I am a single mom with two children, ages 3 and 5. I have been divorced for one year. I am ready to find love again, but how can I find TIME? My children take up most of my energy and waking hours, plus I work thirty hours per week outside the home. I am exhausted all the time and can barely keep up with all my commitments. I know that I need to devote a lot of time to socializing and trying to meet men if I want to get married again, but how can I do that with my constraints?
–Sleepy in Seattle
Wake up! It’s time to get organized and make some changes. Of course you are exhausted: you have a lot on your plate. What do busy people do in the work world? They prioritize, and they get help. That’s what you’re going to do too.
First, you have to ask yourself: what is truly my priority right now? Your letter suggests that you’d like it to be finding a husband. And that’s great! You should in no way feel guilty to admit that wanting a partner is a priority right now over everything else in your life. You will be putting the long term interests of your children (having a day-to-day Dad) over their short term needs (wanting you to read them a book or having you tuck them into bed each night).
Second, you need to get more help. I assume you have a babysitter already if you are working 30 hours per week. Can she work extra hours so you can go out in the evenings and on weekends? If not, you must find an additional sitter for evenings and weekends. This is essential: invest whatever amount of time it takes to find someone you trust to babysit. If you have financial constraints, consider hiring an Au Pair (the most inexpensive option for maximum coverage) or trading off with another mom (you watch her kids for 3 hours, then she watches yours for 3 hours). You might also consider trading out a spare room in your home to a college student in exchange for babysitting. All this is only temporary, while you prioritize finding a husband.
Third, you have to come to terms that you can’t do everything, and certainly can’t do everything well. Your house will be messy. You won’t make a pie for the school bake sale this year. You won’t go that extra mile for a project at work. You won’t be able to return every phone call from your aunt or long lost college friend. That’s just reality. You have to look systematically at the hours in your typical day and decide what can be cut out. Again, this is all just temporary while you search for a wonderful man with whom you can spend the rest of your life and who will be a great step dad to your kids.
Fourth, the most efficient way to date with time constraints is online dating. You can do it late at night after your kids are in bed. You can do it on the weekends when your ex-husband has the kids. You can do it in your comfortable sweat pants. And best of all, you will have access to the highest volume of candidates with only a few taps of the keyboard – more men are online than you could possibly meet even if you went out to parties or events for a hundred nights in a row. And yes, I know you “hate online dating”– everyone does. But you have to do it anyway because it’s a means to an end. It is time consuming, and you will meet some weirdos and liars, but you will also have fun and meet Mr. Right if you stick with it. But importantly, have a friend or professional dating coach review your profile first to make sure you’re not wasting your time on these sites with ineffective photos and an unrealistic wish list.
So, set your priority, get some help, clear your calendar, and get an effective profile up online. Single moms meet future husbands all the time—don’t let another sleepy day go by.