmental My-Little-Pony eyes have yet to contribute positively to anyone’s sexual experience, keep them out of the bedroom. Keep it all out. Your bedroom is your sanctuary, and if you want to keep it that way, your kids need to understand that from the get-go.  Access to your bedroom should never be granted if not preceded by a polite knock and a request for entry.

Mommy, Are You Okay?

Understandably, if your young children hear you screaming and moaning in the middle of the night, they’re going to be concerned for you. If they’re well-trained in bedroom etiquette, your ardor may only be dampened by the knock of little knuckles on your bedroom door and a “mommy, are you okay?” If not, they may well come rushing in to rescue you from the “monster.” In contrast, your older kids will know very well what is going on, and they will not be pleased about it. So what’s the solution? It all depends upon how much space you have to play with. If you have a spare bedroom on a different floor to your kids’ rooms, use that. If you have a pool house, voila! If not, you need to soundproof. If you’re really dedicated, you can have a contractor pad your walls with soundproofing material. If you’re on a lower budget, try stuffing pillows under your door and in your windows. If your room is adjacent to your child’s, you may also want to try encouraging them to sleep with noise-cancelling headphones and an acoustical sleep CD. Aside from keeping your kids oblivious to your night-time activities, a soothing soundtrack can also help to improve the general quality of their sleep. It’s a win-win situation.

The Escape

Motherhood often makes women feel guilty about maintaining sexual relationships with multiple partners. If you really want a more permanent life partner, by all means go for it, but if you know deep down that that’s not really what you’re looking for, then you’re not helping yourself or your kids by pretending that it is. No, the guy that you met last night with the six-pack abs and the sex-eyes is probably not your future husband, so don’t try and foist him on your kids. A steady string of “Uncles” is confusing for young kids, and doesn’t give you much clout with your teens when it comes to the importance-of-abstinence speech.  So what’s the solution? Keep your human sex toys to yourself. They don’t need to hang around for breakfast, and they don’t need to play Legos with the kids or show up at school events in a “go team” t-shirt. To keep your sex life private, first of all keep your accessories and condoms well-hidden. No matter how carefully you enforce the my-bedroom-is-a-shrine rule, you can bet that your kids are going to go exploring in there when the babysitter isn’t looking. So unless you want them to discover your condoms and sex toys, get a chest with a lock, or even a safe, and put your stuff where they can’t get at it without welding equipment.

Once your accessories are secure, you need to perfect the early morning escape ritual. Unless you have good access to a steady stream of wall-climbing ninja men, that means taking a couple of simple measures to ensure that your kids don’t meet your boy toys unless you want them to. If possible, arrange your household so that your bedroom is on the first floor and your kids’ rooms are on the second (this can also be useful for when your teen starts sneaking out past curfew). If you live in a one-story home, you might want to shell out a few bucks for a contractor and build a door that leads directly from your bedroom to the great outdoors, sort of like a cat flap for men. Trust me, it will be the best money you’ve ever spent. If all else fails, set an alarm clock and kick your partner out at a nice and safe 5am until you’re ready for him to meet the kids.