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Jenn suggests putting the word out to trustworthy people in your life, who can start the screening process for you: “Let family members, friends and co-workers know you’re looking to date again.

“You already have a family, so if you want more than a fun hookup, your focus should be on a man who’s clearly father material,” says Susan Winter, relationship expert and bestselling author of . “Keeping your sex life separate from your child is crucial,” she says.

It makes perfect sense to me: My needs and desires have changed since having a child, so I want a more stable partner to be around regularly—not just for a booty call. “Having someone come in and out inconsistently isn’t good for any child, especially if they’re mourning the loss of two parents breaking up, or the absence of a parent in general.” As a young, single mom with a full plate, it’s a surprisingly common fantasy to seek out older partners for their wisdom and life experience—but experts advise not to date anyone just because he or she is your senior. “By locking into specific age, you may miss the perfect woman or man who’s right in front of you by applying these limitations.” Remember that age really doesn’t equal maturity.

Stay focused on the kids.” And, as the saying goes, know how to pick and choose your battles.

“If you’re splitting your kids’ time between you, remember that what happens at your ex’s house is up to him or her, and what happens at your house is up to you, unless it’s a safety issue,” she says.

When you think of a single mom on the dating scene, visions of a 20-something who can barely balance her own checkbook (guilty) probably don’t come to mind.

But, believe it or not, not all of us single moms are recent divorcées scrolling through silver fox profiles on Match.

Not to mention that in the rare and precious moments I do have to myself, it feels like a major risk to spend that time with someone I might never see again rather than catching up with friends, reading, zoning out to Netflix, or, you know, sleeping.

The men I’d normally take an interest in are often just starting their careers, still in undergrad, or staying out until 3AM every chance they get—whereas I’m living the opposite lifestyle, and as a party of two, not one. In spite of this barrage of challenges, I still have hope.

“Don’t involve children in your dating life until you’re relatively sure the person is a long-term keeper,” says Dr. “I suggest single moms wait six to 12 months—that’s typically how long the ‘honeymoon phase’ lasts.” Holding off until then is a good way to minimize the risk of your child getting attached too soon.

“Parents don’t always realize that when you go through a breakup, your child goes through it, too,” Dr. Silva says you should also consider how involved your partner will be willing to be after meeting your child.

(Unless, that is, you’re just looking for a hookup—even new moms need to blow off steam!

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