Dating is hard enough let alone trying to do it with kids. Here are a few dating with kids lessons I learned while trying to find a life partner with little ones at home.
At eighteen years old I was a single parent and I knew at some point I would find a life partner, but it would take a few steps to get there. Sometimes the children get lost or forgotten about when a parent is trying to find a partner but when you do find someone, it’s important to remember that there’s a time to include them and there’s a time to keep dating and family separate.
Dating with kids meant getting to know different men, but before I started to date I wanted to put boundaries in place to protect my child.
Here is what I learned while dating with kids:
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I never wanted my son to have people walking in and out of his life as this would create instability and inconsistency, which every child could do without. So I would only agree to a date when I could find a reliable babysitter, and most of the time, only once he’d gone to sleep, so I was still the one tucking him into bed.
This gave me an opportunity to get to know potential partners as an individual person and not just as a mum. Sometimes I couldn’t find someone to watch my child and I would have to cancel, postpone or pass up on dates, and that was always ok with me. And if it wasn’t ok with my date, then I knew that was already a bad match, as my children and their safety should always come first. The right person would be understanding of this, and also of when you decide is the right time for them to meet your children.
Have high standards
Hold the people that come into yours and your child’s life to a higher standard. I wanted someone with a good work ethic, who didn’t do drugs, wasn’t aggressive, would show my son the right way to treat people and would love my child as if they were their own. A good sense of humour wouldn’t go amiss either! There wasn’t one concession I would make – if they didn’t tick all the boxes, I wasn’t about to keep them around just for their company. I would move on.
Keep yourself busy – pick up a hobby or sport you enjoy, or enrol in a course and upskill. It’s really easy to get lost in the feeling of needing someone else in your life, especially when you find too much time on your hands. Be strong, independent and resilient, you may want a partner, but you don’t need one. You’re not wrong for having these feelings but you and your children should stay the priority, and having someone else to compliment your lives is just a bonus.
So while you’re waiting to find the right person, don’t forget to invest in yourself and your relationship with your children. It’ll make finding a partner even more achievable when you’re aware of your own self-worth, and have a great relationship with your children to reflect on.
Don’t forget while partners or potential partners may come and go, your children will always be reliant on you, so remember to value their best interests, safety and security first and foremost, and date only when you feel it’s the right time.
It may take some time to find the right person- it took me six years. But by knowing what kind of person I wanted to be with, who could add quality to both of our lives, and upholding my standards, meant my son survived me dating without incurring instability or undergoing major disruptions to our family roles. It also meant that when I did find the right person, who was the perfect fit for us both, it only strengthened our family dynamic and brought us closer.
Casey Mackinlay is the author of Girls Don’t Lay Bricks, renowned motivational speaker and director of La Folie, Australia’s first aerial silks competition. For more information visit www.caseymackinlay.com.au
Are you or did you go through dating with kids. Share your lessons learned and tips in the comments below.