It’s not always easy being a single parent but we know that it is important that you don’t lose sight of your own identity. Easier said than done we know, but it’s good to be able to take off your parenting head now and again and touch base with friends and family and have a little fun without the children.
Of course we know that childcare can play a huge part in being able to have a social life as you obviously need to leave your children with someone that you trust. Having a good support network around you can be vital especially if your children don’t see their non-resident parent but it might also be difficult for you to accept any support because you feel guilty at the thought of having a social life of your own.
So what can you do to make things a little easier?
You might have friends or family that are single parents themselves and if this is the case perhaps you could take turns in looking after each other’s children from time to time. A night out every couple of months can work wonders for your emotional wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be a wild night out, it could just mean having dinner with a friend without having children running around and having to be tied down to a bedtime routine. It’s so easy to forget how to laugh and have fun when faced with challenging situations and it’s easy to get bogged down with everyday life stresses and strains.
Perhaps an exercise class or gym session is what you feel you are missing out on so this might also be something worth thinking about. It’s good to try and keep ourselves as healthy as possible and the more relaxed and stress free we are feeling the better able we are to parent to the best of our ability.
Things don’t always go according to plan and there will undoubtedly be ups and downs if you are newly single. If this is the case you could always do things together with your children which might open up avenues for you to meet other parents whose children are of a similar age. You can then build on this until you feel comfortable enough to go it alone.
Remember there is no rush, time can be a great healer but sometimes we do need to be jolted out of our comfort zone which can actually be a good thing. You could also do some research to see if you can find local groups/hobbies that run classes that you might like to try your hand at. Libraries and local schools and colleges can be a great source of information.
Getting back on the dating scene
If you feel you are ready to dip your toe in the water and feel it might be time to start dating again there are lots of online dating sites and organisations that you might like to try. It’s important to take things slowly and not feel pressurised or rushed back into dating. Your children don’t need to be involved in your dating either – this is something that you really do need to take your time with.
Children can take time to adjust to a new partner and it is often beneficial to get to know someone really well before you do any introductions. New partners can sometimes make a child or teen feel threatened so it is crucial that you continue to reassure them that you still love them and talk openly about the different types of love you feel e.g. brother, sister, friend etc. This might help them to understand that a new partner doesn’t necessarily mean that mum and dad will start to feel differently towards them. The key here is patience – give your children enough time and space to adjust to what is happening. Don’t force a relationship on them if you don’t think they are ready as this could build resentment and make things really difficult in the future.
That said, there is no reason why you can’t all enjoy each other’s company and live a happy and healthy life together. As a parent you are the best judge of character as to how your child is coping with a new relationship. Of course involve your partner on what might be going on at home so they too have an understanding. If you do start to feel pressurised and aren’t comfortable with the situation then take some time out to re-evaluate exactly what is important to you and your family. Perhaps the timing isn’t right and you need to wait until your children are a little older, but remember that every child is different and what works for one won’t necessarily work for another.
You are never alone, we are always here to support you through difficult times – we all have them but sometimes an impartial listening ear can help you to see things from a slightly different perspective.