To be honest, I’ve known a lot of single mothers. I guess we’re like magnets to each other. I can always tell the single moms from the hitched up mammas. Or maybe I can just smell crumbs from snacks at the bottom of their purses. 

Single moms have 2 different sides

#1 They can be the ones with commanding voices. Because they’re always trying to corral their kids into place.

#2 on the flip side they are silent when answering what they do in their “free time.” That’s funny they think…

Not that married mothers have a whole bunch of that either. But us single parent sisters are generally the ones with even heavier agendas and lighter wallets. Tell. Me. About. It. 

single mom with kid outside

So, dating as a single mom is a different dating scenario compared to most other people. 

Single parent dating comes with its own special challenges. The first one being the law of probability. That’s one of the reasons why dating a single mom is hard, but it has plenty of benefits.

There’s a distinct chance that one, or both of you lovebirds, are going to come already equipped with children of your own from a prior relationship.

There are more single parents than ever before in the US. And the rates are rising.  23% of children are raised by their mothers only. You are  not alone

This number has tripled since the 1960s. Single fathers account for 4% of households, a number that has quadrupled in that same time frame

But what if it’s only you who has the kids and he is kid-less? 

Three questions may come to mind when figuring out what to do next. Read below for help on each of them.

1. When should I tell him I have kids?

As soon as you’re pregnant. Just kidding (not really)Tell him on the first date before things get serious.

Kids are a big deal. You don’t need to tell him you have 3 cats, 2 dogs, and 1 irresistible hamster, but yes, you DO have to tell him you have kids. 

Sorry for shouting, but this isn’t something you should ever hide. I know you don’t want to scare him off before you even have a chance to impress him, but he needs to know you’re a package deal. 

Imagine you meet a hot dude.

He’s all you ever dreamed of. He’s attractive, educated, has a hefty wallet, awesome job, sweet in the sheets, kind and thoughtful. 

Let’s imagine something else for a minute…

Things are getting steamy and you’re even thinking about moving in together— until he mentions his mother. As in… he lives with his mother. And she’s a package deal because she’s old and has dementia and he takes care of her 24/7

Kinda changes the dynamic a bit, right? 

Any thoughts of long-term relations with him must include dear old mom as well. No one ever wants to be caught off-guard. 

So it’s only fair to you, him, and your kids that he knows that you are a package deal too.

 And if the thought of you having kids scares him off, that’s ok. 

He’s not worth your time.

A single mom new relationship is doable with the right man.

If he’s not interested in you because you are a badass momma who prioritizes her children. It’s time to say ”next please”…

Throw that sucker back where he came from and keep on moving sister. There’s plenty of fish in that big old swimming pool of single men. 

mom doing yoga with kid

2. When should I introduce him to the kids?

No formal introductions are necessary. Leave the red carpet rolled up. The best way to start a relationship between him and your kid/s is slowly. 

Yes, you should tell him you are a single parent. 

No, there’s no need to have them all meet, shake hands, and fake smiles on date number 1 or even 5. You should introduce them only when you and your man are sure you want a long-term relationship together

Meeting sooner is not always better. 

Only have them meet when you are both sure you are in this for the long haul. Having casual men in and out of your kids’ lives is not healthy for you and even unhealthier for them.

3. How do I manage my expectations?

Lower them. Let me explain.   Everything’s not going to be perfect all the time. 

It’s not going to be all hearts, smiles, and belly laughs between them, at least not initially. 

You’re introducing an unknown person into the family dynamic.. Chances are all the kids won’t be thrilled to have mommy’s attention diverted for too long. 

Yes, our Mini – Me’s can be quite possessive.

Especially of our time. They usually like to monopolize all of it. Shouts of “Hey, look at ME mommy” and “Mommy, watch me do THIS…” are the rallying cries of children everywhere. 

You understand what I’m saying…

Kids want your attention. And lots of it. 

Which brings me to Mr. Hottie. The longer it’s been “just” you and your kid/s, the louder their complaints may be. If Mr. New guy becomes part of your life and your children’s life it’s good to pay attention.

Watch how he interacts with your children. 

Is he kind to them? Does he laugh and joke with them? How do your kids feel about him? Keep your eyes and mind open so that you can really hear the dynamic between them. Finding love is important, but your number one job is, and always will be, your children.

Think about this…

 What actionable steps can you take to make the energy of the new relationship easier for everyone? (Even yourself!).

Let’s play make-believe again for a minute. Think of a fun and light atmosphere – somewhere where the focus is not on your new addition, but on the fun activity you are doing together with your new beau and the little ones. 

happy couple in a field

You’ll want to start relationship building slowly.

You can have him meet you and your kids somewhere like Chuck E. Cheese. The kids will quickly devour the pizza, or just shove a huge piece in their mouth and then run off to the games. They’ll probably only come back to the table for a quick gulp of a drink, to beg for more tokens for the machines, or to give Mr. New Guy a glance over. 

Again, watch their interactions together. If the kids ask him to come over and play a game with them, listen to how he responds. Is he happy to do it or is he dragging his feet?

Meet up again and see how it goes.

Have the interaction time a bit longer the next time you go out together, such as a trip to a bowling alley. There’s more chance for conversation and the attention will still be primarily elsewhere with Him in the background.

Then up the ante and have him over for dinner and board games. What kid (and some of us grownups too!) doesn’t want to play Battleship, Mousetrap, or Operation? This gives an even longer time together with no pressure on anyone. 

Keep forging ahead into relationship land. 

You can think about more opportunities for all of you to spend even longer amounts of time together until his presence is second nature. But remember – just like your man wants to spend time alone with you, so do your kids. 

Making time for just you and your children is just as important as sexy time

And another thing to do is…

Keep it real. 

Because nothing is perfect. Perfection only exists in movies and between pages of romance novels. There will be times that arguments and conflicts arise. That’s okay. It’s called being normal. So chin up buttercup. Keep on smiling and let the little things go. Choose your battles and always respond with love (especially for yourself). 

Author’s Bio:

Karen Parikh founded her small company, Words With Goals, to help small businesses with their copywriting needs. Her other accomplishments include achieving two MBAs (Marketing & Healthcare) and raising two independently-minded young women. Catch her LinkedIn.