The Reality and the Truth: How to Date a Single Mum

You just met and, boy, you’ve got chemistry. It’s not a big deal that she’s a single mum… right? Or is it?

Here’s what you need to know should that attraction become anything more. Before you jump in, it helps to know if you’re man enough for the job…

Single mums are awesome, brave, amazing creatures. Dating one is a whole new ball game.  Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking about dipping your dating toes in solo parent waters.

Thinking, talking about or referencing terms such as MILF/Cougar/Yummy Mummy.

No. Just NO. If you say any of these to her prepare for her best death stare. Maybe even a punch. She’s a mum, but she’s also a woman. A beautiful, funny, intelligent woman. Don’t you dare date her because you find the idea of her once having breastfed kinda sexy. In fact if you have any kind of kink that involves boob milk, wearing nappies or mummy-issues take that stuff elsewhere. She’s already got her hands full without dealing with that.

Baby sitters and logistics.

The days of her getting dressed for hours and then simply shutting the door behind her to meet you are long gone. She may have an ex who takes the kids every second weekend. Or maybe she’ll ask the grandies (but then she has to explain that she’s going on a date and that’s just…ugh). More likely, she’ll employ a local 17 or 18 year old who’ll get paid by the hour PER CHILD.

Here’s what you need to know to make her life easier around dating and family logistics;

  • Give advance notice. Sitters can be hard to pin down. A good one is like finding a needle in a haystack. Ask her out Monday for Saturday night. Make it easy for her to be with you.
  • Sitters cancel. It’s not her fault and it’s rare that she’ll find another one at short notice. Be understanding, not a complete dick about the fact your plans have changed.
  • Don’t be late or cancel on her. Rescheduling is not as easy for her as it is for you. And she’ll have to pay the sitter either way. Respect the effort she made to be able to spend time with you.
  • Show her your best self. She’s looking forward to a night out rather than sitting in uncomfortable teenage silence. In return she’ll show you her best self too.

Make it fun! Make it worth putting on her make up!

Fact. The cost of the sitter can be higher than the cost of the meal. Offer to pay for the meal (and wine! Always wine!)  #truestory Rather than whinge about how tired you are or what a shitty day you’ve had, give her an experience. This is potentially the highlight of her week!

A guy once asked me out, promising to sweep me off of my feet. He built the date up over several weeks, hinting of epic, The Bachelor style romance. The big night came and he asked me to cover my eyes as he drove. The anticipation was insane! We arrived at the location and I uncovered my eyes to find myself…. at the park. Kids screaming and families everywhere, a playground nearby. He brought out the picnic rug and served dinner. I shit you not, it was a Fillet-o-Fish. And I paid a sitter for this wonderful experience. He did try but he didn’t think much. Point? Consider how she might have spent her week already, plan a date that’s not THAT.

Make a decision already!!

Single mums make the all the decisions ALL THE TIME. Her brain is exploding with excursions, lunches, work memos and after school activities. Ask her where she’d like to go, but take the lead and also offer a suggestion. If you suggest Netflix and chill she expects to watch a movie whilst you rub her feet, rather than banging on the couch whilst the kids are asleep in the next room. Bring chocolate. Otherwise make a decision based on that wonderful listening you’ve done about her likes and dislikes so far. There’s not much sexier than a man who can take the lead AND listen. Show her you’ve got all those L skills nailed down. She’s already got dependent people in her life that need full time instruction, you being like that? Definitely not a turn on.


There’s a lot of pressure and responsibility thrust upon the guy dating a single mum. She totally understands this. If you’re new to kids and all they entail it’s a lot to take in. Talk to her truthfully. Let her know how you’re feeling, ask how she can help you adjust or for some tips. If you don’t feel you’re up for the challenge don’t lead her along, only to dump her when it becomes too real. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Time is precious – remember hers is shared

Don’t get frustrated or jealous about the way she splits her time and attention. Her kids come first. Ducking out for drinks on the spur of the moment is not likely to happen. She’d love to give you more, but after refereeing, being pawed at and pulled on all day sometimes that time needs to be hers. Hint: If things progress nicely and you shoulder some of her workload, this will free her up or refresh her enough to give you a lot more of what you want. Wink, wink. Give and take man, give and take.

Meeting the kids

Some guys want to meet ASAP to show how great they are with children. Some put it off as long as possible. It’s up to both of you to negotiate. The mother ultimately makes this decision. Respect it. When and if you are approved to meet her precious kids:

  • Be you. Kids know when you’re faking it or trying too hard. You’ll set yourself up for future failure. If her kids don’t like you, you’re headed to choppy waters.
  • Don’t spoil them to win favour, they’ll expect it from here forth.
  • Don’t tell her how to raise them, she’s been doing fine up until now
  • Discipline is her territory, but don’t let them walk all over you either. Be firm, fair and friendly. Always check in when you’re not sure on the boundaries here, she’ll appreciate that you do.

Maybe the kids will love you on sight, maybe they’ll make your life a living hell. Roll with the punches and find a time to work out an action plan. This is  a time for patience.

When you date a single mum you’re not just signing up for an amazing woman, but a whole package deal. Don’t make her AND the kids fall in love with you if you’re not there for the long haul. There’s no doubt that it takes a special man for this job. If that’s you, be prepared for a whole lot of adventure, laughter and boundless love. It’s totally worth it!

Avatar of Heidi Lewis

Heidi is a teacher and single mum of four who goes to gym in order to indulge her love of cheesecake. Raising kids with ADHD and Aspergers is fast, chaotic and often hilarious, but she wouldn't change a thing. Heidi recovers with good chick lit, writing and Netflix after bedtime.

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