Before You Start Dating Again as a Single Parent

Use This Checklist to Make Sure You -- and Your Kids -- Are Ready

South Africa, Cape Town, Couple drinking wine in restaurant
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As a single parent, thinking about dating doesn't just affect you; it affects your whole family. Before you start dating again, take the time to prepare yourself and make sure your kids are ready to accept the idea of a parent dating.

  1. Make Taking Care of Yourself a Priority
    Taking care of yourself shows self-respect, and it's also a reflection of your personal boundaries. Think about it. The people who are willing to invest some time and energy in taking care of themselves are also willing to invest in their personal relationships, right? So make the commitment to start taking care of yourself now, and view it as good practice for the investment of time and energy you plan to make in a future dating relationship. After all, if you don't even have time to take care of yourself at this point, how can you even think about adding another person to the mix?
  2. Widen Your Circle of Friends
    Don't limit yourself to seeking out "dates." Instead, make an effort to establish deeper friendships all around. Who do you know at work or from your child's activities that you'd like to get to know better? Introduce yourself and establish a friendship. It doesn't even matter if these are men or women. In reality, the relationships will enrich your life, and these new friends will also introduce you to their friends, who might be great companions.
  3. Get Out of the House Regularly
    This sounds simple, but it's an important aspect of readying your kids for your future social life. After all, when they're accustomed to your going out occasionally, dating won't seem like such a shock to their routine. So don't hesitate to hire a sitter and get out of the house. Go see a movie or browse in a bookstore - think of it as preparation for a lively social life.
  4. Be Observant
    Start paying attention to the relationships around you. What do you notice? What do you respect? What qualities do you appreciate in others? This is actually one good reason to seek out some married friends. They can help you identify not only what you're looking for -- but also what you're not.
  5. Talk With Your Kids About Dating
    Spend some time talking with your kids about your desire to date. They have a right to know whether you're building casual friendships or whether you really hope to get married again (or for the first time). Be honest with their questions and don't be afraid to say, "I'm not ready to answer that at this time." Look, your kids are your family. Of course, you can't predict the future, but you can clue them in to your intentions. Think of your honesty at this point - before you've even begun to date - as a seed which will grow into their future acceptance.