Take It From Me: 3 Easy Rules For Dating When You Have Kids
BY ASHLEY MACINNIS
Photo © rido / 123RF
Sep 11, 2017
I met my boyfriend in the spring of 2016 via an online dating app and quickly recognized a spark. Within a week of our first date, we’d met four more times to hike, drink craft beer, and even go for a run together, while my son frolicked at my parents’ place. We were the epitome of new love. Saturday mornings were spent at the market or the beach, sleeping in before meandering to brunch on Sundays.
Then the new school year was suddenly upon me and our relationship was catapulted to the next level. I had to introduce him to my son.
“Non-traditional” families are increasingly common and single parents like myself could use a guide to relationships. Dating with kids means introducing a new partner into your family dynamic. It's challenging because the responsibilities of parenthood can quickly dampen even the hottest new flame.
Scheduling is key — even if it’s not sexy
My son spends every other weekend with my ex-husband, which allows my boyfriend and I to concentrate on our relationship. At least one night a week, my son and I have date night so we can concentrate on our own relationship. When the three of us are together, we watch movies and work on homework together.
Our schedule includes a set bedtime during the week for my son, which gives me and my boyfriend important alone time.
Although my boyfriend is a staple at our home, we don’t currently live together full-time. A couple of nights a week he stays at his own place, allowing my son and I to spend time together, just the two of us. By establishing boundaries for my time with both my son and my boyfriend, we’re able to ease into the new family dynamic without making anyone feel left out or pressured.
Likewise, physical boundaries are important. My son knows not to enter my bedroom when the door is closed unless he’s received our express permission. And that boundary extends both ways: my son prefers that my boyfriend not see him in a state of undress so, unless it’s an emergency, my boyfriend is not involved in any bathroom or shower tasks.
This can also include setting boundaries with your co-parent, if necessary or applicable. My ex and I have agreed that our respective partners can and should be involved in all aspects of our son’s life, from homework to discipline to birthday parties — not in place of the other co-parent, but alongside them.
Don't find time for your romantic relationship, make time
Between work and never-ending to-do lists, finding time is just about impossible. So hire a babysitter for a night out; grab coffee together while the kids are at lessons; or turn your living room into a date night venue with cheese from the expensive part of the store, a bottle of wine, and some candles. It doesn’t need to be fancy to feel special.
If dating is hard, then dating as a single parent is kind of like juggling flaming pins while riding a unicycle. Welcoming a new partner into your family dynamic can be challenging, but with the right balance, things get much easier.