Dating is hard enough, but being a single mom while dating adds a whole new level of complexity. Single mothers 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, carpooling, cooking, cleaning, helping with homework, being woken up in the middle of the night…the mere thought of planning a date might 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 you head in the sand and avoid the dating scene all together. Or at the very least, spend your downtime cuddled up on the couch with a glass of vino and Netflix. Which for the record, is not a always a bad way to spend an evening.  

Why Date At All?

But the truth of the matter is that moms need a break from parenting sometimes. The single lifestyle can be detrimental to your emotional and physical health in the long run. Studies show that loneliness has serious effects on your body, comparable to obesity and cigarette smoking. And single moms know that feelings of loneliness can strike even when you’re around children and friends.

Romantic partners provide a much-needed outlet for adult conversation and physical connection. It doesn’t even need to be a “serious” relationship to count. You owe it to yourself, and your emotional well-being, to give dating a try.

To that end, we reached out and asked our single mom friends what were their biggest dating concerns and what advice really helped them. In their wisdom, you might find the gentle push you need to get back out there.

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Dating Tips For Single Moms

Is It Too Soon?

One issue that kept coming up was timing. Carol S. summed it up by saying “I wasn’t entirely sure when I was supposed to start dating again after I separated from my son’s father. I was worried it might be too soon.” Timing is a hard questions 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 wait too long and you can get overly comfortable in your singleness (read: set in your routines and habits) to the point that it’s difficult to let someone new into your life.

A good rule of thumb according to Elizabeth Lamotte, licensed psychotherapist, is for newly single moms 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, in order to avoid jumping back into a bad relationship.” 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 moms is finding the time to date at all. As Stacy M. says: “Time I spend dating is time I spend away from my kids, so it better be worth it. Plus, finding a sitter and scheduling everything means I can’t be spontaneous.” And that’s okay, as a single mom you don’t have to be spontaneous. Running a single parent household means you’re already a whiz at planning. Dating will 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?

Moms also worry about whether or not they should tell their kids they’re dating. Just like you wouldn’t lie about having a kid to your date (bad idea), you don’t want to lie about having a date to your kid. But in this case, sharing less is more, says Deborah Roth Ledley PhD, licensed psychologist and author of Becoming A Calm Mom: How To Manage Stress And Enjoy The First Year Of Motherhood.  Keep it simple and say something like, “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, however, the experts agree; don’t involve your man with your children until you’re relatively sure he’s a keeper. Most recommend waiting 6-12 months until the honeymoon phase wears off to minimize the risk of your kids getting too attached, too soon. 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 introductions.

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Do I Introduce My Date To My Ex?

Another awkward situation single moms face is deciding if and when to tell their children’s father about their new love. “Do I even have to introduce my new boyfriend to my ex?” wonders Jennifer S.. 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, don’t worry about it.

Beware Of Oversharing!

This leads to another important point many of the single moms we spoke with wanted to stress, beware what you post on social media!  Your kids may see your posts someday, so you want to refrain from talking smack about your ex, or posting lovey-dovey pics of a new relationship that later fizzles. Plus dating as a mom is hard enough without friends and family weighing in every step of the way, and you know they will. So just be careful what you put out there.

What About (Ahem) Sex?

If your relationship gets to the point that you’re ready to get physical, logistics might be an issue. 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, plan to cook dinner at his place and see where the night takes you. But if your man is a full-time single dad, then consider Rose G’s advice:

“Bring back the afternoon delight! If your kids are in school, plan a sexy lunch-time rendez-vous. 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 be back in time to tuck the kids into bed. Everybody wins!”

What About Money?

Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least bring up the subject of money. If you’re a single mom, chances are you’re probably on a 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 responsibility providing for your kids, you don’t need another person who will be financially dependent on you.

So there you have it! Our best dating tips for single moms from other moms that have been there. We hope it eases some of your concerns and nudges you one step closer to getting back out there. Everyone deserves fulfilling companionship!  

Kids may be a source of pure joy, but the demands of being a single mom 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 “mom”. Then you can bring that new energy and happiness back to your kids.