Every single parent knows that looking after those little cherubs is a full-time job in itself, before even factoring in work, chores and your social life! How can you squeeze a love life into that list as well? It’s not only possible, but it’s also a lot of fun, and we’re here to help you every step of the way on your single parent dating journey.
To help prepare you for your upcoming date, we’ve put together our top 10 tips for single parent dating. Sit back, relax, and let our expert advice work its magic:
1. Don’t apologise for being busy
In the early, exciting stages of dating, you’ll naturally be keen to chat and meet up as often as possible. For single parents dating, “as often as possible” might mean every other weekend, when the kids are with someone else. This is something your date has to accept if the relationship is going to work. Don’t allow them to put pressure on you to meet up more often than having children allows, and don’t apologise for not having a flexible schedule. This comes with the territory of being a single parent, and if someone can’t understand this they should be looking elsewhere.
2. Be upfront about your situation
The most important piece of advice we could give: always be completely honest about your situation. If you have very little free time to spend dating because you have young children, let your date know! They’ll appreciate the time you’re able to spend with them even more when they know how precious it is to you. Never try to cover anything up or gloss over something you think might put your date off. Your children come first and if your date can’t accept this, it’s not worth pursuing.
3. Keep your options open
Many single parents assume that their dating options are limited solely to other single parents. While it may be true that only a parent can truly understand the responsibility involved in bringing up little tots, there are plenty of singles who are interested in other singles with kids. Don’t discount someone you meet online just because they don’t have their own children. Make sure your profile clearly displays that you do. Then allow them to make an informed decision as to whether they want to get involved with you.
4. Don’t settle for less than what you and your kids deserve
Somewhat frustratingly, lots of single parents assume that they’ll have to make important compromises to find someone who’ll want to date them with children in the mix. In reality, single parents should be even less willing to compromise than people without children. A new relationship will affect both you and the most precious people in your life, so make sure you’ve picked a good one. You’ll also be spending what little free time you have with this person, so make sure you’re not wasting it. Granted, you might have to meet a variety of people, but when you choose to continue seeing someone, make sure it’s for the right reasons, not because you feel you have to settle for them.
5. Treat yourself on dates
Let’s face it, the life of a single parent can sometimes be far from glamorous! Use dating to get out there and do fun things that you wouldn’t normally be able to do with the kids in tow (without tantrums and complaints). Going for extravagant dinner can be a great way of getting to know someone. Sometimes it can be fun to try a more active date. Why not take inspiration from our 11 Fun First Date Ideas and see where the evening takes you?
6. Don’t sneak around
Knowing how to tell your children that you’re dating can be tricky; just make sure you tell them enough so that they won’t be shocked when you do introduce them to a new partner. Most importantly, never consider sneaking a new man or woman into the house for a “sleepover” after the kids have gone to bed. If they wake up in the night needing you, they won’t be prepared to find a stranger around!
7. Put your phone away on dates
This can be hard to put into practice when it comes to your little ones, but the world will carry on turning if you keep your phone out of eyesight for a few hours occasionally. It’s a good idea to keep it on vibrate in your back pocket so you’ll know if it’s ringing. Of course you need to be contactable but don’t let your phone rule you! Your date should return the courtesy. This will allow you to bond on a deeper level without the distractions of modern life.
8. Take your time to introduce them to the kids
Not everyone meets the love of their life on their first date – that’s unrealistic. For this reason it’s important not to introduce a new man or woman in your life to your kids until you’re confident that you can see a future with them. Children form attachments easily and it can be hard to explain what’s happened to “mummy/daddy’s new friend” when they disappear off the scene a few months down the line. When you do meet the right person and you’re ready to introduce them, make sure that both parties are expecting the meeting and that it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
9. Live in the present
If you had a serious, long-term relationship with the mother or father of your children, it can be all too easy to compare any new date to past relationships. You might have trust issues due to a hurtful experience in the past. Ask yourself if your new man or woman has given you any reason not to trust them. Take them for what they are in the present rather than fearing the worst case future scenario.
If nothing can live up to a past relationship in your mind, remember that every relationship is completely different in its own way and acknowledge that you might be looking back at the past with rose-tinted glasses. Learn more about how to stop comparing your date to your ex.
10. Keep your ex filled in
If the mother or father of your children is still involved, it’s only fair to let them know that you’re dating again. Of course you don’t need to give them a blow by blow account of each date! If you do meet someone you see a future with, give your ex a heads up. It’s likely this person will become a big part of your and their children’s life, so don’t leave it to the kids to break the news. Ideally you’ll all get on civilly, but even if this isn’t possible, your ex will appreciate you being upfront and your new partner will be happy to not feel like a dirty little secret.
Now that you’re all clued up, register for free and start single parent dating with Match! Get more tips on online dating for single parents and read our First Date Survival Guide to help with those first date jitters.