Dating when you have kids is hard. There’s no way around it. Just to go on one date, you have to figure out babysitters or custody arrangements. On top of that, you have to find time to take care of yourself. You can’t show up for a date in the yoga pants you’ve been sporting for the last three days, and ideally you’ve also made time to groom and maybe even get into the gym.
But dating while you have kids also provides so many gifts that make it worth putting the effort in.
1. You know what you want.
As a single parent, your time is incredibly precious. Between carpooling your kids to and from school and extracurricular activities and somehow finding time for yourself, you have very little time to deal with someone who isn’t clear and upfront.
Someone ghosts you? Ok, next! Someone keeps trying to play you? Next again! The greatest gift of having kids and dating is that you simply don’t have time for games. You learned from your past relationship(s), and you know you can handle life on your own. As a result, you don’t have to cling to anyone who isn’t willing to show you the respect you deserve.
2. Quality over quantity.
Because your time is so precious, you know the time you spend has to be time well spent. Therefore, you don’t want to waste it with surface-level relationships. You can and should jump into deeper conversations from the get-go because you need to evaluate if this is something worth spending your time on.
3. You get to work through your own issues.
As a single parent in the dating pool, you’re going to feel insecure. You’re going to wonder how you compete against people who are childless. You are going to obsess over finding that elusive balance between a new relationship and your parental responsibilities, as well as how your kids will handle the transition from having mommy or daddy to themselves to sharing you with another person. These things are such a gift. You likely don’t want to be alone forever, and all of these difficult things you have to navigate will make you and your intentions, motivations, and needs clearer and stronger.
4. You get to see how your significant other deals with kids.
Once the person you’re dating passes whatever your timeline you set before meeting your kids, you get to see how they really deal with kids. Can they handle temper tantrums? Moody indifference? Do they immediately jump in and start playing, or do they avoid them and act like they’re not there? While how they handle your kids is not a be-all/end-all indicator (since it will be an adjustment for them as well), it does let you know whether they can handle being with you for the long haul and how they may handle any kids you decide to have together.
While dating when you have kids comes with its own special set of difficulties, it provides you with a lot of learning opportunities that are worth navigating. You get to clarify your intentions, focus on your own worth and what you need for you and your children. On top of that, you may eventually get to find someone special that will make a long-term impact on your and your children’s lives and happiness.