Print iStockphoto Getting back into the dating game as a single parent can seem daunting. Where do you look? How do you find the time to go out? How much should you tell your kids -- or the cutie across the table?
Our relationship experts help you navigate the single-parent dating scene. How to Know When You're Ready to Date Whether you're six months post-divorce or six years, there is no "right" time to start dating. What are you looking to find? What needs are you looking to fill? If you're dying to get out of the house, call your girlfriends for a night out. If you want to feel wanted, volunteer. If you're looking to get your heart pounding, try some cardio. Expecting dating to fulfill all your needs is unrealistic and might attract or cause you to accept people who aren't right for you.
What's your parenting style? Finding the Time Once you've decided that you're ready to date, it might feel impossible to find the time. And Baumgartner says that single parents need to consider that this may be true. If you want to date, you'll have to make time in your life for it. Parents who have a shared custody agreement may have evenings without the kids that they can use to schedule dates.
Don't have shared custody or family or friends in the area? Zane directs her clients to MomMeetMom.
You fill out a profile and it matches you with other like-minded mothers in your area. We call that a win-win. Find the right parenting books for your family's needs. Where to Look Dating has changed since you were single, and so have you. You're older now, hopefully wiser, and have kids to consider. You can't date the same way now as you did in your twenties, Baumgartner says.
Since hitting the bars is out, start by "dating" for friends, Baumgartner suggests. Look for people who like to do the same things as you do. They offer a casual group setting and regularly scheduled meet-ups, and allow you to do something while you're getting to know the other person. If activities seem too hard on your schedule or psyche right now, Zane says to look into the Internet dating scene.
For the timid or busy, it's a great way to get used to the idea of looking for love without the pressure. Is your child too sick for school? Use our quick quiz to know for sure.
Ring Whether you're looking for a fling, a ring, or something in between, remember that dating is part of the journey, not a means to an end, Zane says. You've already had your kids and white dress moment, so there should be no rush to the altar again. How much should I share? It's worth being upfront about the fact you have kids, Zane says. No date likes to be surprised by that info later on. Other than that, she says, save the details about your children, your custody arrangements, your divorce , and your ex for when you know the person better.
Instead, focus on topics that are easy to discuss and help you learn about each other. Telling the Kids Though you may be excited about a new relationship, be extra cautious about sharing this information with your kids. The children may already feel they lost one parent in the divorce, Baumgartner says, you don't want to put them through another loss if this relationship ends. It's also important to consider the age and personality of your children.
If you do break up with someone your kids have already gotten to know, try to explain it to younger children in terms they'll understand. Baumgartner recommends relating it to friendships your child may have had. Talk about how we meet people we like and as we get to know each other better we get to decide if we still want to be friends, she says.
No matter what the age of the child, avoid a detailed account of why you broke up. Your kids deserve an explanation, but shouldn't be your confidants. If you can comfortably answer your child's questions and tend to their needs with that person lying in bed next to you, then maybe you're on the way to some slumber parties.