If you've found yourself back on the dating scene now that you're a mom, don't despair. We've put together expert tips to help you ease back into dating with confidence, at your own pace. No matter what's brought you back to the dating scene, you can find a way to date that feels comfortable for you.
Don't introduce your kids to every date
Unless you've gotten pretty serious with a guy, there's no reason to introduce your kids to him. However, if your kids are old enough to understand, it's OK to tell them that you're dating. Deesha Philyaw is co-founder of Co-Parenting101.org, and a mom and stepmom to four daughters. She let her kids know when she began dating but had made an agreement with her ex not to involve them with casual dates.
“They were aware that I was dating, but I told them that because they were special to me, only the most special people would get to meet them," says Deesha. Ultimately, the only person who met her kids was the man who ended up being their stepfather.
Do date without guilt
It might sound simple, but it's OK to date. Don't feel guilty or feel like you need to justify the basic need to spend time with another adult. When you choose to date is up to you, and you know your readiness better than anyone else. Try not to be overly concerned with what others think or what you assume they think. Instead, keep in mind that it's perfectly normal and healthy to want to spend time with other adults.
Do date on your own terms
Looking for a serious relationship? How about a one-night stand? Whether you're looking for love or looking to have fun, date on your own terms. “I wasn't dating to find a husband; I was dating to have new experiences and to meet new people,” says Deesha, who focused on her personal list of deal-breakers as opposed to must-haves. "And I did meet some interesting people and did some things that I'd always wanted to do."
Don't feel like you have to date
If you don't want to date, don't cave in to pressure. This is a personal choice. “My divorce coincided with several deaths in my family, including my parents. I was really in no shape to date, but it filled a void,” says Deesha. “In retrospect, I could have spent more time alone, healing, getting to know myself, enjoying my own company.” When dating became exhausting, Deesha took a break and waited until she felt better equipped to be happy and selective while dating.
Don't ignore your instincts when you're online dating
Play it safe when you meet others online. Don't disclose too much information from the start. Be truthful in how you present yourself. You don't need to lay it all on the line from day one, but you should avoid lying about your age, hiding the fact that you have children or otherwise fudging the facts. “If something doesn't look right, sound right or add up when you're interacting with someone you met online (or offline, for that matter), trust your gut. Don't worry that you are being too paranoid or that you're going to miss out on Mr. Right if you are cautious,” says Deesha.