By Slade Shaw
Author of Why Men Pull Away
Learn exactly what pushes men to leave…and how to NEVER feel abandoned or rejected
10 Steps To Dating As A Single Mom
Dating when you’re a single mom can be challenging. Whether your kids are pre-school age, teenagers or adults, you are going into the dating world as a package deal.
If you are a single parent, you’re not alone. With the divorce rate on the rise, many people are finding themselves coming out of relationships in mid-life with children.
Although the road might be a little harder now than it was when you were first starting out in the dating scene, there are many benefits to finding a new love as a single mom.
You have the opportunity to gain an adult companion who can enrich your life AND your kids’ lives. With the love and support of a great man, you will find you will have greater emotional resources will which only help you in your role as a mother.
It’s never easy to predict how your children will react to you having a new partner – though a lot of this will depend on the age of your children.
Although older children may have a harder time adjusting, there are actually ways in which they could be helpful to you in your quest to re-enter the dating scene and find a new man.
The steps below will help you to work out a plan of how to go about dating as a single mom – from getting yourself prepared for dating to how to blend your new partner into your family.
1. Make time in your life for dating.
When you have children, finding time to date can be the biggest issue holding you back. Between work and your kids, often little time is left for yourself and your social life. This means you have to be very efficient in planning your time.
Dating with really young kids can be especially challenging as you might feel guilty going out on Saturday night rather than staying home with your little ones, and you also may not have the funds for a baby-sitter.
Having a supportive family and friend group can really help in this situation, as they can take the pressure off by looking after the kids when you go out.
But if no friends or family members are available and you can’t afford a babysitter, don’t let this hold you back from dating. Instead, get creative.
Why not have your date round for dinner at your house after the kids are in bed? (Unless it is your first time meeting them – in which case I would definitely recommend a public place).
After all, the kids are usually all fed, bathed and tucked in by 7, so having your date round for dinner at 8.30 could definitely be achievable.
You could even put something in the slow-cooker than morning so it is all delicious and done-for-you by dinnertime. Then just get yourself dressed up and add some nice background music and wine!
It’s a lot of work, but it means you get to stay home, you are still there for the kids if they need you and you also get the hot date and some decent adult conversation. It’s a win-win!
2. Reassure your children that they’re still your first priority.
If your children are older, have an honest discussion with them about the fact that you’re thinking about dating. You aren’t asking them permission, but you are being open and sensitive to their reactions.
Once your children know that you are dating, they are probably going to need some reassurance that they’re still the most important people in your life. Even if they are supportive of you dating, they will still be scared about change.
Your teenagers may feel a little resentful when you start dating and try to sabotage your time with dates. For instance, if you tell them you are going out on Saturday night, don’t be surprised if they suddenly have an urgent need for you to help them with their homework that night.
They also may feel protective over you when you start dating. Just as you need to know when to expect your teenagers to be home, you need to let THEM know what time you expect to be home when you’re out on a date.
Your children are used to you being their Mom who is always around for them, and the idea that you have your own life and needs can come as a bit of a shock. So tread lightly and allow time for this new idea to sink in.
3. Give yourself a re-vamp.
It’s probably been a while since you’ve been in the dating scene, and you may need to take some time to get yourself back in the ‘single woman’ mindset.
Before you get yourself out there, this is a good time to give yourself some attention and get back to feeling sexy again.
A great way to do this is to give yourself a fresh new look. How about treating yourself to a stylish new cut’n’colour? And chances are your wardrobe could do with a good spruce up – especially if you’d been married for many years and haven’t kept up with any of the latest styles.
If you have a teenage daughter, she can actually be a great asset in helping you to clear out the items in your wardrobe that do nothing but age you about 10 years.
This doesn’t give you license to start dressing like a teenager though – this would just embarrass your kids. Stay classy and stick to the styles which suit you.
4. Open your eyes to opportunities to meet men.
Now that you’re feeling single-mom sexy, you’re ready to meet some eligible bachelors.
Again, here’s an area where it can actually HELP to have children.
Keep your eyes open for attractive single dads or sports coaches when you pick up your kids from sports practice, driver’s ed or school productions – these are all ripe opportunities.
And why not try online dating? Many men and women just like yourself are using online dating to find compatible singles in their area.
Trust me, it’s not just creeps and weirdos which go on these sites. There are actually some great guys out there that are looking to find someone to share their life with, just as you are.
Online dating is a safe way to start getting back into the dating game, as long as you keep your wits about you. By this, I mean avoiding meeting up with a guy before you’ve got to know a bit about him, and avoiding giving out personal details online.
Other great ways to meet guys are going out with your single girlfriends or asking close friends or family members if they know of any hot single men who would suit you. You never know who they might be able to introduce you to!
5. Be up-front with your date.
When you do start dating a guy, let him know straight away that you have children (but do NOT ask him to meet them straight away).
Try not to be scared of how he will react. If he can’t handle the fact that you have kids and isn’t ready for children in his life, you need to respect this decision.
If this is the case, he probably wasn’t the one for you anyway. Trust me – you will not be happy in a relationship with a man who does not love being around children.
