Many single parents are both mum and dad, as well as full-time worker, guidance counsellor, housekeeper, chef and bedtime story reader. There's a lot to juggle and it takes its toll, especially when it comes to having time and space to yourself, including dating.
Dating if you have kids and a career can be a minefield, but here are some tips to consider for managing the dating game, the kids and your job, without losing your head.
If you're a single parent, you might have gone through an unpleasant breakup recently - are you really ready to move on? Do you want to get involved with a new person, even if there's heartbreak along the way?
If your kids are young, they're probably eating up a lot of your time. And working all hours to provide for them, and yourself, means that you don't have much headspace. Think seriously about this question because often it's not just you who is in this, but your kids as well.
If you're set on dating, clear some space in your schedule. This might mean organising a babysitter one night a week, or explaining to older kids that you need time for yourself. If you can afford it, a cleaner will take the load off in terms of looking after the house and laundry. Better still, ensure that your kids share in the chores.
Don't be afraid to ask for the support of grandparents, friends, neighbours, aunts and uncles. Remember, it takes a village to raise kids, and one-person villages can be lonely. In terms of work, consider flexible work options. Does your employer offer remote working? This will cut out the commute and allow you to spend more time at home.
In terms of convenience and confidence, having a romance website profile is your best bet. If you've been out of the dating game for a while, it's the perfect opportunity to go on a few dates to boost your confidence, and it's the simplest way to meet other singles in your area. Online dating can be especially useful for organising a coffee date or after-work drinks with like-minded professionals.
From the word go, anyone you're dating should be aware that you have children. It might be a difficult thing to bring up, but it's much more difficult to bring it up later: no-one likes big surprises like that, and it could lead to a drop in trust.
Don't assume that having kids will be a turn-off - people are endlessly surprising. Plus, they're an important part of your life. You come as a package, so whoever you're dating will have to learn to love them, too.
This could be the most difficult part of dating as a single parent - explaining to the kids that you're going on dates and meeting new people. Be honest. There might be a lot of questions, anxiety and concerns, so be extra sensitive about discussing it with them, and make a particular time to discuss it with them, answering all their questions carefully.
If they're old enough to remember your ex-partner, they might be concerned that they'll be replaced. Make sure they're comfortable with the idea before introducing them to anyone new. And be sure that, if you're bringing someone into the family, they're a significant part of your life. You don't want your kids to become attached to someone who's not serious. Make sure they know that you're still there for them and they're still your number one priority.
Don't bend over backwards trying to be all things to all people. Single parents often find it difficult to look out for number one, but your kids, your boss, your ex, and your new partner all need to know what you need from them in order for relationships to work. They also need to know what you're able to give them. Don't wear yourself out.
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