Embracing Butter

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Dating with kids (never a dull moment)

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When I jumped – for better or for worse – back into the world of dating after nearly a decade of marriage, I realized two things quite quickly. One, that the players had changed. A lot. Meaning that the boys I’d dated before becoming a wife in my early twenties were no longer the boys I was used to. Those boys had grown up and were now MEN. Which meant this was an entirely different ballgame than the one I was used to playing. And there were new a few new rules to learn. There was a bit of a learning curve there, but thanks to good dating advice out there, this wasn’t too big a hurdle to jump over.

The second big challenge change in dating after divorce was that this go-around, there were new players who were part of the game. Namely, my three children. That’s right – this once single-no-kids woman had turned into a single-with-kids team of four – myself, my daughter, and my two boys. Meaning that anyone I date not only dates me, but in a way, my three no-so-little tikes as well. That’s right – men who date women with children not only have to woo the woman, but they have to charm the kiddos involved as well. It is not for the faint of heart.

And it goes the other way around. As a woman with children, I not only have to make sure that I bring my best to the table, but I have to make sure that my entire “team” is presentable. No self-respecting man wants to be a part of a chaotic circus act of a family. So essentially, I have to make myself attractive, and since my kids are part of the package – they have to be “attractive” as well. Or at least not repelling to eligible would-be suitors. As one of my sisters once said, “Make sure your children are assets, and not liabilities.” She was right. Your children should make potential suitors want to be part of the picture, not run away in fear.

Sound exhausting? It is. There are babysitters to organise (and pay), and getting yourself ready for a date while getting kids ready for an evening with a sitter can have you harried. At times you may even have to answer to your kids. Trust me, answering to your pre-teen daughter about who you are out with and why you got home so late last night is more difficult than any parental inquiry you had as a teenager! You will also get uncensored opinions on the men in your life from your children, which can be both funny – like the time my daughter posted on Twitter about my ex buying me flowers for my birthday – and insightful. Kids often have a sense for situations and people and wisdom beyond their years. Their vibe radar is good, so do hear them out – they may pick up on things that you are less sensitive to.

Despite the extra work that comes along with dating as a single parent, it is also fun. And believe it or not, there are some perks. For one, having kids tends to weed out the slackers and players (generally, not always!). Remember – guys dating women with kids are also dating the kids in a way. Not everyone can handle this, especially in today’s world of extended adolescence among adults.┬áSo men who put in time and effort to get the know your kids and you are worth keeping around. And if you’re dating a guy who not only works to get to know your kids, but puts effort in impressing them as well? As long as it’s genuine, my dear – you may have a keeper on your hands.

Another plus that comes with dating as a parent with young kids is that you’re busy. Maybe even very busy. Which keeps you interesting – you’ve got more going on than the other single ladies, and this can be a factor that for a lot of men makes you stand out.┬áThis busy also makes you less likely to obsess over a guy. Of course, we all have our moments of irrational female behavior. But in general, as a parent with kids you have a lot less time to obsess over the man in your life (although let me be real – I have been known to obsess about the love interest in my life at time or two). But between work, children, and taking care of yourself, as a single parent who is dating, it is difficult for a man to become the center of your universe. And that’s a good thing!