10 Things You Must Look for in Your Next Relationship

So, you think you’re ready to get out and start dating again. Obviously, you aren’t going to rush headlong into anything. While it may be enticing to get into a relationship again, there are many traps you can fall into if you aren’t truly ready. 

No one wants to waste their time or energy getting into a dead-end relationship, let alone inviting someone into your life (and your children’s lives) who’s not going to contribute or may turn out to be toxic. This person is going to be around your kids and consume some of your time and energy. So what should you be on the lookout for?

When you think you’re ready to find someone new, there are plenty of things to avoid. Here are some things to look for:

1. A Fully-Fledged Adult

When you’re ready to start a new relationship, make sure you’ve found a man and not a man-child. You don’t need someone else to take care of, so make sure your man can take care of himself—maybe even [gasp] share responsibilities.

The risk: Failure to avoid this red flag will result in another person to care for who you can’t claim as a dependent.

2. He’s Understanding

If you’re a single mom and looking to find a new relationship, do yourself a favor and find someone who’s not demanding over your time. Between kids, work, and life in general, things come up. You want someone who understands and isn’t going to be callous or jealous because he’s not your everything. He should also recognize the value you get from time with your friends, even if he’s not included.

The risk: Find someone who isn’t understanding and you may find him constantly arguing about the time you spend on your kids. Or, you may have to defend girl time.

3. No Deadbeats

This shouldn’t require an explanation besides: Because, why would you? You want someone who contributes to your household and your overall well-being. If he spends 18 hours a day on the couch playing video games, take a pass.

The risk: Self-explanatory.

4. He Values Self-care

As a mom, you’ve probably found little things that drastically improve your mental health. Whether it’s a nice book in a warm bath or the indulgence of a monthly massage, we all have things that keep us sane. Your new man may not have things as overt as these, but he should at least understand the concept of self-care. Bonus points if you have things you can occasionally enjoy together.

The risk: Don’t let him co-opt your self-care. He should be happy when he’s invited and not upset if he isn’t.

5. He Can Read the Room

Young or immature guys are often just looking for an excuse to let loose or make a joke of anything. As a mom, you know there’s a time for fun but every hour can’t be a happy hour. Make sure your new guy knows when to have fun and also when to tone it down. He doesn’t need to be overly strict or disciplined, but he should at least be able to follow your lead.

The risk: Undermining you with your kids or having keggers after rough days at work.

6. He Doesn’t Push for More than You’re Ready For

Every single mom has war stories. We’ve all been through a lot. It could be war stories from divorce, custody horror stories, or just emotional toxicity from previous relationships. But that means we all move at a different pace. If your new guy is a good one, he’ll understand this and be perfectly happy moving at your speed. This includes meeting your kids and [eventually] digging into the battle scars of divorce or separation when you’re ready.

The risk: Every date becomes a forced therapy session.

7. He Knows What he Wants

Your new love interest should know it may take him a while to get where he wants to be, but he should still have clear goals and objectives. This goes for both his personal and professional life.

The risk: He ends up relying on you to set his sails or, worse yet, serve as his career coach.

8. He Has His Own Experiences

You want someone who has a personality; someone who has his own perspective. That he’s developed. On his own. Don’t get sucked into a relationship black hole with a man who defines himself by the relationship he’s in. That’s not a partner.

The risk: Your relationship becomes a series of funhouse mirrors.

9. He Cares about you AND Your Kid

Dating with kids can be tricky. You don’t want to be with someone who sees your kid(s) as an annoyance. But, you also don’t want to be with someone who just thinks he’s there to babysit. You want someone who wants to be with YOU and is all of the things you want to be for your kid: supportive, caring, teaching, fun, strict when necessary, a mentor.

The risk: They become your kid’s best friend and you’re the third wheel in your own relationship.

10. His Pace Matches Yours

How quickly you move in a relationship is one thing, but it’s also important to recognize that people have different lifestyles. Some people are active; others are more sedentary. The bottom line here is that you don’t want to be dragging your new man off to do things, nor do you want him forcing you to stay in when you’d rather be outside. When you’re getting to know each other, make sure you have similar lifestyles; or, similar enough, anyway.

The risk: You accidentally turn into a hermit.

Wrapping up

If you think you’re ready to get back on there and start dating again, you probably are. And, don’t worry: you got this. Everything we’ve outlined here, you already know. But, hopefully, this reminder will help you see the red flags faster, so you can enjoy your time with your next special someone.

