Dating can feel like a full-time job because of all the effort that goes into it. Looking for someone to connect with can especially be hard if you’re a single mom. A Pew Research Center study found the U.S. has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households run by mothers. These women deserve to find love too, whether they’re looking for casual companionship or something more serious.
With back to school in full effect and extracurricular activities taking place once or more a week, how can moms create time for dating? You have to decide to make it a priority says Alison Wellington, a certified dating and relationship coach in Brooklyn, NY.
“Decide that you deserve a loving committed relationship and you’re willing to sacrifice time, effort, money [and] energy to get it,” she says.
While it may seem there is no time to sacrifice, you can find ways to create it on evenings or weekends, Wellington shares. If you work from home, there may also be an opportunity to date while kids are at school. Do a fun breakfast or brunch date even if it’s only for 30 minutes to an hour. Having a trusted babysitter on hand can also make dating more accessible.
“If you can afford it, pay for childcare. If not, lean on your circle including other single parents. You watch all the kids on Fridays. They watch [them] all on Saturdays,” Wellington adds.
Some places to find help include platforms like Care.com as they do background checks on potential sitters. Facebook mom groups and apps for parents like Peanut are other resources you can consider to connect with other moms who may be open to babysitting and play dates.
Let’s say you’re determined to create time to date as a single mom. You may be wondering where the best places are to seek out potential suitors. Dating apps are one obvious answer–three in 10 U.S. adults say they’ve used them at some point. Stir is an online dating platform specifically created for single parents you may want to explore. It has a cool feature where you can share your schedule or availability with potentials via the app.
What if you’re a mom who isn’t into dating apps? All hope isn’t lost and you can do things the traditional way by going out and mixing with people in person. An idea is to gather all of your single friends and plan an outing once a month at a location where single bachelors are likely to be, says Bree Jenkins, a dating coach in Los Angeles, Calif.
“If you all rotate planning, it will be an easy lift and you’ll get a diversity of places, spaces and people by trying new sides of town and interests,” she says. Hiring a dating coach can also help as they have the expertise to help you find what you’re looking for on or off of an app.
Every person dating wants to be cautious and ensure their safety, but that concern can quickly ramp up when you have children. To protect yourself, don’t share too much personal information too soon, says Coach Roxy, a Certified Life & Dating Coach in Tampa, Fla. Personal information could include things like your address, kids’ identities, workplace, or even social media if you have sensitive info on there. Also, share your location with your loved ones when you go on dates. She also advise moms to take it slow when introducing suitors to your kids.
“Do not introduce kids too soon. Children are innocent and they should be protected at all times. Wait until you have solidified a committed relationship before introducing them,” she says.
Another challenge some parents face is having young kids who require lots of time and attention. If that’s your situation, Jenkins says you don’t necessarily have to wait until they’re older to look for love. Moms deserve companionship no matter how young or old their kids are.
“There are advantages and disadvantages to dating at every stage of child development,” she says. “The most important factor is mom’s readiness to welcome new love and dating into her life as well as the character of the person she’s spending time with.”
“I’ve had client’s find love with kids at every age point,” Jenkins adds. “As long as you proceed with caution, monitor things and communicate with your child and with any new potential partners, you will likely be okay in dating.”