How to date as a single parent
Between dropping off and picking up the kids from school, juggling their extracurricular activities, birthday parties, numerous doctor’s appointments, your job, the endless house chores, sleepless nights if your kids are little and visits to their other parent (if applicable), you might well be wondering to yourself where to find the time and strength to date. And, even if you have the time to date, how should you explain it to your children?
While it’s true that the life of a single parent is far from a walk in the park, and that free time can sometimes feel like a rare species near extinction, dating as a solo mother or father is still doable, and can even be beneficial (Happy mum/dad = happy children).
You don’t have to stay single forever or wait until your kids are 18. You too can date, even if you often get the impression that finding time in your busy schedule is nigh on impossible. If, despite all of the difficulties of single parenthood, you feel that it’s the moment to get back into the dating game, discover our best tips to help you free up time, as well as to manage dating when you are a solo parent.
Are you ready to get back into the dating game?Knowing whether you're ready or not can be tough for some people. Everyone has their own opinion about what is the appropriate time to dive back in and there are as many arguments for as there are for against.
However, if you’re always talking about your ex and comparing them with the people you’re dating, it might be too early to date again. Additionally, if you don’t feel that you have room for another person in your life (and you don’t want to date), then don’t. Pay no attention to those people around you who are pushing you to date. Don’t force yourself. If, on the other hand, you're fairly sure that you’re ready to date and meet new people again, continue to read this article.
How can I find time to date?‘I don’t have time for this’ is often more of an excuse than an actual lack of time. If you want to date and find love (if this is what you’re looking for), you will find a gap in your busy schedule. Of course, there is no denying that solo parenting is time-consuming. Raising children alone can be tough. Fortunately, there are little things which will help you to organize your life better and give you the time to finally get to know your dates.
Schedule in advanceFirst, there is little room for improvisation. You’ll have to schedule in advance in order to be able to make arrangements and find someone to look after your children. Incidentally, if it’s your weekend with the kids, don’t send them back to your ex/co-parent/mother because you have a date. Spend time with your children. They need to know that they’re your top priority.
Additionally, using tools such as co-parenting apps or an agenda could be really helpful when it comes to organizing shared custody or babysitting arrangements. You’ll get a clearer idea of your obligations and free time.
Find supportIf you are co-parenting your baby/toddler/older child and sharing custody, you can take advantage of the moments that your kids are with their other parent, to date. You could also make an arrangement with your co-parent and agree to look after the kids for the other when needed.
If you don’t have a co-parent, there is always the option of calling the babysitter. You don’t know anyone good? Your friends might know someone who is just perfect for your kids. You can also search on dedicated websites where babysitters’ profiles are verified. If you don’t have the budget for hiring someone every week, you may have friends or family who would be happy to look after your children for you. Another idea is to get closer to other trustworthy single parents and agree to be each other’s babysitter.
Where can I find other singles?You used to meet people in bars or nightclubs and now you find yourself at the playground, the kid’s library or in front of the school? Once again, technology can be your best ally. Dating websites are a great solution for those who hardly meet anyone dateable in their day-to-day life. You can even register with a site dedicated to single parents looking for love or a fling.
Via your smartphone, you are able to look for dates in the bus/tube, during your lunch break or at home, in bed. And if you swipe right while sitting in front of the TV, just make sure to keep your screen away from your kids’ eyes. They don’t need to see the other member’s profiles!
Moreover, you can always meet other singles in parks, at the zoo or even whilst picking them up from school. You might find someone cute doing exactly what you’re doing: waiting for their kids or watching them play.
How much should I share?
What to say to your childrenWhat to say to your kids depends on their age and personality. However, whether they are 3, 8 or 15, you should let them know that you’re seeing someone. You don’t need to enter the details. The simpler, the better. Just tell your kids that you love them more than anything but you also like spending time with new people. If they ask you questions, try to keep your answer short and simple, before changing the topic.
What to say to your datesYou might be wondering whether to tell your dates you have children or not, and when. The answer is that it’s best to be honest and say you are a parent straight from the beginning, even on your profile on the dating website. You don’t have to write an essay or drone on and on about your little one, but at least mention it. You’ll have time to talk more about your child, your custody arrangements, your ex, your co-parent or sperm donor (if there is one) later, if things work out with your date.
What about sleepovers?Regarding sleepovers, most people will prefer to wait for the kids to be away from home, whether they are with their co-parent or at a friends’ house. Of course, it’s a personal decision and you’re the only one who can decide. However, if you want your date to spend the night at your place, it’s best to wait for the relationship to become more serious.
Also, as an adult, you might wonder how to have sex when you need to get home at some point to let the baby-sitter go. A solution is to start your date directly at your partner’s place, and not in a restaurant or a cinema. This way you’ll have the impression that you’re able to enjoy more of your evening. You can order food or cook dinner together, watch a movie or enjoy a nice talk around a drink, and then let the magic happen!
How should I introduce the kids to my new partner?You would like to introduce your children to your new partner? First of all, before introducing anyone, make sure that what you have with this person is serious and stable. Many children get attached quickly and become upset when the relationship fails. You also need to take into consideration your kids ages and feelings.
Furthermore, you should let your children decide whether they want to meet your date or not. Forcing them will only make them angry at you and your new partner. If they agree to meet him/her, opt for a familiar place so that they feel comfortable, for instance, your house or their favourite restaurant. The meeting should be brief and casual, to avoid any tension or pressure.