Kid Care: Taking Care of the Kids While You Take Care of Yourself

Every parent struggles to find time to take care of themselves while also taking care of their kids. It’s a balance that sets us up to feel guilty—we feel guilty if we take too much time for ourselves and we feel guilty if we don’t. But it’s important for parents—especially single moms—to make time for ourselves.

Taking care of ourselves puts us in a better place to meet the needs of our kids.

So, with that in mind, we compiled a list of the best things for single parents to do to make sure that they don’t get so caught up taking care of their kids that they neglect themselves. Having kids can be demanding, but it’s important to make time, at least periodically, for some of the things on this list to keep yourself sane and centered.

Top Self-Care Suggestions

Take “me” timeTo take a beat and give yourself a rest
Enjoy some quietTo de-stress
Girl timeHave fun with other adults
Develop hobbiesTo enjoy the things that interest YOU
Treat yourselfBecause you deserve it

Obviously, each of these items takes time—our most precious resource. Single parents have a lot to juggle between work, kids, school or after-school programs if your kids are school-age, and, you know, generally running your life. Taking time for even one of these things can be a struggle.

But, it’s important. And it’s important to be intentional about it. In other words, taking a second to breathe while waiting to pick your kid up from school isn’t the same as finding an hour for yourself to meditate. 

So, be sure you MAKE the time to do at least one of these things a couple times a week. The key is to do as much as you feel like you need, whenever you can. Guilt-free.

1. Take Time for Yourself

It may sound simple, but taking care of yourself typically starts with making time for yourself. This may mean getting a sitter or arranging play-dates for your kids, just so you can have a little time for yourself. Even if you use this time to catch up on laundry or take care of other things you’ve been ignoring. Or, open up all the windows and blast your favorite music. It doesn’t matter. 

Whatever you do, you want to be able to do it in peace, without interruptions.

And, yes, veg out in front of the TV a little if you feel the urge. Or, enjoy a meal that you love but your kids may not.

2. Meditation/Breathing/Quiet Time

Being a single mom is no cakewalk, but it’s even harder if you don’t find time to quiet your mind and center yourself. It’s important to find time to create a quiet environment for yourself so you can focus on letting go of the day or the week. Or the year.

Note: you don’t need a candlelit bath to do this, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Just try to create a quiet space for yourself and try not to think about everything you have going on. Instead, just relax, breathe, and let the worries slip away for a little while.

3. Exercise

No matter how much you have going on in the day or how much “running around” you do, it’s still important to get the blood flowing and release a little stress in an INTENTIONAL way. 

Plus, exercise gets bonus points for releasing those endorphins that we all need to keep us healthy and happy.

4. Girl Time

This shouldn’t require much justification, but every adult needs time with other adults. Just because you spend so much of your life focused on your kid(s) doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from time spent with other adults.

Maybe this takes the form of a Friday night happy hour, or maybe it’s Taco Tuesdays. Whatever works with your schedule is fine, but find time to get together with friends. Have a margarita or three. Laugh, cry, brag (or lament) about your kids, discussing your dating adventures, vent about your ex. Talk about the things you can’t talk about around your kids.

5. Develop Your Interests

When you have kids, it’s easy to lose your own personality. We get immersed in everything our kids have going on. Their interests become ours, and our hobbies become facilitating theirs. We won’t talk about how many hours I spent in an airplane hangar working on old warbirds.

But it’s important to keep your own hobbies and make time to develop your own interests. Whether it’s reading, writing, journaling, or building model airplanes, find time each week to do something that YOU enjoy—something that interests YOU.

6. Treat Yourself

You had to know this was coming, and here it is.

When you’re a single parent, you MUST find ways to indulge yourself. Spend a day at a spa, or get a message. Take a quick overnight trip when you can get a babysitter or arrange for the kids to spend a night at friends’ houses. 

Yes, it’s important to be budget-conscious, but everyone needs to splurge every now and again. Otherwise, what are we really working so hard for? Find time to indulge yourself away from your kids and enjoy the fruits of your hard work.

Wrapping Up

So, there you have it, a list of things you can do to improve your own mental and emotional well-being. Yes, they’re important; and no, it’s not mean to make time to do things for you that DON’T involve your kids. In fact, taking care of yourself is critical to being a good parent. So go forth, enjoy, breathe, indulge. Hopefully some of these suggestions will help you stay balanced and enjoy some time to yourself.