Its hard enough dating when you're single, but how about as newly divorced single mum? Here Sprinkle of Glitter's uber blogger and author Louise Pentland reveals the golden rules she's learned along the way
Not so long ago, I found myself in a position that hadn’t been on my naive teenage ‘Life Goals’ list. Divorce. My divorce.
When my daughter was 3-years-old, my marriage came to an end and I suddenly found myself facing a path I wasn’t prepared for. Starting again, a new relationship – with a baby.
Dating at any age and in any life circumstance can be daunting, but when you’re a single mum juggling making that morning’s lunch box for nursery, being on time for your work commitments, and shaving your legs for that night’s ‘hot date’, it’s a challenge.
Over the months and years I picked up a few tried and tested tips and tricks. For those of you that might need them, here goes…
Being a single mum doesn’t define you, you do
Whilst motherhood is a huge part of your life, it’s not solely who you are. You might also be funny, or energetic, or deeply passionate about falconry (I’m not here to judge). There’s a LOT to you. With online and offline dating, there’s usually that first bit where you put your pitch forward. With online dating, you have the opportunity to write a little bio about yourself. I chose not to put ‘mother’ in there and instead let someone swipe me based on ME. I’m not in the least ashamed to be a single mum(heck, I pushed a full human out of my own human self and have committed to taking care of it forever), but I can also recognise there is so much more to me and so much of that is very attractive.
Tell them soon that you are a single mum
One of my very first dates in singledom was with a guy from Tinder called James. In our brief post-drinks chat I hadn’t mentioned that huge part of my life called MOTHERHOOD because I hadn’t really considered it a make or break-er. Somehow or other we got onto the topic of his ex and it was when he said, ‘I had to sack her off because she had kids’, that I knew I would be the one having to ‘sack’ him ‘off’. ‘I have a four year old’ was a really awkward response to his brutal statement. To save yourself James the Sacker Offer, bring it up when you’re talking about your job, your passions etc.
Being a single mum is not a negative
So many friends asked me, ‘How did you tell him about Darcy?’ in hushed tones when I told them I’d been on a date. Um, I’m not disclosing that I work for the MI5 or that I like to dress my cats up in frilly aprons and called them ‘Susanne’ under the light of a full moon, I’m just letting someone know that I’m a single mum. A lot of people are mum’s. A lot of people dating are not on their first ever dates, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that some people will have had past relationships and children may have been part of those. I would ‘reveal’ my motherhood title in a very positive way. Usually your date will ask a bit about you and I would say, ‘And after university and a few terrible admin jobs, my ex and I had a beautiful baby girl who is now 4. I share custody of her 50/50 and I absolutely love the days I have her because it means I can do so much fun stuff, and I get to have such a great time!’. Positivity is attractive. Don’t ever apologise for being a single mum, own it you badass ladywoman you!
Hide the plastic crap
Now, as before, nothing to be ashamed of in being a single mum. We’ve got that point down. However, if you’re at the point in dating where your date might be coming back with you, do yourself a favour and shove the assortment of garish plastic toys in another room. Nothing ruins the moment more than seductively reclining back on the sofa and setting off Peppa Pig’s voice activation. Nothing.
Protect your child
This is a bit of a serious one in comparison to the last, but perhaps the most important. Little children are smart cookies. They see, hear and understand a lot and it can be quite unsettling to see Mummy tottering off on multiple dates or to meet a parade of men. Do yourself and them a favour, book a babysitter, arrange dates for after their bedtime or when they are with other family members for the day and until your date becomes a more permanent fixture in your life, keep them in ignorant bliss. If you have older children, I think this point needs altering. When I was 15, my dad spent some time as a single man and went out on dates. I appreciated his honesty and think I would apply this to my own life if the situation ever arose.
Ultimately in all of this, you have to make the choices that fit you and your child/children best, and as long as you go at it with your and their well-being in mind, a positive attitude and a good lipstick, you’re going to be just fine! Happy Dating Mama!!
Louise Pentland is the debut author of Wilde Like Me, published by Bonnier Zaffre, 29th June.