Dating and Single Parenting: How Does THAT Mix?
I am so very thrilled to be able to bring this very relevant, much needed message to you guys written by my dear friend, Danielle Rogers (pictured at left). If you are a fan of “The Voice,” you might recognize her from season 2, where she brought her own unique blend of sunshine and positivity to the screen almost every week as she cheered on her uber-talented son, Jamar.
I’m constantly asked for advice about juggling dating and finding love as a single mom, and since I am not one, I don’t always know the right things to say…so when Danielle very kindly offered to share her insight into the process with a guest blog, I jumped at the opportunity. She embodies the very essence of the fun, fearless, feisty and endlessly dabulous single mom. So ladies…prepare to be blessed!
Would you agree that there are stages of dating? They’re unspoken of course; nonetheless, they exist.
Flirting: Flirt a little here, smile a little there…… until it’s pretty clear you share mutual feelings.
Phone calls: Extended and multiple phone calls within the same hour. The casual “how you doin?” has led up to hours of discussion and the all too familiar “No, YOU hang up first!”
Texting: Almost tied with phone calls. In the 21st century we have the infamous and over-used text messaging. “Thinking about u”…“How’s ur lunch?” “Lol…..you’re so crazy…..” “TTYL…..J”
Live time: Face to face dates and extended time spent together frequently and quite possibly leads to intimacy and a long term commitment.
The first few stages might not raise the question: “Is he the ONE for my children and me?” However, once you’ve crossed that somewhat obscure line into Live Time dating and perhaps, even entered into a full-blown commitment (still doesn’t mean it’s time to start practicing a new last name), one must consider: How much time am I spending away from my children to be with him?
If it’s only been a few months and you’re still seeing stars when you kiss your Knight in Shining Armor; or butterflies tickle your stomach with the passing thought of him; subsequently, the million dollar question arises: How do I maintain a positive relationship with my children while dating the “Man of my Dreams?”
Million dollar answer: BALANCE!
Make it a priority to balance your time between the man who makes your heart go pitter patter and your children.
Challenge: Start by ensuring your children have as much “Mommy” time as he has “cuddle” time. How can this be done? If you’re spending 5-10 hours per week with him, then schedule 5-10 hours per week with your kids too.
What? That’s crazy! There’s not enough time in the week for that. I work full-time, cook, laundry, TV shows to watch, social media sites to visit; you know; I’m one busy mama!
Yeah, yeah I know! BUT you can do it!
Mama D’s Golden Thought: Become creative!
Schedule weekly game night, movie night, and puzzle night with your children while constantly reminding them how valuable they are to you.
Decide that Friday or Saturday night will always be reserved for them and make the alternate night for him.
One hour before bed time can be considered a “date” if you choose to turn all electronic devices off and read to them, tell stories, and make time to hear about their day.
However, just as you value and set aside specific time for your man, do the same with your children, too.
When your little blessings know without a shadow of doubt they are your top priority, they will not complain (as much) when you’re absent from them and present with your man. However, when Mr. Knight starts occupying more of your time than your children, please don’t be surprised or upset if their behavior transforms from little angels to little devils!
Children know when they’re tolerated and NOT celebrated….Neglected and disrespected…Rejected and shifted to second on your priority list.
Your first job as Mom is to relentlessly remind them they are number one in your heart, through actions and not just words. It is easy to get your priorities out of whack, but you and only you are the keeper of your schedule. Just as planning face time with your gentleman companion, picking out the “right” attire for every date, and stressing over hair, nails and make-up is essential to the Single Mom; equally important is setting and maintaining balance with your most prized possessions, your little ones!
Mama D’s Golden Thought: Don’t be afraid to scale back time with your Knight.
If he doesn’t understand that your little blessings come first, then take notice of that waving Red flag and rethink the relationship. (Trust me; his feelings will NOT change over time!) I married a man whom I dated for less than a year who was not kind to his daughter, nor was he toward mine. My love, although stronger than an Iron Man on steroids, was not stronger than his mess of a life that I wanted so badly to fix!
If he’s truly the one for you, then he will appreciate a mother who loves and displays respect toward her children. (You have to stop and ask yourself: Did his mother exhibit same behavior….Hmmmm?) The right Knight in Shining Armor will not pressure you to choose and will offer as much space as needed. If you operate out of fear of losing him, then you might just lose your children. Only you, Mom, can decide which loss is worse. Men may come and go, but your children are YOURS for a lifetime.
Conquer that fear. You AND your children are too valuable to settle for less!
Because your little ones are young for a short time…….love them, hug them, spend quality time with them.
You can enjoy dating without compromising yourself, your children’s lives, dignity and happiness. Since life is one gigantic balancing act, recognize that YOU are the director of the show and YOU decide when to stop, when to pause, and when to GO.
Ready…..time with him, equivalent time for them.
Set……..loved children plus happy man equals elated Mom!
ACTION………mission accomplished; fulfillment for all!
Coming soon: When t
o introduce Mr. Knight to my children?
Follow Danielle on Twitter at @MamaDRogers.