I get asked a lot about how to go about dating a parent. Like we’re some kind of different species of intimate partner. The conversation sounds similar to when I tell people I have a food allergy. So how do you eat? I have kids, how do you date?
Well, I’ve got dating figured out on my end, the question is, how are you going to date me? Kinda like, I’ve got my food figured out, how are you going to cook for me? I’ve been on both sides of this equation as I am a parent who occasionally dates other parents, but I also date non-parents just the same.
So I’ve put together a list of how to date a parent do’s and dont’s. These come from my own best of and worst of experiences. Feel free to add your own to the list in the comments.
1. DO NOT waste a parent’s time.
I know, we shouldn’t take anyone’s time for granted. It’s rude and inconsiderate in general. However, a parent has to go through extra steps to make themselves available to date you. Babysitters, co-parenting arrangements, making sure they don’t have a parent-teacher conference, PTA meeting, soccer game. So, if you’re going to date someone who has a kid, take their time seriously.
2. DO be understanding of their schedule
This is the flipside to my first point. Parent’s have many places they need to be and other people to be accountable to. So if you absolutely hate being rain-checked on a semi-regular basis, maybe dating a parent isn’t for you.
3. DO NOT be a germaphobe
Kids pass around germs like they’re getting paid. So did we when were young. It’s all a part of the circle of life. Pre-school age kids especially. And no matter how dedicated we as parents are to mitigating the transference, it’s gonna happen. How this impacts you can range from us getting you sick to us having to cancel a date due to a kid being sick.
4. DO include the kids in the caretaking
One of the sweetest things a lover ever did for me after I had to cancel a date because my whole household had a cold, was bring us soup. She asked me what kind of soup I liked and then immediately thought to ask what kind my kids liked in case it was different. She brought over three piping hot pints of soup from a local deli. She brought me flowers and chocolate coins for the boys. I was more than happy to reward her for this kindness later.
5. DO NOT invite yourself over
Nothing can throw a parent into a panic like not having the chance to tidy up before another person walks into their toy strew, underwear on the kitchen table, ice cream carton on the couch, pee on the toilet seat, home. We love that you want to see us and had us on your mind and just couldn’t wait to come give us some love BUT it takes time before we’re ready to let you see that side of ourselves. It’s a gradual revealing. Wait for it.
6. DO be honest
If we try to stop by with a kid in tow and you’re hung-over from the night before, still have on last night’s makeup and have wine bottles and cigarette butts where the end table used to be, say so. It’s fine, really. I actually had another parent do this to me. He was close by with his daughter, up bright and early for the farmer’s market and thought it would be great to come over. My kids were with their other parent for the weekend, and I was taking advantage of my grown up time. As much as I would have liked to have breakfast with him and his munchkin, it was just not going to make a good impression. I was honest and he understood.
7. DO NOT leave sex toys in the bathroom.
It’s important to keep toys clean, but if a household only has one bathroom, it’s not ok to let the toys drip dry in the shower. Same goes with used condoms, condom wrappers and lube packets. Take a moment to wrap them in tissue before tossing into the trash. Having kids is not like having housemates. The parent has to figure out when they’re ready to have those conversations with their kids. Try to be considerate of their timeline.
8. DO offer to keep the big toys at your place.
Harnesses, bed restraint systems, rubber sheets… those can be hard to be discreet about. Some parents have this down to a science, some don’t. If you live in a space where you don’t have to worry about curious hands and very awkward questions, lessen our stress level a bit and offer to store the big stuff. Or if you’re looking for a practical yet sexy present for the parent in your life, buy them one of those fancy adult “toy” boxes.
I hope these are helpful tips. Really, they’re all based on real life adventures, but by all means not exhaustive!