One of the hardest parts of homeschooling and dating is probably the fact that if you’re not working, you’re with the kids, and vice versa. You have such limited time for yourself that the traditional ways that most people might come up with to meet someone – going out to a club, for example – just aren’t possible.
So how do you meet someone? There’s a few ways you can go about this:
- Online dating. Online dating isn’t for everyone. I’m not a big fan of it myself. But I have a dear friend who met her soon-to-be husband through online dating, and I’ve never seen a happier, more beautiful couple in love. And it does have its benefits. For example, you can log on when it’s convenient for you, so you can “meet” someone safely at two in the morning, while you pour cereal, or when you’re about to go to bed. You can also create a profile in which you are quite specific about things that are important to you – that he share the same religious beliefs, for example, or that he doesn’t smoke. You can take advantage of the profiles to weed out people who obviously don’t meet your criteria – without leaving the comfort of your home and paying a sitter. You can exchange messages back and forth a few times, feel each other out a bit and determine if you have enough in common and seem interested enough to take the time out of your busy schedules to meet in person.
- Blind dates. Set ups by friends can be a total disaster, but sometimes they can also be the best dates. I’ll never forget the friend who tried to set me up with another friend of hers: she thought we would be great together because we both love to read. But that was all we had in common, a love of reading. And even that was a very thin thread, as we didn’t even have the same taste in books. He was a very nice guy, but we just didn’t have anything in common. If done well, by a friend who knows both of you well enough and can look beyond superficial things to find things that you both can really connect on, you can meet someone that you click with and have a real future with. It can help if you actually tell people that you’re looking to be set up – in particular, tell people that you think would be best able to connect you with someone, whether because of how well they know you or because of their wide circle of friends. And be honest with them – if they set you up with someone that you just don’t click with, tell your friend and explain (gently!) why, so that they don’t make the same mistake with someone new.
- Kids events and other activities with the kids. Sometimes, the best place to meet someone is when you’re with the kids. If you’re sitting at soccer practice waiting on the kids to be done, or standing next to a cute guy while the kids are playing at the splash pad, strike up a conversation and see where it goes (check for wedding rings first, of course!). If you decide to go this route, you’ll want to be discreet and make sure the kids don’t get in the middle of it, but sometimes it’s best to embrace the fact that the kids are with you so much and try to meet someone anyway.
- Meet ups. The site meetup.com is the first thing that comes to mind for this. I’ve talked before about how important it is for you to find time for yourself. Taking time for yourself can also be an opportunity to meet someone. Look for local groups for one of your interests – a book club, photography group, hiking group, whatever the interest is. There are groups for just about every interest. A single common interest isn’t necessarily enough to build a relationship on, but it gives you a starting point to see what else you might have in common and you have a built-in conversation starter in discussing your common interest. If nothing else, you’ll enjoy some time for you, get to indulge your interest, and possibly make new friends who can set you up.
There are probably plenty of other ways that you can meet people too, but those are some good starting points. Feel free to share your own ideas in the comments.
Let’s talk now about the things that need to be said when you’re dating someone new. Hopefully, you’re keeping your kids far out of the relationship until you’ve gotten to know your new love interest better and you know it’s serious. But you still need to cover a few bases with the new guy/girl, the kids, and maybe even your ex. So let’s go over some of the biggies.
- Your date: He (or she) needs to know from the start that you have kids. If you don’t want to get detailed with things like names and ages, that’s fine. But he at least needs to know you have kids so that if you need to take a call mid-date or you have to cancel at the last minute because the kids are sick, he’ll be (somewhat) prepared. It also helps because if he’s completely uninterested in having children, whether his own or step, it’s better to know that upfront before either of you waste a lot of time on each other. He also really should know that you homeschool and that your time is very limited. You don’t want him feeling neglected or abandoned by telling him you can’t see him every night for a week if the only night you’re ever available is Saturday. If he knows from the start how busy you are, there’s less chance for miscommunication, hurt feelings, and frustration.
- Your kids: What you tell the kids can vary. Some of it will depend on their age. If they’re old enough to date themselves, then you’re probably going to be more honest about your social life than if they’re only three years old. How long you and their other parent have been apart is going to be another factor. If you’ve only just split recently, your kids might not be ready for you to date yet, so you might find yourself saying you’re just going out with a friend rather than saying you’re going on a date. Always a good fallback option is to say that you’re going out with a friend – given that you should really be friends with your romantic partner as well as romantic partners, it’s a pretty honest statement. You should also be prepared for whatever questions they might have – and they might have plenty. How you answer the questions will, again, depend on their age and how they feel about you and their other parent being apart, but you should try to answer their questions as honestly and age appropriately as possible.
- Your ex: On a personal level, you don’t really owe your ex any explanations at all. However, having children with someone changes the dynamic of break ups, and depending on the circumstances, you may want to let the ex know what’s going on. You don’t want your ex to be surprised by the kids mentioning that you’re dating – he/she may react before they think things through and say things that will confuse or hurt your kids, or they may have questions that aren’t appropriate to ask children (and ask them anyway). If you think that your ex might try to pump the kids for info, or is the kind of person who would say mean or hurtful things about you to them, it might be better to sit down and explain that you’re going to start dating. That way, you can answer (or not, as you choose) any questions they have and hopefully prevent them from unloading on your kids. It’s important to remember, too, that custody issues may have an effect on what you do in this situation. I’ve never heard of a court order that would force you to inform your ex that you’re dating, but in an effort to keep the peace, you might want to give your ex more information than you would otherwise.
Honesty, as much as possible, is going to be crucial in this situation. Whether it’s to ensure that the person you’re dating doesn’t feel ignored because you’re so busy, or trying to get the kids to understand why you want to go out on a Friday night, you want to be as clear as you can with everyone.
To read the previous post on dating while homeschooling, click the picture below.