So don’t live in hope that a guy will ‘warm to the idea with time’.
If your date is positive about you having kids, the next thing to explain is that your dates may have to be flexible, as you can’t always control things when it comes to your kids. He should be understanding about this.
You also need to prepare yourself for the fact that HE might have kids too, so it may be more than just your family to consider. Make sure you know how you feel about this before you decide to continue dating.
Another thing you need to realize is that your ex probably still has a presence in your life to some extent, and your date may feel threatened by this.
If this comes up, just be honest with your date and reassure him that although your ex is still a part of your life due to your children together, there are no feelings there.
6. Move slowly.
Take your time to get to know the guy you’re dating and make sure he is right for you. Do you just enjoy the companionship or are you truly in love?
You should try to date him for around six months before you think about introducing him to your children, as it takes this long to really get to know a person.
Try not to rush things intimately with your new man. You don’t want to get too attached to him and then realize that he isn’t actually the best guy for you and your family.
And when you do get to the stage that you are comfortable taking things to the next level, make sure that this is kept completely private from your children.
Remember, your kids are your KIDS, not your friends. No matter how mature they are, they don’t need to know about your sex life.
7. Communicate and set boundaries with your ex.
Once your relationship with your new man becomes more serious and you want him to meet your children, it’s important to communicate this to your ex-husband or ex-partner.
If you have a good relationship with your ex and he is still involved with your children, letting him know that you are introducing someone to your children is the respectful thing to do.
At the same time, you want to make sure that you have clear boundaries with your ex which reduce the chance of your relationship with him sabotaging your relationship with your new man.
For instance, that you keep your communication primarily about the kids and their needs, and you don’t do things such as inviting yourself into each other’s houses without asking.
8. Introduce your new boyfriend to your children.
Many single parents worry that their children will get attached to their new partner and then have to deal with (another) loss if things don’t end up working out between you.
This is why you want to have waited until you are sure about the man you are dating before you introduce him to your children. Although you can never be 100% sure, if you really feel that he is right for you after dating for at least half a year, this is great.
The key things you want to think about when introducing your children to your boyfriend for the first time is to keep it casual and have no expectations.
Try having the first few meetings in a group setting, where your children will feel less threatened and awkward. For instance, you could have a BBQ at your house with your friends, your children and your new man.
You can’t force people to like each other, so telling your children they have to be ‘nice’ to your new man could backfire. Instead, try to relax and let everyone form their own opinions when they meet.
Depending on your children’s levels of understanding, you might want to introduce your boyfriend as your friend right now. This will give your children the chance to get to know him in a fun, no pressure atmosphere.
It’s best not to show affection during the first few meetings. Remember, you might be in love, but your children need time to get used to a new situation.
If he’s a great guy and you move slowly, your children will eventually see how great he is too.
9. Be sensitive to your children’s reactions.
After your children have spent time with your boyfriend, it’s important to gauge how they are feeling.
Younger kids often have an easier time than older kids of accepting a new person in their mom’s life, especially if he makes an effort to play with them.
However, they may be a little confused about the situation and need reassurance that they still only have one mom and one dad.
Even if you find that your children like your new partner so much that they voluntarily start asking to call him “dad”, try to set boundaries with them in an age-appropriate way. For instance; “I’m so glad you like Steve! But remember you only have one mom and one dad.”
When children are older and wiser, they may take a lot longer to warm to any new man in your life. Or they may be all for it – you never know how they are going to react. But if you sense they are having issues, talk to them.
Listen gently to your children’s fears and judgments. If they say they don’t like your new partner, try to identify where this is coming from.
Do they not like him because of a legitimate character flaw or are they just feeling hurt and angry about you dating in general?
Bear in mind that you may be in quite a vulnerable space right now. You may be experiencing being alone for the first time in many years and are missing having someone around. This could potentially affect your judgment of a new man.
Children can have quite a good radar for whether or not someone is a genuinely good guy versus a creep who doesn’t deserve you.
If they have some criticism that is a fair point, listen to them. Of course you deserve to be happy in your relationship, but if your kids really aren’t on board, proceed with caution.
Slow down with your man if you have to. But if you think he’s worth it, hang in there. Your kids should eventually come around.
10. Set the ground rules for forming a blended family.
As your relationship progresses and you begin to settle in together, it’s important for you to discuss with your new partner the logistics of becoming a blended family.
For instance, talk through your expectations of the new family environment and discuss issues such as living arrangements, finances, discipline, education and anything else that is relevant to your situation.
You want your children and your partner to be happy in this new family unit. Can you maintain support for your children AND your partner, even when you disagree on something?
Your children’s and your partner’s needs are important, and you don’t want to make either of them feel that you are taking sides.
Your children’s needs may come first, but don’t make your partner feel that he is always going to be your lowest priority – he needs to feel that he is special and important to you too.
Merging families is a big deal and it takes time for the dust to settle after everything’s been shaken-up. But having someone new enter your family can also be amazingly rewarding and enriching for all involved.
If you’re ready to take the plunge and learn why men pull away – Click here to watch my free video presentation…