Making Time for Dating and Your Kids as a Single Mom. Single moms do it all. You work and care for the house and the kids. Self-care went the way of the dodo a while back, but you know you want to share your bed and life with someone. Making the time to date and be with your kids sounds like having your cake and eating it, too, but it’s possible and rewarding.
Your kids rock, and when you find a significant other you go gaga over, you want to grow that relationship and include it in the rest of your life. However, diving into a relationship terrifies and excites you. The idea may turn out different than reality, so rather than avoid the issue, plan ahead on how and when you plan to introduce your significant other to your kids. Here are three things you should consider about getting back out in the dating world as a single mom.
Do you feel ready to date again? Your kids may need a while after a prior breakup or divorce to make room for the idea, but they want you to be happy, too. Don’t jump the gun unless you feel ready to take that step — and part of knowing requires testing the waters.
You live in a world of technology that allows you to pre-screen and get to know whoever you feel interested in before fully committing yourself. Fully scan their dating profile if you’re using a dating website. Check out the background of their photos and how they write — or, more importantly, how they address you while you chat. Once you feel comfortable, move on to texting and talking on the phone. Spend a few days texting before you meet, but leave more critical topics and questions for the in-person meeting.
You remain in control of where and how you allow this person into your life, so don’t add them to social media if you feel uncomfortable. You can always use a Google number or other similar service to keep your primary number private at first, too. Texting and talking on the phone are great ways to get to know someone, but don’t forget the power of FaceTime. Have lunch together or chat while you’re running errands via video chat. Make it fun, and make time where you can for a few moments.
Although technology is an excellent tool for getting to know someone, you have to meet each other at some point. Don’t leave it online for too long, or it may get too comfortable. Recall your goal — to share your life with someone.
Have lunch together or meet up for a quick coffee. Do errands together as the relationship progresses. Be upfront with your kids that you’re getting back out there to date, but it doesn’t mean you’ll find someone serious right away. How would they like to be introduced? Keep activities light and be yourself — you might want to go out for mini golf or to your kids’ favorite restaurant.
Why not grab some hot dogs and head to the park or playground? Once you trust your sweetie, you may want to see how they interact with your kids, and playgrounds open up the inner child’s expression of communication and conflict resolution. While playing with peers helps kids learn these interactions, play reveals how adults share and resolve, too. You’ll learn much by watching your significant other play and give your kids room to release energy, engage their imaginations and grow socially.
Before introducing your kids to anyone you’re dating, look at the quality of your relationship. When you each demonstrate a commitment to your partner, your kids will see that, too, and feel safer about a potentially unstable situation. Of course, you’ll have to talk about it in advance with the person you’re dating to get on the same page and give your relationship a chance to develop clear communication and trust.
Nothing is wrong with having a casual connection with someone you can’t imagine a future with for a few months. But once you introduce this person to your family, you risk feeling guilty about breaking it off and getting attached when nothing deeper is going on underneath the surface. Tread carefully, and keep checking in with yourself.
Ask yourself two questions before you introduce a person to your kids:
You can always use the term “friend” for introductions, keeping your behavior PG, if you’re not sure about the long-term aspect. When you can picture someone as a part of your family, that signifies a higher level of investment.
Kids may express fears of abandonment when you divide up your time to make room for this person. That’s why you must reassure them of your unconditional love and openness to what they feel. Your kids also have an idea of how they see their family growing, which may open up as they get to know this person, too. Ask your kids what they want for the family.
Most importantly, let your kids see why and how the relationship matters to you. Adjusting won’t be easy, and it will take time. Keep reminding yourselves, as a family unit, that you have a lot of love to share.