Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

10 Things Every Single Mom Should Do Before She Starts Dating Again

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Dating after as a single parent was super scary. Thanks to my abusive ex-husband, I had a low self-esteem and hadn't been on a first date in over 13 years. On top of that, new single parents have to figure some serious sh*t out. Being a single mom is the hardest thing I've ever done. It wasn't easy to find time to eat and sleep, let alone to eat and sleep with someone else. There's a few things I think single mom should do before she starts dating again, to reclaim her identity and learn to love herself, before adding another person to the mix. Things like learning who she is, learning how to love herself, and learning what she wants in a partner and a relationship. Also, how to get through the day as a single mom, how to find time for herself, and who can help when she needs it.

When I first started dating, I was shocked at how different it was dating as a previously married, thirty-something with two kids, than it was dating as a single, free twenty-something. When I had dated previously, online dating sites didn't exist. (I know. I'm old AF.) But, how in the heck does a busy, working, single mom meet people? I am not ashamed to say that I met my now-husband (also a divorced, single parent) online. We were able to "match" our needs with a potential partner who met our criteria, and had an opportunity to get to know each other online and via text, before taking the leap in real life.

But, before all of that, I seriously needed to get my head on straight and learn how to be a badass single mom before I could be a badass, single, dating mom. Here are a few things I prioritized.

Stay Single For A While

Seriously. Don't rush into dating or, worse, a relationship. I get it. I totally do. Single parenthood is freaking lonely, but you need to figure out who you are, what went wrong in your previous relationship, and what you want, before you leap into something new. Trust me. It might be uncomfortable to be alone, but it would be even worse to waste precious time with the wrong person or people.

Find Out Who She Is

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

Who are you? Not just your kids' mom or your ex's ex; who are you? What do you like, dislike, want, and need? Who do you want to be? What makes you happy? When you figure it out, make a plan to make it happen. You don't need a partner to do that. Turns out, I am a runner and a total badass. Who are you?

Decide What She's Looking For

What are you looking for in a partner? Coffee and lunch? Sex? Fun? A traveling buddy? A one night stand? A long-term relationship? A potential future stepparent for your kids?

Decide what you are looking for before you look. Otherwise, how can you find the right person/people? I highly recommend creating an online dating profile, even if you don't intend to use it. That way, you can get used to talking about yourself and asking for what you want.

Carve Out Time For Herself

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Seriously, get alone time. And not just to cry and feel sorry for yourself. Use child-watch at the gym, hire a babysitter, have a standing date with yourself after bedtime or in the morning before the kids' get up. Do it. You need to establish your identity again and that takes spending some time with yourself and by yourself once in a while. At least until your kids wake up again. Ugh.

Learn To Love Herself

Love yourself. Fix your relationship with yourself before you seek to build one with someone else. It was so hard for me to rebuild my self-esteem, but so necessary for me to not just have some fun, but find someone who loves me for me.

Self Care

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Take care of yourself. Seriously. If it wasn't a priority before, you need to make it one now, so you can be the best parent imaginable and the best friend you've ever had.

Figure Out Her New Routine

This is huge. Before you try to add someone else to your routine, you need to figure some sh*t out. Trust me. Life as a single mom was seriously hectic and way more challenging to navigate. It's a crash course in budgeting, scheduling, time management, meal management, physical and mental abilities and limitations, and not losing your sh*t, that sometimes involves large doses of wine and/or ice cream and weeping on the bathroom floor. You owe it to yourself to figure out what works before you add another thing.

Get Help

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Ask for help. If you don't have an amazing support system, hire a babysitter. Get help with before and after school duties from another parent. Use all of the resources available. Don't be a shut in forever. Ask for help.

Be Honest With Herself

Are you "ready" to date because you are lonely? Or because you have never been single and are scared out of your mind? Or because you need someone to tell you how awesome you are to feel good about yourself? Be honest. No alternative facts when you are talking to yourself, please.

Not wanting to be alone doesn't mean you are ready to date. Don't rush into a bad thing (or series of bad dates) like I did, because you are tired of watching Netflix alone. Otherwise, you may find yourself dating Mr. Married, Ms. I want to cheat on my husband, Mr. Selfish Jerk, or Ms. I won't ever call you again and life is too short for that.

Positive Self-Talk

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When you are ready, however, you've got to get out there (or at least on the internet) and do the thing, and that sometimes takes some serious positive self-talk, especially if your last relationship ended badly, was abusive, or is causing you to not know how awesome you are.

Single moms are seriously badass, you are a single mom, therefore, you are seriously badass. Don't ever forget it and keep repeating it like a mantra.