There comes a time in single mumhood when even though you love your kids to bits and you enjoy spending time with them, you have to admit there is something missing from your life. And if you're being honest, there is something missing from your kids' lives too because an extra attentive adult and a happy mum must be a plus.
Remember The Rules by Helen Fein? Dating is hard enough when you're single without kids. With little ones in the nest a whole new set of 'rules' arise.
Finding a date isn't hard these days and online dating is perhaps the easiest way of all. I chose a website for Jewish Singles but there are sites to suit any number of other focus groups. I was pleasantly surprised to get 119 suggestions within 40 miles of where I live.
However, you need to be clear about a few things before you start. Remember that everything you do affects your kids too. Here are my 8 rules for dating mums:
1. You are dating, not your kids. This means you need to look for someone you can love and who will love you. Of course you have to decide if he will be good to and for your kids but only when you see that the two of you have a mutual affection. Hopefully the two of you will have a long life together for years after the kids have grown up and left home.
2. You are dating, not your kids. You don't have to tell them what you are doing or give them a run-down of events after the date. It's bad enough that you are waiting anxiously for Mr Right without having your kids on shpilkes too. They really don't have to get excited and be disappointed every time you meet Mr Nice Enough But Not Right For Us.
3. You are dating, not your kids. Think back to when you were a student. How many dates did you bring home to meet your family? My guess is none until you were a strong item with a few months of coupledom behind you. This is one occasion where you need to think of your kids in the way you considered your parents all those years ago.
4. Babysitting is expensive so he needs to travel to your neighbourhood for the date. If he doesn't 'get' that then he's not going to 'get' the million and one other issues you have to deal with as a parent.
5. He's dating you, not your kids. There's a fine line between saying something about your kids and boring someone to tears with non-stop anecdotes featuring their cuteness and smart comments. Find the line and stick to it. Your date needs to get to know you as a person and not just as a mum.
6. However, he does need to show an interest in your kids. If he's not considering them as part of his future then he's not imagining a future with you but rather with some imaginary woman in your body. You are more than just a mum but you still come as a package. You need a man who's excited about the whole wonderful package.
7. You may not be available for romantic weekends away. If he 'gets' this he will find other ways for the two of you to enjoy time together. If he doesn't 'get' it, he's not 'the one'. I know he's dating you, not your kids (I may have mentioned this) but you are also a mum even when you are a woman on a romantic adventure.
8. It should be a romantic adventure. If the whole thing is a stressful operation trying to balance your kids' needs with his wants, move on. If it's not fun now it never will be. The missing link in your family is out there, you just have to find the right one and when you do everything will fall into place.