7 Energy-Boosting Tips For Daters With Kids

If you’re a single mom or dad, having enough energy to add dating into your schedule can be challenging. Follow this advice for making romance a realistic priority in your life.

By Jane Ganahl

’ll never forget one night in the mid-1980s, when my attempts at dating as a newly single mom of a grade-schooler reached a low point. I got my daughter into bed, welcomed the babysitter, and then went into my room to prep myself for my 9 p.m. meet-for-drinks date, lay down on the bed to ponder my
When you’re a single parent, you are the sun and the moon to your family.
outfit options… and the next thing I knew, the babysitter was shyly asking me for a ride home. (It was midnight, and I had slept right through it.)

Since then, dating as a single parent has changed in some respects; for one thing, I would have gotten an angry text from my date demanding to know why I was standing him up if that happened today… but other things haven’t changed one iota in the meantime.

You’re there for everyone else; shouldn’t your needs be a priority, too?
When you’re a single parent, you are the sun and the moon to your family. Your kids depend on you for literally everything — from helping them with their homework to preparing their meals to driving them where they need to go and even making their costumes for school plays. It can be exhausting! And being a good parent often makes you a bad dater. As in, you rarely carve out the time for it, because your family always comes first.

“Dating when you are exhausted from parenting is challenging,” says Ellie Slott Fisher, author of Mom, There’s a Man in the Kitchen and He’s Wearing your Robe: The Single Mom’s guide to Dating Well without Parenting Poorly and Dating for Dads. “But as anyone who dates surely knows, a new, exciting, romantic relationship infuses us with boundless energy. So go for it!”

It’s also true that you can’t parent well — or even effectively — if you’re feeling exhausted and resentful because your own needs aren’t being met. Denying yourself the opportunity to engage in social interactions can just hasten the onset of feeling burned out. Everyone needs “me” time, which includes spending time with a sweetheart — or potential sweethearts.

Meeting potential dates is easier than ever before — if you know where to look
Fisher recommends online dating, because “anyone can do it — and in your pajamas, no less,” and also points out that when you enter the dating world, there’s a big incentive to pull your life together. “Making the decision to date means taking care of yourself, eating well, exercising and looking your best,” says Fisher. “It can really lead to a healthier lifestyle.”

As for other places to meet single parents, Fisher suggests trolling for dates at your kids’ scheduled activities. “Consider an activity with your kids that also includes other parents — say, a daytime haunted hayride, or a children’s book reading in a local bookstore. Granted, the likelihood is
Consider an activity with your kids that also includes other parents.
that any single person you meet will also be a parent — but who could better appreciate your own level exhaustion?”

Fisher also recommends “timing dating opportunities to coincide with your kids’ sleepovers and friends’ birthday parties. Skip the nap you are craving; instead, fix yourself up and go on a date.”

This all sounds reasonable, but the issue is having enough energy to follow through. How can single parents increase their energy reserves enough so they have some left over at the end of the day for pursuing romance? Here are some tips:

Tip #1: Get up earlier — but don’t start doing your daily chores just yet
Set your alarm for 15 minutes early. When it goes off, instead of leaping out of bed, spend some time thinking about what you’re grateful for and the wonderful things in your life. Or, try journaling — or any other activity that makes you feel centered. You’d be surprised at how doing something small like this increases your energy.

Tip #2: Set aside at least one night a week just for yourself
Whether it’s for dates, going to see a movie, volunteer work or spending time with friends, you’ve earned it. And best of all, you’ll feel refreshed afterward!

Tip #3: Make sure your kids go to bed at the same time every night
This is harder to do when they get older, but it’s impossible to carve out some quiet time in an evening at home for reading, watching a good movie or pursuing a hobby when your kids are lobbying (loudly) to watch late-night talk shows.

Tip #4: Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of regular grooming appointments
You might feel selfish getting that pedicure instead of volunteering to bring cupcakes to the soccer game this week, but you’ll also feel great afterward. Spending 20 minutes on your own getting your feet massaged is the equivalent of taking 20 naps.

Tip #5: Instead of eating lunch at your desk, take a walk and get some fresh air
It’s tempting to skip lunch or chow down at your desk when you’re anxious to get home to your kids. But a light meal followed by a brisk walk can be enormously renewing and recharging to one’s body, mind and spirit.

Tip #6: Turn your shower or bath into an at-home solo spa treatment
You don’t need to spend a fortune at a spa to feel rejuvenated. It’s possible to get any number of fabulous inexpensive, aromatherapy-based products at a local natural foods store that will make your shower or bath feel like a spa treatment right at home. Turn off the noise in your mind and breathe deeply while you relax.

Tip #7: Tune out the background noise and tune into some peace and quiet
Whether you’re driving, cooking or getting dressed for the day, many people have a tendency to leave a radio or TV on for background noise and to give them quick hits of news and other information. (This is especially true while driving.) Turn everything off and just allow yourself to be still at least once a day, and you’ll notice your stress levels decrease almost immediately.

OK, now it’s time to look at your calendar, call the babysitter, say “yes” to that date invitation, and put on your dancing shoes, single parents — you should feel totally refreshed and ready for romance!

Jane Ganahl is author of Naked on the Page: The Misadventures of My Unmarried Midlife, editor of the anthology Single Woman of a Certain Age, journalist of two decades, and codirector of San Francisco’s Litquake literary festival.
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