It always sounds easy enough. You meet loads of single parents at school drop-up, you arrange a social cheese and wine evening on the What's App group, and you force yourself to join the PTA for the chance to cosy up with the hot Dads
And yet - you're single.
The biggest problem we hear from single Mums & Dads isn't about having the opportunity to meet potential dates - it's that whenever you do meet them, it's all about the kids and never about you.
So, let's break the cycle and share our hard-earned wisdom about successfully dating as a single parent.
If you have kids, you'll know that this leaves very little time or emotional energy for yourself. For many of us, being single at this point in life is A-OK, and we couldn't even begin to entertain the thought of having to make polite conversation!
That said, if you feel lonely, crave companionship and would love to have adult company to share your precious downtime with, it can be a minefield getting back out into the dating world.
Happy parents = happy kids, and if you do want to meet someone special, do not let yourself repeat that tired internal mantra of not having time, or needing to focus all your headspace on the children.
What you do have to do is put yourself out there.
As we've seen, parenting based social groups rarely lead to romance, primarily because they exist to sustain relationships between the parents of peer groups, not to establish direct connections between you as adults.
Online dating is an excellent option. You'll meet people you don't normally socialise with (blank slate anyone!), you can connect safely online at your convenience, and you get to establish your own parameters about what a great partner looks like to you.
The pressure to couple up is real. If you happen to be one of the few single parents in the schoolyard, you'll know just what I mean.
Don't let it get to you. Everybody's journey is different, and it's never wise to get swept up in a 'grass is always greener' mentality.
That way lies trouble - because you end up settling for someone who isn't what you want. Viable, long-term and rewarding relationships can take time and effort, but if you rush into something just because it's convenient, it's never going to last.
A lot of single parents also want to recreate the typical social structure of a family, and so are desperate to meet a partner to fulfil the role of an absent parent in the lives of their children.
Again, that's about your children, not about fulfilling your emotional and physical needs as an adult!
Do NOT compromise on your happiness - your kids will thrive much better in a stable, loving, single-parent home than they will around a fractious and unhappy relationship.
It's always going to crop up - if you've had children with somebody and then gone your separate ways, then it can be extremely stressful trying to maintain open lines of communication.
If you can, that's the ideal. Kids know that sometimes parents don't stay together. If it's feasible to remain on good speaking terms, you can still co-parent and liaise over any challenges, without needing to be romantically involved.
That said, we all know an ex who we'd never want anywhere near our lives again, so I appreciate that it's very much a personal decision and dependent on the specific circumstances of your split.
We are only human, and you might be tempted to:
Seriously, don't (trust me!) - any of these scenarios is going to cause more anguish than the satisfaction you might just get when your ex sees you with your gorgeous new beau.
I know it can be very hard, but if you remain parents to your kids, it's absolutely essential that they see two trusted adults being civil, and even friendly towards each other.
If you have met somebody new, it's always best coming from you to make sure you can have those crucial conversations about presenting a unified front to your children.
Online dating has grown immensely in the last few years and is now a common and mainstream way to meet new people.
There are all sorts of reasons why we might find it tricky to meet compatible singles in our day to day lives, and the convenience and technology available through our phones and tablets breaks down all of these barriers.
Some of the main reasons single parents decide to try online dating are:
In today's digital world, a majority of couples meet online, and some of the best apps and single parent forums are also a great way to meet new friends, as well as searching for singles from a romantic perspective.The most important thing to remember is to be yourself - not you as a Mum or a Dad, not you as an ex, not you as a family member, but you as an individual.
When you can recognise and appreciate your needs and desires, and value these as an essential aspect of your life that sits separately, and with equal importance to your responsibilities as a loving parent, you're on the right track.