Dating while juggling motherhood can be a tricky balance. Mighty Mommy shares 6 tips to keep in mind when you jump back into the dating saddle while still raising your family.
Tip #5: Introductions to Your Kids
If you’re new to the dating world like I was, not only do you worry about what your new date will think about the way you slurp your soup or how your maternal body looks in a pair of white jeans, you also have something else in the mix—how and when to tell your kids that you have met someone you really care about.
There’s a lot of advice out there on this very important topic, and from experience, I’d like to agree with Dr. Jenn Mann, author of The Relationship Fix, who recommends waiting it out. In an article about dating as a single mom, she emphatically states, “Don’t involve children in your dating life until you’re relatively sure the person is a long-term keeper,” says Dr. Jenn. “I suggest single moms wait six to 12 months—that’s typically how long the ‘honeymoon phase’ lasts.”
Without throwing my ex-husband under the bus, he began dating minutes after our divorce. I’m over it now, but feel the need to share some tidbits that were a big learning factor for me and my kids. None of us had any clue he had a new love in his life, so when he invited our kids to a dinner to tell them something that would make them all very excited...let’s just say they thought they had a trip to Disney or something in that range to look forward to. Imagine their surprise when they arrived and his new girlfriend walked in. They were so unprepared and totally flabbergasted! My ten-year-old son hid in the restaurant bathroom for 30 minutes (the rest of the customers were none too pleased!) because he was so taken aback. That introduction was quite unsettling to my kids, and they let their father know it. Just because he was excited about this new relationship did not mean our kids would be.
My kids were wanting the best for me, as I have always wanted for them.
Experts say that it’s important to consider the age and personality of your children. "As kids get older, you may choose to share more casual details about your new boyfriend," says Esther Boykin, a licensed marriage and family therapist and relationship coach. "But for younger kids it's often best to start by introducing the idea that you have a new friend who you like to spend time with." When you're finally ready for the first meeting, start with a casual group activity your kids enjoy, like a picnic at a park with friends who have kids.
I learned from my ex-husband’s mistake, albeit a few years later. When parents divorce, kids unfortunately get divorced from that stable family unit they thought they’d always have. Keeping my kids in a secure state of mind was always my first intention.
Now, the moment you may have been waiting for. I finally did meet that special someone. 18 months ago to be exact! It was a very innocent moment at work. A wonderful guy I dated over 25 years ago when I was working in a dental practice re-entered my life, and I am currently in the midst of raising eight terrific kids while I fall in love all over again.
I took Dr. Jenn’s advice and didn’t introduce my new love to my family until six months later. They knew I had met someone that made my heart sing, but I downplayed it until I was quite sure there was a possibility we had something special going forward.
Before my kids met my new beau, I talked about it with them. They saw how excited I was getting ready to go out on a dinner date with him. They noticed that I paid a bit (OK, a lot) more attention to how I chose an outfit to wear when I went out. They caught me looking in the mirror when I talked about this terrific new person in my life. They blew my mind—they encouraged me, cheered me on, and told me to “go for it” just as I have coached them when they have a pivotal moment in their own lives. I was living an “aha” moment in parenting. My kids were wanting the best for me, as I have always wanted for them.
Tip #6: Be Your Own Best Friend
I’ve been dating my new soulmate for 18 months now and truly have never been happier. I’ve survived the awkward firsts: burping out loud (ugh!), eating food that dangles between my front teeth, revealing my mother-of-eight figure in a bathing suit, walking out of the ladies’ room with toilet paper stuck to my shoe (could be worse, right?), and even introducing him to my ex-husband. But my kids and my family love that I’m so happy and have welcomed him into our lives unconditionally.
While that’s all a huge comfort to me, something else resonates even more—staying in touch with myself.
I yearned to learn how to care for myself, first and foremost, after my divorce. And to be able to balance the lives of my eight kids, my career, and a new love interest was the cherry on top of the sundae. When you invest the time to make things right in your own world, you create a win/win situation for your entire family!
How did you manage the dating scene with your kids? Share your thoughts in the comments section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy, post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. or email me at email@example.com. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT
Image of first date © Shutterstock