Dating is tough at the best of times. But throw in being a parent, and things can get complicated quickly. You’re newly single, while being responsible for this whole other person. You’re trying to prioritize their needs, but you’ve got your own too. And how do you begin bringing the subject up when you’re dating someone new? These are common worries most single parents experience when they begin dating again.
Here are the top pieces of advice you need to ease yourself back into dating:
1. Don’t feel guilty.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to date again when you’re a single parent. It doesn’t make you a bad mom or dad. In fact, a good parent, is a happy parent—so you’ve got to make sure you’re happy.
When your child is old enough, don’t feel guilty leaving them with your parents or a babysitter for a few hours so you can meet up with someone.
It’s important you don’t spend 100% of your time isolated with your child, because you’re a grown up and you need the company of adults to stimulate your mind.
2. Be open.
It’s so important to be upfront about being a parent in your online dating profile, or when you first meet someone in real life. There used to be a stigma surrounding this, but there’s not anymore, and you don’t want to be with someone who’s going to judge you for having a child anyway.
That’s their problem, not yours, and it actually acts as a great filter for people who are just wasting your time and aren’t right for you.
3. Be proud of your family.
You love your kids and are insanely proud of them, so why wouldn’t anyone else be? Anyone would be lucky to have you and however many little ones in their life.
So be proud of the fact that you are a parent, and you have a family. That’s nothing to ever be ashamed of.
4. Be confident.
You might be nervous about dating again and don’t worry because that’s perfectly normal. When you do something new, or something you haven’t done in a long time, you’ll feel butterflies. Just embrace that energy, because it’s a sign that you’re choosing to step out of your comfort zone and continue forward with your life.
The magic happens when you face your fears and push yourself to do things you want to do but you’re afraid of.
If you’re ever in doubt, just look at all you’ve accomplished when it comes to being a single parent. There was a time when you didn’t know how to do any of those things, but you’ve got them down now!
If you need a little extra boost—try writing a list of all the reasons why someone would be lucky to date you, and read it back to yourself. You’re awesome—own it.
5. Make time for dating.
Being a single parent probably means you’ve got your hands full. But like all things in life, we make time for the things that truly matter to us. So don’t say you’re too busy to date.
You don’t have to commit to anything more than a cup of coffee or a quick drink to begin with, and that’s not going to take a huge chunk out of your day.
6. Take care of yourself physically.
If you’ve recently gone through a break-up, and you’ve got little ones to look after, making time for yourself often ends up low on your priority list. Before you know it, you haven’t been to the gym in months.
Losing those endorphins isn’t going to make you happy in the long run, or help you feel confident when dating. Do what you can to incorporate exercise into your daily schedule, even if it’s a quick DVD workout while your child is asleep or at school.
You’ll feel so much better, and this will show when you meet other people.
7. Don’t think of your situation as baggage.
The word baggage has a negative vibe to it, so don’t think of your family as baggage. In fact, your child has probably transformed you in so many ways for the better. Just take a few minutes to stop and think about it. Chances are, you’re way more confident and capable now than you were before.
8. Take things slow.
There’s no need to rush anything when you do start dating again. Take your time, and take things slow. You might have a tendency to want to rush back into a relationship because you crave the comfort of someone being there, but you’ve got to think about your kids and how a new relationship affects them.
9. Don’t rush introducing your new partner to your child.
Children need routine and stability when growing up, and introducing someone new into their life too early can have a negative impact, especially if that person ends up leaving after having bonded with your child.
You can introduce them as a friend to begin with, and avoid any public displays of affection or sleepovers until you’re serious about one another. If you can see this new person becoming a part of your family, then it’s time to think about introducing them in that way to your kids.
That being said, if your kids are teenagers, it’s better to be more upfront about your situation as they’re likely to guess something’s going on. And if your child ever asks you outright what’s going on, always be honest about it.