This is a guest post by Erika McLean.

My kids get up at just about 6 am like clockwork every day.  They tend to wander out in the middle of the night into the living room because they’ve had a nightmare.  Anyone who has kids is going to recognize this as how your own life works.  Anyone who doesn't, you have never seen a verbal tap dance quite like trying to explain what the ropes are doing off the mannequin in the corner.  So far I’ve been lucky in that they have never walked in on anything too difficult to explain away.  Well, I say luck but the dead bolt lock on the bedroom door doesn't hurt either.  This article is the top 5 things I have discovered are helpful in trying to keep your BDSM relationship active and healthy while keeping your kids from overexposure.

  1. Buy a dead bolt lock for any room you play in.  For me, that’s just the bedroom.  I tell you knowing that you will get a knock on the door when they've had a nightmare at 2 am is priceless.
  2.  Discuss what’s okay and what is not an okay conversation, affection, and actions in front of the kids.  Just like in everything else in a BDSM relationship (or any relationship) communication will make or break you.  You both have to talk about what you’re comfortable with the kids seeing and hearing.  My own largest concern has always been making sure I don’t be obviously submissive in front of my peanuts.  I feel strongly they shouldn’t grow up thinking that is how wives or girlfriends are supposed to act.  When they are older and can understand the concept that it’s a personal choice, and not the way all relationships are, I will revisit the issue.
  3.  Learn subtle submission.  You don’t have to stop being submissive all the time to keep your relationship dynamic secret, you just have to choose how it’s done.  Maybe he picks five things that will be demonstrations of submissiveness just to the two of you.  For example, picking up his plate when he’s done eating, or picking up a deliberately tossed aside item such as shoes or a coat, perhaps just addressing him with a particular pet name that is your personal euphemism for “Master” or “Prince”.
  4.  Collect discrete apparatus and toys, and keep them locked up.  A Saint Andrew’s cross is fantastic, but a little hard to make blend in with the bedroom décor.  So, instead try a webbing of straps for under the mattress that can be tucked away completely out of sight yet still give you a variety of options for restraint play.  A hairbrush can be a good paddle, a belt can hand out serious punishment.  Everyday items that can serve your needs for play items are so much easier to explain than a ball gag or other more direct paraphernalia.  Even with these more innocent-looking toy items, I keep the ones used for play locked up in a steamer trunk in my room.  I would just about choke to death if I saw my kid use the brush I was punished with on her hair.
  5.  The last piece of advice is a little counter intuitive.  Don’t hide everything.  Some things we hide, like I don’t ever sit on the floor at my Dom’s feet when my kids are around, and he would never lift a hand to me ever where they could see.  However, in my bedroom are pictures of me in my collar on the wall.  I wear my collar often and don't try to call it merely a choker.  There is a full-size wire dress form draped with ropes in the corner by the blanket chest.  And we feel free to allow moderate public displays of affection (PDA) around those little human recording machines.  It’s important that you show you’re not ashamed of your sexuality, that it’s just a factual part of who you are.  Showing you’re not afraid or ashamed to be yourself is a great example for your kids to grow up happy and healthy.

I also skipped perhaps the most obvious thing, which is to try hard to make sure you get time without the kids.  Date nights, or having them spend the night with a friend or grandparents will give you time to renew your relationship without the added pressure of knowing you’re not alone in the house.  Sometimes that’s just not in the cards though, and so strategies like those above can really make the difference to your relationship stability.  And a stable relationship, no matter what stripe, is in your kids’ best interest. Erika is a 30-year-old mother of three with a fledgling at home business (Snugglysubwear.com) and a great husband.  They live in Maine with my menagerie of pets.