Dating is hard enough, but dating as a single mum adds a whole other level of complexity. I mean, single mums have the added challenge of being responsible not just for themselves, but for the little humans who are in their care.
You find yourself pulled in so many different directions; working, cooking, cleaning, helping with homework, being woken up in the middle of the night, etc. The mere thought of planning a date can often seem overwhelming.
Plus, getting back out there and making yourself vulnerable again after a breakup or divorce can be downright scary. You might be tempted to stick your head in the sand and avoid the dating scene altogether. Or at the very least, spend your downtime cuddled up on the sofa with a glass of wine and Netflix. Which, for the record, is a great way to spend an evening.
But listen, all hope is not lost! I know that dating as a single mum is hard – but I’m going to explain why it’s actually well worth the effort. And I’m also going to answer some of your biggest dating questions and give you some helpful tips to make dating as a single mum work.
SO, WHY DATE AT ALL?
The truth of the matter is that all mums (single or not) need a break from parenting sometimes; the hermit lifestyle can be damaging to your emotional and physical health in the long run. Studies show that loneliness can have some serious effects on your body, comparable to that of obesity and smoking. And we single mums know that feelings of loneliness can strike at any time – even when you’re around your children or your friends!
Romantic partners provide a much-needed outlet for adult conversation and physical connection. And this is why dating as a single mum is so important! It doesn’t even need to be a ‘serious’ relationship to count. Just a grown-up who you enjoy spending some quality time with. You owe it to yourself – and your emotional well-being – to at least give dating a try.
I recently reached out to some of my single mum friends who have successfully started dating again to ask what their biggest concerns were when they first got back into the dating game, and what advice really helped them. With their words of wisdom, you might find the gentle push you need to get yourself back out there.
IS IT TOO SOON?
One issue that kept coming up around dating as a single mum was timing. And is there a ‘right time’ to start dating again after a divorce or a breakup? It all honesty, this is a really difficult question to answer, because there are no hard and fast rules.
You don’t want to date before you’ve had a chance to heal, but if you wait too long you can get overly comfortable in your singleness (i.e. set in your ways) to the point that it’s difficult to let someone new into your life.
I personally think a good rule of thumb is for newly single mums to wait about a year before they begin to date. A woman needs time to reassess who she is and what she wants out of a future relationship, to avoid jumping back into a bad one. But once enough time has passed that you know what you want, go for it!
HOW DO I FIND THE TIME?
Another big concern with single mums is actually finding the time to date. I mean, time spent dating is time spent away from the kids, so you need it to be worth it. Plus, having to find the right childcare and having to schedule everything advance means you can’t exactly be spontaneous. But that’s okay – you don’t have to be!
Running a single-parent household means you’re already a whizz at planning; dating will just be one more activity you plan in advance. Any man worth his salt will understand that, and getting some much needed alone time with another grown-up will make all the scheduling worth it.
DO I TELL MY KIDS I’M DATING?
Mums also tend to worry about whether or not they should tell their kids they’re dating. And just like you wouldn’t lie to your date about having children (bad idea), you don’t want to lie about having a date to your child.
In this case, however, sharing less is more. Keep it simple and say something along the lines of, “I’ve been feeling lonely so it’s time for me to start meeting some new people.” Then keep it at that.
WHEN DO I INTRODUCE MY KIDS TO MY NEW BEAU?
When it comes to introducing your date to your kids, we all agreed that it’s best not to involve your man with your children until you’re relatively sure he’s a keeper. Most mums recommended waiting 6-12 months until the honeymoon phase wears off to minimise the risk of your kids getting too attached, too soon.
After all, when you go through a breakup, your kids go through it too, so it’s best to wait until you’re sure there is a solid commitment from your new partner before making any introductions.
SHOULD I INTRODUCE MY DATE TO MY EX?
Another awkward situation single mums face is deciding if and when to tell their children’s father about their new love. The answer here is pretty similar to when you’d introduce your new partner to your kids. It’s probably not necessary until the relationship becomes serious and you’re considering marriage or cohabitation.
You can tell your ex you’re dating, no need to lie. But if you’re not comfortable making an introduction to someone you’re dating more casually, there’s no need to worry about it.
BEWARE OF OVERSHARING
This leads to another very important point many of my single mum friends that I spoke with wanted to stress – beware of what you post on social media! Your kids may see your posts someday, so you want to refrain from talking shit about your ex, or posting lovey-dovey pics of a new relationship that later fizzles out.
Plus, dating as a single mum is hard enough without having your friends and family sticking their oar in every step of the way – and you know they will. So be careful what you put out there for people to see.
WHAT ABOUT (AHEM) SEX?
If your relationship reaches the point where you’re ready to get physical, logistics may end up being an issue. I mean, I’m sure you don’t want to risk the kids seeing or hearing anything awkward!
If your partner has a bachelor pad or only has his kids on certain days, why not plan to cook dinner at his place and see where the night takes you. But if your man is a full-time single dad, you should consider this single mums advice:
“Bring back the afternoon delight! If your kids are in school, plan a sexy lunch-time rendezvous. Or if weekends work better, hire a sitter, book a hotel room and spend the afternoon canoodling by the pool and enjoying each other’s company. You could even be back in time to tuck the kids into bed. Then everyone’s a winner!”
WHAT ABOUT MONEY?
And finally, we’d be neglectful if we didn’t at least bring up the subject of money. If you’re a single mum, chances are you’re probably on a fairly tight budget. We know that money isn’t everything, but financial stability in a partner is a pretty good indicator that they have their life together.
You don’t need to look for a wealthy sugar daddy, but you also don’t want to take on a guy that can’t support himself. You’ve got enough on your plate providing for your kids. Trust me, you don’t want another person who will be financially dependent on you.
So there you have it! Our best tips for dating as a single mum from other mamas that have already been there. I hope it eases some of your concerns and nudges you one step closer to getting yourself back out there. After all, everyone deserves fulfilling companionship!
Kids may be a source of pure joy, but the demands of being a single mum can leave you feeling depleted. A romantic relationship helps you feel valued, sexy, and alive again. It reminds you of the woman you are beyond just being ‘mum’.
Are you a single mum who’s thinking about getting back into the dating game?
Be sure to let me know in the comments below!